Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Microstory 1323: Inspectorate

New Clearance Investigator: Are you nervous? You look nervous.
Inspector Job Candidate: You look nervous. I’m sorry, that sounded like a burn. You just actually look nervous to me.
New Clearance Investigator: I’m a little nervous, yes. This is my first clearance interview.
Inspector Job Candidate: What did you do before this?
New Clearance Investigator: I was a postal worker, but I’m the one meant to be asking the questions here.
Inspector Job Candidate: Right, of course. Everything you need to know should be on the forms I filled out. I’m here to be a factory oversight inspector.
New Clearance Investigator: Yes, they are, and yes, you are. We just need some clarification on a few things.
Inspector Job Candidate: Go ahead, I’m an open book. I’m not sure why I was flagged for face-to-face, though. I’ve never been out of the city, let alone the country.
New Clearance Investigator: That’s exactly why you were flagged. It’s a bit unusual for a candidate to have almost no housing history. According to these records, you were literally born in your childhood home, you grew up there, you stayed there through college—
Inspector Job Candidate: Well, it’s a college town...surrounding a really good college.
New Clearance Investigator: That’s fair. And you still live there, but not with your parents?
Inspector Job Candidate: My mother died when I was in high school, and I had to move my father to an assisted living facility a few blocks away two years ago, because I couldn’t take care of him while I was in class. So yes, I still live there, but I’m fully independent. It’s my house now.
New Clearance Investigator: Okay. This was an open-ended question about your travel. You responded that you’ve never gone anywhere, for any reason. Is this because of your family situation?
Inspector Job Candidate: Not exactly, per se. My parents hated traveling, my grandparents hated traveling. I had no strong feelings about it, but I also had no experience with it, so I suppose it never came up, even when I became an adult. I wasn’t ever actively thinking about the fact that I never went anywhere; it just never happened.
New Clearance Investigator: Yet here you are, applying to a position with—let’s 85% travel requirement.
Inspector Job Candidate: Oh, I can see how that would look weird. I imagine it doesn’t help that I’m not acting like it’s always been my dream to finally break free from this one-horse town, or something.
New Clearance Investigator: This city has more than one horse, so to speak.
Inspector Job Candidate: Exactly. So I haven’t been to somewhere exotic, like Tokyo, or Peru. Lots of people can’t afford to go on big vacations. Yeah, I realize it’s strange that I haven’t even been to the other side of the state, but this city has everything I need, and I have been all over it. The form didn’t really ask me how active I’ve been within the city limits.
New Clearance Investigator: This is true. Neither the form, nor the interview, can account for everything. It’s designed to help us find out whether you met a terrorist group when you studied abroad one semester, but there’s no way to know if the terrorist group came here, and met you on the other side of town.
Inspector Job Candidate: ...
New Clearance Investigator: I’m not accusing you of that, but again, that’s why you were flagged. The form you filled out simply does not have much information about you. It’s not your fault. You shouldn’t be punished for leading a reasonable life that appears boring on paper. But they called me in, because I can find out what the forms don’t tell us. So, let’s begin.
Inspector Job Candidate: Wait, we haven’t begun yet?
New Clearance Investigator: Ha. No. Get comfortable. This might take a couple hours.

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