The Interview


Gary Grenier

Copyright 2002

"Somebody who can accept responsibility, is not afraid of hard work, and can adapt and get along with the public."

That’s how the employment advertisement read. John had a feeling that this was a golden opportunity. This was his chance to work for a Fortune 500 Corporation, to live and work in a major metropolitan area, and to finally make the break from Hicksville, USA. John didn't believe in or bet on hunches, but since he first heard about this opportunity, he knew that something special was about to happen.

At 32 years old, John had excelled in any sales or people oriented work situation. He realized that he appeared to be fresh out of high school, still getting his ID checked every time he ordered a beer, but that didn't bother him. John loved people; he truly enjoyed sales or counseling or committee work.

John sent his resume just over a month earlier and expected to wait some time before hearing any response. But after only one week he received a telephone call from the Ann Arbor District office concerning a field interview. He met with a Mr. Weber for a "brief interview" which wound up lasting over a hour and a half. Ten days later a registered letter invited him to today’s interview at Regional Headquarters in Downtown Detroit.

"Please report at least 15 minutes prior to your 9 AM interview with Mr.

Miller, 28th floor of The Chrysler Building."

It seemed like a form letter, but John had heard that only three of these final interviews were scheduled. It felt like Christmas morning or his birthday. He wove his way down I-94 with a huge smile on his face. Traffic was not too bad, he had plenty of time, and the sun added a special glow to the morning.

They had included a map with the interview request, but John knew he had to exit on Connor and go north. He thought he would get most of the way there, stop for a coffee, and check out the details of the map and the special parking arrangements they mentioned.

By the number of skyscrapers in the area, John figured he had to be close and he started to look for a place to grab a cup and check out the map.

Miracle of miracles, he found a vacant metered spot nearly in front of ‘Joe’s

Cup O’ Joe’ and he wheeled in and headed for the entrance. As he glanced back at his Escort, he noticed an older lady trying to open the hood on her large and expensive looking automobile just ahead of his car.

Not now John, all you need is a grease covered white shirt to make a hit at your interview, he thought to himself. In the coffee shop he ordered a medium cup of black coffee, no donut, and asked for it in a bag so he could sip it in his car and read the map. As he came out, he could not help but look for the lady, but it appeared she had left her car. As John unlocked his car, he saw that she had not gone, but must have been stooped down, still trying to get the hood up.

Surprisingly, the lady was ripping off a pretty good list of dirty words in what appeared to be an Irish brogue.

Checking his watch, he sat the coffee on his dash and walked up to assist the lady. She was wearing an expensive suit, her hair and nails perfectly done, and the jewelry was noticeable.

"I was going to say ‘Good Morning’ but it doesn’t seem like a good one for you," said John with a smile on his face.

Instead of an ‘Oh thank God’ or ‘Thank you so much’ the lady said, "Can I help you?" with an Irish lilt.

"Well, I’m no mechanic, but I would be glad to try. I don’t have a lot of time, but maybe we can figure out your problem."

She held up a leather key case and with a heavy brogue said "This is a corporate lease vehicle, Maybe you have time to run these keys over to the rental agent so I can shove them up the Service Managers ass. The Corporation has 3000 miles on this pile of crap and it has been in for repairs 7 times. Today I’m sweet talking her down the pike and she sputters and she smokes and finally she quits; there she lays like Kelsey’s dead dog!"

Smiling, John finds the latch under the hood and as he expected, he is faced with a maze of computerized this and computerized that. He checks the basics; the alternator belt is on, the hoses are all connected and he sees no leaks. The battery cables are connected and it does not appear that any wires are hanging loose. The oil is full on the stick and appears clean. Then he notices that the big V-8 is fuel injected, so chances are the car is not flooded. The engine block itself is clean and free of oil or grime. Nothing appears obviously wrong.

A low battery should not make the car sputter unless some of the electronics are starved, so he decides to ask the lady to turn on her headlights. If the lights don’t come on or are dim, he could hook up his booster cables and maybe recharge the battery.

"Jesus Christ son, it’s 8:15 in the morning, can’t you see?"

John chuckles and adds, "Just for a second madam, please."

The lights barely glow and he thinks it would be all right to pull his car up beside the ladies for a brief time. This is a side street and there has been very little traffic. He hops in the Escort and noses in beside the big cars’ battery side. He hooks up the booster cables and his car bogged down when the cables were placed on the big car's battery. He quickly gets back in the Escort and revs the engine up to keep it from dying. After several minutes he asks the lady to try and start her car.

"You are going to need a boxcar load of Shamrocks to get that turnip to start, it wouldn’t even click a minute ago," the lady informed him. But her car does roll over and John saw her surprise. It almost started, but not quite. He checked his watch: 8:38 AM. John knew he should be at the interview.

"You must have kissed the Blarney Stone today, I thought you had it ready to Jig."

"I don’t want to leave you stranded, but I really need to move along. Could I call someone for you or contact the lease agent? If they brought a fresh battery the car would get itself back to the shop where they could fix the charging problem."

"I too have to be somewhere and it sure as hell isn’t the damn lease agent, the son’s a bitches, but that’s not your fault; could you give it another minute and after that maybe I could ride with you to the next garage?"

John gave up a weak smile and said, "Sure".

It dawned on John that he could be checking the map and verifying the arranged parking so when he got free, he could go directly to the interview.

As luck would have it, he was only two blocks away from the parking, but it looked like a bit of a walk to the building.

John looked up and saw the lady getting ready to start the car. "If this works, I owe you the coldest beer in Dublin!" she said with big smile on her face. As soon as she hit the ignition, the car started and ran smoothly. "Thanks be to God and you, my lad!"

As John disconnected the cables, he reminded the lady that she had a charging system problem and it needed prompt attention. John threw the cables in the back seat and waved, and he heard the older lady yell "God bless you son, may you drink with the saints!"

In less than two minutes he had the Escort parked and was making his way across perhaps the biggest parking lot he had even seen. But there was no mistaking the Chrysler Building and he ran to take an elevator to the 28th floor.

The directory indicated Mr. Miller’s office was on the east wing and for the first time in a while John looked at his wristwatch: 9:06 AM. A little disheveled, he tried to calm himself and place a reassuring smile on his face as he approached Mr. Miller’s receptionist.

"Good Morning. I am John Devlin and I am late for an appointment with Mr. Miller. I ran into a little trouble in route and I wonder if I still might speak with him?"

The receptionist said nothing and held her gaze on John as she buzzed Mr. Miller. "Your nine o’clock is here." She listened for a while and then placed the telephone back in its cradle. "When you failed to show," she explained with a sorrowful look on her face, "Mr. Miller decided to meet with our International Vice President instead. I'm afraid Mr. Miller will not be able to see you today."

John considered pleading his case, begging, anything for another chance, but he finally said "Thank you." At that moment he heard a vaguely familiar voice behind him.

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in a poolhall, what a morning, that God damned car. Then I run into Saint Christopher’s cousin in a bloody Escort, God bless him; didn’t even get the lad’s name; now where’s this Mr. Miller?"

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