awkward, short stories

Cutting-edge technology, sans manners

I enter Moronfabs on a bitter morning in March. In the refurbished brick and mortar building, on a busy, potholed Somerville street, I find shelter from an air that had scathed my skin like a cold razor. I’m 15 minutes early for my interview.

For some reason, reception is up four floors. I’ve already seen three quarters of the building, before I’m received. Furthermore, there’s no one there to receive me. Just a vacant iPad displaying an NDA stands atop an empty reception desk. A signature on the digital doc will notify my interviewer that I’ve arrived, the soulless iPad assures me. I produce my digitized John Hancock. The pixelated line drawn by my own digit, the most technologically advanced way to scribe one’s endorsement, looks bastardized against that same identifying mark scrawled on paper with ink.

I spend those 15 minutes waiting alone, in a mock lobby where potential co-workers pass by. They don’t offer so much as an acknowledgment of my presence. That’s OK. I’m too busy wondering where they got that R2-D2 end table. Perhaps it serves as some conversation piece to subtly indicate that this office and its occupants are fun, despite any other evidence I can observe from the young professional parade coldly gliding by.

A few more minutes pass; it’s now 10:03 a.m. He’s three minutes late for our scheduled appointment. Finally, the ice breaks, as my would-be hiring manager, all 6’2″ of him, enters my whereabouts. He greets me with a half-assed handshake, whisking me through unexplored bowels of the office building. A kitchen adjacent to the lobby teems with uber-casually clad workers. Through there lies a sales room. Slightly more stylish, cooler cats man terminals and adorn headsets, vocally pushing the company’s product to prospective buyers.

I am introduced to none of them.

The next thing I know, after much more whisking through anonymous conference rooms and workshops, I find myself in a small office with a single table. A laptop sits in front of me. Its screen broadcasts two Germans, teleconferencing from Deutschland, which is six hours ahead of our early A.M. Their lack of response to my presentation and thousand-mile stares–I can almost hear the German beergardens calling them from the other end–urge me to rush through the remaining slides. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. And that place, right now, is Germany; population: this 2-dimensional duo quite literally phoning it in.

I look over at my hiring manager, whose brow gleams with sweat. Will his colleagues accept me? What will they think of his lackluster recruitment efforts? I’m reminded of my overly self-conscious mother, perpetually concerned with how her child’s behavior will reflect upon her.

Not that there was much oxygen in the small room to begin with. But post presentation, it feels like even that thin air has dissipated. If a whole room could have a lump in its throat, it would be this one. For what seems like an eternity, I’m locked in a little, stale closet, with strangers, whose collective body language clearly conveys that they’ll never be co-workers. I long for that cold, outside air.

My now defunct hiring manager follows my rushed presentation with an abbreviated tour of company departments. At best, as he breezes through half-baked explanations for the various areas of his workplace, it feels like a formality fueling justification for my visit. After all, this failed engagement burned a half day from my current job. If I had been contracting, that would have also equaled one half day’s pay.

At last, my tour guide and I reach the exit. A brisk and long-awaited goodbye, capped with a handshake, ends my brief career at Moronfabs. I brave the gray, unforgiving air outside once again. As I look out the window of my meandering Uber ride, upon little reflection, I know the job’s not mine. What may sound like sour grapes is, in fact, relief. I’m thankful to be heading toward a place where I actually like the people. At no other time does that seem more important to me than in this cab.

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short stories

The proof is in the pudding.

All characters in this post are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Monday, April 5, 2010, 9:00 p.m.

Hi Steve,

I noticed some of the people on the candidate distribution list (from earlier e-mails) already write for Onlinenews.org. Am I still in the running?

Thanks,
Dave

Monday, April 5, 2010 11:26 p.m.

Hi Dave,

People contributing to Onlinenews.org live nearby. No one has been offered a full-time position yet. So you are still with them and we will revive the interviewing process shortly.

Best,
Steve

[Over a month passes and still no word from Steve. Dave decides to check in as they’ve now launched the site and are running stories daily.]

Monday, May 17, 2010, 3:33 p.m.

Hi Steve,

Onlinenews.org is looking good. Tony said you and Dickey were using that site as sort of the flagship for investors. Have you settled on a more solidified time line, given the site’s launch? Just checking in.

-Dave

Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 9:25 a.m.

Hi Dave,

We’re still going ahead as planned, but the economy has halted the process. First priority is to offer contributing writers full-time positions. That’s what we have to worry about now.

Not sure what the future will hold; we’re still waiting on investors. I’d continue to interview elsewhere, as I can’t offer you a second interview at this time. We’re just not sure of the time line.

Best of luck,
Steve

Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 11:21 a.m.

Understandable. Although you made it sound like everyone was on the same level for second interviews before. Wish you had been a little clearer about that. I obviously hadn’t put all my eggs in the Onlinenews.org basket, but I had lightened up on applying to other jobs in hopes of a second interview, which before you made seem imminent.

I also understand economic factors and outside investors are, for the most part, out of your control. It just seems it went from “we will revive the interview process shortly” to “first priority is to offer contributing writers full-time positions.” I feel a bit strung along.

-Dave

Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 12:01 p.m.

Dave,

I have kept you on top of our funding efforts. I never said you had a job waiting. I said, once the funding was entirely settled, we would offer second interviews. That’s still what will happen.

Our primary goal, however, will be to employ the contributing writers, which was always the case. I do not feel like I have to tell you about what I’m doing with them. You had a first interview, and then I was going to offer you a follow-up once the funding came in.

Now, that it has taken this long, you should have known you would not be offered a second interview right away. I would have made it crystal clear–with specific dates–if I were to offer you that second interview in the near future. To suggest otherwise reveals your inexperience.

Steve
Onlinenews.org

Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 12:28 p.m.

That’s all fine and good, but there’s no denying your story has changed. You said in a Feb. 12 e-mail “the second round of interviews will not start until the week of Feb. 22.” When that passed, you said “we are continuing the first week of March and will carry on from there.” When that passed, you said “I will be making a round through the final candidate list to settle on the full-time staff in April.”

How could I not think I at least had an interview waiting around the corner, based on the above correspondence? Again, I understand factors such as the economy were out of your control, but the fact remains: you went back on your word three times.

You’re right: I am inexperienced. If I had more wisdom, I would have recognized this job as a pipe dream months ago. Nor would I have wanted to work for a news organization that’s less than honest.

Sincerely,
Dave

Tuesday, May, 18 2010, 12:40 p.m.

Dave,

Those dates were accurate at the time. I informed you, when those passed. You’re the only candidate who has reacted this way. You did have a second interview waiting, up until our correspondence today.

You have to realize that delays are part of this job. Given the fact that second interviews have been delayed, you should keep your options open and not rely on our revival of the next phase. I wish you hadn’t overreacted to the situation; you would have eventually had a second interview. But I didn’t offer you a job, Dave. I only offered you the prospect of the next stage, which has been subject to postponement.

Implying improper behavior on our part displays a lack of professionalism on your part. And it’s ridiculous to make allegations against our honesty. We did not intend deception.

Good luck.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 1:08 p.m.

I’m not making allegations. The proof is in black and white:

On Mon, Apr 5, 2010 at 11:26 PM, Steve wrote:

Hi Dave,

People contributing to Onlinenews.org live nearby. No one has been offered a full-time position yet. So you are still with them and we will revive the interviewing process shortly.

Best,
Steve

You said I was “with them,” them being the contributing writers. And now you’re saying they take first priority, a direct contradiction.

Rest assured, I am not upset, nor are there any hard feelings between us. I just don’t like being misled, as it’s hard enough to find a job these days. Maybe something to keep in mind with your future dealings. There will be no more e-mails on this matter. Water under the bridge, at this point.

Dave

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