The Interview

By Gary Grenier

"Somebody who can accept responsibility, is not afraid of hard work, and can adapt and get along with the public." That's how the corporate management employment advertisement read. Jerry had a feeling that this was a golden opportunity. The 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. Jerry was not one to believe in, or bet on hunches, but ever since he first heard about this opportunity, he knew that something special was about to happen.

At age 32, Jerry had excelled in all sales or people oriented work situation. He realized that his boyish face made him appeared to be fresh out of high school, still getting his ID checked every time he ordered a beer, but that made it all the more fun to come up with his 'Blue Ribbon' sale strategies, great ideas from a mere child employee. Jerry loved working with people, sales, counseling, or committee work was not a challenge, he truly enjoyed it.

Jerry had sent in his resume just over a month ago and expected that it would be a while before hearing any response. But after only one week, he had received a telephone call from the Ann Arbor District office concerning a field interview and he met with a Mr. Nameth for a "brief interview" which wound up lasting over two and a half hours. Ten days later he was notified by registered mail of 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." The letter seemed like a form type mailing, but Jerry had heard that only three of these final interviews were scheduled. It felt like Christmas morning or his birthday, he was so excited that 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 even the sun was shining to add a special glow to the morning.

They had included a map with the interview request, but Jerry knew he had to exit on Connor and go north off I-94. He thought he would get most of the way there, stop for a coffee, check out the details of the map, and read about the special parking arrangements.

By the number of skyscrapers in the area, Jerry 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', so he wheeled in and headed for the entrance. As he glanced back at his Ford 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 Jerry, all you need is a grease covered white shirt to make a hit at your interview.' he thought to himself. 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 abandoned her car. As Jerry unlocked his car, he saw that the lady had not gone, but she must have been stooped down, still trying to get the hood up. To his surprise, the lady was ripping off a pretty long list of dirty words in a heavy 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 were perfectly done, and her jewelry was more than noticeable.

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

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

"Well madam, I'm no mechanic, but if I can assist you, I would be glad to try. I don't have a lot of time, but maybe we can figure out and correct your problem."

The lady held up a leather key case and in her thick 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 rump. The Corporation has 3000 miles on this pile of crap and I'm told it has been in for repairs seven times. Today I'm sweet talking her down the pike and she sputters and she smokes and finally she quits; there she lies like Kelsey's dead dog!"

Smiling, Jerry finds the latch for the hood and as he expected, he is faced with a maze of computerized this and Hi-Tech that. He does check some of 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 lose. 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 wrong, but who can tell with all this modern electronic gear.

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

"Jesus son, it's 8:15 in the Bloody morning, do you need my lights to see?"

Jerry 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 next the big cars' battery. He hooks up the booster cables, noticing how his car bogged down when the cables were placed on the big cars battery. 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." But her car does roll over and Jerry could see she is surprised. It almost starts, but not quite. It was now 8:38 AM and Jerry knows he should be at the interview.

"You must have kissed the Blarney Stone today; I thought you had it ready to Jig." Said the elated lady.

"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 at the damn lease agency, 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?"

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

It dawned on Jerry 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.

Jerry 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 actually ran smooth. "Thanks be to God and you, my lad!"

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

In less than two minutes he had the Escort parked and was making his way across the parking area. The trouble is, it may be the biggest parking lot he had even seen. But there was no mistaking the Chrysler Building and eventually he was on 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 Jerry looked at his wristwatch; 9:06 AM.

He was a little disheveled and he tried to calm himself and place a reassuring smile on his face as he approached Mr. Miller's receptionist.

"Good Morning, I am Jerry Weber 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 be able to speak with Mr. Miller?"

The receptionist said nothing, acting annoyed she held her gaze on Jerry as she buzzed Mr. Miller. "Your 9 o'clock is here." She listened for a while and then placed the telephone back in its cradle. "When you failed to show, Mr. Miller rescheduled his meeting with our visiting International Vice President, I'm afraid Mr. Miller will not be able to help you.

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

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in a pool hall, what a morning, that God forsaken pile of junk. Holy Mackerel! I see I busted a bloody fingernail trying to get that hood open on that Son of a Bitch Edsel or what ever it was."

"Right this way Ms. O'Shanessey, I guess it was not your lucky day." Said Miss Riley.

"Oh, but it was! The little people must have watching out for me, ay? I ran into Saint Christopher's brother, or cousin, driving a bloody Escort of all things, and he must have kissed the Blarney Stone, God bless him. Not only did he stop, he got that lemon to start, I owe him a golden shamrock; but I didn't even get the lad's name.

"Miss Riley, contact that rental agent, I'm still going to shove those keys where the sun don't shine. Now, better late than never, let's meet this Personnel Manager of yours, Mr. Miller?"

(C)opyright 2006 Gary Grenier All Rights Reserved

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