Fiction

‘2028’ by Vanessa Cutts

By:  Vanessa Cutts

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The question asked to describe something complex in simple terms. Ray looked around the room at the calendar, at the clock, the laptop and then noticed an executive toy on the desk. Yes, executive toys still existed.
Ok a maze he thought.
‘High walls are joined to make long corridors with perpendicular corners, occasional dead ends and left / right decisions to navigate the corridors and find an exit technically at the other end. The maze usually is contained by a geometric shape and has no ceiling forming a pattern if viewed from above. Repeated use can possibly improve memory or enable the user to learn a way through it.’
Am I at a job interview or are they trying out a new psychology test on me? he thought. The ones that usually involve water and trees.
He drank some coffee and wished he had asked for tea or water. The coffee was now cold and only the addition of ice would make it palatable.
‘Think of a brand and describe how you would develop it in the future,’ said the man who had been introduced as Jess. He had the stature of a bouncer in his suit and looked prematurely grey. Coffee brands. Coffee didn’t say much to him. New coffee machines and biodegradable pots sprang to mind. Would there be any high street left in 10 years’ time or would it be entirely consumed by competitive coffee shops. Other brands. Easy Rocket. He had said this once and it was OK. Further use of the ‘pleased with myself space tourist’ suggestion might incur repetitive over use especially if used on the same person and he would start to sound like a promiscuous prat.
‘Easy Rocket!’ he announced confidently looking at Jess’ colleague Em.
‘Based on the success of Easy Jet, Easy Bus and the Easy Hotel chain it is inevitable that Easy Rocket will be the next diversification of the brand.’
‘But that’s diversification not development.’
‘OK Boris bike business with electric cars,’ continued Ray momentarily looking out of the stark office window, at the infinity of sky beyond the large expanse of glass behind the panel. ‘Car clubs will be not be just taking a couple of spaces in inner city streets but large sections of parking to enable the access and efficient use of well – maintained clean energy single or double occupancy transportation for short journeys at a price competitive to other transportation. Early Utopian Star Trek scenes will become a reality and carbon monoxide pollution reduced as a result.’
His hands he realised were moving in quite bold, expansive gestures as he envisaged the utopian scenes and streets. He had let go of the corporate mug of cold liquid and was confident his nails were looking manicured in advance or clean at best, the positive body language of confident subject matter kicked in. His shirt was white and new. He hoped he wasn’t displaying any horrendous sweaty armpits in the process. Had it been a bad decision to remove the jacket. Too late now. Earlier he wished he’d opted for the unconventional more informal T shirt having seen a previous applicant but convinced himself he had the advantage and compromised by removing his jacket. He now wanted to put it back on.
Most interviewers asked you to give an example of something you were most proud of or a situation where you could demonstrate a particular skill, prioritisation or responsibility; this interview panel asked what mistakes you had made and how you handled them.
He went blank. There were times when he thought he had said the wrong thing but decided he was only being vaguely paranoid like if they wrote something down with a serious expression. Back to the question. Could he use anyone else’s mistakes to justify an end? His head was saying quick thinking.
‘What type of mistake are you referring too?’ he asked. ‘Professional or personal? Something that requires spell check or leaving an important document on the printer for other staff members to see, leaking information for a particular end.’
‘Either.’
‘I see it’s supposed to demonstrate what type of person I am and if I fit in. Am I proactive and up front or an irresponsible, untrustworthy liar?’
‘Something like that,’ replied the man who he was sure had been in the coffee shop earlier. Ray had written his name down as Jack at the beginning of the interview but wasn’t 100%, he would use Jack if required.
‘OK so I have sent something to an all staff email address once by mistake and followed it up with polite retraction. I felt this successfully introduced myself in both a humanly fallible and professional way to a large percentage of people in one go. I hope that answers your question. ‘
‘Did anyone senior formally comment on this and talk to you about misuse of all company email?’ asked Em.
He suddenly decided that he no longer wanted to work for KHGGG. Then checked himself. Attitude check he thought, you’re not with the boys try to not try to be funny.
‘Why should we employ you? Tell us why you think you are best for the job?’
He hated this question. Because I’m not going to leave to have a baby was what he wanted to say having witnessed at least half a dozen baby showers in as many months.
‘Because if I were on your side of the table I would employ the applicant with the enthusiasm and energy who had the great ideas and responds well to initiatives. The type of person who is worth the money, has the experience and wants to take it further and sit where you are in a year or two. Not just a jobsworth. I am worth not only the job, I am worth the job and the promotion.’
He stopped himself asking for double the Christmas bonus and the ski holiday thrown in. They want me he kept telling himself.
‘On the written test earlier, why did you prioritise the committee briefing ahead of the daily press release meeting knowing the share prices had fallen in response to government announcements and rescheduled the trip to Sheffield?
This was too much he thought. It was bad enough not knowing who the people in question were and being unfamiliar with their systems. He had scored 95% on their other test, so why were they trying to unhinge his portal.
‘It works for me. It enables a dialogue with the senior party before the required meeting and enough of a gigabyte speed deficiency to give us an advantageous response considering the potential situation. ‘

‘Is there anything that you would like to ask us?’
He knew the facts, the salary, the hours and the pension details. So why were they asking such a stupid question.
‘When will I hear?’ he asked. That was the ‘I am keen’ response.
‘Monday. Anything else?’ What was he supposed to ask or was that just to unnerve him further? Should he know something they did, or did they just know stuff they wanted to tell him.
‘OK. If I had another offer of a job, why would I choose to work for you?’ he asked.
‘Have you? Have you got another job offer?’’ asked Em.
‘No.’
‘We value our staff and you will find a good selection of 365 social activities run by different groups. Do you play football? We have a 5 a side team and a couple of bands I believe. The pension inf. is listed in the spec.’
‘Great sounds good. Any softball in the summer?’
‘Yes, that too.’
The guy from the coffee shop. Was making some notes.
‘So, I have another question if that’s OK. Why am I replacing someone? Why is my predecessor s leaving – can you spill the coffee beans? Or is that not company policy.’
‘He’s going to the competition; money I believe, no personal reasons to my knowledge.’
Internal affairs literally lead to leaving do’s and occasional marriages; or both. He thought.
‘Ok thanks Ray, so we’ll let you know on Monday.’
I am the competition he thought. His current job had been an internal transfer from one department to another. A recommendation. He had literally been asked to apply for the job because they wanted him in it. Flattering, no? Well you did ask me to apply he reassured himself constantly. You said if you were interested we would be interested in you applying; you’re over qualified, have the experience and if there are any specifics you can be trained in the practical detail.
‘Yes.’
‘Yes.’
‘Well we’ll be in touch.’
‘That is, we have to interview other people and invite applications. To be fair.’
‘So, we are letting candidates know on Monday and you will be first to hear.’
‘Thanks, and good morning,’ he said and with that he got up pushed his chair in, put his jacket on and left before the brief encounter and end of relationship embarrassment was protracted any further.
‘Pleased to meet you again.’

Later Ray who wasn’t at all sure who he was any more, met a mate for a drink. Having presented himself to strangers whose own standards he was unfamiliar with and judging by his own, maintaining a high standard and professional profile meant it defined himself in a way some of his friends wouldn’t recognise him. Its good to have a diverse balance in life he thought. He never thought he would be looking himself up in a dictionary.
Ray – beam of light. Ray was calm and didn’t get tongue tied. Recce. Abv. Reconnoitre. A pre – interview reconnoitre to locate and estimate time and distance of a non – regular journey avoiding any retarded arrival effecting a protracted un-harmonious oral footprint; in other words causation of any consequent negative verbal data transfer by being late or not allowing enough time to get somewhere new, an inexperienced journey to download experiential curricular inf. in person…….had reduced nerves and first impressions of the building and it’s location. Despite this the verbal migration of interchange from the interview to his mate was less than confident.
‘So how did it go?’
‘Not good at all. Interviews and me just don’t work. I couldn’t answer the questions, I either froze or the wrong stuff came out. ‘
‘Lots of people do that its normal or even expected.’
‘Don’t sympathise. I hate sympathy. What’s the point in it. I’m not asking for it, it’s just a fact that when someone asks you ……………………. the last thing you think of is……………is the brilliant answer someone else comes up with. Either that or they have a mutual friend who works there, and a good word has been put in.’
‘When will you know?’
‘Monday. Five days in the dark, a mushroom without an answer. Waiting to see if they pick me! I don’t want to think what I could do with the additional money. A holiday, some new kit, deposit for a house, wedding plans, new bike.
‘So, what did they ask?’
‘What did they ask?’
‘OK so picture the future and tell us what you see and where you will be in 2028. I’m looking forward to the future, 2028 …. in 10 years’ time I’ll be 40. It’s an amazing place and I predict an unexpected world of parenthood, 2028 there will be many changes. Cigarettes will have been long forgotten and remembering when cannabis was illegal will still be a topic of conversation although the advertising will have a clever and competitive focus of media attention. More people will migrate to warmer climates and work in a satellite status. Working where the other half lives with long distance relationships. But the negative consequences of trade like the humble import of the coconut, a basic staple in one hemisphere, to provide a luxury domestic experience at home will effectively reduce the planet. The principle of the coconut model using one item to represent a negative disproportionate effect of non – essential commodities– one country’s staple being another’s latest vacation lux must have might have to be less in demand and human export become more of a necessity. A mass human Feng Shui. Such is how trade can shoot itself in the foot, a short-sighted fix; people will pay the price to import the coconut, desired so much in the Caribbean where it can support a poor worker but the effect on climate change will reduce the planet. A reallocation of people, post Brexit backlash, living in a disillusioned future with everything to lose but nothing to keep them where they are, migrating might work, to some extent it may redistribute wealth, but at what price long term. If that option still exists. There will of course be more community gardens and allotments for kids dislocated from the real food chain, supermarket convenience disconnecting the pineapple from a tree and sticking it on a pizza for eternity. Kids will have apple trees and honeybees, they will get fruit and nut trees in parks instead of garden bridges and moon shuttle tickets can wait until the price is realistic. I might leave the country instead.’
‘What was the job title again?’

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Categories: Fiction

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