Wednesday February 18th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: balance.

This morning I took Max to the play cafe once again. This time we were both fully healthy, so there were no concerns about appearing sick. Just lots of climbing and painting and sliding and playing in the mini-kitchen.

A good chunk of the afternoon was spent in the backyard again, which was a little less pleasant than last time - thanks entirely to a surprisingly (to me at least) chilly wind. Max, of course, didn't seem to notice the cold until he was ready to come back inside.


"We here at Henri's Investment Distribution Networks are big believers in work/life balance," the nameless man behind the desk told me. Well, he wasn't technically without a name, I suppose - he just hadn't told me what it was.

"That's a relief," I replied, looking up at him from my wobbly stool. "I'd recently heard a lot of stories to the contrary."

"Ah yes, those." His eyes narrowed and his lip curled. "Simply a matter of fired employees who are lashing out after finding out they just didn't cut it here. A bunch of simple-minded, socially inept, worthless sacks of sh-"

"Surely you must be aware," I dared to cut in, "that many of those tales come from former employees who quit of their own accord?"

"Quitters never win. And winners never quit." He placed his forearms on the desk and leaned forward to glare down at me. "That, I hope, is something we can agree on?"

"Certainly." He'd really left no room for argument.

"Good." There was a long, uncomfortable silence before he spoke again. "I see that this is your first time applying for this position, despite it having been posted multiple times in the past six months."

"Yes, about that -"

"Poor hiring choices by my predecessor. Mistakes that I do not intend to repeat." His nose wrinkled as though he detected something foul in the air.

"I can't say that I agree with that," I said, sitting up a little straighter. "I happen to be very good friends with one of those 'poor hiring choices' and I know for a fact that he is a very hard worker with skills and knowledge well beyond this position. When Roberto wa-"

"Oh! You're a friend of Roberto?" I nodded mutely and a viper's smile appeared on his face. "That changes everything. I have someone you simply must meet."

"That's not necessary," I said as he reached for the intercom. "I'm quite certain I'm no longer int-"

"Hush, now," he said before pressing the button that connected him to his secretary. "Grace, be a dear, won't you, and get Henri over here as soon as possible."


Greg said...

It's rather nice to have a longer piece from you, and especially so when it's about Henri. His hiring approach is a little... different... to any that I'm used to, but I'm sure he derives a lot from it! I do like the interaction between the hiring manager and the interviewee, and that rather unfounded confidence that the interviewee has. I'm sure he'll learn a lot from this process too :) The little details in here, particularly how the people were sitting and their facial expressions, were excellent.
I'm back from Porto, just a little tired now, and I'm sure that today will go more easily. Or I may have to ask you for a copy of Henri's guide to a harmonious workplace :)

Charles Asciugimento, Head of Building Security, stepped off the roof of the building. Had anyone seen him do this they would undoubtedly have been shocked, but the likelihood was that they'd have waited a minute before checking that he'd fallen to his death, just to make sure. Something Charles was both comfortable with, and relied on.
He fell perhaps four feet before landing, gracile as a deer, on a cunningly painted narrow gantry that was effectively invisible from both above and below, blending in near-seamlessly with the surroundings. He walked swiftly along it to the wall of the building, tapped in a numerical code on a keypad that would appear inaccessible on the architect's plans, and stepped inside through a narrow doorway when it opened.
The room he entered was fluorescently lit and there was a soft hum in the air, pleasant white noise. There were three cryo-coffins arranged about the room; two held his predecessors and one was still waiting for its occupant.
Charles sat down on a chair near the coffin for the first Head of Building Security, touched the control panel in the sequence to request a warm-up, and waited.
"Balance," said a voice from the coffin five minutes later. "The thing we need to achieve here is Balance."
"Physically that's nearly trivial," said Charles thoughtfully. "The architect always knew what we wanted, so I can shift the ballast and counterweights easily enough. There may be some fine-tuning, but if we pick an out-of-hours time–"
"I do not think we'll have that luxury," said the voice. It sounded strained, as though it hadn't spoken for a long time. "But there are statistical analyses on where people go–"
"And I can close off certain corridors and rooms as we near the right balance," said Charles. "It's not impossible."
"Just hard," said the voice. "But this is the task you are set. Consider this what you need to achieve before your performance review."
"Indeed," said Charles. "Indeed."

morganna said...

One foot in front of the next

Over the stream
Balancing as she goes

One foot
Then the next
Over the wire to the other bank.

Marc said...

Greg - thanks, glad you liked mine :)

Hmm, why do I have the feeling this could go horribly wrong... for anyone in the building not named Charles :P

Morganna - really like the image this one paints. I've got this picture in my head of her midway across the river :)