Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SMEAR (03/10/16)
- TITLE: Reap What You Sow
By C D Swanson
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“May I help you?” The elderly receptionist didn’t look up as she asked the question, opting not to leave her area of interest, which in this case, was a magazine.
“Yes, I’m here for the interview with Mrs. Larson.”
Again, no eye contact as she said, “have a seat I’ll let her know you’re here.”
I chose a seat close to the lobby door. I placed my hand over my nose trying to be inconspicuous in the process, but knew I failed miserably when Mrs. Larson’s voice interrupted my concentration.
“Not exactly a bed of roses in here is it?”
I stood up immediately and uttered a nervous laugh. “Well, yeah…”
“Hello Dr. Jensen…pleased to meet you. Forgive the sickening stench, three of our residents urinated on the rug early this morning; we’re waiting for housekeeping to clean it again. Apparently it didn’t take the first time it was cleaned."
“I understand, no problem.”
She led me down a narrow hallway and then downstairs to another long narrow hallway. There wasn’t much chit-chat during this journey.
“Here we are,” she gestured to enter her office.
At least her office smelled like roses because, well—there was a vase on her white desk.
“Okay, Dr. Jensen. I understand you have considerable experience with counseling the elderly and with psych patients in particular. We could use that around here. The last one we had was a complete disgrace, and I was happy to fire her. I honestly think she bought her license at a flea market.”
I was shocked by her vitriolic candor when a loud knock startled me.
"I just wanted to tell you the meeting is set for this afternoon. I had to reschedule due to a conflict with a prior appointment.”
“Okay, thank you Barbara. Oh, before you go…I’m interviewing for the counselor position, this is Dr. Jensen.”
A very beautiful tall young lady took my hand and smiled, “Good to know you Dr. Jensen. You’ll love it here, the residents are amazing.”
“Thank you, nice to meet you.”
The door was barely closed when Mrs. Larson said, “That was Barbara, she’s a sweet kind woman. So you can imagine how shocked I was to have learned she’s having a fling with the maintenance man, both of whom are married I might add.”
I was revolted by her acrid diatribe, and all I could think was “that poor lady.” I somehow knew that it was a rumor. I don’t know how I knew it, but felt it wasn't true. And, even if it were, I felt uneasy to be witness to Mrs. Larson’s vicious tongue that seemed to be fed by malicious scenarios. At least that was my take on the situation.
“So you have your job description, and you have experience in this field, plus I’ve checked your letters of reference, and they’ve all checked out. You are in fact, a paradigm, in this industry Dr. Jensen. So, I’m prepared to offer you the position, but first, I must warn you about the dynamics around here.”
I sat rooted, unable to respond, still highly disturbed by her earlier comments about Barbara, and the former counselor.
“First of all, you already know about Barbara and her fling with John the maintenance man. So, let’s move on to the administrator, he's a good enough man, he looks and acts the part of running this place, but, let me tell you his personal life is a flop. He adopted three children because his wife couldn’t produce any of her own. One of the kids is a homosexual; the other two are wild and living in sin—
“Stop! I can’t listen to this another second!” My face burned with indignation. “Just what kind of interview are you conducting? Is this a reality based television show I’m applying for?”
Her green eyes popped and mouth dropped when I heard a voice behind me.
“Mrs. Larson you’re fired effective immediately!” Then the administrator smiled at me and said, “I hope despite the despicable lies you’ve heard you’ll consider joining our team…”
Note: "This is based on a true story..."
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