I slid my index finger into the collar of my dress shirt and tried to loosen the cinch around my throat that passed for a necktie; cleared my throat and slid the application across the desk to the HR representative (called personnel clerk, in those days).
“Please have a seat,” the personnel clerk said, indicating the folding metal guest chair on the other side of the desk. I sat on the chair and it promptly collapsed, dumping me butt first on the floor.
I scrambled, quickly but ungracefully, to my feet, righted the chair, and abashedly said, “Sorry, I’ll just uh, stand, if it’s OK.”
“Whatever, suit yourself. Let’s check to see if you have all the information filled in shall we? All right then, first – ‘What is your name (real or otherwise)?’ I see you have your first name shown as TN. Does that stand for anything? Are those initials?”
“No, that’s my name, TN – TN Kerr.”
“Odd,” said the clerk. “Let’s pick it up, shall we? I’ll read the question and you just tell me what you wrote down. I can check the paper and we can get through this a lot faster. OK?”
“Sure,” said I.
“Describe your writing style in three words.”
“Eccentric, rubbish and somewhat entertaining”
“That’s four words.”
“Rub out rubbish then.”
The personnel clerk licked the end of his pencil and drew a single straight line through the word ‘rubbish’
“How long have you been writing online?”
“A year and some.”
“Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in?”
“Occasionally the WordPress Daily prompt and sometimes their Weekly Challenge. I also hang with the OC Writers Guild. We call ourselves Book Bandits and meet weekly.”
“Describe one way in which you could improve your writing. “
“What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? “
“Who is your favorite author? “
“I have two full time favorites; Adrienne Rich and Michelle Cliff. I supplement that list by adding the name of whoever I am currently reading, as well.”
“How do you make time to write?”
“I get up really early in the morning”
“Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt. Remember–it must have a third definition.”
1: any of numerous small rodents (as of the genus Mus) with pointed snout, rather small ears, elongated body, and slender tail
2: a timid person
3: a dark-colored swelling caused by a blow; specifically : black eye ”
“Why would you pick ‘mouse’ of all the words to choose from?”
“You know, I was thinking three blind mice. I can change it though.”
“Let’s move on” said the HR guy. “Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn’t miss reading.”
“The last one I wrote.”
“Alright then,” said the clerk. “It looks like everything is in order. We will put this application in our files and if we ever have a requirement for someone with your, how do I say it? ‘Particular skill set’ we’ll give you a call. Please remember to turn in your visitor badge at reception on your way out.”
He stood, opened the office door and hollered into the hallway, “Next!” A large girl with a nice smile met me at the door. She was coming in and I was going out. We danced in the doorway for a few seconds then both turned sideways and passed through at the same time. Opposite directions.
“Good Luck” I said to her. “Careful of that chair.”
The door closed behind me. I turned and trudged down the hallway towards the exit, slipping my visitor badge into my shirt pocket.