Of Interviews and Chocolate croissants

In my line of work (construction :P) I, at times, get to interview people for profile articles. I have had a few interesting experiences as a result of this, which I suppose may warrant a blog entry or two. This is not one of those ‘How to’ pieces. Well, maybe it is. You decide.

Interviews are great! Mostly. You get to meet many interesting people and get to know many intimate details of their lives without having to tell them yours. It’s quite fascinating really, the amount of information you can get people to give you about themselves in the name of an interview. It is, in a sense, a polite form of snooping. Professional snooping.

But I digress…disregarding my previous sentiments about interviewing, what you need to know is that it is getting people to tell their story through you, and hopefully inspire others or solve a problem somewhere, depending on the needs of the reader. Don’t only think of big shot celebrities here. One of my lecturers rightly said that everyone has a story to tell, so it could be anyone from Jeff ‘All Kenyan’ Koinange to the guy who roasts maize by the roadside. In my course of interviewing, I have made several observations.

I have met a good number of my interviewees in restaurants and have resolved never to say this “Do you want to order first?” Never say this. Seriously, don’t. It is a vague and ambiguous statement that you may have to pay for. Literally. I once interviewed someone, let’s call him 4d (X gets old) and I made the aforementioned statement. When the bill was brought he said, “Thanks by the way.”

I could not bring myself to tell him that when I said that I did not mean that I was going to pay. Plus he’s a really nice guy…a real nice guy…*staring into space*…anyway, I paid for his drink. Thank God he had the heart not to order something expensive. That’s not even the worst part. It happened again! Yeah, I know :|. The second time was with someone else who I will call 7r (I really had no problem with algebra so allow me to use these abstract labels). I was very careful not to make THE statement but somehow I ended up paying for his beverage, and I realized it two days later after finding the receipt in my wallet. I must’ve been quite moneyed (I’m avoiding the term balling here) at the time. I don’t know how that happened. Thankfully, both of these really nice guys never ordered anything expensive. I still laugh at myself when I think of those two incidents. Point is, be very clear that you are not going to pay for anything. Unless you want to.

Still on the restaurant vibe (I hate to use these expressions but sometimes they seem so fitting) ensure that you finish your food before the interviewee gets there. In essence, get there well in advance, more so if a restaurant is your rendezvous (oh yeah! I cannot quite tell you how great it feels to use that word in a sentence 😀 )

If you, like me, love to enjoy your food, and sometimes close your eyes as you chew and swallow…as the chocolatey goodness of that warm chocolate croissant melts in your mouth and your taste buds explode with…sigh…I digress for the umpteenth time, what I’m saying is that you will at one time or another meet for an interview in a restaurant and you will want to order that chocolate croissant you have heard so much about. You will want to enjoy that croissant with that creamy café latté…and you will not be able to do this with a complete stranger sitting across you. Getting there early (enough to eat) is always a good thing.

Sometimes, you’ll interview someone who has similar interests and you will be tempted to talk about yourself. Trust me, you will get the urge to say stuff like, “Me too!!”, “I thought I was the only one who did that!” or even “You too?!” Don’t do it. It’s not cool. If you really have to, don’t do it more than twice.

Maybe it’s just me, but at times there seems to be this…uh…gesturing with my hands here but you can’t see it 😦 …let’s call it date-like awkwardness that accompanies interviews, more so when they involve people of opposite sexes (I refuse to be dragged into the pettiness of including the ‘other’ option :P). You don’t know me. I don’t know you. I’m here to tell you about myself. That situation comes with a bit of awkwardness and tension. Don’t crack jokes if they are not your forte. You WILL make it more awkward. On the other hand, the interviewee may be kind enough to give a polite “ha ha” so you may try it I suppose. Small talk is great. I’m great at small talk and it seems to have worked for me so far. I will go on and on about how great the chocolate croissant I had earlier was and how you should try it…and no, I will not pay for it.

Last observation, people will always be curious about you. Don’t expect to get away with all that info about someone without giving him or her some of your own (I know what I said earlier, but it’s not always the case). I’ve been asked how long I’ve been writing, how long I’ve worked, do I like dogs (that’s not really true) et cetera. Don’t be shy. Give appropriate answers. Don’t be stingy with information, but also don’t go on and on about yourself.

All in all, my interview experience has been great. I have made great contacts, met remarkable individuals, been inspired, and had one too many chocolate croissants, and for that I am thankful. 🙂


Interesting things that I have thought of doing with my blog

Happy New Year minions!! That’s what I’m calling followers (seriously, just check on your right) and readers of this blog. Cool huh…don’t answer that…moving along in the speed of light, this is my first blog post this year. I hope your year has started out well and that you are evolving, not in the Darwinian sense, but growing or developing into a better you.

So here are several things that could happen on this blog in 2011…or some other year.

1. Turning it into a social networking and blogging site. Mark Zuckerberg has been such an inspiration to me, hence the many false references I, at times, make of our interactions, on Facebook, and sometimes in conversation (I am not proud), so I felt that I could somehow fuse the blogging and social networking factors and have a place where people could do both at the same time. A social networking blog that I’d call Blogbook (no inspiration whatsoever from Facebook). The activities that the bloggers/social networkers will undertake on this genius site will be discussed in a later entry. A much later entry.

2. I have, many times, contemplated moving to WordPress. No offense e-blogger, but WordPress has really cool templates and stuff. And their whole lay out, sigh, it’s just really neat, for lack of more profound words to describe it. That said, please do not close my blog and blame it on something lame like inappropriate content. If that happens, I will have to report it to a higher power (probably an old bearded guy in blog heaven who fights for bloggers rights) with claims of having been assanged (a term recently coined after the Wikileaks fiasco: Assange;(verb): To prosecute someone for one thing, when you really want to prosecute them for another. Use in sentence- “My client was assanged your honour”)

3. Having blogetitions (notice how I fused the words blog and competition) where readers would say which was their favourite entry (I know they’re only six but we can make it work) and why, then I would pick the best reason. The winner would win. What, you so rightly ask? The satisfaction of knowing that he or she beat tens (my readership is not as high as I would like it to be) of other readers to be the best. My best. Nothing in this world can beat the anticipation, the suspense, the sweaty palms as you await the outcome…then the joy and exhilaration of being declared the best, and the adrenaline rush as you walk up to that virtual podium to be declared the winner.

4. Using visual aids…as soon as I figure out how to do it. We’ll have endless photos of me (narcissistic tendencies) doing things that are deemed mundane, like clipping my nails…but things that, nonetheless make you aware that you are alive. You wouldn’t clip your nails if you were dead, now would you?

5. Have my readers suggest other cooler things I could do with my blog?

Tell us how we can serve you better…because blogging is cool. (Sorry they were out of cool slogans)

Once again, have a great 2011…we’ll get back to serious blog stuff soon 🙂