I've finally had to admit to myself that I'm a coward. Oh, it's always been there but I've never admitted it. As a kid I always ran away from fights and said that discretion was the better part of valor. As an adult I walked away from things and said I was being a mature and sensible, but I can't hide it anymore. I'm a coward.
I had been out of work for almost eight months because of the faltering economy. I had papered the city with applications and resumes, but hadn't received one call. I was working three part time jobs trying to hold things together and my wife Glenda worked and between the two of us we were just barely hanging on. Our personal life pretty much sucked because of constant arguments over money and an almost absolute lack of sex because of the hours I was working. Glenda had a nine to five job so she was gone from seven-thirty to around six. I worked the counter in a convenience store from three in the afternoon till eleven at night so she was asleep when I got home. I slept from the time I got home until three when I got up to go and deliver newspapers. I threw two routes so I didn't get home until after Glenda had already left for work. The only time we saw each other was on the weekend, but even then my third part time job, flipping burgers, got in the way and when we were finally home together I just flat couldn't stay awake.
About five months into that eight-month period I began to suspect that Glenda was having an affair, but what could I do about it? Nothing, at least not without taking a chance that a confrontation would end our marriage. So I just worked my ass off trying to hold my little world together and all the while hoping that I wouldn't lose Glenda to somebody else.
The call came out of the blue and it came from a company that I hadn't even sent a resume to. I was asked if I would be interested in coming in for an interview and when I said I would they scheduled me for one and told me to be prepared to spend a full eight hours with them on that day. I was there at eight on the dot and was given a bunch of forms to fill out. When I handed them back to the receptionist I was given a slip to take to Sleepy Hollow Clinic where I was given a complete physical, including an EKG, and had blood taken for God only knows how many tests. Then I was sent back to the company offices where I was given a battery of tests that took almost three hours to complete and then I was sent out to sit in the lobby and wait for the interviewer to summon me. Finally at three in the afternoon I was told to report to Mr. Simpson in room 103 for the formal interview. Simpson introduced himself and then got right to the point.
"You are probably asking yourself why the physical and all the testing before we even talked to you. The answer is that we all ready know that you have something that we want and that you possess the experience and qualifications that we want. We have not even considered that you might say no when we make you the job offer. Our compensation and benefits package is such that only an idiot would say no. The reason for all the tests and the physical was to see if you were physically and mentally capable of fitting in here. We are what is sometimes referred to as a 'first tier' Japanese style company. What that means is that we follow the original Japanese style - employment with us is lifetime. In rough times you may be reduced to sweeping floors, at no loss in pay I might add, or even be sent to the boss's house to wash and wax his car. But once in never out unless you quit of your own accord or you die. So you can see that we want to know everything about you that there is to know before we make you part of our group."
He went on to explain the job, the benefits and the compensation package and he was right - only an idiot would have turned it down. Simpson asked when I could start and I told him that I needed to give two weeks notice where I was working. He frowned, "We had rather hoped that you would start immediately."
I told him that I would like to, but that I had to be fair to the people I worked for. I wasn't sure, but from his facial expression I thought that I might just have passed some sort of test.
.... There is more of this story ...