Tuesday, October 2, 2012
This is what I tell myself as I sit in front of the computer with the interview questions up on the screen and the microphone plugged in and the phone [dreaded phone] in my hand. I can call up some man I've never spoken to and ask him all sorts of questions about his life and not trip all over my tongue because of my heart which is not pounding in my chest as hard as it did that time I sat with the phone in my hand for forty minutes [I timed it] trying to call up Dan Hayman and ask him to winter formal.
I'm over forty now and I should be able to get on the phone without going into a panic. The clock says 6:59. I can do this.
The I-can-do-this I tell myself sitting with the phone in my hand this time around is different from the I-can-do-this I told myself when I was offered the chance to write two eBooks in two months. That was more like I-assume-I-can-do-this, which I tend to do all the time, before I stop and think about what the this will entail:
Researching all the statistics anyone ever wanted to gather on becoming an accountant or a glazier [someone who installs and repairs windows]. Compiling the entire [interesting part of the] history of the accountant and the glazier. Creating four to five profiles each of accountants and glaziers from different parts of the country and in different segments of their careers, meaning hunting down and contacting these people and interviewing, interviewing, interviewing.
The clock says 6:59. I'm about to make my first call to conduct my first interview. If I haven't come up with the perfect set of questions to produce the perfect set of answers, it's not the end of the world.
Stephen showed me how to hook the microphone up to the computer and I experimented with the laptop's sound recorder to make sure it will actually record, and I practiced with the phone to make sure I know how to put it on speaker.
The clock says 6:59. If I say stupid things and come across as a complete ass, it's not the end of the world.
When the clock says 7:00, I tell myself it's better to wait one more minute because it would look weird if I called exactly on the dot.
When he answers the phone, he says, "Hello?" and I'm an Amazon warrior, a prom queen, a presidential candidate. I'm pretty sure my smile gives off a gleam.
"Hi! This is Gigi! Is this Bob?!"
"Nope," he says, "it's Bill."
Oh no, it's a wrong number, yay, it's a wrong number. "Oh, I thought I was looking for a Bob. Uh..." looking at my notes on the computer screen, "Dole?"
"Yeah, Bill," he says. "Doyle."
I just called my first interviewee Bob Dole.
He pretends not to notice. I put him on speaker phone and we start recording. I manage to ask him how he first became a glazier, and he starts to talk and he keeps talking. His voice is friendly and laid back, and he's saying all sorts of interesting things and I love him and I'm so happy and I can actually do this.
I look over at the sound recorder open on the computer screen. It's recorded exactly one minute of audio and stopped.
Oh holy flying hell, what the hell use is a sound recorder if if only records in one minute increments?
Bob, I mean Bill is still talking. I'm going to have to interrupt him so I can start a new file. Then I'm going to have to interrupt him at one-minute intervals throughout the entire probably half hour phone call.
During minute number three, as Bill's talking, the recording of minute number two starts playing, so I - and Bill - can hear Bill's voice and - even better - my braying ass voice loud over everything.
"Oh, wait, oh, wait, I'm sorry!" and I'm fumbling for the mouse to try to find the button to shut the damn thing off. I can't make it stop. My hands are sweating. It's not the end of the world.