The Interview

Charles sat in the uncomfortable chair, stared at the interviewer, and thought about how totally fucked his life was. He’d just listened to her ask one of those bullshit questions that you only ever hear during a job interview, “What’s your greatest strength?” or “What makes you right for this job?” and he was struggling to think of an answer that wouldn’t get him escorted out of the building by security. Which was ironic, because Charles didn’t even want the job. He was, in truth, desperate to not have it. The problem was that he was slightly more desperate to have some money than he was to not have a shitty, dead-end job.

“I suppose it’s my attention to detail,” Charles said finally. “I’ve got an excellent eye for the small things that other people tend to overlook.” Like the way your ulnar styloid process protrudes from the back of your wrist while you scribble down my ridiculous lies, showing me the perfect spot to swing at if I were trying to cut off your hand with a machete. Charles smiled at the interviewer and entertained himself while he waited for her next question by trying to visualize how the blood from her severed hand hand would pattern the neat, white paper fastened to the clipboard she was writing on.

A butterfly, he decided.

“And have you ever worked in an environment like this before?”

An environment where I sit all day and stew, my anger slowly boiling into a frothing, inarticulate rage, while I sit and think, in very great detail, about the various ways I’d like to murder my customers and co-workers? “Sure,” Charles replied. “I’ve had extensive experience in this kind of setting.” In fact, I could bring you a number of hand-written journals containing several thousand pages that rather exhaustively catalogue my thoughts on the subject. I wouldn’t recommend reading them before bedtime, though.

“And how did you fit in with the corporate culture at your previous job?”

Well, it was an unbelievably toxic place, stuffed to the gills with a slew of unhappy people who passionately hated their jobs, customers, and employer, so… “I think I fit in reasonably well. I never had any trouble relating to any of my fellow employees, or they to me.”

“Okay. Great. And what was the major challenge that you faced in that position?”

Well, getting out of bed every morning to waste an entire day at a miserable, go-nowhere job was a serious fucking challenge. It was not at all uncommon for me to stand in front of the sink, razor in hand, and have a lengthy debate with myself about whether I’d rather finish shaving and go to work, or cut my fucking throat. “I’d have to say a lack of motivation. My previous employer didn’t really offer a lot of incentive to excel.”

The interviewer nodded and began scribbling on her clipboard again while Charles imagined how her burning skin would smell if he doused her in gasoline and set her on fire.

Barbequed pork with a hint of cinnamon, he decided.

“Are you comfortable working as part of a team?”

“I probably do my best work alone,” Charles admitted. “But I’ve enjoyed success as member of a team as well.” That is, if you count all the other vicious, miserable fucks actively making the world a shittier place for everyone as a “team.” If you count that, though, then I’m a member of the most goddamn successful team that’s ever existed.

“When you’re in a confrontation, do you find yourself trying to really understand the other party’s emotions?”

“Absolutely,” Charles said. Honestly, I have to analyze them like a goddamn laboratory specimen to even come close to guessing at what they’re experiencing. Three decades of feeling nothing but overwhelming rage and hate have pretty much burned me clean, emotionally. Everything else is so far below my detection threshold that if you had walked into the room sobbing, I’d likely not have noticed until your tears stained that clipboard. And even then, I’d have been forced to study you for at least a minute to determine if you were happy or sad. “It’s an integral part of conflict resolution.” But only because people are really fucking easy to manipulate when they’re emotional.

“Outstanding,” she said. She scribbled some more, and Charles cocked his head to the side, wondering how long the interviewer would scream if he flayed the skin from her face, sliced off her eyelids, and stuck her in front of a mirror.

Until her vocal chords bled and choked her, he decided.

“Finally, where do you see yourself in five years?”

“That’s a tough question.” No it’s not. I’ll be dead. Probably by my own hand. Either that or I’ll be standing on a soap crate on some street corner, weeping and raving at the sky. Hopefully I’ll be dead, though. “I mean, the future is always uncertain, but I wouldn’t object to staying in one place for as long as possible.” Like inside a coffin.

“Alright then. I think we’ve got everything we need.” The interviewer stood up and extended her hand. Charles rose and shook, careful to apply a firm, but not overwhelming amount of pressure to her slender fingers. “We’ve got a few more candidates to speak with, but I imagine you’ll be hearing from us by the end of the week.”

“Excellent,” Charles said. “Although I’d really rather you stuck a fucking knife in my kidney on the way out.” He turned to leave, and noticed as he did that the interviewer’s mouth had dropped open. He walked through the door, curious if he had perhaps said that last part out loud.

It didn’t really matter, he decided.

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