Monday, June 1, 2020

Microstory 1376: Conviviality

Employer: Mr. Ex-Con, thank you for coming in. I’m very impressed by your résumé, but it looks like you’ve been out of work for awhile. Tell me about that.
Ex-Con: I was in prison for the last five years, sir.
Employer: Oh, you were? Oh, yes, I see that now. To be honest, my brain skips all these other little boxes. I mean, your list of skills? I imagine your education and experience would tell me what you can do. And if not, that’s what the interview is for, right?
Ex-Con: I suppose so, sir.
Employer: You don’t have to call me that. In fact, I would rather you not.
Ex-Con: Okay, Mr. Employer.
Employer: So, we’re always looking for interesting new blood here. We want you to have been in the workforce, so you know what it’s like to clock-in, get along with your co-workers, have a boss; that sort of thing. We’re not necessarily looking for particular experience, though. I’m very curious about the two years you spent as a park ranger. I’ve never met anyone who’s done anything like that.
Ex-Con: Yes, sir—I mean... [sighs]
Employer: It’s okay. Go on.
Ex-Con: I took that job so I could help transport drugs into the city. The park crosses just a little bit into Canada, and that’s how we stayed under the radar. It was meant to be my job to stop people from doing that, but I abused my position, and I regret it terribly.
Employer: Right on, right on. So, did you come across any bears?
Ex-Con: Bears, sir?
Employer: In the park.
Ex-Con: No, no bears. Plenty of mountain lions, but it was fine.
Employer: Oh, that’s cool. I love wild animals, that’s why it piqued my interest. Not that that’s all you have going for you. It seems you also know your way around a boring ol’ office.
Ex-Con: That’s right.
Employer: And you’ve done warehouse and factory work as well.
Ex-Con: Indeed.
Employer: Well, I think your experience speaks for itself. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself? We have a lot of teams here, and they’re all run by different people. Please don’t be afraid to answer this next question, because you think it will reflect poorly on you. What do you look for in a boss? Like, if bosses had to apply to supervise you, what sort of characteristics would you look for?
Ex-Con: I’m...I’m not sure...
Employer: No, it’s okay. It’s important that you be able to vocalize what you need out of your job. We have openings on every team, and like I said, they’re all different. Nothing you say is going to hurt your chances. It’ll only help us decide where to place you.
Ex-Con: This is all moving so fast. I mean, I expected you to ask me about my labor gap, freak out about my prison time, and just politely tell me you’ll call me if something opens up. Just like everyone else.
Employer: Well, that’s not how we do things here. Truth be told, we need bodies. These are all entry level positions, so my only concern is where you fit in; not if you fit in. I promise you there’s a place for you here, but you are going to have to want it, and then every single day, you’re going to have to earn it. We lose about forty percent of new hires in the first month. Some don’t like it, some just don’t work out. But I would rather give those people two paychecks, and turn them over, than risk not taking a chance on someone who could be really great. I don’t really care about your criminal record. If the system let you out, that’s good enough for me. Because we got cameras all over this facility. There are zero blindspots, so if you try to use us to go back to your old ways, we’ll know it, and we’ll put a stop to it. I’m not going to reject you before you have the opportunity to prove to us you’ve changed.
Ex-Con: I have changed. I don’t want to do that stuff anymore. Lots of people go into lock-up, and get worse, because of the things they have to do in there. I hated every second of it, and it made me hate the person I used to be that led me there.
Employer: Well, great. So how ‘bout it? What kind of boss do you prefer?
Ex-Con: Someone who’s willing to take a chance on an ex-con, and who likes wild animals.

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