I woke up in a Chicago hotel room the other morning. It was 2 degrees outside.
I was hungry, and not just in a run-of-the-mill, "Hey, I think a bagel sounds tasty today" sort of way.
It was more of a, "For the love of God, it's a tundra out there. I MUST find some kind of giant, bear-like, Midwesterner's, meat-filled 2,000 calorie breakfast" kind of hungry.
(Can you tell I hail from Michigan?)
And so I consulted Yelp, found a nearby dive that earns rave reviews, bundled the hell up, and set forth.
The warmth of the restaurant, the smell of the coffee, the infectious laugh of the chef flipping pancakes, and the glory of heaping platters passing by just mesmerized me. I was in my happy place.
And then it happened.
Chicago's most high-maintenance human took a seat in the booth adjacent to my cozy table. Sure, sure, she looked all put together and impressive, almost to the point that it annoyed me because, again, it was TWO degrees outside (don't even ask what I had piled on clotheswise to ensure I didn't die of hypothermia during my four block pilgramage to breakfast.)
But she was AWFUL, and within moments everyone around her was silently (some, not so silently) dying.
She ordered tea. At a dive known for its awesome coffee, she ordered tea. And not just any tea ... this gal ordered (loudly and intentionally) organic green tea, with soy milk and Stevia. Had I timed it right, I would have captured the world's most amazing picture of the waiter's face as she blathered out the specifics of what she required.
Next, she ordered breakfast. Again: Dive breakfast place.
"I'll have the spicy vegetarian omelet, with no cheese. I DON'T EAT DAIRY ... (clearly, the entire restaurant needed to know this)... and no bread. I DON'T EAT ANY GLUTEN. NO GLUTEN. ... and extra grapes on the side ... ARE THEY ORGANIC?... "
And on it went. The waiter finished scrawling out the many details and then raced off, most certainly so he could find a safe place to rant to his colleagues about this monstrosity he was now stuck with.
As I shoveled in my bacon, avocado and swiss omelet and toast (GLUTEN! DAIRY! MEAT!), the goddess of the diner got up to use the restroom.
This is when it got really fun.
Her coffee-drinking, gluten-eating companions busted out laughing. And not just a little, "Hahaha, isn't she a character?" laughter, either.
Boisterous, uncontrollable, we-totally-have-to-get-it-all-out-and-regroup-before-she-comes-back-I-may-pee-my-pants laughter.
They actually re-enacted her order. RE-ENACTED it.
And then she returned (oblivous to what had just gone down), settled in and ate her meticulously ordered meal like some sort of scientist searching for a rare, debilitating germ hidden in her eggs.
What is my point?
My first point is that big, sloppy Midwestern breakfasts are one of life's simple pleasures. And foregoing them is just plain stupid.
But the more important point is this:
You cannot be high maintenance.
You just can't be, unless you want waiters to hate you, strangers to wonder what on earth is up with you, and dining companions to roll on the floor laughing at you to the point of near urination.
I couldn't help but wonder -- How does this person comes across in a job interview? What does she ask? What are her mannerisms? What is her tone?
Is she likable?
My guess is that her interviewing style is about the equivalent of her ordering food at a dive diner. Demanding, condescending and draining to those nearby. My guess is that, while she may land interviews, she receives very few callbacks or employment offers.
She may be great at what she does.
She may be super nice once you get to know her.
But if she makes no effort to present herself as an easygoing human who fits into the environment?
Employers certainly hire based on skill, but they also look for people who are going to be easy to get along with and enjoyable to have around the office.
If, as a job seeker, you fail to showcase yourself as capable, likable and one who belongs there? You're not going to be invited to join an organization, period.
Selectivity is very important in job search. You don't just have a right, but an obligation, to find a job that fulfills you, aligns with your preferences and makes you happy.
But there's a dramatic difference between selectivity and high maintenance.
You need to make sure you always fall into the former category.
You need to eat the bacon at that diner. Or, if you're truly not a bacon (or dairy, or gluten) eater? Do your best to not make the bacon eaters feel uncomfortable while you interact with them. Assimilate.
If you can't? You need to pick a different restaurant.
Photo: Flickr.com Creative Commons (Peer Lawther)