Eight months ago after sitting in my boss’s office while he told me that I had two weeks to look for a new job before I was laid from cushy career of two years, I (unwillingly) but immediately began a man hunt for a new job. I did have the security in knowing that I would receive a severance package for one month and I could cash in another month of PTO. And if I still hadn’t found a job after 2 months, and desperately needed money, I could dip into my savings which could hold me over for another six months. Also, I would be eligible to receive unemployment benefits but the maximum amount that I could receive would still be well below what my actual salary was and still not enough to help support me and my family.
The news couldn’t have been at a worse time. I was going through a tough breakup, I was in the middle of house hunting, a friend’s upcoming nuptials, among other things. But I didn’t let any of this affect my search. In fact, it motivated me to start looking for job more aligned with my type of dream career.
At the time, I was an assistant to a C-level executive working for a top firm with an office in a high rise in downtown. I was overpaid, underworked, had a flexible work schedule with all paid company benefits. It was the crème de la crème job of college graduates. I was very lucky to have a great job that paid for my boutique gym membership and a macro manager boss who was hardly in the office. I absolutely loved my job, I had no worries and it allowed me to live a better lifestyle than I was accustomed too. I had no reason or want to quit, maybe not ever.
The work itself was not at all what I wanted to do. I had dreams of becoming a writer and/or working in marketing in the fashion industry. I wanted to travel, write and get paid to post on social media. (Just like other naïve millennials.) BUT IT WAS EASY AND I WAS PAID A LOT OF MONEY TO DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
So why ever look for a new job?!
Fast-forward two years later and I had no choice. So I decided to look for jobs that matched with my future career goals.
I spent my days “working”… on getting a new job. Interviews were scheduled on my lunchbreaks.
On the Friday, of my last week to get a new job I jammed multiple interviews desperate to not be left on the street with my cliché white box of corporate let-go’s.
It was on this day that I had the scariest and worst interview that I hopefully will ever have.
It was for a marketing position with a very small firm but in the same field I was currently in at the time. The job entailed handling all social media accounts, graphic design, blogging, and marketing. There was also a very slim chance the position would require minimal traveling as the direct report would be the owner who was constantly traveling.
I was excited and crossing my fingers as this seemed to be the more promising job interview I may have had.
On paper, I knew I was a strong candidate with my background and education. But I also needed to be sure I would impress! So I wore my most business outfit that I wear only to important business related functions: a black pencil skirt, matching black blazer, white button up blouse, diamond stud earrings, and black heels, minimal makeup of just concealer and mascara, and my hair was straightened into a slicked-back ponytail. I also prepared a portfolio of my writing, design work, and successful projects while also lightly rehearsing possible interview questions/scenarios.
But nothing prepared me for what actually happened!
The firm was in a small building uptown of where I worked. I was very familiar with the area as it was in a nicer and popular part of town that I had formerly grew up in. Inside, the office space was surprisingly converted into looking like it was a downtown studio with modern fixtures and a loft design style. I walked up to the receptionist desk, but she blatantly ignored me as I stood directly in front of her. So I said, “Hi, I’m here for an interview with Mr. Big. I’m a little early though.” She looked up at me then back down at her computer. I stood there awkwardly for few seconds confused and unsure of what to do…?! So I just walked to the sitting chair and sat and waited. After a few minutes she got up and walked to the back. I started reading my resume and going over my portfolio, when a few minutes later she came back to her desk when she mumbled that asfkla would come get me. Because I didn’t hear her and she didn’t acknowledge me when she first started talking I replied, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.” But she just went back to ignoring me.
So I just sat there awkwardly, confused at what was happening. She started watching YouTube videos loudly and laughing obnoxiously. Already, I knew that if I got the job I probably would have a hard time working with her and hoped something panned out with the other two interviews I had after.
A few minutes later, the whitest girl I had ever seen came to the front desk. I was caught off guard with the way this girl looked. The receptionist was wearing a crop top with her cleavage out and low-waist jeans that showed her back tattoos with a nose piercing. This girl was wearing a long, loose pencil skirt that went passed her knees and a really baggy sweater with her blonde hair in the longest braid. She also looked scared for some reason. Which scared me! And maybe was a warning for what I was about to endure.
The receptionist looked up and said to follow the blonde girl, so I got up with my stuff and went around to the back following. We went through the hallway passing a conference room, an office and an open cubicle space. She stopped and said I could go into the vault. Confused, I quickly turned around and a giant bank vault door that locked as his office door. I got scared for a few seconds at the thought of being alone in a vaulted room with a guy. But she showed me the glass doors to go through and maybe my fear showed because she just said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right out here.” And sat down at a cubicle inches away from the glass doors with a bird’s eye view into his office.
I went through the doors as she slid them closed. As I went into the office, Mr. Big apologized for keeping me waiting as he spun around in his chair to face me. I took a seat on one of the chairs across his desk. I was caught off guard with how big he was! I had looked up him and his company when applying so I knew what he would like but honestly, his photos were made him a lot more attractive than he was. He sat slumped in his chair and was just huge! He looked like he weighed about 400 lbs. Also, his shoulder length hair I expected was really just short of a toupe. He didn’t shake hands but just stayed seated and started looking for my resume that he couldn’t find. So I just gave him a copy that I had. It was then he realized that I worked at the same firm a prior assistant of his did. She left his firm and had also been the assistant to my current boss. He bizarrely started trying to get me to speak negatively about my company and boss.
He also wanted to know if the company had done anything illegal. (At the time, my company was in the news, both local and nationally, and because the field in my city was relatively small, it was well known knowledge at what was going on. So it was normal for me to go on interviews and people ask about the current state of my company. I did speak to my boss about this and he gave me some answers that I could use in interviews that were appropriate but also didn’t divulge information.) So I just replied with a response that was general but didn’t directly ask his questions. He kept pushing for me to say something bad about anything related to my firm. I wouldn’t and just said that I love my company, boss, and co-workers and that I honestly have nothing bad to say and even if I did I wouldn’t say anything negative about it.
Also, I heard scratching noises on the carpet near and looked down. To my horror his BARE feet stretched passed his desk near mine and he was scratching them against the carpet. I was pretty grossed out and scooted back into the chair while trying to push it and myself a little further from his desk.
All of that started to make me uncomfortable and I guess he finally realized he wouldn’t get anything out of me because he started talking about the position and the job requirements. He asked if I had any experience with social media and writing. I explained my background, a few projects I had worked on and showed him my portfolio. I was getting excited again about the job and he seemed impressed with my work. He was making comments that I seemed to be a top candidate and all. Also, he explained that the office was three persons instead of the small practice I thought it was. He was looking to hire more assistants to help with the workload.
He started getting texts and calls in the middle of our interview. While he didn’t answer his calls he started replying to texts while in the middle of me talking which began to become awkward since I could tell he wasn’t listening anymore and I started to trail off in my answers. At one moment, I just sat there in silence as he kept going at it with his texts. It seemed like he was fighting with someone as he began texting faster and harder, so I just started letting my eyes wander around the office. Above his desk, were huge portraits of children that I started to look aimlessly at. He caught me staring at them and said those were his kids. He explained how he had a hobby in photography and had taken photos of his kids and wife. Then he started going on in expletives that his wife was no longer his wife but an ex whom he was currently texting. Because she wanted more child support. It became even more awkward as he started talking about her new husband and how she wasn’t a good mother. Then he started talking about how he wasn’t a millionaire but he made a generous amount of money ($500k+). He started bragging about how he was a shark and so good at what he did. People feared him! He talked about things he did that to me seemed questionably unethical and probably shouldn’t brag about. But hey, to him I was a young, naïve 20-something year in desperate need of a job and he was a wealthy man who could help me out!
I guess he got tired of talking about himself and decided to end the interview. “Thanks so much! It was great meeting you, I look forward to hearing back from you,” I lied through my teeth ready to walk out.
He said he would show me around the office on the way out. I was a little confused why because I saw all of it coming in (it was a really small office space) but whatever. A lot of companies did that anyways, so it didn’t seem questionable to me. I would humor him and let him brag one last time.
I got up straightening my skirt out and getting my stuff as he got up. It was then I saw about how big this guy really was. He stood tall about 6’5 and maybe even weighed more than I initially thought. He limped to get his bejeweled cane to walk and slid on some dirty house slippers on. His assistant peeked her head into the office and he just waved her off saying he was going to show me the office. I walked out as he limped behind me and let him lead the way. I looked back at the girl to say by but again she had the look of horror upon her face which started to creep me out at this point.
Before going through the hallway, he explained this was the cubicle space and then walked to the conference room where he said this is the conference room. We then went to the clear, glass office and again he obviously stated it was the office. Rolling my eyes behind him, I let him lead the way to the reception desk where he said it was the reception area. Glad to finally be out of this weird place, I put my hand out to shake and again started to say thanks. But nope, we were not done!
He wanted to show me where his assistant’s office and the office I’d have if I got the job. Again this being nothing out of the ordinary, I said ok and started walking back into the hallway from the reception area. He laughed and said the office wasn’t there so I stood confused. I had seen the entire office space so where were the other offices…?!
“Over here,” he pointed and limped behind the 2/3 built wall behind the reception desk. I had thought the black wall was just there as a focal point for the room, not realizing behind it was a small hallway that led to another door. He explained he owned the whole building, instead of the 1/3 I thought he owned.
The hallway was dim because of the black wall but not dark. He opened the door and limped inside. I waited in the doorway for him to turn on the lights because it was completely and utterly pitch black.
A few seconds passed, and he still hadn’t turned on any lights on. I heard him say to come in.
That was when I started to panic.
I still didn’t move. Why? I don’t know. I was probably beginning to shut down because I’m not stupid and had a feeling something was about to happen.
He kept saying to come in but he still hadn’t turned the lights on. I wasn’t about to walk into a room that’s pitch black with a guy who weighs 400-500lbs more than me and a foot taller. My eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and that’s when I realized the room was in full construction with tarps, tools and wood thrown all over. I stayed standing in the middle of the doorway while trying to figure what to do. Every time he said to go in, I said turn the lights on. But he stayed standing in the middle of the room in the dark.
Then I saw him next to me towering over and reached over across me and grabbed to door handle. He was trying to close the door with me against to make me come into the room! I wanted to cry, my stomach was in a ball of nerves and I was on the verge of a panic attack. I quickly scanned the room and saw a wood board nearest me that I could run to and try to use as a weapon. I wanted to scream and maybe the receptionist would hear me but I wasn’t sure if she’d ignore it or if that would aggravate him into doing something to me. As he tried to close the door, I slammed my heel hard against it and pushed back with my body against the door. I made a loud banging noise by doing that and he let go of the doorknob and jumped back.
“What was that?” he asked.
I stood shaking backing away from the doorway.
“I’m not going in there.”
He seemed agitated and turned on the lights saying, “This is all I wanted to show you. I don’t know why you wouldn’t come in.”
With the lights on, I saw there were no offices. It was all construction like I had seen in the dark. I was sure of what he would have done if I had gone in there. I was mad and scared.
Maybe sensing that I was questioning his motives, he tried to explain the offices were under construction as he was expanding but they would be in here.
I wobbled my way out of there still scared at what just happened. I told my boss and other colleagues what happened, I wanted advice and maybe did I somehow overreact that he would have tried to do something to me had I gone in that dark room. But everyone agreed that he probably was going to try to do something. I asked if I could report him but it was recommended that I didn’t because he didn’t actually do anything to harm me and it was my word against his and also, may potentially harm my job search in the relatively small career field.
I was pretty sure I would never hear back from his since I seemed to have ruined his ploy. But nope, the next day he text me saying he had a job offer for me. Which I thought was extremely weird as I have NEVER been texted by a potential employer. Although I wasn’t going to take the job, I emailed him saying he can contact me via email, to send over the information, and I would review and contact him accordingly. Again, he text me saying if I could go in during lunch as no one would be in the office and we could talk about a job position he has for me. This also made me leary of him as the job I applied for was an assistant position and he was saying “a job position”, as if speaking of another position than the one I applied and interviewed for. And also, why would I go talk to him when no one would be in the office after what he tried to do the previous day?!
I replied via email saying I was no longer interested in the position. I blocked his email and his phone number. I ended up getting random numbers calling and leaving voicemails which were him. But I just blocked those.
I was already laid off and before my firm permanently closed, I went to visit my boss in which he told me that Mr. Big contacted him via LinkedIn saying he was trying to contact me but I wouldn’t answer his calls, emails or texts. And all he wanted was to take me out for drinks. And I also found out from another girl who was an assistant at my firm that she had gone in for an interview with Mr. Big and he did the same thing to her too. Except she went into that room and he closed and locked the door so she couldn’t leave. She said she was in there for 1 ½ hours and they just talked. I kept telling her if something happened she should report him and we could together but she denies anything happened and that they just sat in that furniture-less room and talked in the dark. I find that extremely hard to believe but she won’t say otherwise.
I’ve seen the position posted at various times since then and I’ve warned people in the field about my experience and letting them know who this guy is because I’m scared he will actually do something to someone if hasn’t already. I’m lucky that he didn’t do anything to me and since then am more careful about situations I put myself in. If I’m questioning something, now I’ll walk away even if it seems silly.