It is two-thirty in the afternoon and at the moment, I am in the middle of an interview for a job as a business analyst consultant, which is supposed to jump start my career. At least that’s what my career counselor at The Second Chance Career Center kept telling me.
“You’re a winner Mikel, there’s nothing that you can’t do or won’t do to get where you need to be, right?” A phrase of hers that was repeated often to me that was intended to spark some passion and right my wrongful attitude towards the job market. Although, I’d seen bumper stickers with more creativity.
I had been let go at my last job due to downsizing and a budget miscalculation on behalf of the business solutions department (a department title that seemed arbitrary to me, since the entire operation was about business), which in their defense was due to inexperienced office personnel and the fact that most of the employees there were twenty-two and more concerned about what different dicks and vaginas felt like as opposed to performing their job duties, so things like my situation didn’t occur.
But it did, and oddly enough, it was more of a relief than a burden. I hated what I was doing every day, filling out statistical inquiries, advising over PLA’s, the basic crunching of the numbers you might call it. They even tried hiring me back, but I was over it by then.
It had been three months since my last workday at that job and all I could do was think about working. Wondering why it was taking me so long to climb that metaphorical ladder to the sky.
And here I am, seated in an office wearing a charcoal colored freshly-pressed suit, attempting to convince a complete stranger that I’m a team-player, a go-getter that is proactive enough to become a vital contributor to a company that specialized in buying and selling off personal and student loans.
“If you look at paragraph three Mr. Livingston, you’ll notice that my company observed a steady increase in profit growth the last three years of my employment, some of that due to loans I’d approved and oversaw.”
Mr. Marshall Livingston, hiring manager and department coordinator of One Source Loans, is fiddling with a red metallic pen that shaking the tube of ink inside which makes it have a whooshing sound that I imagine drives most people nuts, I’m thinking I’m one of those people.
“I see, I see,” he says rather blahzee.
I’m not convinced he is interested at all.
He thumbs through a bit more of my resume and breathes out really loudly, which I also find mildly irritating, but I keep up with my obsequious enthusiasm.
“Everything seems in order Mikel, I just have one question to ask you and then I’ll have my mind made up about you.”
Without giving me a chance to respond he continues.
“I’m afraid I don’t feel that you are the right candidate for this job Mikel, but maybe there is a position for you here, although it might not be the one you’re after.”
I’m a bit perplexed and also somewhat irritated. I can’t accept a smaller role in a company, which would definitely result in a pay cut. I scratch my head and make a noticeable sigh.
“Sir, I’ve been in this business in what seems like forever, I just don’t think I could keep my sanity if I worked below my capabilities.”
Mr. Livingston clears his throat.
“Mikel, have you ever worked security?”
“Uh, no, never. I’m pretty sure it would barely pay enough to keep me floating in the filth.”
“You’re a big guy, about 6’5″?”
“6’6″ exactly. Is that supposed to intimidate people or something? ”
“Well, quite frankly yes. Physical attributes alone, I would say you’d be a good fit for what I need you for.”
Livingston leans in, smiles and continues.
“Mikel, I’m not referring to some small toy cop role where people snicker at you for owning a rubber gun, I mean taking on a professional position as my personal bodyguard.”
“Well, I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting you to say that. Why me though? I mean, I’ve got no experience with this kind of thing.”
“Mr. Livingston, your three o’clock is here and ready to vent.”
Livingston turns his head to the intercom sitting on his desk and presses a round button that makes a clicking sound.
“Thank you Janette, Mr. Fetters was just leaving.”
“Well, it looks like this interview has ran its course, but please think it over. I think it could be a great opportunity for you and for me.”
I smile back, weakly.
“Sure thing. We’ll be in touch.”
“We’ll be in touch” is American business talk for a politely put “no thanks.”
The next day I’m rifling through the paper, pleading with the universe for a sign, a hunch, anything really. But a fragile headline grabs my attention instead.
“Charitable businessman Marshall Livingston gunned down in uptown apartment building.”
I’m too late.