Let me tell you my story.
It was a dark and stormy night.
So it was a beautiful day and the temp agency had sent me to interview for my dream job: Personal Assistant to Tony Robbins.
As I drove up to his mansion perched high above the Pacific Ocean …
I was realizing that this was the job I was born to have. Travel?
Check! First class travel?
Double check! Get to hang out with celebrities?
|This is maybe Luke Perry and and Julia Roberts|
|So organized! So efficient! The Virgo gene had not matured to the level it is at now.|
That would be fine.
Before being assigned this job interview, I had never actually heard of Tony Robbins. The temp agency had said, You’ve heard of him, MOV, he’s the famous motivational speaker? Teaches people to walk on fire?
Nope, not ringing a bell.
A few days before I-Day, I asked my roommate Lisa what I should do to prep for the interview. She was always super-smart about things like interviewing (she had worked on a cruise ship) …
… and she recommended I go to a bookstore and get one of Tony’s books. Books, as in plural. I did as instructed, then locked myself in my room for a day and devoured his book.
By the end of the 749 single-spaced inspirational pages, I, too, was ready to walk on fire. Or at least run quickly on lukewarm coals.
Now I knew his history, how he had grown up poor and struggling, and how he had turned himself around to establish his empire. He was not just rich, but filthy rich. This was my chance to learn his secrets or at least become rich by osmosis.
He met me at the door. I had already interviewed with his wife Becky, a lovely woman, who (to me) looked much much much older than Tony (a quick Google search today reveals that she is only 10 years older than he, but to the 26-year-old me, that might as well have been one hundred).
I did not understand how tall Tony Robbins was. Tall. Taller than tall. Sure, he looked (in pictures) to be about basketball-player-ish height, but what is that in reality? 6’2”? 6’3”? I am 5’8”, so I am actually pretty tall myself.
I was absolutely unprepared to see someone seven feet tall at the door. He was a giant.
I suddenly knew how Alice in Wonderland felt when she shrunk to the size of a caterpillar.
I could think of nothing better to say than, “Hello! Nice to meet you! Wow, you’re tall!” As the words were cascading out my mouth, I was internally berating myself, Say something intelligent! Right now!
“And it’s a pretty day out,” were the next words that left my lips.
“Yes, it is,” he shook my hand, which now felt like a tiny doll hand in his huge bear paw monstrosity …
|Drawing is to scale|
I had spent the last few hours memorizing various parts of his book, like he might randomly quiz me on facts and details from his youth or from how he built his empire. I knew the name of his mentor, how many children he had and what their names were, his theory for unleashing the power within. However, I had not watched any of his myriad videos and actually listened to him speak. Therefore, I did not know that he had a raspy voice—that this hoarseness was, in fact, his trademark.
“Just getting over a cold?” I inquired politely, as I reached into my purse to hand The Giant a cough drop.
“What? No. No. Ha ha.” He gave a fake smile, and I knew the interview was over before it started.
We walked out to his back patio which was about ten million thousand stories above the ocean. To say that you could see for miles would be an understatement. You could see for miles, continents, solar systems, years, and eternity.
This was a view.
We sat down and I forced myself to focus on Tony and not on the view. After talking with him for 10 minutes, I could see how he got whatever he wanted out of life: he was pushy. He would ask a typical interview question like “If you only had six months to live, what would you be doing?” and I would hem and haw, knowing the right answer was Getting green tea for you but wanting to say Travel all over Italy.
So instead I said, “Gosh, I don’t know.”
“If you had to give an answer, what would it be?”
“I never really thought about it. Huh, six months? I would … uh, I don’t know.”
“But if you had to give an answer, what would it be?”
He broke me down. “I would max out my credit cards and travel all over Italy!” I blurted out.
I knew as I was saying it that it was not the most financially-sound plan to give someone in an interview. But if the doctors told me I only had six months, then I would be dead by the time the credit card companies caught up with me and cancelled all my cards.
Things went from bad to worse.
“MOV, what is the one thing you could not tolerate in a work environment?”
Gah, what was I supposed to say to that? I had not worked many places by this point in my life, I had only worked in a few hotels and for one year as a flight attendant for Continental Airlines. I tried to think what I did not like at any of those jobs. One time, a passenger had cussed me out when I accidentally dropped his carry-on bag on his head while I was trying to help him stow it …
… and I didn’t particularly relish that memory.
“Ummm, I don’t know. I like any kind of work environment.” I smiled a weak smile, thinking, Please hire me even though I give all the wrong answers.
“But if you had to say, if you had to, what could you not tolerate in a work environment?” he repeated, not surprisingly.
I said the first thing that sprang to mind, which was about that one random passenger that one isolated time swearing at me:
I bit my lip to stop the rambling.
“MOV, what was your major in college?”
“Ah, okay.” He scribbled something down in his notepad. I tried to read it upside down. It looked like “muck.”
|This was in 1996. He probably uses an iPad nowadays.|
I glanced at my watch, knowing that there was no way I was going to get this job.
We had been sitting out here for one hour. A whole hour where not one of my meticulously pre-rehearsed answers was needed, a whole hour in which I could showcase to Mr. Tony Robbins that I was not good in interview situations with a raspy-voiced giant.
Even though every cell in my body knew I would not be getting a job offer, I still held onto the remote hope, like if the TV announcer was calling the winning Lotto numbers and I did not have the first four numbers, but I could still win a million dollars if I got the last two right.
|Story of my life|
After I left Tony Robbins’s house, I drove to the vet to pick up my cat. I cannot remember now, as I tell the story, why the cat was at the vet, but it doesn’t matter. She was not happy to be in her cage and meowed fiercely for me to take her out.
|"I hate you!"|
It was a metaphor for my whole day.
I called the temp agency a few days later to find out if they had heard anything. Not surprising, they mechanically informed me that the HR people at Anthony Robbins Inc. had hired somebody else.
I found out many years later that shortly after I had met Tony, he had divorced his not-quite-ancient wife, Becky, and run off with his newly-hired-much-younger-and-quite-beautiful assistant. Whenever I see a photo of Tony and his second wife on the Entertainment channel or in Oprah magazine, I muse That could have been me.
But then I hug my two beautiful sons and think, I’m so glad it wasn’t.
|My happy ending|
(I, MOV, wrote and illustrated this post. It was first published as a guest blog piece on Haley's Comic on Leap Blog Day. Reprinted with permission granted by blog owner, Haley. Thanks, Haley!)