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Answer by Leitha Matz, ecommerce leader for an online grocer:
Minneapolis. I'm working as a proofreader and fresh out of a divorce. I got a tip from a friend that a businessman was looking for a copywriter. I called the fellow up and he invited me to come to his home office.
In retrospect, this was probably red flag No. 1. But I was 22 and hadn't had too many job interviews, so I thought it seemed reasonable.
Arriving at his "home office," aka the den of his ranch-style home, this guy was about 15 years older than me and had two kids from a previous marriage. He struck me as a sharp dresser and a slick presenter, though I thought he might be a closeted gay man.
He asked me a few basic job interview-type questions, but didn't bother to look at my résumé or copy samples. Then he proceeded to introduce me to his line of products, his patents, his business philosophy, his life story, and his weirdly continuous internal/external monologue.
He seemed kind of ADD and a bit of a loose cannon, but he was clearly successful (the car! the house! the merch!) and refreshingly honest. I was going through a confusing time in my life, so I was already questioning whether my natural impulses were 100 percent reliable.
Hours went by. He loaded me down with his merch and asked me to dinner to continue the conversation. I thought, "Well, this feels a bit personal, but I've heard about job interviews that include meals, so why not?"
We got in his expensive silver sports car and went out to a Mexican chain. He bought me drinks. He talked about how perfect I'd be for the job. I was scared, but also kind of psyched at the prospect.
He dropped me off at my car and promised to pick me up the next day after work so we could go see the site of the future office. He showed up (on time) in the expensive silver sports car with a cooler of beers. He took me across the state line (into Wisconsin) to a location in the middle of the woods.
At this point, I seriously considered jumping out of the car. I was thinking about how he'd cut me into tiny pieces and my family would never know what happened to me. He may have been coked up. He was certainly a reckless driver. I tried to continue casually chatting and appearing blasé about everything.
At some point, he parked the car in a field, and we got out and hiked up a hill. He showed me the river valley below, picked up a stone shaped like a heart and told me it was a sign.
He told me all this could and should all be mine ... or ours, really. Here was my office. There was his. We'd do this together. He wanted to get married, after a reasonable dating period, of course. He wanted to hire me. I was terrified. I took his heart-shaped rock. I drank a beer. He kissed me to seal the deal. I told him I needed to sleep on a life change as big as that.
He jabbered all the way back to Minneapolis and dropped me off at home. He called the next day and said, "So? What do you say?" I felt jittery, even over the phone. I said, "I've decided this isn't the right opportunity for me at this time."
"For what, the job or the relationship?"
"Both," I said.
"Wow. OK. Your loss." He said. I thanked him and hung up.
We never spoke again. In the days after, the whole thing came to seem like a strange dream. I kept the heart-shaped rock for a long time to prove to myself that it had actually happened.
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