Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Story 10: What Not to Put on Your Résumé, What Not to Say at the Interview

            The Supervisor looks up as her Assistant knocks on her office door.
            Assistant: Your 10:00 interview is here.
            Supervisor: Thank you, send him right in.
            After her Assistant leaves, the Supervisor pulls out a sheaf of papers stapled together and scans through them, a slight furrow in her brow.  She looks up again as her Assistant escorts the Applicant into the office and closes the door behind him.
            Supervisor: (Dropping the pages onto her desk, stands and shakes the Applicant’s hand) Hello, thank you for coming in this morning.
            Applicant: Oh, thank you for seeing me.  I really appreciate the opportunity to meet with you about the job.
            Supervisor: (Smiles and indicates the chair in front of her desk) Have a seat.  (They both sit in the appropriate chairs) Did anyone out there offer you something to drink?  Coffee, water?
            Applicant: Yes, she did – I’m good, thanks.
            Supervisor: All right, let’s begin, then.  (She picks up the stapled papers again) I must say, I found your résumé to be very impressive.
            Applicant: (Blushes) Thank you.
            Supervisor: As librarians, you know we have that hair-in-the-bun, shush-everyone image – stigma, really – that we always like to disprove to the public.  It’s especially encouraging when someone with experiences such as yours joins the profession.
            Applicant: (Laughs awkwardly)
            Supervisor: (Puts on a pair of glasses) I really just have a few questions on some items here.
            Applicant: Oh?!
            Supervisor: (Looks up momentarily) Between your bachelor’s and master’s degrees, you had a few positions in different fields.  For a year after college, you joined the Peace Corps – that’s very admirable.
            Applicant: Oh yeah, that – it wasn’t.
            Supervisor: Wasn’t what?
            Applicant: Admirable.  Of me, I mean.  I couldn’t find a real job and my life was pretty much garbage at that point, and I’d always heard that volunteering is good for self-esteem.  I really just wanted to surround myself with people worse off than I was, but when I got there I knew I was a fake.  I only stayed out of embarrassment.
            Supervisor: I’m sure you did some good while you were there.
            Applicant: (Shrugs) Eh.
            Supervisor: (Turns a page) Well, after you came back to the States, you went on to work at a car dealership.  Customer service experience, then?
            Applicant: Oh, actually I had thought that the employees could get free cars and I needed one.  Turned out they just get a discount.
            Supervisor: (Looks at the page) You were there for three years.
            Applicant: They had really good coffee.
            Supervisor: During that time you earned your master’s degree, then you have a bit of a gap between that and your next job.
            Applicant: I took some personal time off – family.
            Supervisor: Oh – I hope you don’t mind me asking, did you start a family?
            Applicant: No, I was burying family.  They just kept dying around then, back-to-back.
            Supervisor: Oh, I’m so sorry.
            Applicant: It’s OK – everybody dies, right? The funeral home started waiving fees after awhile, so it all worked out.
            Supervisor: (Clears her throat) I see you then moved on to work at a public library for about two years, during which you were summoned to – (Holds up the papers to the Applicant) am I reading this right? – a Congressional hearing?!
            Applicant: (Laughs) Oh, that has been the highlight of my career.  Although, (Whispers) I can't really talk about it.
            Supervisor: Was the hearing directly involving you?
            Applicant: Who knows?
            Supervisor: One last question – (Reading from the last paper) it says here that you have a personal Web site, but when I looked it up I saw that it distributes pirated movies.  Did I enter the address correctly?
            Applicant: You most certainly did.  I can you get you a special deal on one that hasn’t even come out in theaters yet, if you’d like.
            Supervisor: You do know that we take copyright law very seriously and infringement is to be avoided whenever possible?
            Applicant: It’s OK, it falls under fair use: I’m educating my customers on how to stick it to the man.
            Supervisor: Well, that about wraps this up.  (Stands and sticks out her hand) Thank you again for coming.
            Applicant: (Stands and shakes her hand) So, should I expect to hear from you within a week?
            Supervisor: Absolutely not.
            Applicant: Fair enough – could you give me advice on anything I could improve in the future, then?
            Supervisor: Yes: on your résumé, replace pretty much everything we talked about today with “Personal Time Off”.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Story 9: Amorous Peacocks and Posing Giraffes

              The zoo was open year-round, but that day was especially busy due to the influx of young.  Their herds scattered as they made strange noises, ate everything in sight, and disturbed the established residents.  There was comfort in knowing that, by 2:00 p.m., they would be corralled by their keepers and noisily shipped back to the elementary schools from which they came.
            Before entering the front gates, a main feature of the zoo was the peacocks.  They strolled by the guests, not actively begging for food but deigning to eat anything that just happens to be tossed in their direction.  The males were looking for dates, as evidenced by their full plumage out on display, those shameless hussies.  They would attempt to trap the females within a cage of their feathers, but the girls knew better and would not be fooled by these hookers.  They knew that the price – the responsibility of bearing and raising babies – was much too high.
            Admission was a suggested donation of $15 – anything lower would be thrown back into the person’s face and a ranger would drive them off the property.  Parking was wherever a car could fit, with shuttle transport available for those parked past the mile point.
            One section of the zoo featured a replica of a savannah and included tourists on safari and poachers.  Those taking photos focused on the runway giraffe, a model who would pose for the audience so her fellow captives would not need to suffer the shame.  She strolled in front of the viewing platform, batting her eyes and swiveling her hips, then strolled back to the hay wain where she rested for two hours after her ordeal.  After she had had a baby, though, she smacked the cameras out of people’s hands with her head and brayed something that sounded very close to: “[Beep]ing paparazzi!”
            The reptile house had its own charms – the snakes in all varieties always sent a thrill up the spine, especially when one could see the shape of a small pig through the boa constrictor’s body.  The chameleons were a cheat, though: the zoo claimed they were so good at camouflage that no one could ever find them, when most people suspected that those displays actually had been empty of animate objects for years.
            The lions slept a lot in the back of their pens – roars would be heard, although they were at the same timbre, pitch, and duration on the hour, every hour.  One did attack the fence when a guest acted antagonistically toward him (the guest was subsequently put to sleep).
            The bears were a bit confused in their set-up.  The black bears were kept in the same area as the polar, and they all were expected to play together.  The black bears stayed in their trees, and the polar bears looked upon their inappropriate fake rocks and stream as solidarity with their brethren dealing with the melting Arctic.
            When exiting through the gift shop, the free-range cats herded the unwary to the black hole that is the animal shelter.  Once inside, few escape without a life companion or two, or five: the eyes get you every time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Story 8: The Walking Tour de Towne

            When visiting London in all its Roman glory, do not leave it behind forever without doing at least one walking tour.  The guides know everything about everything, and it is great exercise before, during, or after high tea at Brown’s.
            The tour of Old Westminster meets below the local Underground sign.  The participants huddle in small groups, unsure whether they are all gathered for the same event or just looking to pick each other’s pockets.  The tour guide arrives in a hurry:
            Tour Guide: Right, who’s here for the Old Westminster Tour?  (Hands hold pamphlets into the air) There’s 20 of you?  Blast.  All right, 5 quid each, hand it over, come on, come on, come on!  (Collects the fee from everyone)
            Tourist: Are you sure you’re our guide?  You have an American accent.
           Tour Guide: You’re right, let me check: git.  Any other questions before we begin?  Right, (Sets her watch) we have exactly two hours starting now.  (Walks past the group, then turns) It’s your money we’re wasting: let’s move it!  (At the corner) Right, most of you should understand English no matter where you come from, but in case you panic, (Points to the traffic signal) the hand means “Stop” and the man means “Go”.  If you cross the road when you see the hand instead of the man and get hit by a car, then too bad for you.  And make sure you look to the right before crossing, since traffic’s on the left.
            Tourist: Why do they still drive on the left when most of the world drives on the right?
          Tour Guide: I don’t know, why do we still use feet and Fahrenheit when most of the world uses meters and Celsius?  Because it’s too blooming hard to change it all!  (The man appears and the group crosses unharmed) Right, (Points to Parliament) anyone know the name of that?
            Tour Group: Big Ben.
          Tour Guide: Wrong!  It’s St. Stephen’s Tower – Big Ben is the bell inside.  Impress your friends.  (They walk to a promenade on the water) This here is the Thames – a tidal river, if you can believe it.  Yes indeed: a whole lot of rubbish washes up on shore twice a day.
            Tourist: (Points) Is that the London Eye?
         Tour Guide: Yes, also known as the Eye-Sore, the Monstrosit-Eye, and, my personal favorite, Sauron.  You can see from the Eiffel Tower from the top of it.
            Tourist: Really?
            Tour Guide: No!
            Tourist: Rude.
            (They move on)
           Tour Guide: (Indicating a building) This was where some Roundhead offed some Royalist – (Sees two tourists have lagged behind) oi!  (To the main group) No one else move from this spot, if you value your lives.  (Runs to the stragglers) You can either keep up or be left behind to the natives.  I already have your money, and no one knows you’re here.  (Grabs their arms and shoves them back into the main group)
            (They walk down some streets and stop in front of an old building)
            Tour Guide: This is a bank.  It used to be a church, until it was desecrated.
            Tourist: Don’t you mean deconsecrated?
            Tour Guide: You heard me.
            (They walk down some more streets)
       Tour Guide: This is Downing Street.  Anyone know the most famous address here?  (Silence) Number… 10?  10 Downing Street?  If I said “1700 Pennsylvania Avenue”, would you know what that meant?  (Confused silence) I didn’t think so.  10 Downing Street is where the current Prime Minister resides.  Would anyone like to see it?  (Heads nod) Well, you can’t, because no one is allowed to see it; the guards at the beginning of the street would kill you.
            Tourist: How do the other people who live on this street get home?
            Tour Guide: There are no other people who live on this street.  The ones you see are fake.
            (The tour ends at Westminster Abbey)
            Tour Guide: Would anyone like to see Westminster Abbey?  (Heads nod) Just pay £40 at the door.
            Tourist: How come England never joined the E.U. and adopted the Euro?
            Tour Guide: You know the state of the Euro lately?  Exactly.  (Searching her pockets) Now, anyone got a ciggy?  (She is answered by blank stares) A cigarette?
            Tourist: (Pulls out one) I have some in my fanny pack.  (The Tour Guide slaps her)
            Tour Guide: Potty mouth.  Any questions?  Was anyone actually paying attention to any of this?  (She is answered by the sounds of cameras clicking at the surrounding buildings) `Kay, cheers.  (Walks into a open taxi and speeds off)
            Tourist: Does anyone know where we are?
            The sounds of dogs howling nearby close out the day.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Story 7: Crashing on Home

           The island was typical Caribbean, with its lush jungle, white sand, moderate-to-hot temperature, and water that was clear and not putrid.  The people who lived there tried to get by on the main industry available in that job market – tourism.  Otherwise known as foreigner bum-kissing.
            The interior of the island was quiet, but as you made your way towards the shore, the sounds of revelry could not be missed.  On the day The Manly Men and their following arrived, the once-pristine beach was enveloped in a seething mass of humanity, stretching from one end of the island to the other with nary a break.  Those not ensconced in the painstakingly setup beach chairs made do on their own beach towels or in beach cabanas with beach butler service.
            The other tourists were mildly miffed – the barbecue tucked away in the island’s interior was now overrun by screaming, starving fans who disturbed the serious picnickers who were only trying to enjoy their hamburgers in peace.  Those who came to study the local flora, handily labeled with their scientific and common names and surrounded by roaming chickens, gave up on making any progress in their research that day.
            The stage The Men used on the beach was an authentic replica of The Great Barrier Reef, destroyed parts and all.  Michael, Andy, Sandy, and Luke dove off their private luxury tender and swam to shore as clown fish, then ditched the costumes and fooled around for two hours on their fans’ dime.  The show abruptly ended when they announced there was to be an obstacle course event, had a path to the water cleared among the nearly-nude bodies, then ran into the sea and swam back to the cruise ship that was anchored a mile offshore (Michael almost didn’t make it and had to be towed by a local kayaker).  With none of the island’s charms worth sticking around for, the audience bled out onto their own rollicking tenders, bounced across the sea, and were flung into the ship, the closest thing to solid ground they were going to get.  Once emptied, the island began to breathe again.
            The party boat meandered its way back to reality, as all things must end in the fullness of time.  Souvenir sales were racked up by the hundreds, last-minute food and alcohol were downed, more photos than could be seen in a lifetime were developed and purchased, and the breakfast buffet was torn to shreds as the mainland horrifically drew nearer and nearer.
            Still at full speed, the ship came crashing into port on the waves of euphoria.  After their farewell strip show the night before, The Men had snuck away and stood at the bow for hours, waiting for this moment.  Clasping each other’s hands, as the ship met land they leapt as one into the air, gliding in a graceful arc before landing gently into their limousines through the sunroofs.  Having endured traumas beyond expression, they were never seen by their subjects again.
            The remaining cruisers braced themselves to face the many trials of disembarking and scattering to their respective homes at the four corners of the globe.  Relaxing vacations can be quite exhausting.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Story 6: Cruising on the Party Seas

            You cannot truly consider yourself a citizen of the first world until you have gone on a cruise.  It is the ultimate experience in decadence, from the never-ending supply of food, to the never-ceasing flow of liquor, to the never-stopping consumption of diesel fuel.  Even the staff members act as if their jobs are fulfilling, and maybe they are – one likes to think they get to fit in a round of mini-golf every so often.  For some people, a cruise is one of the rare times in their lives when they do not have to work and can truly enjoy themselves.  The world seems to stop as you sail on the floating hotel.
            There usually is a pool deck at the almost-tip-top of the ship, just below that area where a strong wind can shoo you right overboard.  On the first day, before embarking on the voyage, hopefully your muster station is located on that deck so you can sidle over to the hot tub after being sorted into orderly lifeboat lines – lines that will not exist when the ship actually sinks.  The sun gently sets on the horizon, the ship slips out of port, and you glide onto a lounge chair towards relaxing, soothing bliss.
            But wait, what is that noise?  In the now-darkness, you peer through the deck windows and spot, sailing parallel to you, a sister ship.  However, this is not just any ship: lights shooting from it are streaming into the sky and across the water, music is insistently pulsing through the night, and the sounds of cheering crowds echo into the sea.  The ship itself is bouncing up and down on the water in time to the bass beat.  This monstrosity, my friends, is a party boat.
            That’s right: The Manly Men Cruise is in full swing, and the extravaganza has exploded across all decks.  The band members – Michael, Andy, Sandy, and Luke – continue to satisfy their fans’ every wish by standing closer to them than they ever would in normal circumstances.  They do not even need to sing their own songs at this point: they can get away with karaoke as tunes are shuffled by a D.J.  The screams of the crowd take care of the rest.
            Another way they have driven the audience wild is their choice of costume – for this show, they arrived on the deck’s stage dressed as mermen.  This becomes somewhat awkward as they spend an hour hopping around on their tails, but no one cares.
            The crowd around the stage has formed an impromptu mosh pit, the better for all to swarm in comfort.  An intrepid, tiny fan manages to crawl on the floor and squeeze between people’s legs, reaching the empty front section that was semi-barricaded in some semblance of crowd control.  She runs from left to right, holding her professional camera at stage level and keeping the shutter open to create an almost-video, straight into the arms of one of The Men's bodyguards, who picks her up and tosses her into the waving arms of the audience.  She is then crowd-surfed to the nearest waiter, who is all too ready to take her drink order.
            In another section of the jumping crowd, a tall girl with long curly hair cheers with the others and sings along with The Men.  She also surreptitiously lifts cell phones, wallets, and cruise cards from her neighbors as she is crushed against them, tucking each item into her bra straps under her shirt.  She starts to pull a phone out of the jeans pocket of the girl next to her when the intended victim instinctively puts her hand on the same spot.  Looking at the tall girl, she reaches up and pulls off the long, curly wig, revealing the tall girl to be an average-height boy who had discovered a perfect opportunity to obtain others’ possessions.  The other victims, huddled together when they realized that they had been left bereft, see this interchange and mosh their fellow moshers to reach the thief.  The almost-victim beats the boy with his own hair, the others surge upon him, and he succumbs to justice.
            The Men sing on, having been blinded by the constant flashes of camera lights and deafened by the music and screams of adoration years ago.