Donald Fox had made all the right moves in his young life. He had wanted to study medicine, but did not have the stomach for blood and other bodily secretions. So, he went to law school instead. The competition was too tough, however, and he could not maintain his shining star self-image . He dropped out and toured Europe. One day, while basking on the French Riviera, he had a brilliant idea. He would go to social work school! He knew that social work was not as academically demanding as law. Social work dealt with feelings and meant keeping a box of kleenex on your desk so female patients could dab their tears and mascara.
Donald graduated from social work school with straight A’s. He found a job immediately. He knew he was a prized catch for any mental health agency. He was a strapping young man in a profession often dominated by overworked women. His good looks, charm, and sympathetic air endeared him to his female co-workers. He knew they all loved it when he would walk into the office and say, “Bonjour, Mesdames. Je vous aime.” They were so starved for flirtation. Everyone praised him for choosing a career in the helping professions. After all, a bright young person like himself could have become a doctor or lawyer.
After working at an entry level job for three years, Donald decided it was time to move on to something prestigious. He got an interview for a position as Assistant Director at the new Central Treatment Facility in the renovated downtown area. He could hardly wait. He called in sick to the agency, and began getting dressed for his 11:00 a.m. interview at Central Treatment. He put on a crisp dress shirt and chose a stylish silk tie. He knew that in a profession where so many workers dressed down, there was nothing like a well-matched silk tie to spell out success. It gave him a lawyer-look.
Donald took a last minute glimpse of himself in the mirror. His teeth were dazzling. His hair was a warm, toasty brown. And that tie! Ooh, la, la. He would make the tired female interviewers swoon and intimidate the incompetent males with his Windsor knot. Suddenly, Donald saw strange shapes in the mirror. The shapes twisted and turned, and began to look like the letters of the alphabet. The letters were floating and wiggling around. Donald blinked his eyes. What was happening? He reached out to wipe off the mirror. His hand went through the mirror as if the mirror were nothing but fog. The letter S wrapped around his hand and pulled him into…..the Job Interview Zone.
It was 11:30 a.m. when Donald, nervous, walked into Central Treatment. The receptionist mistook him for a patient. “Uh, no,” stammered Donald, “I’m here for a job interview, for Assistant Director.” The receptionist looked at him in disbelief and led him to the Director’s office. Donald found himself obediently following her, stumbling over a chair and dropping his portfolio. He had never been late for anything.
The Director introduced herself and the interview panel. “Hi, I’m Angela Lamb and I’m the Program Director. This is Rafael Beauchamps, our Team Leader. This is John Eaglefeather, our Outreach Coordinator. And this is Hope Meriweather, our Administrative Assistant. Please have a seat and tell us about yourself.”
Donald cleared his throat and began his well rehearsed speech on his job achievements and his goals for the future. “Well, that’s nice,” said Angela, “but here at Central Treatment we think it is very important that our employees have undergone a spiritual awakening. We come across many job applicants who have excellent education and job experience, but we are really looking for someone who can implement spirituality into our other clinical services. Have you had a spiritual awakening, Donald?”
Donald felt his tie tightening around his neck. For the first time in his life, he was speechless. He had considered spirituality something only for alcoholic and drug-addicted patients. All that stuff about a Higher Power was for people whose lives had been devastated by addiction and emotional disorders. They needed spirituality as a substitute for their self-destructive behaviors. He was not self-destructive. He was a candidate for Assistant Director.
“Yes, of course,” lied Donald. “Oh, good,” said Angela, smiling, “tell us what your spiritual awakening meant to you and how you think it will help you to perform the duties of an Assistant Director.” Donald tugged at his tie knot. “Well, um, it’s very personal,” he said in an almost pleading tone. “Yes, it is,” agreed Angela, “it’s just that people who have had a spiritual awakening are so much more capable of true compassion and kindness, and so much more able to stay on the job with conviction and dedication, that we need to know about your spiritual awakening before we can possibly consider you for the job.”
“Is this legal?” asked Donald. “I mean, I have my college diploma. I have my state certification. I have three years of post-graduate employment. I’m wearing an expensive silk tie, I have perfect teeth and hair, I, I…..I speak fluent French, I, I…..I’m sophisticated, I, I…..” Donald felt his confidence slipping away. He fainted.
It was 10:00 p.m. when Donald woke up. He was lying comfortably in his bed. His co-worker, Daisy, was sitting at his bedside. “Are you feeling better, Donny dear?” He looked at her, puzzled. “Don’t you remember? You called in sick today. I called you to see if you needed anything, and no one answered the phone. I kept calling all day. I got worried about you. I came over right after work. I knocked on your door, but no one answered. So, I asked your landlord to unlock your door and let me in. We found you on the bathroom floor.”
Donald scratched his head. “I, um, yeah, I guess I really was sick. I mean, Daisy, I really have been sick.” Daisy smiled down at him, “The important thing is that now you have awakened. I’ll make you a cup of hot chocolate.” Donald sat up. “Daisy,” he said softly, “Je t’aime. Really, I mean it.” (Written 07/07/03)
Reprinted on WordPress blog 04/27/11
Copyright In the Zone 2010 Natalia J. Garland