I arrived at the specified location 10 minutes early—I didn’t know I was at the specified location though because the street number the guy gave me wasn’t the same as the street number on the building. But he said last building on the left, and the mud path extending beyond the driveway led me to the inevitable conclusion that I was at the last building on the left.
I called the guy to make sure I was at the right place. He looked through his window, confirmed I was, and waited for me in the lobby, safely out of the rain. He was older than I expected, and the person I was supposed to meet with wasn’t back from lunch yet.
So I went upstairs with the guy and sat in his office while he looked for a travel itinerary. We chatted informally for about 10 minutes before he headed off to search for the Other Guy. As I sat alone in his office for 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 minutes, I looked around. He had a window at least, though the view wasn’t much to speak of.
Even though it was the day before a national election, I was surprised to see campaign signs on the grass strip outside the office building. It’s unusual for a company to make its political affiliations public knowledge unless they are very small or very large. As I squinted, I realized they were McCain/Palin signs.
The first guy came back finally and escorted me to the Other Guy’s office. We shook hands, I sat down, and he asked me about myself. I gave him a brief overview of my work history, we talked about his needs and expectations, talked about what I was looking for and my expectations as well, and after a while he asked the usual, “Do you have any questions for me?”
So I asked my standard questions—tell me what a typical day looks like for this employee; how long have you been with the company; when and why did the previous person leave; stuff like that.
And then he asked again, “Do you have any other question for me?”
You betcha I do, Joe! **wink**
I said, “I noticed a flyer on the wall for a standing bible study at lunchtime on Mondays. Can you tell me about the corporate culture?”
He responded by saying, “Well, we’re a conservative company. If you look at our history you’ll see…” (and then proceeded to tell me the history of the company).
To which I replied, “Actually, I have looked at your company’s history and was aware of most of what you just told me. But I’m curious about the company’s culture. What do you mean when you say ‘conservative’? Do you mean fiscally conservative, politically conservative…?”
He said, “Probably both.”
(Probably? You’re not sure?!)
“…any other questions?”
“Well.” I said, “as I understand it, there are six separate companies which all report up to the same holding company as its umbrella or ultimate parent company, correct?”
“And do these six separate companies share in each other’s profits and losses, or are the finances and accounting kept separate?”
“No, they all share in each other’s profits.”
“Ah,” I replied. “That could be problematic for me. My understanding is that one of the companies does repair work, among other things, for helicopters that are flying in and out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan on a fairly regular basis, so it seems to me it would behoove the company to keep the country at war.”
His face turned to stone as he said, “All Americans—all TRUE Americans—should support their troops and provide for them the best services available!”
I told him he’d get no argument from me on that count, “…I agree completely that as long as our brave men and women are out there giving their lives for our country they should have top of the line equipment kept in immaculate order, but that’s not what I said. What I said was it seems that it’s in this company’s best interest to stay at war so you can continue to have that lucrative contract from the Federal Government.”
At that point, he turned beet red, stood up, and started stammering about how we’re still fighting WWII, did I know that?! That we’re still sending people and planes every day into countries where we fought WWII to protect America’s interests, etc., etc., etc.
I looked at my watch (more to regain my composure than to actually find out the time), stood up slowly, put my coat on, reached out my hand to shake his hand, said to him as kindly as I could, “I’m sorry I didn’t ask the question at the beginning of the hour. I hope you find the right person for this position”, and walked out of his office.
My hands were in my pockets so he couldn’t see them shaking. I’ve never been so bold in all my life. It was invigorating and exhilarating and terrifying and ohmygod I just walked away from a job that pays more money than I’ve ever seen in my whole life!
Then I sat in my car and cried. I did not barf, even though I wanted to.
So, that’s that.