The Artist

Nick Farriella

How it was relayed back to me, from various people online, was that, I guess, at the end of my final interview via Zoom for a big firm in the city, there was, when I clicked end, something unusual about my face; that the frozen image of it on the hiring manager’s screen was so warped and disfigured, with beady glowing eyes (I think she reported horns) and an unhinged dangling jaw, the hiring manager screamed in horror, but not before getting a screenshot to later post to the Reddit thread r/unzoom, a thread designated to odd, strange, and ridiculous behavior on work Zoom calls.

Supposedly, the hiring manager was so affected by the demented rendering of my face, she had nightmares for a week, to the point where she couldn’t lay her head down on her pillow at night and close her eyes without seeing my face. She even sought various types of council. But––so I heard––that even the pills that an A-team of well-known city psychologists prescribed her, balancing the dosages over a two-week period, still had no effect on the mental image of my horrid mug in her mind; that they, the pills, actually made it worse; that she reported seeing me when her eyes were open, my face in mirrors and on walls and looking around corners. It eventually got to the point where the hiring manager had formed an entire demonic body for me, with wings and goat legs, and bushy hair, and could see me doing remedial tasks around her Upper West Side condo, like realigning the curtain rods or repainting some faded and chipped door jambs. This all, supposedly, became too much; the hiring manager now resides in Bellevue and wears yellow socks with the grips on the bottom and is on 24-hour observation.

All of this, obviously, wasn’t known to me at the time when I followed up. In fact, I had thought I was a strong candidate. My qualifications were a perfect fit for the good position at the big firm in the city. So, when I hadn’t heard anything, I admit, I was a little fired up, you know. Like, here I was, I had given over a month of my time for this interviewing process––going over notes, mock-questions, putting on a top-half of a suit over my sweatpants, shaving, and just a lot of mental energy spent on thinking of, worrying about, hoping for the good position at the big firm in the city. And neglecting my art to do so, by the way.

I see now how paying the hiring manager a little visit could be seen as wrong, but I needed to know, felt that I was owed the right to know. These companies nowadays don’t care if you are hurting, if you need work, if you have suppressed something deep within yourself, something that craves and wants to feed, all to just work a day job you don’t care about for money to survive, so that only on nights (if you’re not too tired) or weekends (if you find the time) you can let that devil out of you, to walk around a bit, stretch its arms, write little stories––is this too much to ask for?

Nick Farriella is the author of Rules for Escaping, a story collection due out from word west press in August 2022.