Updated: Jan 13, 2021
FRAGMENT 1: I was invited back to teach at a university I had taught at for many years, with the condition I interviewed with the new dean of the school.
I arrived and was met by the dean, a short, balding older man, who sat me down at a desk in a crowded, narrow office.
The dean handed me a white, plastic notebook and flipped to a random page and told me to review the role-play on the page in front of me.
A few minutes later, the dean rolled two chairs in front of a desk nearby where a woman had already been sitting.
The dean sat down on one of the chairs, leaving an empty chair in the middle; he then signaled to me to come over and sit in the middle chair between himself and the woman.
The dean introduced the woman and asked me if I was ready to start, but I told him I was unclear of what exactly I had to do as the information on the role-play sheet was incomprehensible. He told me they were just guidelines and that I could improvise, that the interview was merely a formality.
Just then, an Asian man with a full, bushy head of two-toned black and gray hair, walked behind us and began making what I deemed to be deliberate noises meant to distract me while I participated in the interview.
I stopped and looked at the dean, who informed the Asian man that he was conducting an interview and could he please move along, which he did apologetically.
I began speaking and seconds later the Asian man re-appeared carrying on as before, making a deliberate commotion.
Frustrated by the noise and not knowing what was expected of me during this bizarre interview, I angrily asked the dean if this was all part of the interview, that they merely wanted to see if I would crack under pressure.
The dean looked at me with a confused expression and told me I could be certain it wasn't, though he spoke in a manner that contradicted his statement.
All at once, I stood up, took my jacket and brief case and walked away, having realized the whole interview was a ruse.
On my way out, I passed a desk on the left-hand side of an outer office where the Asian man sat. I gave him an unpleasant look as I passed by.
Then I woke up.
FRAGMENT 2: I arrived at the home of a young woman who I was hired to interview for a magazine.
The house was located on a rural property and the woman invited me inside, took my coat and asked me to follow her to the kitchen where we sat a small table, her back to a window looking out over what appeared to be farmland.
The young woman stood up and walked over to a cupboard and removed a large plastic storage box that she brought over to the table and set upon a chair. I observed the box contained a number of smaller, tall and narrow plastic boxes that had masking tape labels with writing on them.
We began talking and she told me I could begin the interview by selecting a random box.
The idea was I would remove a box and whatever I read on the label would elicit my questions.
This went on for a few minutes and when I took out a slightly different looking box, the young woman became visibly distraught.
I asked her if there was something wrong and if I should simply select another box, if this one would make her upset.
She told me it reminded me of her late father who had died, unbeknownst to me, just a month earlier. Again I told her I didn't mind selecting another box but she assured me it was fine.
I took the box and read the label, which seemed to have a verse in a foreign language written on it that I managed to read phonetically, though I did not understand its meaning.
While I was reading the label, the young woman began crying and apologized for becoming so emotional, insisting that I continue reading saying the text reminded me of her late father.
I continued reading as the young woman continued crying.
Then I woke up.