Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Classified

The Ad read: Help Wanted. Individual needed to deliver telegrams. Must have own vehicle and insurance, must know Las Vegas area. Call 555-1212 for interview. Equal Opportunity Employer.

Matt carefully read the ad and called to schedule an appointment for an interview. He was instructed to come in next Monday at 10 a.m. Jobs were scarce, so he knew he had to make a good impression. This interview was different from all the previous ones because it involved his vehicle, so he immediately set out to clean his van inside and out. He knew the city like the back of his hand, so that part of the interview would be a piece of cake.

Monday finally arrived and Matt drove to the address given to him on the phone. It was packed with people like him, full of hope for employment. The receptionist told Matt to sign in and wait for his name to be called. He spotted a space near the corner of the room and made his way over and waited with everyone else.

It was a small building and inside the room was only one door with a name plaque that read, Ms. Reynolds, Assistant Manager. After a short time, the door opened abruptly and a tall, thin, red headed woman dressed in a tight navy blue skirt and matching sweater, was thanking an older gentleman dressed in shorts for coming in. Then she called Matt’s name and he made his way through the crowd into her office.

Matt answered the standard interview questions, he knew them by heart. He verified his license and proof of insurance and answered all of Ms. Reynolds questions regarding his knowledge of the Las Vegas area. She asked Matt if he would consider taking part in mock telegram deliveries on Thursday. She said it was the best way to screen applicants after the paperwork and interviews were completed. Matt said he would gladly participate. He was instructed to arrive at 10 a.m.

On Thursday morning, Matt was joined by four other hopeful applicants who made the cut. There were three men and one woman, all were older than Matt. As he sat comfortably waiting, the others nervously paced back and forth. Killing time, they all engaged in polite small talk.

Promptly at 10:00, Ms. Reynolds opened her office door and welcomed the group of five asking if anyone wanted coffee. She explained she would be hiring only two from the final five applicants after today’s mock deliveries. She advised the group what the necessary criteria would be to secure a position with her company; a timely arrival at five different destinations and the professional manner and presentation of the telegrams. She handed them all a piece of paper with a specific greeting on it. She said it recognized the company and must be read when the recipient accepts their telegram.

Matt glanced at the paper and was surprised when it stated nothing more than what he would have said on his own; a simple greeting of the day, mentioning his name while handing the person the telegram, and ending with a polite farewell. By specific greeting, Ms. Reynolds only wanted to add the company’s name, Foyle’s Telegram Service. She sent them on their way with a last minute reminder that there would be a representative waiting at each destination and would report back to her with their comments and recommendations.

Ms. Reynolds answered questions while handing each of them a mock telegram to deliver. Matt read the address and felt confident he could arrive at the first destination without any problems. Ms. Reynolds wished them all good luck as they departed for the first destination.

Matt arrived at the first address only 23 minutes later. He knocked at the door and was greeted by a gentleman who immediately started writing in his clipboard. Matt introduced himself and delivered the specific greeting respectfully while handing the man the mock telegram. In turn, he was handed a second mock telegram to be delivered.

This simple task was repeated four more times in spread out destinations across the Las Vegas area. Matt encountered no problems during all five deliveries, even the traffic cooperated. Matt’s deliveries took exactly two hours and twenty - five minutes.

All five of the hopeful applicants arrived back at the office at about the same time. The receptionist clocked them to assure an accurate time. Matt wondered whether any of the others secretly timed themselves as he did. Since they did all arrive back at about the same time, this could be the deciding factor in the hiring decision. The receptionist advised them all that Ms. Reynolds would call each of them on Wednesday to inform them of their status.

Matt received an early call from Ms. Reynolds on Wednesday morning. She said she wanted to read to Matt the consensus of what each representative had written in their notes, she read; the young man delivered the telegram as a competent, courteous, individual. She stated that they all believed Matt would be an asset to Foyle’s Telegram Service.

Matt was hesitant to speak before hearing that he was actually offered the job. Ms. Reynolds, feeling the awkward pause, continued the conversation by saying the job was Matt’s if he wanted it. Matt accepted her offer and he thanked her for reading the comments to him.

Finally an ad that was true to its words: Equal Opportunity Employer. Matt spun around in his wheel chair confident he got the job on his own merit.



  1. What a terrific everyday human story Mary. It proves that story telling doesn't have to go into the wilds of fantasy to grab a reader's attention. And of course, I just loved the last line. Touching, real and human. Well done!

  2. Thank you so much Derek! Your comments are appreciated more than you know. Thank you for the Twitter comment! You're the best!