In the days leading up to my Lady Liberty audition, I wondered who else would be at the audition. Who would be my competition?
I’d seen wavers on the street and assumed, based on my preconceived notions, that these weren’t professional actors, PhDs or people looking for a foot in the door to eventually move up the corporate ladder. At the risk of sounding snooty, I assumed most had limited opportunities and were desperate to make a buck in today’s struggling economy. I mean, why would anyone choose this type of work unless they simply didn’t have much of a choice? Perhaps I’d soon be enlightened.
Audition day had finally arrived. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny afternoon with a forecast that had temperatures nearing 70 in mid January. Good old Mother Nature – what a tease! I imagined her thumbing her nose at me. No more wicked winds to slap some sense into me. Just a warm ray of sunshine tapping me on the shoulder as if to say “Silly, silly, girl, you’re on your own now.”
When I got to the tax office I expected to see a bunch of waver candidates standing around or signing in or seated in the waiting area. There were a lot of people in the office, about 20 men and women seated in front of computers and around desks.
The owner told me they were in the middle of a training session for tax preparers. It appeared I was the only waver there to audition. I sat amongst the tax preparers as they watched me interview. Might as well get used to an audience, right? First I watched a five-minute video on Liberty Tax Wavers. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched the guys and girls jumping, pointing at cars and flipping signs on the side of the street. It was funny to think about me doing that. The video suggested ideas on how to get attention with various actions, props and phrases. It told me I should “avoid sunshine face.” Huh? Sunshine face sounds like a great thing to have when greeting potential clients. The narrator also reassured me that if someone gave me the finger, “they’re just saying you’re number one!“ So far nobody’s told me that, but I thought it was good advice to share with everyone.
When the video was over I needed clarification on one thing. “What is sunshine face?” Turns out it’s the effect one gets when wearing the Liberty crown incorrectly, set on the back of the head with the crown points framing the face like a radiant sun, rather than sitting more on top of the head and pointing toward the sky.
Got it. Respect the costume.
My next question: “Can I paint my face?”
The answer: yes
I’m not saying it would have been a deal breaker, but I would have been very disappointed if the answer was no. It would be an indication that I might not have the freedom to add my creative touches to what I was now privately referring to as “performance art.”
While we were on the subject of costuming I learned that there were several Lady Liberty gowns and they were to stay at the office. Uh oh. Sharing – another dilemma. Would you want to put on a dress that someone just worked-out in or was left overnight to marinate in B.O., cigarette smoke, or anything else that might spill, leak or pour from a body or the sky. I think the quote went something like this, “Well, I don’t want to put on anyone else’s stinky clothes.” She assured me that the costumes were laundered every night.
All right. I’m still in.
Next it was time to discuss scheduling. At this point I didn’t know how long a waver’s shift lasted, but I had given the topic much consideration prior to the interview. I figured I better decide ahead of time what would be acceptable to me. How long could I last waving and dancing on the street before I tired out from physical exhaustion, boredom, or weathering? 10 minutes? Might as well not show up then, right?
I’d made it through a 45-minute aerobics class a few times despite having to convince myself not to walk out every few minutes. I could probably manage double that time, although it was highly unlikely a 90-minute waving shift existed. Fine. I’d be willing to try three hours, but that’s my limit. If it was horrible, I could always quit.
“A waver’s shift is four hours,” she explained. “Is that okay?”
Oh, no, no, no, no… not okay. Four hours does not seem remotely doable.
“Yes.” I nodded. “That works.” Hey, I’d come this far. I had to at least make it out to the street in costume for the try-out.
The next part of the interview was the audition. I was instructed to put on a costume, go out to the street and spend about 10 – 15 minutes waving.
I was giddy with nervous excitement. I was finally going to see what it was like to be one of these guerilla marketers. Maybe the next few minutes would be enough to satisfy my curiosity and I’d move on to the bigger and better things after claiming my 10 minutes of street fame.
There were four other Lady Liberties on the sidewalk. I had no idea if they were employees working their shift or if they were auditioning like me. Either way, I was confident. I was going to burst onto the scene with tons of energy, personality and a few tips that I had just picked up from the training video. My fellow Liberty Ladies were about to be upstaged and they’d either hate me or think that I was a crazy lady. I didn’t have anything to lose, not even my dignity, because I was in disguise.
I pointed at drivers. I jumped up and down. I spun, and danced, and waved enthusiastically with a broad smile. I pretty much acted like I was so excited to see every car and I could barely wait to greet them. I threw in a few cool dance moves too. I was surprised at how much fun it was. I could have gone longer than 15 minutes, and that was a good sign.
I was out of breath when I walked back into the office. Several of the tax preparers complimented me. I learned that they had been up at the window watching. The owner was pleased and said the job was mine if I wanted it.
I wasn’t 100% sure that I did, but I was tired of all my deliberating and self-doubt. Why not go for it – roll with the punches instead of trying to second-guess everything? So I accepted.
I had a new job.
Lady Liberty and I were going to take on the world… well, at least my side of the boulevard.
I play a mean cardboard sign guitar!
So what’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had or the oddest interview you’ve been on?
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