A Job For Christmas
The reception room was crowded as the tenth applicant for the job burst through the door. “Sorry Ma’am I hope I am not late.” He said.
“Put your name on the list. Mr. James will get to you in order.” The hefty middle-aged receptionist answered as if she were a worn out recording.
The young man wrote his name carefully to be sure that it was legible. There was no use being looked over for a job because the interviewer couldn’t read his name. He finished the task and the woman spoke. “Fill these out also.”
“Thank you.” He said. He searched the room for a spot to land on. There were a couple of chairs available but briefcases were in them. The other job seekers in the room looked as depressed and tired as he was. An inner door opened and a middle-aged man came into the crowded room. He was obviously the mail room clerk. He searched each face and his eyes came to rest on the young man who was standing.
“No place to sit?” He asked.
The young man shrugged. “Apparently not.”
“Hey you there, move your stuff and let this kid sit. You know it will be a long wait.”
The man continued reading the latest copy of Forbes magazine as if he had not been addressed. A young woman moved her briefcase from the seat next to her and nodded to the young man.
“Thank you.” He said.
The mailroom clerk crossed the room to the young man. “I am Harold. I have been here since the company was founded.”
“My name is Steve. I feel like I have been looking for work since the day this company was founded.” He smiled.
The man with the Forbes magazine remarked. “They don’t hand out promotions much here or else you don’t have much talent.”
The others in the room chuckled in agreement.
“I hold the best position in the company.” He said. Smiling he peered into Steve’s eyes. “Good luck Steve. Young lady, you have a good heart.”
They watched the man as he went in through the same door he came out of. “Loser!” One man muttered.
“Steve, my name is Marsha. It looks like we are interviewing for the same position.”
Steve nodded. “Every interview is the same. There aren’t a whole lot of positions available.”
“That is true. Tell me about yourself. We apparently have a lot of time to kill.”
His eyes watered. “I have a wife and three kids. Hopefully I can get something going before Thanksgiving so that Christmas won’t be bad for them.”
“Have you been on the job hunt long?” She asked.
He said, “It feels like a long time. Actually, it is when you have a family counting on you. As of today I have been out of work for three months.”
One of the job seekers left his chair in search of the restroom. As he left another man remarked, “How long before they call on another one of us to talk with personnel? This is ridiculous!”
“Hey you, is the man that hires even here yet?” Another man asked the receptionist.
The receptionist shrugged.
“It isn’t her fault.” Marsha answered.
“All I know is that they better look at qualifications when they fill this job.” The Forbes magazine reader said.
“In this economy I am sure they will look at a lot more than qualifications.” Marsha answered. “What is your name?”
“Listen, this isn’t a coffee shop and I am not looking to make friends. We are in competition for the same job.”
“All right then.”She said.
Marsha turned back to Steve. “Tell me about your kids. Are they really young?”
His eyes lit up as he began, “I have two sons. One is twelve and the other is ten. Our little girl is four years old now. My wife is the best. She has been great through all this stress. They are everything to me.” He fumbled with the papers that he had completed.
The receptionist leaned forward. “Marsha Brown.”
“That’s me.” She stood and smoothed out the front of her jacket. “Good luck Steve.”
One of the men in the waiting room muttered. “We might as well go home. They always give the jobs to the chicks.”
Steve contemplated the words. Sometimes it seemed to be true. He thought about his wife and hoped with all his heart that he would come home with good news. Christmas would be brutal if he didn’t land a job soon. They were down to eating beans and cornbread most meals as well as spaghetti and ketchup sauce too. Aimee was a great cook and managed to stretch the pantry to keep them fed. Presents couldn’t happen without a job. Of course the grandparents would send things, but he wanted to provide for his children. He clasped his hands together as he rested his elbows on his knees. This waiting was a killer.
“Steve Clark.” The voice beaconed.
He stood to go and angry voices erupted. “No fair! I have been here twice as long as he has.”
“Do I have to call security and have all of you hauled off?” The receptionist asked.
As Steve entered the interview room he was greeted by Marsha. “Hi Steve, let me look at your application.”
The look of confusion on his face was amusing. She smiled as she looked through the neatly scripted papers. “You can learn a lot about people when they are waiting for a job interview. As far as my authority goes, I would say that you have the job. There will be a nice Christmas bonus and sign on bonus. Sally, my secretary will cut the check today. You can come in first thing tomorrow to start work. Now all we need is for you to speak with the founder of the company. He enjoys meeting each new member of the team and showing them their office.
As she finished speaking the mail room clerk walked into the room. “Follow me. So your name is Steve?”
Steve nodded. “Yes sir.”
They went through a long hallway that opened into a plethora of cubicles. “Your desk will be in the corner at the window until we get settled into our new building. I hope this is ok.”
“Yes, thank you.” Steve said. “You have been so kind. I would like to tell the boss that you are a first-rate man, Harold.”
The middle-aged man stuck out his hand for a handshake. Steve firmly clasped his hand, looked him in the eye and grinned at him. “Steve, I am the boss. My name is H.W. James. I am the founder of this company. We do our hires just a little differently here. We believe in the Bible verse that says, ‘When you have done this to the least of these, you have done it to me.’ You can tell a lot about a person’s character in how they speak to the lowest guy on the totem pole.”
“Thank you for the job Mr. James. I will do my best.”
“Just one thing, Steve, don’t tell anyone about our criteria for hiring.”
“It’s a deal.” Steve could hardly contain his excitement. There would be a family celebration tonight.
Author of Nan’s Journey and Elk’s Resolve