Copyright© 2022 by Lazlo Zalezac
Posted: April 11, 2012 - 06:58:21 pm
Betsy was at the head of the conference room jumping a skip rope, it was actually a length of CAT-5 cable, while waiting for the next applicant to come into the room. What she had thought would be easy was turning out to be a nightmare. The last applicant had gotten so frustrated trying to talk with Betsy, who was jumping up and down skipping rope, that she had stormed out of the room swearing that she had never dealt with anyone so rude. Betsy had been crushed.
Ed, Ling, Dan, and Kelly were seated around the conference table to support Betsy in selecting the best candidate for each position. Ed would carefully question the applicant to assure that they did not have a criminal character. Ling was there so that if things got out of hand that she could take care of it. Kelly and Dan were there to help with work related questions.
A woman in her late fifties entered the room. She paused, looked at Betsy, and then frowned. She turned to face Betsy’s parents assuming they were the individuals doing the hiring.
Betsy examined the woman. Unlike a lot of women her age, the woman chose to keep her gray hair rather than dye it. She stood with her back straight and her head held up. She took a moment to examine each and everyone in the room as if taking their measure. By her glance at Betsy, it was obvious that she had found Betsy wanting.
Ed asked, “Betsy would you like to start or should I?”
Betsy answered, “I think you should start with the questions.”
Ed asked, “What is your name?”
“I’m Alicia Machol, but most people call me Alice.”
“Alice,” Ed said repeating her name. “I’m Ed Biggers, the woman to my right is Ling, the woman to my left is Kelly, and the gentleman next to Kelly is Dan Biggerstaff. The young woman jumping rope is Betsy Carter.”
Alice looked at Betsy and then at Ling. There was an expression of disapproval while looking at Ling. Betsy was puzzled by Alice’s behavior. Ling bristled. Alice looked back at Betsy before shaking her head with a frown. Betsy looked over at Ling to see her reaction. When Ling cleared her throat, Alice turned her attention back to Ling. It was obvious by the expression on her face that Alice did not think highly of Ling.
Ed sat back and took in the whole series of exchanged glances. Curious, he said, “Alice. I sense a little disapproval on your part towards Ling. Do you care to explain why?”
“Do you want the truth?” Alice asked realizing that she probably wouldn’t even want the job.
Everyone in the room smiled at the question knowing that Alice had no idea what she was asking.
Ed answered, “I always get the truth.”
Alice looked at Ling and asked, “Is that young woman your daughter?”
“Yes, she is,” Ling answered with a definite chill in her voice.
Alice was unaffected by it. She said, “That young woman is old enough to know how to behave properly in almost all social situations. Jumping rope in the middle of a job interview is highly irregular, but I can not blame the young woman. I do not approve of mothers who spoil children to the point where they do not behave with proper decorum.”
Ling stared at the woman in disbelief. Kelly burst out laughing. Ed chuckled. Betsy grinned from ear to ear.
Dan said, “I think she just said that Ling is a bad mother.”
Nearly tripping over her jump rope, Betsy said, “There’s no doubt about it.”
Alice frowned and said, “You seem to think this is funny.”
Ed said, “You have no idea how funny it is.”
Alice looked at Betsy. She said, “It isn’t funny. Do you realize how distracting it is trying to talk with you while you’re jumping rope?”
“Yes,” Betsy answered. “You’ll get used to it.”
“I doubt it,” Alice said.
“Do you have any children?” Ed asked.
With pride evident in her voice, Alice answered, “I have three sons. They are Marines actively serving this wonderful country of ours.”
“Your husband?” Ed asked.
“Hal died two years ago of cancer after a career in the Marines,” Alice said.
“I’m so sorry to hear that. My condolences,” Betsy said.
Her sentiment was unintentionally lost in its delivery. She had increased the pace of her jumping the rope and had started crossing her arms every other skip.
“We had a excellent marriage that lasted thirty-two years,” Alice said.
Ed said, “I bet he expected the house to be ship-shape and Bristol fashion.”
“He expected the house to be kept up to Marine standards,” Alice said correcting Ed in the manner of a true Marine wife.
Amused, Ed asked, “So you keep a neat house?”
“Spotless. You can eat off my kitchen floor.”
Betsy said, “So you’re saying that you’re a good housekeeper.”
“I guess with three boys, you kind of had your work cut out for you. Our boys, child and adult, tend to be a little messy,” Kelly said.
Ed and Dan chuckled at Kelly’s statement.
Alice said, “Young men will occasionally make a mess of things.”
Betsy said, “I guess you’re also used to a lot of unexpected visitors dropping in.”
“It wouldn’t bother you if ten minutes before dinner, an extra dozen people showed up?” Betsy asked.
“Well ... I’d probably order a bucket of chicken or something in a case like that,” Alice said.
“Don’t say that around my brother. He’d never let us know when he’s coming if there’s fast food chicken in the deal,” Betsy said.
She changed the rhythm of her jumping so that the rope was passing twice under her feet between times of touching the floor.
“Would you please stop jumping up and down while we’re talking?” Alice asked.
“No,” Betsy answered.
“You are a very undisciplined young woman,” Alice said in obvious disapproval of Betsy’s reply.
“Betsy’s problem isn’t a lack of discipline,” Ling said.
“Mothers always make excuses for their children.”
Ling barked, “Betsy! Demonstrate your Tai Chi.”
Betsy stopped jumping. The jump rope fell to the floor, hitting the ground only after she had gotten into the starting position of Tai Chi. She flowed smoothly through all of the positions with a grace that was almost unnatural.
Alice had seen demonstrations of Tai Chi in the past and couldn’t believe what she was watching. She leaned forward watching Betsy move from form to form. She might not have known what all of the moves were named or how they were to be sequenced, but she did recognize the level of control that Betsy possessed.
When Betsy reached the final position, Ling said, “Show me the last Kata you learned.”
Betsy performed an extremely complex Kata with ease. She came to a stop and bowed to her mother.
Ling said, “You’ve improved.”
“Anything else?” Betsy asked.
Betsy picked up the CAT-5 cable she had dropped and resumed jumping rope.
Alice said, “That was amazing.”
Ling said, “Betsy’s problem isn’t that she is undisciplined. The problem is that she can’t stop moving.”
“Why not?” Alice asked floored by the demonstration she had just witnessed. “Is she trying to set some sort of world record or something?”
“No,” Ed said.
“She has to keep moving,” Kelly said.
Alice looked puzzled. She asked, “What do you mean that she has to keep moving?”
Dan said, “The best analogy that I’ve been able to find is that it is like she has an overactive adrenal gland that makes sitting still impossible. Now she doesn’t actually have an overactive adrenal gland, but the biological basis of her constant need to move is of a similar nature. Her body won’t sit still.”
“Not even for a minute,” Kelly said.
“Really?” Alice asked looking at Betsy.
Ling said, “Dan forgot the stationary bike, so we had to improvise with a jump rope made out of CAT-5 cable.”
Alice said, “I apologize. I misunderstood the situation.”
“Apology accepted,” Ling said.
“I hope that my behavior does not influence your decision concerning this interview,” Alice said.
“It doesn’t matter all that much what I think. You wouldn’t be working for me,” Ling said with a smile.
Alice looked at Ed. He shook his head and said, “You wouldn’t be working for me, either.”
Alice looked at Kelly who was shaking her head. She looked over at Dan who shook his head. She slowly turned to look at Betsy who was smiling and nodding her head.
Alice asked, “I’d be working for you?”
“That’s right,” Betsy answered.
Betsy said, “I need a live-in housekeeper. Your job would include cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other typical household chores. You’d be like a housewife, but you get paid for it.”
“I’d be working for you in your house?” Alice asked.
“That’s right. My house is right on the beach. It’s really great,” Betsy said.
Alice looked at Ed and asked, “Will you be living there?”
“We live in Arizona. We just came here to check out her new house,” Ed answered.
“I just bought it and a condo two days ago,” Betsy said.
“You have a house on the beach and a condo?” Alice asked looking back at the others thinking they really had spoiled this young woman.
“The house is here on Kauai and the condo is on Oahu,” Betsy said.
“Where would I be working?” Alice asked.
“Here on Kauai, but I’d fly you over to the condo occasionally to straighten it up when I get really busy.”
“You have a job on Oahu?” Alice asked.
“I’m going to enroll in school and need a place to live near the university.”
“You’re a college student?” Alice asked.
“Yes. If you’re afraid that I can afford to pay you, don’t worry. I don’t need to work.”
Betsy said, “I invested everything I had in a company that was making rebreathers, back when I graduated high school. The company made a version for fireman and hazmat folks, before going public. I made a killing on that one. My one dollar private shares ended up being worth eighty at IPO. I gave the money to William to invest and it has quadrupled in value in three years.”
Ed said, “All of our kids have trust funds that pay out in increments. They get a small amount when they graduate high school, a larger amount when they graduate college, and the remainder when they reach an appropriate age.”