He stares at you with an unwavering gaze as you shift uncomfortably in your seat. The seconds grow into minutes. The minutes grow into slightly more minutes. His unwavering gaze intensifies into a penetrating glare.
Beads of sweat well on your forehead.
The faint buzz of the flourescent lighting above you is the only sound in the room.
He picks up the phone and begins to dial, never averting his steely eyes from yours. He suddenly stops dialing and slams the receiver back into the cradle.
You flinch, beads of sweat break and run down the side of your face.
He sits back and crosses his hands, he seems to relax. You relax a little.
He then suddenly lurches forward and yells at you in a booming voice, “ungulates.”
Your brain frantically searches for the proper response. “What?” Is the best that your brain can do.
“Ungulate, it roughly means hoofed animals or being hoofed,” he explains.
“I know what an ungulate is,” you respond defensively.
“Then why did you seem so perplexed by the word?” He demands.
“I guess I was just startled,” you answer.
“Do many words startle you?”
“Words don’t startle me,” you say with incredulity.
“So you claim. Yet the word ungulate seemed to make you wet yourself. What other words give you a start?”
“I’m not afraid of any words,” you maintain.
“So it’s just ungulates that you hate. That’s a problem.”
“I don’t hate ungulates,” you reply, feeling a sense of desperation although you’re not certain why.
“I love ungulates,” he tells you with conviction. “My father loved ungulates. My father’s father loved ungulates…His father didn’t care for them, something about being kicked in the side of the head.” He then pauses for several moments, staring into the distance in a reflective manner, before continuing with renewed vigor. “But his father really loved ungulates. I don’t think that I could work with a person who didn’t love ungulates.”
“I love ungulates too,” you tell him latching on to his enthusiasm.
“Very well,” he says as he eyes you with suspicion, “what is the best type of ungulate?”
It’s at this point, you realize that you have never once in your life stopped to consider the qualities of ungulates. “The zebra,” you answer apprehensively.
“Are you currently high on crystal-meth?” The interviewer demands.
“Why. Is that the wrong answer?”
“No. Zebra is the proper answer, but you’re very skittish and sweaty.”
“I just didn’t think there’d be so many questions about ungulates for this type of job?” You tell him.
“You are absolutely correct. Let’s get on with a proper interview shall we.” You nod in agreement, glad to be getting on with it. “So, why do want to be a proctologist; do you enjoy sticking your finger up other men’s butts?”
“What? No. I don’t want to be a proctologist.”
“Well then why are you here?” He asks you accusingly.
“Isn’t this an accounting firm,” you ask confusedly.
He shuffles through some of the papers on his desk, reads through a few of them thoroughly, shuffles through a few more, then looks up at you. “You’re right, this is an accounting firm. How silly of me. We almost never have cause to stick our fingers up other men’s butts. Except on Thursdays, there’s quite a lot of it on Thursdays, but other than that, almost never.”
“Okay?” you say with a total lack of conviction.
“I suppose you’re well equipped at adding and subtracting numbers, because that’s the type of thing we’re looking for in a proctol…I mean accountant.”
“Yes. I’m very good at math,” you assure him.
“Quickly. What does 6+5-2 equal?” He snaps at you.
“That would of course be nine,” you reply confidently.
He stares at you for a moment. He then pulls a small calculator from his desk drawer and punches several buttons. “Amazing. That is absolutely correct, and you didn’t need an adding machine, an abacus, or even your fingers. You just did it right in your head.”
“It was really just a child’s question,” you tell him modestly.
“Nonsense. You are brilliant. When can you start?”
“I can start immediately.”
“There’s just one little thing: what is your opinion on diseased chimpanzees?” The interviewer asks.
“I don’t think I have an opinion on diseased chimpanzees,” you tell him with uncertainty.
“Don’t be silly, everyone has an opinion on diseased chimpanzees.”
“Really?” You seem doubtful. “What’s your opinion on diseased chimpanzees?”
“I think they’re smug,” he tells you with a tinge of contempt in his voice.
“Why is it relevant?”
“All of our employees share a desk with a diseased chimpanzee.”
“Why in the world is that?”
“It seems we were doing a job for a research lab and misplaced a few million dollars of theirs. Now we have to house some of their less than successful projects.”
“You misplaced a few million dollars,” you ask in total disbelief.
“Look,” he replies angrily, “not everyone is as brilliant at math as you are. Listen, getting along with a diseased chimpanzee as a desk-mate is really very simple: don’t make eye contact, don’t make any sudden movements, don’t ever use his stapler, don’t let him use his stapler to staple documents to your forehead; they will do that, and if he hurls his feces at you, don’t hurl yours back.”
“Do you honestly think, I need to be told not to hurl my feces in the workplace?”
“There have been incidents.”
“This is crazy. I don’t want to work here. I don’t want to work for you, and certainly don’t want to work with a diseased chimpanzee. I’m out of here.” You storm out in a huff.
“And he wanted to be a proctologist; he doesn’t possess the temperament,” the interviewer mumbles to himself, “and I would never allow him near my ungulates.”