Okay, so I have to hand it to HP. A man called me this afternoon to address my situation. He apologized emphatically for all the screw ups, explained to me how they happened, and then asked me if I wanted to talk about anything else. I summed up my experiences, explaining to him that I know that foul-ups happen sometimes, but that it really would have made things a lot easier for me if someone had simply had the ability to call me and tell me that they couldn't meet their commitment. He also made me walk through exactly how I came to feel that I had a firm commitment from HP, and when he diagnosed where that mix-up occurred, he said he would definitely take steps to coach the customer service rep to prevent such happenings from occurring to other customers. He then, of his own accord, without any request from me, informed me that he would like to offer me some sort of compensation for having to deal with this and for taking the time to help him find ways to improve the process. After going through some options, I decided to take a $100 refund of my service charge.

I'm completely placated by this result. The man with whom I spoke today was extremely empathetic and willing to listen. He explained to me why things had happened the way they had, that I should never have received a firm commitment, but that since I had some remedy needed to occur. $100 is not the full price I paid for the service, but I don't really think I have any right to expect that I can receive free service simply because I had a bad experience. I feel right now that HP cares about me and is pleased that I selected their product. And since I feel so poor these days, having the $100 back makes me feel pretty good too.

Of course, Einstein taught us that the world is essentially a study in stasis, so of course, with good news comes bad.

I had two job interviews yesterday, one of which had nothing to do with talking about my experience or my capabilities. The interview was simply a conversation. As the interviewer explained, nearly every one of my classmates has the ability to perform marvelously at the job. He had come, he explained, to find people who would be a good fit with his firm, people who made the office a little more pleasant every day.

I have always felt like I do a good interview. My qualifications are solid, but I generally feel confident with interviews because I'm not a stuffy person. I enjoy joking around during interviews and smiling and generally conveying the fact that if you want to hire me, you have to understand that I will take steps to make my job as enjoyable as I can. I feel like I make this come across effortlessly; I've been called charismatic and adaptable, the type of person who can find common ground with anyone. I've never really had a clique because, to some extent, I'm a member of every single one. I can be a jock, a dork, or anywhere in between. Based on this and the fact that I have a strong academic record and a good background makes me feel like I often have a leg up on people with whom I compete for jobs.

My girlfriend interviewed for the same position (actually, we were both interviewing to land one of five or six available positions) and received an offer this morning, which leads me to believe that the other selectees have also received their offers. Nothing against my dear girlfriend at all; she's equally charismatic, if not more so, effervescent, intelligent and inspires confidence. She's exactly the type of person I would bring into my office to make everyone else enjoy their work a little bit more (and exactly the type of person I want in my life to make me happy, which she effortlessly accomplishes every day), the type of person who can do that and handle her responsibilities with efficiency and confidence. She has great ties to the local community and an intangible nature that exudes ability. I'm ecstatic that she got her offer. I have no doubt that the interviewer knew thirty seconds after talking to her yesterday that he would make her an offer. I don't begrudge her a thing. I'm excited for her and proud of her. She deserved it and she will do a great job. This will be a great opportunity for her to grow and start building a very promising future.

All the same time, I cannot help but think that I haven't received an offer because of some defect in myself. Maybe I'm not so charismatic or fun. Maybe I don't enhance the experiences of the people around me like I perhaps flatter myself into thinking I do. I'd have no problem dealing with a rejection based on the fact that someone else had received the opportunity because they had better skills or experience or the interview simply went better. But the fact that someone spoke with me at some length and decided that I would not bring the types of personal qualities to his environment becomes a very hard pill swallow. It undermines a lot of my confidence in my abilities as a candidate. Maybe I don't interview so well. But more encompassing is the thought that maybe I'm just not as likeable as I'd like to consider myself, and that has much greater implications that the fact that I couldn't get one job. I'm feeling very low on myself. This effort to try and find a job has not done good things for my confidence and my self esteem.

Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe if I had gotten this offer I would have taken it because I wouldn't have to move and I'd probably make really good money and I'd have a chance to spend a whole summer with my girlfriend and her son in a relatively stress-free mode. I'd have the opportunity to take a summer class and take vacations while still building myself for the future. I probably would have had a hard time turning this offer down. And maybe that's why it's better this way. Going to school and having all of our classes together puts, from time to time, enough strain on my relationship with my wonderful lady. Spending an entire summer working together probably wouldn't be the best thing for us. And to be perfectly honest, my relationship with her is far more important to me than any job. How's that for a silver lining?

In the meantime, I'm still available, so if anyone wants me, just let me know. I might have to start auctioning off my services on Ebay. That would probably make for interesting conversation in future interviews.