The Best Job Ever
How I vaulted to success by climbing over my competition
I was delighted to get the notification that my resume had been downloaded by WeCanSo Corp. Out of all the companies I had on my target list, they were by far the most prestigious. If they felt that I had potential for their Executive Training Program, I would be notified within five business days.
So commenced five business days of agony. It seemed that my entire life had been building towards this moment; I had clambered over my low-achieving fellow students in high school to become Yearbook Editor, Most Likely to Succeed, a Merit Scholar, Valedictorian and Class Secretary. Then I had majored in Self Actualization with a minor in Social Media Influencing at Zeitgeist U, the premiere online learning platform for the future disruptors of the world.
Even the fact that I had been unemployed in the two years since graduation would redound to my benefit — I had been informed by an insider friend that WeCanSo actively sought out the inexperienced and callow for reasons stated by its founder Job Zuchgate in his seminal work, Tabula Rasa:
“Education, Not Re-Education is the primary determiner of finding employees who will share your vision. Hire only those with no experience in your field or industry and promote them quickly to positions of responsibility. The most powerful inner circle you can build is based on loyalty and ignorance and will pay you back a thousandfold.”
Words to live by, IMHO.
Anyway, at the very end of the allotted time and just as I was giving up hope, I was invited to a full day on-site interview at the WeCanSo campus, a converted state asylum only a ten hour drive away. They wanted me there by Thursday. (This was on Tuesday)
When I inquired whether it would be possible to schedule something in the next week, I was informed that this 'workshop' was the last one of the year and it would be at least four months before the next one was scheduled.
“Workshop?” I asked. “I thought this was a job interview.”
“We don’t do interviews” explained the recruiter. “We do immersive experiences where we test your ingenuity and resourcefulness in real-time situations in order to determine if you’re a good fit for WeCanSo. Fair warning — only 1 in 25 pass on to an actual job offer.”
“It’s a bit of a problem getting there,” I said. “I don’t own a car and there are no train stations, bus depots or airports within 60 miles of your campus”.
“By design,” said the Recruiter. “Getting here is your first test of resourcefulness. Shall we expect you? 9:00 am in the circle on the quad in front of the Orientation Center.”
“I’ll be there with bells on, “ I replied gaily, although internally I was beset with doubts.
Since I was jobless, I had no car and relied on public transportation to get around. I existed on a small stipend from my parents which left no room for a car rental,which would have been impossible anyway since all my credit cards had been cancelled. I pondered my options.
I can report that necessity is in fact the mother of invention. The car hi-jacking went smoother than anything I could have anticipated — no one got injured, I dropped the nice old couple off near their daughter’s, and I was able to sink the Dodge Caravan in a quarry pond a mere half mile from the WeCanSo campus. Talk about the stars aligning!
I entered the circle on the quad with a half hour to spare and was one of the first to arrive. The circle was designated by a Stonehenge type arrangement of twenty five stone pillars each approximately ten feet tall. As each participant entered, we were instructed by a WeCanSo Team Leader to stand in front of a pillar when the bell tower clock struck nine. At 9:00 a.m. twenty two* hopeful recruits were each standing in front of a pillar.
(*Three tardy entrants were felled by an underground electric fence ringing the perimeter of the circle which activated on the first toll of the nine o’clock bell. Their unconscious bodies were carted off to a nearby MASH tent on the green where WeCanSo medics were waiting with defibrillators.)
“The first test of WeCanSo is Promptness,” shouted a Team Leader. “Three of your class failed that first challenge. We will have two more challenges today. The next test is the Pillar challenge. You must find a way to get to the top of your pillar and sit there for five minutes. You will have one hour. Time starts NOW!”
I took a moment to consider this challenge. It should be quickly apparent to anyone that achieving the top of the pillar would be most easily accomplished through TEAMWORK, probably through some sort of pyramid building whereby some teammates would selflessly sacrifice their chance to reach the top by becoming the human foundation on which others would climb. This was a conundrum — would the company value the selflessness exhibited by those forming the trapezoid or the single minded forcefulness displayed by those literally stepping on their teammates to achieve the stated goal of getting to the top? Lost in my reverie, I failed to see that small groups had already formed and one completed pyramid was just ready to be utilized for summiting. There was no time to be lost- I had foolishly consigned myself to irrelevance as the groups and leaders had formed while I wool-gathered.
Calling on my cheer leading and gymnastics background (All State Champion Floor Exercise and Tumbling) I took a running start and cartwheeled and hand sprung my way to the top of the pyramid and then pushed off for the last leap to the top of the pillar. I sincerely regret that the sudden and unexpected onset of my routine and the strength of my push-off sent the formation into a violent downward jumble and that so many of my involuntary helpmates had to be assisted off the green to the MASH tent. But as they say, “C’est la guerre.”
Once back on the ground after achieving the five minute mark, I attempted to help others by off-side coaching and spotting, but I was thoroughly ostracized by the remaining contenders. At the end of the hour, ten out of twenty two had made it to the top of a pillar for the requisite five minutes and qualified for the last challenge.
Which was getting a WeCanSo tattoo.
“How much do you want to be a part of WeCanSo?” shouted the Team Leader. “Now is your chance to prove it!”
A crowd of WeCanSo Peers* had gathered around the ten of us left standing and started shouting “Prove it! We did! Prove it! We did!” over and over while pulling up their sleeves to show the unmistakable WeCanSo logo of a grinning meerkat pointing the way. As company logos go, it is stunningly ugly. The meerkat was originally chosen because of its strong sense of community and group identity.
(* WCS Term for employees, which came from Job Zuchgate’s 2nd book Employees to Peers. His new book is called Peerless and is about how WeCanSo is embracing automation and robotics)
The Assistant Team Leaders were trundling out what I originally thought were PortaPotties but turned out to be mobile tattooing booths. There were two of them.
“Line up to get your tat!” shouted the Team Leader.
One of our group of ten contenders cleared his throat and asked, “Does this mean we’re hired?”
The Team Leader wheeled on him. “What do you think? That we ask just anyone to become a Meerkat? Think we want a bunch of losers walking around with Merry the Meerkat on their arms? Plus, you need Merry to get access to company events and to use your free gym membership.”
This answer seemed to quell the discomfiture felt by most if not all of the ten of us and we dutifully lined up in front of the tattoo booths where you had to stick your arm through a curtain and the buzzing of the ink device would begin. Considering the intricacy of the design, the tattooing of the new hires was incredibly speedy. I was last in line and just about to stick my arm through the curtain when I pulled away.
“I can’t do it,” I announced. “I don’t think Merry is cute. I think she’s creepy. Plus, you haven’t even told me a thing about salary, benefits, job description, perks or anything. I want a job, but I’m not desperate.”
There was a deafening silence from the assembled WCSers and the Leadership Team and my fellow recruits. Then there was a smattering of claps, then a groundswell of applause accompanied by cheers.
The Team Leader, Vince, grabbed a microphone and announced, “We have our winner and our new Meerkat, Marcy Donnelly who has won the Critical Thinking portion of our Hiring Triathlon. Yes, Marcy, you’re right. Anyone who would get a company tattoo without seeing a formal offer of employment and the benefits package is a moron. It might interest you to know that the win percentage of our Entry challenge is a consistent 1 out of 25.”
Vince turned to my nine chagrined competitors. “You folks can leave. You’ll be happy to know the tattoos are temporary and will disappear within three days. You are welcome to use the gym until they fade though.”
“But what about the all the tattoos on the Peers?” I asked Vince later while chilling out in the company hot-tub, safely separated from each other by Peer Resources approved pie shaped plastic fencing which defined individual soaking space.
“All temporary. We just bring them out for company events for team building and bonding.”
Although I had already signed the employment offer, I thought it was time to ask the one question that had nagged at me throughout this entire job-seeking experience, “Vince, can you tell me, what precisely does WeCanSo do?”
Vince shrugged “Truthfully, no one knows. We have a campus, we’re well paid, we drive up housing and rental markets and eat artisan foods. I think it has something to do with community content block chain social media marketing platforms and micro-payments. But that’s only a guess. I put that much together by reassembling ripped up memos from Zuchgate’s wastebasket.There’s really only five people in the whole company that actually do anything and they work remotely. The rest of us are window dressing with one job description.”
“Be cool,” I said.
“Yep, that’s it,” he replied.
“To coolness” I offered, raising my small batch overly hoppy craft beer.
“To coolness,” he responded, raising his Negroni.
© Valerie Kittell