Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An Interview

            “Grim Incorporated, please hold,” repeated Salindra. She placed the call in the hold queue and answered the next phone line with the same, tired, phrase. She continued in that fashion throughout her day. “Grim Incorporated, please hold, Grim Incorporated, please hold, Grim Incorporated, please hold.”

             Ted approached the reception desk and tried to get her attention. He was there for a three thirty interview. Salindra pointed at the waiting area seating and waved Ted off in that direction. Ted shrugged and sat patiently in the waiting room as Salindra continued to answer call after call. Ted adjusted his tie and tried to keep his hands from getting too sweaty. He really needed this job and he hoped he would get it. He had been building up his confidence the whole train ride in and was pretty hopeful his skills would be appreciated and considered an asset to the team.

             Salindra snapped her fingers over her head to get Ted’s attention. She was still answering phone calls as she pointed toward the side door. Ted rose from his seat and nodded a thank you in her direction, but she had already returned her attention to answering the constant flow of calls. He opened the side door and stepped into a bustling cubicle-ville. The employees were rushing all over the office, answering phones, opening filing cabinets, stamping papers, typing, it was all very frantic, but somehow orderly.

            “Mr. Charles,” asked a young man.    
            “Yes, that’s me,” said Ted.
            “Please follow me to our conference room. Mr. Grim will be with you in a moment,” said the young man.
            “Thank you,” said Ted.

             Ted followed the young, smartly dressed, clerk to a large conference room. Ted was shown to a large black leather swivel chair at the end of the long dark wood table. Ted sat down and the young clerk nodded and rushed out of the room. Ted looked about the well-appointed conference room. It was the nicest he’d ever been it. It was trimmed in dark wood and reddish wallpaper. Ted was impressed with the elaborate wall sconces and the fine looking crystal chandelier. It wasn’t what he had expected and started to wonder the he might not be quite qualified for the position.

             The rear double doors of the conference room burst open and Mr. Grim entered. He was tall, middle aged, slightly out of shape, but that sort of out of shape that was really actually in shape but not obsessively in shape. He had a manila folder in his hand and stepped toward the head of the table. He pulled out his large black leather chair and sat down. He opened the manila folder and looked down at its contents. Ted wasn't sure what to do so he just stayed quiet.

             Mr. Grim looked up from the manila folder and the papers therein and smiled at Ted. His smile was warm and Ted felt instantly comfortable.

             “Mr. Charles, may I call you Ted,” asked Mr. Grim.  
            “Yes sir, Mr. Grim, Ted is fine”.
            “Excellent. So let’s begin. As you may have noticed we’re very busy around here these days. Although, we’re almost always busy. And that’s why we’re looking for the right sort to perform this job. Based on what I have seen in your resume, I’m not sure you have the right chutzpah we’re looking for,” said Mr. Grim.
            Ted swallowed hard and cleared his throat. Mr. Grim held up his slender hand to pause Ted’s defense of himself.

             “However, we do need the help. With all these shootings, wars, bombings, genocides, diseases, and natural disasters; we are in real need to find the right employees to help those people,” said Mr. Grim.
            “Well, Sir, if I may, I’ve always been about trying to help people. As you can see from my resume, my background in the insurance industry has certainly provided me with the right sort of temperament and empathy for those in need of assistance,” said Ted.
            “I imagine it would. Insurance is quite a business of the people, as it were,” said Mr. Grim.
            “Yes, sir. Quite.”

            Mr. Grim leaned back in his chair and steepled his long fingers.  He rocked back forth gently and stared at Ted.

            “This is a lovely conference room by the way. I’ve never seen the like,” said Ted.
            “Thank you Ted. We spent years getting it just right,” said Mr. Grim.

            Ted shifted in his chair. He was trying to sit up straight. He’d read somewhere that sitting up straight in your chair during an interview conveyed a sense of confidence, and he wanted to seem confident. Mr. Grim continued to stare at him.

             “Do you have any children or family Ted,” asked Mr. Grim.
            “Well, you know, the normal family, like a Mom and Dad. But I don’t have a family of my own, no.”
            “I see. So let me pose a hypothetical question to you. What would you do, if say, your assignment was to handle the remains of a child, say, a newborn or even a regular baby,” asked Mr. Grim.
            “If you were assigned to, how can I put this delicately, remove the breath of life from an innocent, how would you handle that,” said Mr. Grim.

            Ted sat open mouthed for a moment. He’d had strange hypothetical questions during interviews before. One potential employer once asked him what cartoon character he wished he could be, but this was something different.

            “I thought this was an insurance examiner’s position,” said Ted.
            “It’s the ultimate insurance position Ted. It’s insurance for the entire human race,” said Mr. Grim.

            Ted fumbled with his tie clip and wiped his forehead. He tried to remember the add he’d applied for. He remembered thinking it was a bit vague but he’d applied for so many jobs he couldn’t be sure.
            “I’m afraid I don’t understand Mr. Grim… wait…,” said Ted.

            It then occurred to him. It was of course too obvious. He should have known it from the moment he walked into the lobby. He should have realized it from the damn name of the company.

            “…you’re the Grim Reaper aren’t you,” asked Ted.
            “Of course I am,” said Mr. Grim.
            “Great. That’s great,” said Ted.

            Ted covered his eyes with his hand and shook his head. He let an exasperated sigh escape before looking back up at Mr. Grim.

             “Your job posting is a little vague,” said Ted.
            “I really don’t handle that side of things. Not really my concern. I have other things to focus on, I’m sure you understand that,” said Mr. Grim.
            “Of course. I mean, the way I read it, I really thought this was just another insurance job. You know, handling claims, reviewing policies, on and on…,” said Ted.
            “I suppose that explains why I had some lingering doubts about your resume,” said Mr. Grim.
            “Yeah,” said Ted.
            Ted thought of excusing himself, cutting his losses, finding a bar on the way home and just forget about the whole looking for a job thing. He’d been to so many interviews without hearing anything. He’d applied for hundreds of jobs without even a call back and now he was interviewing with death himself. What luck. What dumb stinking luck. He really needed a job.

             “You didn’t answer my hypothetical though,” said Mr. Grim.

             Ted looked up at Mr. Grim’s charismatic smile and sort of chuckled to himself.

             “To answer your question…at this point…no. I don’t believe I’d have a problem with it,” said Ted.
            “Excellent. When can you start?”

             Ted felt a lump in his throat, but not a nervous one, it was an excited kind.
He felt himself smile.  


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