So about a month ago a headhunter called me about yet another document review job I had applied online for. I’ve been trying without success to break into document review for a couple of years now. At first I figured that since I had finally condescended to lower myself to document review, jobs would be forthcoming. Yeah, that was realistic. With no experience and a disadvantagous amount of age and term of unemployment, my chances, as it turns out, are slim. But once in awhile a job comes up that requires someone with a background in pharma patents which I have. And sometimes a job comes up in New Jersey, where I am. This job combined both these features, so when the headhunter asked me to come to the office for an interview I thought it might not be a total waste of time. Of course it’s easy for a headhunter to ask you in; he’s already at the office, it’s only going to take him half an hour or so, and it’s his job anyway. But you have to find something to wear, get yourself into the city and out again, and carry a clean resume. This all consumes one morning or one afternoon. And you’re out the cost of the commute. And deep down inside you know it’s for nothing. Well, this headhunter worked for a tiny firm but he was polite and seemed serious. The other nice thing about him was that every week for a month, he would send a bulletin to me and the others on his mailing list about the status of the project which was continually being postponed. But his emails always conveyed the impression that although I hadn’t been specifically picked yet, I was a strong candidate and should be prepared. At this point I felt I was almost in and the only hitch would be the project’s cancellation, which I thought might be in the cards. However I felt that I was or at least had been a contender. The fifth weekly email was not from him but from another firm member, who said the project would be starting soon and only NJ-barred applicants with document review experience were being considered. I have neither qualification, but I still had the forlorn hope that since this was another headhunter maybe this was a new project. I asked via email, and received a reply from yet another headhunter that yes, this was the same project. One fetching thing about this firm is that everyone does reply to emails. Even “thanks for letting me know emails”. But they sure do bait and switch, if you can call it that. I thought I had a foot in the door but it turns out I wasn’t even close to the house. Postscript: The next week I got an email from my interviewing headhunter about the job, to the effect that “if you’re reading this email, you were not selected” I wrote back to thank him for having the decency to stay in touch, so unlike my previous experiences with document review headhunters. And there was no reply…
One of the two things I cooked for myself in college days was my own invention (a roomate taught me the other so it was less interesting though better). I would purchase my chicken leg (with skin) from the butcher on the corner and bring it upstairs into our narrow little kitchen. The stove was by the window opposite the sink, you could reach one from the other by simply turning around. I’d track down my pot, make sure it was empty, extract the chicken leg from its stiff paper wrapper, and settle it in there for transformation.
Here is the recipe, on which I will now confer the epicurean name it deserves: Jambe de Poulet De L’eau, aka Chicken Leg in Water.
chicken leg (unwrapped);
enough water, preferably NYC;
hacked up carrots;
salt, often forgotten
Take the chicken leg out of the butcher paper and drop the paper in the sink for later. Avoid touching the chicken, or else wipe your hands on the curtain, which is dingy and already smells (they say you can’t get salmonella twice anyway, and you and your roomies have probably had it already). Excavate your carrots from last week from the back of the fridge. They are now kind of rubbery which makes them easier to hack up in your weakened, hungry condition. Hack however many your roomie didn’t eat while sleepwalking into largish fragments and stick them in the pot on top of the chicken. If you don’t have at least two, you won’t get much veggie credit. However six is too many and turns the stovetop orange when your dinner boils over. Now head over to the tall, spindly cabinets over the tiny wooden countertop and pull down all the open boxes of spaghetti. Find one that actually has some spaghetti in it and shake it onto the carrots being careful to avoid getting roach droppings in there. If you are nice you will throw out the empty spaghetti boxes but if you are mad at your roomies you will put them back on the top shelf. Now add your New York City tap water. Even back in the day, before foodies existed or were (badly) dreamt of, this was considered a quality organic ingredient. Pivot the pot over to the sink, and splash it in generously, you can afford it. Now, pivot the heavily laden pot carefully back to the stovetop and turn on the gas. If the burner clicks unproductively more than three times, lose patience with the pilot and light the burner with a match in an exciting explosion. Go away for at least long enough to head over to the bathroom, pee, and once again take your roomie’s damp nylons off your bath towel and hide them under her mattress. When you come back your Chicken Leg in Water will be boiling enthusiastically. Let this continue until the skin has ballooned on the leg, the carrots are as soft as Jello, and the spaghetti has swollen to the thickness of a drinking straw. Your dinner is now ready to eat, or at least will be in about ten or fifteen minutes when it’s cooled sufficiently to be approached without fireproof gear. Find a biggish, cleanish bowl in the cabinet (but not the keepsake one that belonged to your other roomie’s dead grandma) and dump, but carefully, your pot’s contents into it. If you did this right there won’t be much water left and the spaghetti will be fat, mysterious, and yellow. The chicken meat is very relaxed and slops easily off the bone, which you can gnaw after everything else has gone down. Hope you remembered the salt! If you did, this is so good that you won’t leave a speck for the roaches. Or the roomies.