The Interview

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Corporama - do you recognise yourself or others here?

Quirky interview.

Submitted: May 26, 2007

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Submitted: May 26, 2007



"Mr. Gumshoe," I said, "I can't help noticing that you are not wearing any shoes or socks..."

I left a pause there, to allow the man before me, Mr. Marvel Gumshoe, to explain why he had arrived to this interview barefoot. I suspected that there would be an interesting and somewhat humorous tale involving a Doctor Foster-sized puddle. What I was not prepared for was what followed.

My name is Apollo Shaughnessy, I am the General Manager of a large customer contact centre in Limerick. Some say I am devilishly handsome, with my athletic frame, my tussled blond hair and my mischievous blue eyes. Some say I have questionable morals and that I have a contract with Satan. There are always two sides to any story. I am in the market for a new manager to run my Process Improvement Department. The previous manager was disloyal so I had to encourage him to leave.

That is why I am sitting opposite Mr. Gumshoe, craning under the desk that divides us, looking at his bare feet. I want to hire him. His track record is second to none: in his last company he improved customer metrics by 50% and halved turnaround time on key processing cycles. If he could do that here then I would nearly double my bonus. But he is barefoot.

Mr. Gumshoe is in his thirties. He is the embodiment of confidence. When he walked into the office he was brisk, he looked me straight in my lovely blue eyes, shook my hand firmly but not too aggressively and sat down with a definite air of effectiveness.

You see, I am surrounded by ineffective people. I need someone who knows how to move something from A to B without ringing me every five minutes to ask permission to fart.

"I don't wear them. Shoes and socks. I hope that won't be an issue for you." - replied Marvel.

"An issue...", I said, leaving a pause for thought. Is it an issue? Should it be an issue? What sort of man wears no shoes? Of course it's an issue.

"Are you pulling my leg? Did somebody put you up to this? It was Seamus, that dip-stick in Accounts, wasn't it?" - I said, smiling knowingly because I am an excellent judge of people and situations.

"Nobody ‘put me up' to this.", said Marvel, " It is a personal choice. I simply do not wear socks and shoes. I prefer to be barefoot. Can we talk about Process Improvement? That is why I am here.".

"But you're wearing no shoes!" - I exclaimed, my arms outstretched, crying out for reason.

"I don't want to dwell on this. Really, it isn't important. You wear shoes. I do not - simple as that. When you say that I am wearing no shoes you are assuming that shoes, which are only a convention, are a necessary, permanent fixture. Wearing ‘no shoes' almost suggests that I get up in the morning and physically put on ‘no socks' and ‘no shoes'. Can we talk about Process Improvement now?"

"Let me be frank.", I said, adopting my best ‘lets get real' expression, " Your CV is aces. You have excellent qualifications and excellent experience. I've checked out your references and they all add up to something I like but... this shoe thing? I drew a line under having my head up my ass a long time ago, my friend. Ask anybody out there, except Seamus in accounts, and they'll tell you that I definitely do not have my head up my ass. I get the results I get because I get people...and they get me. But this shoe thing...

"You're going to have to see past it."

What about broken glass and poo?"

"What?" - he replied, scratching the sole of his left foot. His feet were remarkably clean. The skin looked hardened but supple at the same time.

I took a slow breath. "What about stepping in dog poo or broken glass?" - I asked, piqued into genuine interest.

"I don't step in broken glass or poo, as a rule, but I imagine that some glass would cut my skin and poo, well that would be uncomfortable..." - he responded, testily.

I looked again at his cv, searching for any mention of unclad feet.

"What about your last job. What did they say at your last job?"

"At my last job I wore shoes. But then I drew a line under having my head up my ass and realised that I had never liked wearing shoes and socks. I can't explain why. I just never liked wearing them. I never thought that I had a choice in the matter until I took my head out of my ass and realised that the only person that had a choice in the matter was me and me alone. Now please, can we draw a line under this subject and talk about Process Improvement."

I ran my hand through my hair, partly out of frustration and partly because that gives my hair a surfers look. To give Marvel his dues, he was being very professional about this. He wasn't losing his temper or acting petulant. He was being direct. I like direct.

I leaned forward. "Let me be direct, Marvel, I admire your individuality as much as I admire your achievements. I could easily make this about me and tell you about all of the admirable stands I have taken, but I won't. This isn't about me, Marvel, this is about you. Now, can you put yourself in my position?"

I leant back in my chair and joined my hands in a praying, contemplative way, signalling to Marvel that I was waiting for his answer and that I was patient and wise.

"O.K. From your position. I have absolutely no face to face contact with any of our customers so I could be wearing an ape-suit and it would not affect them. My job is to reduce cycle-times and to improve customer satisfaction by working on your staff and your processes. Quite frankly, I don't think my feet have any part to play in this process."

"But how will it look to your colleagues?" - I said, leaning forward slightly but sustaining the wise and patient pose.

"My colleagues may think it odd to begin with but as I have excellent foot hygiene I doubt that it would even raise an eyebrow after a couple of days."

Marvel wasn't punching his points home as little victories as I might have in his situation. He was quite calm really, quite relaxed, secure enough in his integrity to refrain from descending from inclusive dialogue into binary argument.

I raised my finger to my lips to request silence and I dialled Human Resources on speaker phone.

"Hi Maggie, " - I said with swagger, " It's Apollo here. Quick question - do we have anything in the HR code that requires that employees wear shoes?"

"Excuse me?" - she replied.

"Shoes Maggie. Do employees have to wear shoes?...Oh and socks, do they have to wear socks and shoes."

"Well, Apollo, " she replied, "I would say probably yes. There is a business dress code and I suppose that would include socks and shoes. I don't really know. I can ring the States if you like and get the Corporate position?"

"Can you do that for me, Sweetie?" I said, winking at Marvel.

"Apollo," she interjected, "We've had words about this ‘Sweetie' thing before haven't we..."

I put the phone down.

"They have to ring ‘The States'," I said, leaning back in my chair and tossing my head back. " Always ‘The States'. I swear, the day one of those power-hungry she-devils has an independent thought... HR is The Borg.."

"Yes. Well. " - said Marvel, nodding. He wasn't agreeing with me. He was saying - "Well you might think that but I couldn't possibly say that."

He was being reserved. Not overstating his case. I like that. I could feel my bonus creeping up by several percent.

"I don't want to overstate my case here, Marvel, but I might be able to move some mountains and get those she-bullies in HR to overlook the shoe issue. I was going to offer you more money to wear shoes and socks but I can see that you are not a money man and I respect that. So - what if I tell HR that you have a medical condition that precludes you from wearing shoes. Would you row in with that, Marvel?"

I left a pause there to give him time to put on a reasonable hat.

"But I don't have a medical problem."

"But if you did..."



Anyway, he didn't take the job. Apparently he didn't like me or trust me or something.

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