Mike Makes An Impression
(an excerpt from the serial novel FULLY VESTED)
By AL BRUNO III
Sunlight streamed in from the open window, it made Mike Carter have to squint to make out the stranger sitting behind the mahogany desk. The shiny nameplate on the front of that desk read Brian Hayes, and the man studying Mike’s resume was lean with dark neat hair. After five weeks of interviews all the faces had started to look the same. The individual features might change but those cool eyes and well trained plastic smiles never did. The Human Resources director at Mike’s old job had been just like that, he’d worn the same expression for the downsizing that he’d worn for the office Christmas party.
They’re all the same. Mike thought, It doesn’t matter if they’re corporate wonks just passing through or if they’re true believers, they’re all fakes.
Brian Hayes looked up from the resume, “Why the scowl?”
“Oh.” Mike tried to shift his expression, “The sun is in my eyes.”
“I’m sorry,” Brian flicked a switch on his desk and the blinds whispered to a close. He grinned, “Neat huh?”
Mike was blinking, waiting for his vision to adjust, “Very.”
“What did we do before technology?” Brian chuckled to himself, “So, Mike, what makes you think that the Trinity Advance Corporation is the next step in your career path?”
Career path? I’m just trying to survive.
“Well, I’ve heard a lot of great things about your company...” Mike began his well-rehearsed spiel.
There were framed butterflies mounted on both walls of the office, Mike tried to gauge his posture and deportment from the translucent reflections he cast on their panes.
The truth was Mike didn’t like what he saw, prematurely gray hair and a sloppy physique. He was in his forties but he looked ten years older. Mike knew he was the kind of person everyone overlooked, from women, to family to employers. How many times had he fought his way to middle management only to find himself let go when it was time to trim the fat? The first few times it happened he had tried to be good humored about it but this was downsizing number five and it was always right before he was about to claw his way out of debt.
I’m washed up. He thought glumly, Washed up at forty-eight. I deserve better than this.
“You like the butterflies?” Brian Hayes asked.
“Oh. Yes. They’re very eye catching,” Mike shrunk in his seat.
Great. Now he thinks I’m not paying attention.
Brian Hayes laced his fingers behind his head and leaned back, “I used to be really into the whole butterfly collecting thing but work rarely leaves me any time for it.”
“That’s too bad,” Mike said, but the truth was he thought butterfly collecting was a creepy-ass hobby.
“Funny isn’t it? We get jobs to make money so we can do what we want in our spare time and then we suddenly find we’ve got no time or energy left because of our jobs,” Brian Hayes smiled, “what are your hobbies Mike?”
“I Don’t have any.”
“Oh, well are you a family man? That’s a career in itself.”
“No wife, no kids.”
Brian Hayes leaned forward, “I see. Than I have to ask, Mike, what are your passions?”
For a moment Mike thought to lie, to say something like Work is my passion. But in the end he just shrugged and said, “I don’t have any.”