The job posting on the Newark Advocate’s website read, “Do you have an expressive face?” Beneath that single question was an inky little drawing, like a grayscale watercolor, of a man’s face. The only other text on the ad was an address.
The face from the ad had a kind of careless artistry about it, like it hadn’t taken much time or effort, but still hinted at a real mastery of proportion. More importantly, it was my face. It wasn’t a detailed drawing, just a smudge of a thing. But the angle of the nose, the jawline, the receding hairline, even the stippled hint of a five o’clock shadow were all mine. I’d seen them all in the bathroom mirror moments before opening my laptop.
It had been more than five months since I could reasonably call myself employed, so I was ready for a sign of hope from the universe. Hell, I would have settled for something vague. The faint s-curve of a dollar sign burned onto my toast. A fortune cookie promise of wealth. This wasn’t vague at all. It was right there on my computer screen in black and white. My face was on a help wanted ad.
My hands started shaking before I had finished running the iron over my interview shirt. I hated interviews. I also hated walking into a job without knowing a thing about it, but getting evicted was still the greater evil.
I did my best to think of witty small talk on my drive to the office park. I thought we could have a laugh at how much I looked like the little drawing.
“Looks like I’m you’re man,” I’d say.
“Ha, what a fun coincidence,” my soon-to-be boss would reply just before offering me a sizable signing bonus. Sure.
I found the address and parked. The office looked just like every other office in the complex, a brick façade with mirrored windows that showed nothing of the interior of the buildings. The door swung open just as I was getting out of my car. A young man with tidy blond hair and a charcoal gray suit stomped down the front steps scowling and muttering to himself.
He saw me heading toward the door and shook his head.
“I wouldn’t bother,” he said. He threw his arms up in exasperation and continued walking.
I decided to ignore him. After all, it wasn’t his picture in the ad and he didn’t seem like someone I would want to hire anyway.