I’m nervous at a job interview. The office is spare, stark, there’s nothing on the walls. His desk stretches empty before him. He stands up and shakes my hand and tells me to “Grab a seat.” He smiles at me with a feral-looking rictus and says, “Welcome to AdvanceTech Technologies.”
“Thank you,” I tell him.
To put me at ease, I think, he says, “Please don’t think of this desk as a chasm or an abyss between us. We’re just two humanoids coexisting on the planet Earth. Try to keep that in mind.”
He is a squat, square man with a light beard. His hairline is receding but he still has more coverage than I do. At the rate of my hair loss, I’ll have an embarrassing comb-over in less than a year. Eventually I will resemble Zero Mostel.
He tells me the position I’m applying for is not unlike a “flock of birds” and that I don’t need an “ocean of experience.” But I will need rigorous training. “Before you can start, you’ll need to dismantle your personality, obliterate your ego and randomize your thought patterns. You’ll be given peyote at orientation to help you along. Have you had experience with peyote?”
I lie and tell him, “Yes.” I don’t feel guilty about lying. It’s a job interview after all. I’ve already poured lies all over my application.
“And where was this?”
“Mexico. I met a Brujo there named Don Miguel. He was my mentor in peyote...” Lies, all lies. I maintain a bland face as I lie. It’s one of the things I’m good at. Maintaining a bland face while I lie.
“Very good,” he says. He lifts my application and peruses it. “I like your poem,” he says. “Influenced by the Dadaists?”
“Please, call me Mike. Mike Trent. Try to relax, I don’t bite. Would you care for a phosphate?”
“No thank you.”
“We consider ourselves a family here at AdvanceTech.”
“So, tell me. Why should our little family adopt you?”
“Well, I’m a hard worker. Look at my hands.” I have rough, scarred, calloused hands. A result of my dangerous, almost foolhardy hobbies.
“M-hm. Impressive. How do you feel about working third shift? Does that present a problem?”
“No. Actually, I prefer working nights.”
“M-hm. Now, we work like a band of chimpanzees around here. How do you feel about that?”
“I feel great about it. I like chimps.”
“That’s definitely in your favor.”
“At a place like this.”
“Do you sometimes hear voices?”
I lied again, “Yes, I do. Sometimes.”
“Good. That’s a requirement. Listen to those voices.”
“Oh I do. I do. Absolutely.”
“Are you comfortable with your identity?”
I think for a moment and then confess, “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”
“I’m not sure I do either. But, you have no problem breaking through to new realms of consciousness? At minimum wage?”
“No, no problem.”
“And can you lift up to fifty pounds?”
“No problem,” I give him what I hope is a confident smile. I’m not sure what fifty pounds feels like.
“Please, just let the interview process sluice through you. Like a school of fish. No need to be tense.”
“Thank you. I’ll try...” Is my smile that nervous? I pull it back a little.
“At this point in the interview, I’d like to show you a short film.” He stands up and turns on a television I hadn’t noticed, pushes a button. The film he shows is Stan Brakhage’s The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971). He leaves me alone to watch the film. I’ve seen it before but it’s no less unnerving. He returns as the film ends.
“That’s the kind of mood we strive for here at AdvanceTech Technologies.”
“So, do you think you’ll fit in here?”
“Your personality seems false to me. Like mere protective camouflage.”
“Oh?” I feel something leaden in my chest, pressing my heart. He sees through me, dear god he sees right through me.
He smiles at me like a thug. “I understand. This is a job interview after all. I realize you’re just trying to put your best face forward.”
“Trent. Mike Trent.”
“Yes Mike Trent.”
“We will change you.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“I feel great about it.”
“Then congratulations. You’ve got the job.”
“You’ve got the job.”