Interview in the morning. Dress code: business casual (no suit). Is there a way to pull this off while looking like I care about the interview? My roommate offers his assistance. I walk in a straight line towards the living room wearing a dark brown collared shirt with vertical white stripes, black dress pants, and a blazer. I turn and face the Judge.
“I don’t know anything about fashion, but the blazer looks a little big. Plus, you need a belt.” I look down. The pants fit, but I humor him. I come back a few minutes later with a belt.
“Oh, that belt looks weird,” he responds. “It’s this faded brown while your pants are black. Do you have a black belt?” After some heavy searching, I find one and wear it.
He looks again. “Come on, K,” he says. “That just looks battered and worn out. Buy a new belt.” He looks serious.
“Where am I going to find a belt at this hour?” I ask. It’s 11 PM, and my interview is at 10:45 the next morning, and it’s an hour’s drive.
“Go first thing in the morning before your interview,” he tells me. “They’ll definitely have one in Emeryville or something. I know nothing else about fashion, but I know you need a belt. Stores open at 9, so you’ll have plenty of time.”
I don’t want to take any chances. During the morning of the interview, I budget an additional half hour to go to Emeryville to pick up the belt. I reach there at 9. All the stores are closed, and they don’t open until 10. I’m in a bind, but there doesn’t seem to be an alternative. I take off for the interview.
As I drive down 880, I start to feel naked without the belt. Will the interviewer snicker at my shameless omission? Will I be blacklisted with a note on the company’s interview file that I failed to wear a belt? Dreams of public nakedness abound. I calm myself down. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t have a belt, I tell myself. These pants aren’t going to fall off.
I turn into an exit, and the pants start to sag… Okay, I’ll just find a place on the way. Unfortunately, there’s only one place I can think of in the South Bay, and it’s in the wrong direction. With slight hesitation, I start driving towards the Stanford Shopping Center. It’s 10 AM.
Nuvi is confused as she continues directing me to the interview in her sultry Australian accent. “Turn left on Cowper Street,” she instructs me. I ignore her. 10:10 AM. She continues, but I’m on a mission. 10:20 AM. I park at the Stanford Shopping Center and run in.
Bloomingdale’s. Not the kind of belt I want. I continue walking. Where is Macy’s? I see a Banana Republic and walk inside.
“Hello,” greets one of the workers, smiling gingerly at me.
“Hi,” I smile back. “Where are your belts?”
“Oh, you’re in luck today! Our belts are on sale!”
“Oh, you’re not in luck because I would have paid full price,” I respond. We both laugh. I pick up a belt and head over to the register.
“No need for a bag,” I tell the cashier, as I wear the belt. Which tag do I remove? The cashier instructs me. Satisfied with the look, I run back to the car, feeling like a new man. 10:30 AM.
Having taken care of business, I listen to Nuvi. There’s still time, she reassures me. I make it to the interview with a few minutes to spare and thank Nuvi for her last minute help; she hides inside the glove compartment during my interview.
I get a call later in the afternoon telling me the company wants to proceed with a second round interview. Apparently, they liked the belt.