The Interview (2)

“‘Cannibal’ is kind of a crude term,” replied Ridgemore evenly.  “It’s actually pretty common for people to be consumed by their careers.  In fact, I’ve heard it said that the less your job consumes of you, the less satisfying it tends to be.”

Justin leaned back against his frayed chair, exhaling fully for the first time since the interview began.  “Gotcha,” he said with a nod of thoughtful appreciation.    He gripped the arms of the chair.  “Well, in my case, I’d have to say my brain is the most interesting part.  I think you’ll find I have pretty good insight.  And I use it to come up with ideas that are really original—but they’re also practical.  Like when our…”

“Anything besides that?” asked Garrett, idly clicking a pen as he lounged in his own high-priced ergonomic chair.  “I mean, you don’t have any scientific or technical credentials—not even an MBA.  Why would the company want to eat your brain?”

Justin struggled to respond appropriately.  His hand moved toward the screen control. “Well, if my ideas won’t count for anything, maybe this isn’t really the best…”

“I can see what you’re thinking,” interjected Ridgemore, his voice firm with the authority of insight.  “Do not click that yet.”
 
Justin paused.

“Just hear me out for a minute,” added Garrett in a gentler tone.  “I may be able to save you a lot of trouble.”

Justin eyed him warily.

His interviewer looked him directly in the eye.

How could he do that to just an electronic image of a face on the screen—and do it so accurately?
 
“The fact is,” said Ridgemore, “you’re not likely to find an organization that’s all that different from us.  Oh, they may describe themselves differently, but you’ll find out sooner or later that it’s usually just different packaging.”

For reasons he couldn’t quite explain, Justin resented the bleak certainty of this man’s pronouncement.  He might possibly have something useful to say, though—and the afternoon was shot anyway.  Justin continued listening.

“It’s fulfilling to become part of something larger than yourself.”

Justin had to concede that this proposition had some merit.

“In fact,” Garrett continued, “people who never do that tend to end up feeling small and isolated, and well…insignificant.  Almost like they’ve never really lived.”

Without realizing it, Justin cocked his head slightly—like a dog.

Ridgemore interlaced his fingers in front of him. “Also, you should understand that when an organization eats you, it doesn’t really take everything.  Usually there are lots of parts of you left over.  They’re yours to keep.  Or when the time’s right, to give to a wife and family.  Maybe also donate them to some community activities—coaching a kids’ baseball team, clearing nature trails, whatever.”

Although Justin found this idea grisly and repellent, it was also oddly comforting.
 
 “Another thing you should understand is that when an organization consumes you, it’s not like a person sitting down to a steak dinner.  You don’t get chewed all the way up into unrecognizable little bits, and then have your molecules appear randomly in an ear or a toe, or whatever other part happens to need a little protein at the moment.  The parts of you that the company takes stay pretty much intact.  They get added to the larger whole.   People see them—and genuinely appreciate what you’ve given.”

Justin rested his chin on his hand.

“Those parts can last, too.  Long after you’re gone.”