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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Can One Be Too Honest?

With a year-old Bachelor of Arts degree in my top drawer and the brand-new, beautiful Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies from the school in Canada rolled up right next to it, I pounded the pavement in search of a summer job. My plan was to get a job, make enough money to pay for the second year tuition plus board and room and head back to Canada.

While the first-year course was complete in itself, including the Graduate Diploma at the finish, a second-year was also offered, culminating in the Masters Degree in Christian Studies. I had been accepted for that final year of study; I just needed the money. Since I was willing to work at any legitimate job I could find, it never occurred to me that it might be harder to secure employment with a university degree than it had been without it.

“Sorry, but we need someone who will be here all year, not just for the summer.”

“Okay, well, if my plans change and it turns out that I will be staying here, may I return to set up an interview for the job?” I figured I should, at least, plan for that possibility, just in case.

“Well, uh, to be honest with you young lady, we are looking for a more mature woman for this position.” I stood, and shook the proffered hand. “Good luck to you. Wish I could help but you’ll find a job more suited to you elsewhere.”

Maybe I would but he had been the third guy to tell me that I was, quite simply, too young. I’d check the ads again and find something that was, clearly, a job for a young person.

Everywhere I tried the result was no job, seasonal or otherwise. The problem was that none of them wanted to hire a university graduate, and now I even had a diploma for graduate study. Not a good thing, as it turned out.

Well, finally, I accepted the fact that the Lord was not going to open up employment opportunities for me to make the money needed to do the second year of study in Canada. Mom and I drove back to get the belongings I’d left there. I planned to focus on getting a fulltime, permanent job as soon as we returned from Canada.

Remembering that my youth had worked against me in my earlier attempts at gaining employment, I set out to apply for jobs that, obviously, needed a strong, young person. I may have gone a bit overboard with my first attempt, a Meat Packing Plant.

“So, have you ever fired a gun before, dearie?” The lecherous sneer of the middle-aged man sitting behind the desk made my skin crawl. I should have worn jeans, instead of a dress; mom was wrong with her always look like a lady and keep your knees together when sitting advice. My only consolation was that this would be the one and only time I should have contact with him, should I get this job.

“Yes sir, my father taught me to shoot when I was a kid.” He didn’t need to know that I only shot tin cans off the corral fence.

“Oh, he did, did he? Was your father a hunter? Or a law man?”

“My father was a company commander in the military, and yes, he hunted meat for our table in the winter with my grandfather.”

The man’s cigar rolled to the other side of his mouth. “So, have you ever looked straight in the big brown eyes of your prey and pulled the trigger point-blank?” He laughed and I felt my stomach twist and tighten.

“No sir, I haven’t. Do the animals usually look at you?” His deep belly-laugh embarrassed me.

“You bet they do, young lady. What do you think; we aren’t killing any blind beef on that kill floor.”

The gigantic lump in my throat made it hard to speak, but I managed to choke out a response. “Well, I really need a job, but I don’t think I could kill an animal that is looking right at me. Is there any other position you might have open?”

“Nope.” The man loosened his necktie and thumped my application. “Like the ad said, we’re looking for personnel on the kill floor, not to work in the office.”

I can truthfully say that I was not unhappy to have left that office, without securing employment at the well-known Meat Packing Plant. There was only one thing I could think of that would be worse than having to pull the trigger on any kind of weapon, while those deep-chocolate brown eyes of a Hereford looked straight at me, and that was working in the same office with this man. On to the next business.

“I’d like to help you, Miss Sojourner, but you’re too educated to work here. You’d be bored in a couple of days, or maybe last a week; and then I’d be right where I am, looking for someone to take your place.” Again, the interview ended without any hope of a call-back.

I lost count of the number of times this last excuse for not hiring me ended an interview. Actually, many times I didn’t even get passed filling out the application form before being told by some receptionist that I was too educated for the job. It didn’t matter that I protested I would work hard at anything I was given to do.

One morning, I passed a sign in a finance company window which read, Junior Executive Wanted. Will train. I hadn’t thought much about this kind of work, and wasn’t all that sure what a job there might entail. Maybe they had jobs other than dealing with applications for home improvement loans. Though not on the day’s schedule, I pushed open the heavy glass door and crossed to the high counter just inside.

Here in this finance office, I learned that having a tender heart and a conscience were not assets in every job!

****Can One Be Too Honest?, Conclusion…Next Post

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