Monday, 6 April 2015

The Interview

                             
 -iiscolder      

(1)
The room swiveled around to Edgar as he clutched his résumé harder and gave a furtive glance around the room. The large volume of his neighbour’s résumé file did nothing to ease his discomfort.  He tightened his bow tie, which he was clearly unused to judging by the improvised amateur knot, and his suit was too glossy to be subtle; and could be debated for being salacious for the occasion.   
What grabbed a strangers attention if they were to look at Edgar, would be a prim, fastidious, and astute young man in his early to mid twenties.  But as Edgar would say, they wouldn't be more wrong.   Edgar smiled at the redundancy of the revelation, which did little to facilitate his much practiced terseness.  
He glanced around at the other five candidates all dressed to impress in dark suits and polished Italian shoes, most of which as Edgar knew, were rented.  Everyone appeared calm but the overall ambiance of the room screamed anything but tranquility. Like the calm before a storm, the flicker before the light goes off. 
“Mr. Andersen, please”, the receptionist called from the office a few feet away from the waiting room.  
 Edgar could only make out that he was in his mid thirties, and the glasses he wore were designer.  Edgar wondered how he could afford those, and came to the conclusion that he must come from money. Surely a boss who couldn't afford a decent assistant or secretary wouldn't pay an arm and a leg for a receptionist.  
Edgar pulled his attention back to the advertisement paper of the company he was interviewing for, which he had printed out from their site, as a tall dark and older man got up from his seat to escort himself to the interviewing room. His hairline was receding and he looked to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The whole system looked like a cheap hospital system, but Edgar knew better than to complain. 
The starting salary was fairly low, which would explain the meager amount of applicants. But beggars shouldn't be choosers.  
Edgar glanced around once more growing impatient by the hour. The company rules forbade usage of phone in the waiting room which meant no internet, and there were no magazines either. Clearly no one before him had even thought about it considering they were too busy brushing up their Googled answers, and gloated degrees. Edgar wondered for a moment if he was remiss to his original goals or simply an anomaly.  
Everyone else in the room seemed to be preoccupied with documents on which they were jotting down incessantly. Their exuberance was laudable to a point, but somewhat insipid and mechanical.  
All except one. 
The only interesting person in the room was a man who appeared slightly younger than Edgar. His clothing was semi formal. An un-tucked dark blue shirt topped by an unbuttoned brown blazer. He wore no tie, and he wore jeans.  And here I thought I was an anomaly, Edgar mused. 
The man appeared to be looking outside the glass window of the fifth floor, and looking at something blankly. If not for his boyish charms, well groomed beard and hair, one could clearly mistake him for a photographer. Even his watch was too ordinary although at close inspection one could tell that it cost a fortune.  
The man was taking notes intermittently between his observations, without giving so much as a glance at the receptionist. If not for all his documents neatly piled on the chair next to him, it was hard to tell that he was an applicant as well. 
Edgar stared at the pale walls, the mosaic floor, and the glass windows passing away the time, as one by one the applicants were called up. Every time one of them came out looking disappointed Edgar became more and more tense. One of them would get that letter in a week from now, asking them to join next month, and Edgar wanted to make sure that he had tried all means before he gave up on it. 
As the minutes passed, the mysterious stranger finally bundled up his priceless scribbling in a neat holder, and put it in his breast pocket. Edgar almost cried out at his nonchalance and indifference to the interview.  The man finally looked around at Edgar, they being the only  two people left now.  
“Hello there, sir”, he said finally. 
“Do you make it a habit to stare out the window the whole time at interviews?” The words were out before Edgar could control himself. “You seem affected by it” the stranger replied blankly. “Would it boost up my credentials if I were to look at them every now and then ? ”  he asked.  
“No, but it surely would make you appear more interested in the job. I’m sure the owners consider that an asset.” Edgar countered. “Guilty. I was never one to care for people or rules anyway.” 
“Ironical for someone who is here to work under someone-“ 
“Mr Edgar, Mr. Sen.” The receptionist called from his desk behind the counter tilting his head from the phone in his hand, “Mr. Paul will see you both together.” 
“But-“Edgar started... Clearly he didn't want to be pigeonholed with this philistine who had no sense for art or passion for anything, and looked out of windows into the city. 
“Mr. Paul has had an emergency meeting rescheduled and seeing as you two are the only ones left, he want to wrap this up quickly.” The receptionist said blankly. “You may go now.” Then he went back to taking calls. 

“I hope you are not thinking I’ll cramp your style and chances” the stranger, who was apparently Mr. Sen, said. 
“Of course not” Edgar said objectively. 
The room was a smaller one with only one interviewer. The post being a comparatively insignificant one, they trusted the decision on their general manager.  Edgar didn't know whether to be pleased or sceptic about the arrangement.  A single interviewer meant there was less scope for mistakes and betterment. There was a oak table with a customised coffee mug on it that read “Jenny”, who clearly was someone close to Mr. Paul or whoever the interviewer was, Edgar surmised. 
He glanced over at Mr. Sen to see if the same skepticism mirrored his features as well, but he seemed to be quite unaffected by the change of milieu. Mr. Paul glanced around and reached out for each of their resumes. Mr. Sen’s one, Edgar noticed, was remarkably thin, for someone so intriguing.  
Mr. Sen picked up Edgar’s resume first flicking it for a second  before returning it to him.  
“I've read your online resume and have seen your letter of recommendation from your previous boss. I don’t really have anything much to ask, since you are already over qualified for the job. But what bothers me is that you haven’t seem to have used to business degree in quite a while, and you have no practical first hand experience in accounting. “ Mr. Paul said without preamble looking Edgar in the eye.  It’s just a trick question, you’re prepared for it, Edgar fought to keep his countenance. After years of teaching Edgar had finally had to courage to give it up an pursue his dream, accounting. He had taken up the teaching job as per his mother’s request, fresh out of university, but now that she was dead, he saw no reason to pursue a dead end anymore. He visibly gulped as he prepared his answer. 
But Mr. Paul had already moved to Mr.Sen. He reread his resume before giving a disgruntled sigh. “Interesting,” he said pausing, “you didn't even pass High School, and yet you think you are eligible for this job?” 
“I would have thought a job in accounting would, atleast, care more about pragmatism and utility.” Mr. Sen said with the same blank countenance. “Perhaps I was wrong,” he said before reclining back in his seat. 
“Mr. Sen, I myself am a doctorate in accounting and I can guarantee you that there is no such thing as a job without a degree. Not in our country. Surely a man as cultured as you would already know that.”  Very well then.” Mr Sen said.  Meanwhile Edgar has stopped phrasing his answer. Clearly with a competitor without even a High School diploma, his Masters degree would triumph anyday, even without the practical experience. Edgar wondered how a man so well collected could be so under qualified. But then again, he had met the man less than an hour ago. Appearances were deceptive. 
Edgar looked at Mr. Paul who was clearly no longer interested and wanted to pack things up in a hurry to get to his meeting and perhaps save some time for lunch.  
Edgar and Mr. Sen got up as Mr Paul signaled the end of the interview.  “Is that yours?” Mr. Sen asked signalling to a new book titled “All about Accounting” by A.Verma.  
“Yes it is. I have all seven of the books by him. Wonderful writer. He could have been a wonderful stock broker or accountant if weren't an author. I hear he has made quite a name for himself in the recent years” He said. “Why, have you read any of them?” The question was innocent yet laced with condescension, Edgar knew.  
“Of course not,” Mr. Sen said. “I would have thought so. You might want to give them a try, although I doubt with your degree or lack thereof, you’d get it.” Mr. Paul said bitterly. 
Edgar was watching the whole exchange silently, but he couldn't but feel a little badly for Mr. Sen. After all he knew how it felt to be downgraded in an interview. However, there wasn't anything he could do. He was merely   a pawn of the business world. He had no power. He was just there to live his life. 
“Of course, sir” Mr Sen said, still with the same nonchalance as he got up to leave. 
Edgar watched keenly as Mr. Sen left without a word getting on the elevator, and resuming his scribbling again. 
Edgar waited a few seconds before getting on the next one. 



(2)
Mr. Paul locked his office as he followed Gary, his receptionist to his meeting. His last secretary had gotten sick and left, and now he had asked Gary to help him temporarily till he hired a new one. With the lack of profit and funds from the mother company, Gary wondered how long that would be. 
“Did you find anyone suitable, sir? ”Gary asked trying to make conversation. 
“Not yet, but I did meet someone intriguing today”. 
“Intriguing, sir?” 
“Yes, he didn’t even graduate High School and was hoping for a job.”Mr. Paul said with a contemptuous smirk.”The one with the brown blazers.” 
“Oh, you mean the one looking like a Oscar Wilde character?”Gary asked, then with a nod for confirmation from Mr. Paul, Gary continued.  
“Actually I read an article on him recently. He is a renounced business adviser, has some rare form of Personality Disorder that makes him unable to focus. Some deviant form of ADD. He prefers, um, a more diverse method than schooling.” 
What?”Mr. Paul stopped to address Gary, “Why didn’t you say that before?” 
“I didn’t know he was a candidate, I thought he was there to talk to you, as a consultant. And I thought it didn’t matter.” “Well it did, apparently.” Mr. Paul deadpanned. “I turned him down. Anything else you know about this guy?” 
“Yes”, Gary said after a moment. “He is also a famous author and has written quite a few books on accounting. But he goes by an alias, a penname so very few people know it’s him.” 
“And what would that alias be?” Mr. Paul was now visibly going through a purview of thoughts, as he clutched his bag tightly his knuckles going whiter. 
“I think it was A.Verma”, Gary said. 
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