Sharp Pencil

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(I would someday like to write a book. Companies Should Not Work For: Find out early on why you should not accept employment at certain companies, what to look for before you commit your time and energy to a firm that doesn’t give a crap.)

Mr. Alfred Hamilton escorted Jeffery Smart to an interview room. It was a ten by ten room with a window and non-descript furniture; table, two chairs and a small couch.

“Have a seat behind the table, Mr. Smart,” Mr. Hamilton said.

Jeffery sat. Mr. Hamilton placed a timer, a tablet, and two pencils on the desk. “I’m going to set the timer for ten minutes. In that amount of time I want you to write as much about yourself as possible.”

Mr. Hamilton set the timer and placed it on the desk. “Good luck, Mr. Smart,” Mr. Hamilton smiled formally.

“Thank you, Mr. Hamilton,” Jeffery said.

Mr. Hamilton quickly left the room checking his watch as he closed the door.

He returned ten minutes later. Jeffery was asleep on the coach. A blank piece of paper laid on the table.

The bell of the timer dinged and Jeffery sat up immediately. He smiled pleasantly at Mr. Hamilton.

“You have written nothing,” Mr. Hamilton said. “No one has ever done that. This is an important part of the hiring process. Without taking it serious and completing we can not proceed to consider you as an employee. How did you expect to be employed by us?”

“I figured whatever I wrote on that paper will be mostly nonsense,” Jeffery said. “I may have written something that might catch your eye.” Jeffery stretched and stood. “But unlike the other candidates that participated in this part of the screening process I’m refreshed and ready to go to work.”

Mr. Hamilton nodded his head and cracked a half smile. “I’m intrigued, Mr. Smart. You’re hired. You start tomorrow at 8:00 AM.”

“Nah,” Jeffery said. “I don’t think this place is for me.”

“What!” Mr. Hamilton said.

“I said I’m refreshed and ready to go to work,” Jeffery said. “A company that doesn’t have something for me to do right away is not prepared to take on a new employee.”

Mr. Hamilton wrung his hands and was speechless.

Jeffery continued. “And a company that doesn’t recognize willingness and putting it to work isn’t the kind of place I want to work. Can you imagine how long after qualifying I might have to wait for a promotion?”

“We have a position for you, Mr. Smart,” Mr. Hamilton said.

Jeffery picked up one of the pencils. “Do you mind if I take this for a souvenir?” Jeffery said. “It has your company’s name and logo on it.”

“Sure,” Mr. Hamilton said and stood as if in a confused dreamlike state.

Jeffery dropped the pencil in the lapel pocket of his suit. “Good day, Mr. Hamilton, I hope you find a good employee.”

Jeffery made his way to the door.

“Mr. Smart,” Mr. Hamilton said. “You knew you didn’t want the job before I sat the timer didn’t you.

Jeffery smiled.

“You didn’t know until that very moment did you?” Mr. Hamilton said.

“Yes, Mr. Hamilton,” Jeffery said.

“What was it?” Mr. Hamilton said.

“The pencils, Mr. Hamilton,” Jeffery said.

“The pencils?” Mr. Hamilton said.

“Yes,” Jeffery said. “They were dull. That was the real key. I want to work for a company that will give me good material to work with.”

“Why did you first say it was because we were not willing to put you to work immediately?” Mr. Hamilton said.

“All you would have had to say was get busy,” Jeffery said.

“That would have been obtuse,” Mr. Hamilton said. “There was nothing to do.”

“I could have sharpened pencils, Mr. Hamilton.”

(A 365 Writing Prompt’s Post)

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32 comments

  1. Could have used this story many years ago. No wonder I had such a hard time with interviews and ended up working for myself! Very good curve to this story.

  2. I would be interested in this book; if there is one sad story to be told at my job, it’s how the company doesn’t want to buy us the equipment and supplies we need to succeed, and yet expects us to do our jobs and do them well. It’s poppycock, and if I ever get the chance to step up and out of there, I would really loved to make sure I wasn’t going to be doing more of the same. Nice plot twist on that, too. 🙂

Blather away, if you like.

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