The Job Interview
I’m nervous at a job interview, desperate to make a good impression. I really need the gig. The office is spare, stark, and cold. There’s nothing on the walls. His heavy mahogany desk stretches empty before him, a trick meant to intimidate the applicants. It works. He stands up and shakes my hand with a vigorous double-pump and tells me to “Grab a seat.” He smiles at me with a feral-looking rictus and says, “Welcome to AdvanceTech Technologies.”
“Thank you,” I tell him.
To put me at ease, I think, he says, “Please don’t think of this desk as a chasm or an abyss between us. We’re just two humanoids coexisting on spaceship Earth. Try to keep that perspective in mind. It’s important.”
He is a squat, square man with a light beard. His hairline is receding but he still has more coverage than I do. At the rate of my hair loss, I’ll have an embarrassing comb-over in less than a year. Eventually I will resemble deceased comedian Zero Mostel.
He tells me that the position I’m applying for is not unlike a “flock of birds” and that I don’t need an “ocean of experience.” But I will need rigorous training. “Before you start, you’ll need to dismantle your personality, obliterate your ego and randomize your thought patterns. You’ll be given peyote at orientation to help you along. Have you had experience with peyote?”
I lie and tell him, “Yes.” I don’t feel guilty about lying. It’s a job interview after all. I’ve already poured lies all over my application.
“And where was this?”
“Mexico. I met a Brujo there named Don Miguel. He was my mentor in all things peyote…” Lies, all lies. I maintain a bland face as I lie. It’s one of the few things I’m good at. Maintaining a bland face while I lie.
“Very good,” he says. He lifts my application and peruses it. “I like your poem,” he says. “Influenced by The Autopsy Tree?”
“Yes sir.” Another lie. I’ve never even heard of that poem.
“Please, call me Mike. Mike Trent. Try to relax, I’m not infectious. Would you care for an orange phosphate?”
“No thank you.”
He leans back in his chair, looking at me. Sizing me up.
“We consider ourselves a family here at AdvanceTech.”
“So, tell me. Why should our little family adopt you?”
Oh boy, here goes… “Well, I’m a hard worker for one thing. Look at my hands.” I luckily have rough, scarred, calloused hands. A result of my dangerous addiction to physical risk.
“M-hm. Impressive. How do you feel about working third shift? Does that present a problem?”
“No. Actually, I prefer working nights.”
“Not afraid of the dark I take it.”
“Not usually. Not anymore anyway.” Ouch, too much information.
“M-hm. Now, we work like a band of chimpanzees around here. Do you think you’ll be able to fit in?”
“Absolutely. I like chimps.”
“That’s definitely in your favor.”
“At a place like this.”
“Do you sometimes hear voices?”
I lied again, “Yes, I do. Sometimes.”
“Good. That’s a requirement. Listen to those voices.”
“Oh I do. I do. Absolutely.”
“Are you comfortable with your identity?”
I think for a moment and then confess, “I’m not sure I know what you mean.” I feel a suggestion of sweat down my back.
“I’m not sure I do either. But, you have no problem breaking through to new realms of consciousness? At minimum wage?”
“No, no problem.”
“And can you lift up to fifty pounds?”
“No problem.” I give him what I hope is a confident smile. I’m not sure what fifty pounds feels like.
“Please, just let the interview process sluice through you. Like a school of fish. No need to be tense.”
“Thank you. I’ll try…” Is my smile that nervous? I pull it back a little. My lips feel numb. I’m suddenly aware of my tongue.
“At this point in the interview, I like to show the applicants a short orientation film.” He stands up and I’m surprised by his height. He turns on a television I hadn’t noticed, pushes a button. The film he shows is Stan Brakhage’s The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971). He leaves me alone to watch it. I’ve seen it before but it’s no less unnerving. He returns as the film ends.
“That’s the kind of mood we strive for here at AdvanceTech Technologies.”
“So, do you think you’ll fit in here?”
“Your personality seems false to me. Like mere protective camouflage. That may present a problem down the line. Hopefully you’re not concealing a malignant narcissist. Or, god forbid, a sociopath.”
“Oh, no. Not at all.” I feel something leaden in my chest, pressing my heart. He sees through me, dear god he sees right through me.
“Well, we’ll have to see about administrating an empathy test.” He smiles at me like a thug. Small shark teeth. I swear I can smell masticated meat when he speaks. “I understand,” he says. “This is a job interview after all. I realize you’re just trying to put your best face forward.”
“Trent. Mike Trent.”
“Yes Mike Trent.”
“We will change you.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“I feel great about it.”
“Then congratulations. You’ve got the job.”
“You’ve got the job.”