I like to be festive, so when my friend and I went on a cross-country hippie road trip one summer, I got rid of my nicer clothes, keeping old, worn-out clothes and shoes.
After two months, we were sick of living out of the car, so Sky (formerly known as Ashley) took a bus back home and I began looking for a job in Richmond, Virginia. Armed with a yellow folder of resumes, a worthless degree, and the ever-present need to pay for it, I applied to restaurants, temp agencies, manual labor, and even a volunteer program that paid a living stipend. Anything that would pay the bills.
In my experience over the years, I have observed that the lower the pay, the more absurd the interview. Once, for a fast food joint, I was questioned for no fewer than thirty minutes about my strengths and weaknesses, what I would do in hypothetical situations, and how others would describe me. I speak English, I graduated middle school, and I can tie my own non-skid shoes. What more do you need?
My theory was confirmed true at the volunteer interview in Richmond. I wore the best outfit I could muster at the time, which was a tank top, cutoff denim skirt, and flip-flops. I flip-flopped into the room, thinking this would be a breeze. So I wasn't prepared when they threw this question at me out of nowhere, like a snowball in July: "What is your greatest accomplishment?" My greatest accomplishment? I stalled for time, going through the archives of my existence. My mind landed on field day in third grade, when we had a contest to see who could kick our shoes off our feet the farthest. I got second place. My greatest accomplishment is withstanding this cruel interrogation, you sicko terrorist!
Never before had I been faced with that question. What had I accomplished, anyway? As I mentally skimmed through my life, nothing much stood out. I haven't climbed any mountains because I've spent most of my life just trying to make it to sea level. Doesn't that count for anything? What were they expecting me to say -- that I saved a tree, or a whale, or an orphan? I feel accomplished when I save my receipt!
I ended up BSing my answer, and I didn't get the position. Rejected for a volunteer job, I lamented. I wondered what the greatest accomplishments were of the people who were selected. Maybe they raised money for hurricane victims. Maybe they invented a new medical device. Maybe they wore shoes to the interview.