“Do you regret not following that particular career path?” the balding man with visible armpit stains asked.
The air in the room began to stale. Michael felt like a slowly deflating helium balloon, hanging in stasis between ceiling and floor. He’d been asked questions like this in job interviews before and even asked a few of them, but today it caused him to pause and reflect briefly.
He looked down at his hand and began to curl it slightly into a fist. His knuckles never did heal correctly from years of punching walls when he felt frustrated. The knuckle over his little finger stuck out more sharply than the others.
Michael took a breath and started, “It’s not healthy to have regrets. I took the managerial job right out of college instead of pursuing a career in journalism because it was the best choice. It allowed me to travel coast to coast in an environment I thrived in and it gave me first hand experience, not someone else’s I could write about.” Not bad, keep going. “Which is why I am the best candidate for this position.” There you go.
The man across the table jotted notes on his paper. Michael shifted in his seat and adjusted the cuff on his sleeve, exposing a few self-inflicted scars from a night alone drinking and playing with his favorite knife. The man brought the pen to his top lip and asked, “What’s important to you Michael?”
Without hesistation this time, he replied, “Family.” The piercing cry of his nine-year old daughter replayed in his mind. Or it could have been a car’s tires squealing in the parking lot. He felt bad slapping her arm so hard, but she shouldn’t have talked back to him in the first place. “Everything I do, I do it for the two most important ladies in my life.”
Eve forgot to put the security lock on her phone the other night. Her texts with JB were available to read. Miss you. Miss you too. He’s really being a jerk tonight. Can’t wait to see you this weekend. ILY.
“Tell me about a time you failed and how you recovered.”
Michael thought back to the last night he saw Dana. They were wrapped in blankets, legs entwined with the sound of the ocean waves lapping the shore. The moon was full and the world seemed perfect. He told her he loved her and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Unfortunately, she didn’t feel all the same feelings. He recovered by marrying Eva, the first woman he dated after Dana.
While his thoughts reflected on that evening, Michael answered the question with business speak about not meeting quarterly goals and having to reevaluate priorities. And making hard decisions. Had he reevaluated priorities in his personal life: he wouldn’t be in a loveless marriage, or looking for a better paying job to support Eva’s sexting or his daughter’s lack of respect.
Michael recalled a late night of mixing cocaine, Ambien and Benadryl and not remembering how he destroyed the steering column and driver’s side bumper, but still being able to park it in the driveway without killing anyone. He continued on about budget cuts and how, with the help of his teammates, they were able to end the third quarter flat to goal.
Remembering how his credit score had taken a hit when he chose a life of drugs and alcohol over paying bills, Michael reiterated the importance of goal-setting.
The man at the other side of the desk smiled, looked over his notes and said, “Michael, I think you’ve got an interesting future with us.”
“Thank you sir, I look forward to the opportunity.” He stood up to shake his new boss’ hand. The one-year sobriety coin shifted in his pocket.