Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt, a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to
or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Tuesday, Sept. 4; results published Sept. 23 (online Sept. 20). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 985” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/inviterules. The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Kathy El-Assal; the alternative headline for the “next week’s results” line is by Robert Schechter. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at
Report from Week 981
in which we asked you to come up with funny test questions and/or answers for applicants for a particular job: Some entries were more like job interview questions but otherwise met the stated parameters of acceptability within our evaluative rubric. In other words, close enough because they were funny.
The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial
Job: Suicide prevention hotline:
Q. A caller claims he has nothing left to live for. What do you do first?
A. Remind him not to end a sentence with a preposition. (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)
Winner of the tacky seashell sculpture of a motorcycle-riding cat:
For a Metrorail station manager:
Q. The elevators are broken at the Bethesda station, and two escalators have just stopped running, too. What do you do first?
A. Do? (Ellen Ryan, Rockville, Md.)
For a car salesman:
Q. What are your salary requirements?
A. I’ll have to check with my manager. (David Genser, Poway, Calif.; Martin Bancroft, Rochester, N.Y.)
For a vice presidential candidate:
Q. Do you have any skeletons in your closet?
A, Literally? (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)
Quizzically challenged: Honorable mentions
For a voice-over for a pickup truck commercial:
Q. How rough and gravelly should your voice be when discussing the manly attributes of this vehicle?
A. From sunup to sundown, uphill in the burnin’ desert or pert’ near buried in blindin’ snow, my throat’ll be winchin’ up ever’ last deep-fried rumble from the hardworkin’ depths of my galvanized diaphragm and torquin’ it through my wise and leathery lips. (David Ballard, Reston, Va.)
For a cable guy:
Q. What is the significance of 11:59 a.m. in our industry?
A. Time to begin your 8 a.m.-to-noon installations. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)
For a tabloid journalist:
A. The words the subject said.
B. The words the subject would have said if he were more interesting.
C. The words the subject would have said if he hadn’t been made up. (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)
For an office worker:
Instead of “casual Fridays,” we have “Austrian Tuesdays.” Do you own a pair of lederhosen? (Jon Reiser, Hilton, N.Y.)
For a lawyer:
Q. The Supreme Court has just denied your emergency request to stay your client’s execution. What do you do?
A. Send a final invoice to death row. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
For a Metrorail announcer:
Q: Do you grelphmb or do you prefer to hakkjxz? (Roy Ashley, Washington)
For a New York deli waitress:
Q. Do you scream “just hang on, will ya” before or after you throw the menu on the table? (Ellen Raphaeli, Falls Church, Va.)
For a psychic hotline operator:
Q. Did we hire you tomorrow? (Kevin Dopart, Washington)
For a résumé consultant:
Q. How you would describe bagging groceries?
A. Food industry user experience coordination in conjunction with retail point-of-sale process facilitation. (Russ Taylor, Vienna, Va.)
Q. A teller provides the most direct contact with our bank’s customers. How would you project goodwill to them?
A. Free samples. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
For a drama critic:
Please explain why “Macbeth” sucks. Make it all about you. (David Genser)
For a porn actress:
Q. Are you good at faking it?
A. Are you kidding? I used to date Tom Witte. (Tom Witte)
Still running — deadline Monday night — is our Week 984 contest, in which you write something in which each successive word begins with the next letter of the alphabet. See bit.ly/invite984.
Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, in which the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at firstname.lastname@example.org (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.
Next week’s results: The Parody Line, or The Great American Wrongbook, our Week 982 contest, in which entrants wrote song parodies incorporating one actual line of the song being parodied.