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My Interview with the Department of Homeland Security!

by Julia Bendis

February 1, 2011 | 10:45 am

Years ago, I had applied for a position with the Department of Homeland Security.  Why would I apply for a position with the Homeland Security?  Who knows…  Remember my post about my ADD, and pins in my ass?  Well, that’s why.  This was right after 9/11, and they just formed this new Department.  Homeland Security was looking for people that spoke fluent Russian, to interview potential immigrants that are trying to come to the U.S.  My family and I had to go through that interview process when we immigrated here.  So, when my oldest son started school I decided to go back to work.  The position they advertised looked very lucrative.  Pretty good starting salary, full government benefits and all I had to do was sit on my butt all day, and talk with people.  If you know me, you understand how I could not turn that down!

I filled out an online questionnaire that only took six hours to complete, faxed over all the necessary documents, and sat back and waited.  And waited, and waited.  When I received a letter in the mail six month later, I seriously thought that someone was playing a joke on me, and purposely applied me for a position with DHS.  I completely forgot about it.

The letter asked me to come down to San Diego for a written test, and then wait some more.  A full year and eight months of my second pregnancy later, I received another letter telling me that I had passed the written test with 96%, and now they were scheduling me for a physical exam to make sure I was in good mental and physical shape.  I was so excited, yet confused about why I needed to be in a good physical health to sit at a desk all day?!?!  How was I going to hide my 8-month pregnant belly…  Not to mention, how was I going to do at least 10 sit-ups, run up and down the stairs, and do at least 10 jumping jacks?  To a normal person, reading that letter would have set off some kind of a red flag in their head.  Not to me.  I was as excited as President Clinton upon learning that Jewish girls were allowed in the White House!

Thankfully for me, this is the government we are talking about, they weren’t booking the exam for another three month.  That gave me time to have the kid, pass him off to Mom, get rid of all the baby weight, get into a body-builder shape, and all in two whole months.  I really thought I could do it.  Hell, if Kate Hudson and Angelina Jolie can do it, I can do it.  And they were losing weight for a much greater good that serving their country, they were doing it for the love of film and nude scenes.

I show up to a Medical office for my physical exam feeling pretty confident.  I am instructed to change into my “work-out clothes”.  I really didn’t want to explain to the nurse that my “work-out clothes” don’t include a sports bra and shorts, but rather a bed with some nice 600-thread sheets on it, but I did it anyway.

First, I did the drug test which didn’t worry me at all.  Being a mom to a 5-year-old and a newborn doesn’t leave much time for recreational drugs, unless you count alcohol as one.  Next they had me do a full physical with a 300-lb woman who I am pretty sure was enjoying it a lot more than I was…  When it came time for a physical endurance test, I was sent to another room that had a small step ladder, a chair and a mat in it.  I knew I was in trouble when the amazon woman pulled out pages of what I was supposed to complete.  At first, I had to do ten push-ups, while she sat on my feet.  I tried to explain to her that I had just had a baby about two months before, and wasn’t sure if I could even do one push-up.  Whatever stomach muscles I had pre-pregnancy were long gone!  She pretended not to hear me, and repeated the order.  See, most sane people would have told her to go where the sun don’t shine, and run out of there.  But since I am far from sane, I kept taking her orders while trying not to cry.  I managed to do one push-up, at which point I was very proud of myself.  The amazon woman just gave me a glance, and told me to get myself up off the mat and start doing jumping jacks.

By the time I was done, I felt like I was hit by a truck, and I am pretty sure I passed out for a bit there too.  At the end, they handed me a small packet containing my results, and told me NOT to open it until I get a letter in the mail stating that I can open it.  As soon as I got in my car, I opened it.  It stated that I basically failed every single physical test, and they do not recommend me for the position I applied for.  As I sat there pondering, again what the hell my physical strength has to do with doing a desk job, I realized that some idiot at Homeland Security probably got my paperwork switched with another applicant.  Since it is absolutely impossible to get through to any government agencies by phone, I had no choice but to sit and wait for another letter.

That letter finally came three months after the physical exam, and this time it stated that I was moving on to an actual Human to Human interview.  This in-person interview was going to be held at the FBI offices in San Diego, since the position would be out of that office.  Wait a minute, I applied for the Orange County offices position.  How the hell was I going to get to San Diego every day?  Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to work for the government, and having gone this far already I couldn’t just let this go by, I had to go to the interview!  Once there, I thought I would simply explain the situation, tell them that something got mixed up along the way, and we would all have a big laugh about it while they offer me the greatest job ever.

I show up at the FBI offices in San Diego wearing my brand new Ann Taylor suit, happy as a clam!  As I looked around the room, I had a strange feeling that I was in the wrong place.  All other applicants were either dressed in CHP uniforms, police uniforms or a combination between a policewoman, a hooker and a cross-dresser.  The green eye shadow really gave it away.  I felt completely out of place, especially because they were looking me up and down like I was their prey.  They were trying to figure out what position I had applied for and why…

Once I was called inside, I was standing in front of a very long conference table.  In my whole life, I have never seen a table that long, and I am pretty sure it was there for one reason: Intimidation.  There were only three people at the table, why else would they need such a long table besides to intimidate the interviewees?  There was a very large gentleman wearing a California Highway Patrol uniform, why the hell was he there?  Next to him there was an even larger gentleman wearing a Military uniform, and lastly a tiny bald man in civilian clothes.  Nothing more intimidating to a five-foot-nothing girl than to be interviewed by giant men in uniform, except for the bald guy.  He didn’t scare me.

Baldy started the interview by telling me that they will each read one question for me to answer.  They were very random questions, such as my work ethic and if I would ever leave an Officer behind if they were hurt.  I really didn’t understand how it had any relation to the position that I applied for, and being too scared to ask any questions of my own, I just kept answering what I thought they wanted to hear.  “No, Sir I would never leave an Officer behind!”  What Officer, what the hell is he talking about?  Where and why would I need to leave an Officer behind?  Like during lunch, at Chili’s?  You would think at this point I would just walk out, but I didn’t.  I guess I really wanted to see where this would go…

The last question they asked me was: “I’m going to paint a scenario for you: Its dark, the middle of the night.  You are all alone at the border of U.S. and Mexico.  Your life may be in danger, and you have no way of calling for back-up.  Do you still take the job?”  I stared at them with a black look on my face, trying to figure out if this was a joke.  I started to say something in the nature of: “I think I may be interviewing for the wrong position here…”  The giant in the Military uniform cut me off saying: “Would you like me to repeat the question?”  They were not going to take “NO” for an answer.  I wanted to yell out: You can repeat the question all you want, buddy.  The answer is still going to be NO!  But instead, I mumbled something, I can’t even remember what.  They told me that was the end of the interview, and I need to wait out in the hall for their decision.  As I stood in the hall for what seemed like an eternity, I kept going over what just happened inside the conference room.  I was baffled, scared and pretty sure that I had peed in my pants a little.  For a tough chick like me, this sure seemed over the top.

Why the hell I kept waiting out in the hall is beyond me.  What comforted me was the fact that they would come out and tell me its a “Hello NO!”, and in a way I was relieved, since it was obvious I was interviewing for the wrong job!  Well, it was obvious to me, but what happened next was an apparent lack of common sense in our government!

They finally let me back in, but this time don’t even ask me to sit down what I thought was a bit rude, but who am I to argue with the Federal Government.  Without any hesitation, all three looking at me they announce that I got the job of Border Patrol Officer! What?  Me?  A hundred and ten pound, five foot nothing, Ann Taylor suit wearing, never go camping or having desire to, afraid of the ocean, 5-star hotel minimum, never seen or touched a real gun in person, getting lost in a city I’ve lived in for twenty years, forgetting which way to turn when getting off the freeway ramp while going home, taking two showers minimum daily, wearing make-up to the gym, sanitizing every public toilet before using it only not to ever sit on it, hypochondriac with irritable bowl syndrome?  You want me to do what?  Stand and guard our borders with Mexico, day or night with a weapon?  I am pretty sure I said something along the lines of: But there will be a nice, private toilet near-by, right?

Don’t you feel extremely comforted knowing our government is sending tiny, inadequate, young, Russian-born, Jewish mothers to guard our borders against human traffickers, drug smugglers, and anyone else wanting to get into this country?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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I was born in Ukraine, in the former USSR, and grew up in Riga, Latvia which is on the Baltic Sea.  My family and I immigrated to the United States in 1989, right before the...

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