St. Kitts Travelogue
UNFINISHED Started in 2020 based on a trip in 2014
It was a strange time in my life. Things had oddly fell together leaving me with a satisfying feeling of ease. I was by no means rolling in money or being flown around the world giving speeches about my books. In fact in late 2013 I had three books on the market and hadn’t sold enough to buy a plane ticket around the world. But, I was in a good place. I credit much of that to my time spent reading the bible, reflecting, and trying to live a better life.
I was on my way home from work weaving through the mangled streets of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and I got a call from an unknown number. I am not the type of person to answer the phone, I prefer to wait for a voicemail or text and then decide if I want to give them a call back. But, the audio book I was listening to was at a particular slow spot, so I, uncharacteristically, took the call.
“This is Rick.”
A super chipper voice squeeked out from phone. Yes, I said from the phone. In 2013 I was still not hands free, cheap car, no features, meant I had to actually hold a phone and drive at the same time. “Hi, Richard? Rick? Sorry, I guess you go by Rick.” The man was oddly flustered for someone who called me.
“Yes, I go by Rick. Who is this?” I slowly applied the brakes to reach the standard fifteen miles per hour for rush hour in DFW.
“Sorry, this is Jake. I am a recruiter for Single Machines Incorporated. We are looking for an analyst and found your resume. Is this a good time to talk?” Jake regained his confidence and started to slip into his normal sales pitch.
I was not interested in changing jobs. I was not interested in starting over. I was not interested in forming new relationship. But, I also wasn’t interested in the audiobook, so I figured I’d humor him to keep my mind off the drive.
The conversation was more interesting than I expected. It wasn’t interesting enough to warrant details in a book anyone wants to read so I won’t go into detail. But, I kept telling myself I will listen until he says something that I don’t like. Then, I will happily tell him that I have employment at a company that takes care of its employees, so thanks but no thanks.
As I listened to the details of a company unable to find anyone with experience with call center data, I whisked my little green Mazda2 around corners taking back roads home to avoid the stop and go of the highway. I was actually starting to get interested in the things he was saying while I pressed the phone against my right ear with my shoulder, shifted with my right hand, flicked my cigarette out the window with my left in between tasks catching the wheel to keep on the pavement.
Jake finished his sales pitch, “So, do you think you would like to come in for an interview with the VP of Customer Service? We are in Dallas on Walnut Creek. We can do Wednesday at 12:30PM and hopefully fit it into your lunch hour.”
This had been fun, but now they were talking about wasting the time that I actually utilized for my personal interests. “You know that is fine, but what kind of salary range are you looking at? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time and if the money doesn’t matchup there is not point.”
Jake seemed appreciative. “Good call Rick. You are right. How much do you need to make a move worthwhile?”
I pulled into my driveway as I gave him a number that would be a ten percent increase and more than I thought the position could possibly warrant.
“Sounds good Rick. Can I put you down to meet with Michelle Wednesday at 12:30PM?”
My bluff failed. But, he hadn’t said anything I didn’t like so I relented. “Sounds good.”
“Great. And by the way. We are a laid back company so if you come in with a tie you will never live it down.”
I took the phone with my hand allowing my aching shoulder muscles to rest from the hour long ride and conversation. As I clicked end and saw the date and time repopulate the screen of my phone, seeing Monday on the screen made me realize how short notice it was for an interview on Wednesday. But, more than that I realized that I had just lost my lunch hour on Wednesday.
I left early for my lunch break on Wednesday. I hadn’t realized how long of a road Walnut Hill was, but I had a near 45 minute drive to reach the building where Single Machines Incorporated was. But, I found it, on time, and was still uninterested in making a career change. I still don’t fully understand why I was even humoring them.
I went into the building and rode the elevator up with larger jovial man who big bag of McDonalds. He looked out of place in the office building. His blue and green Hawaiian shirt clashed with his brown cargo shorts. He swung the bag left and right a bit causing the thick smell to fill the elevator quickly. My lunch was going to be excessively long and I wasn’t going to get much time to eat, so the smell of those damn fries was hastily luring my hunger pangs.
“Did you have to make it a quick lunch?” I asked trying to fill the space with something other than the aroma of Mickey D’s.
The happy man bobbed his head left and right and with a strong deep voice, “No, I have the time, but this is the only place I can get away with eating McDonalds. My wife just won’t allow it.” He chuckled at his own pseudo joke. “Going to the seventh floor. Do you work here, I don’t recognize you.”
“I have an interview with Single Machines.” I said not thinking much of it, typical small talk.
The man grunted while nodding his head. “Single Machines, such a stupid name isn’t it? I mean how can you have plural singles.” He let out a huge guffaw as the door opened to the seventh floor. As I walked out onto the concourse he waved his big hand and shouted out, “Good luck with the interview!”
The receptionist behind the big double glass doors saw me and buzzed me in. As I walked into the lobby of what felt almost like a futuristic office she greeted me by name.
The petite brunette had a very soothing voice that I thought would be more suited for a masseuse, “Richard Kelly? Michelle is on her way. You two will meet in the Sammy room. We have coffee and donuts but they are from this morning so they might be a bit stale.”
I didn’t have time to respond before another woman said hello from behind me. I spun on my heel to face her. Michelle was tall with long curly blond hair. She wore blue tinted glasses and showed off an infectious smile. We exchanged pleasantries and she led the way to the Sammy room.
We walked though the office which was an open concept with no cubes or walls. Even the offices were entirely glass walled. As we walked though the work area we passed a basketball hoop, air hockey table, bean bag chairs, Nerf guns… It was as if I had walked into an office designed by a teenager.
When we got to the Sammy we were welcomed to the room by a large painting of a dog. When I asked Michelle about it, she said that the conference rooms were named after the original employees of the company. Sammy was the owners dog and second employee. I laughed to myself. This place was lacking what I felt was any type of business world.
The meeting room itself was a large office that overlooked the atrium of the building. Seven floors up felt much higher than I expected. Michelle pointed at a chair for me to sit in, but it’s back was to glass wall with the drop seven floors down. This would have been fine, but there were some plants on a scaffolding just outside the room and there was a door open to that scaffold just inches from the chair.
Trying to be polite I walked around the table, leaning as far into the middle of the room as I could trying to get to the chair while staying away from the open door. I sat in the chair and somewhat unconsciously scooted my chair away from the door. Michelle sat down across from me and laid out my resume. She looked up to speak with me and realized I was six inches to the side of where she was. So, she moved her chair six inches to her right.
“I see you went to the University of…” She trailed off when she noticed that I again was six inches off center of her. She smirked and slid her chair six inches to the right again.
After straightening the papers again she looked up to find me six inches off center. “Do you want to switch chairs?”
I lept up running around the table side away from the open door. “Thank you, I never would have expected this, but the heights are freaking me out.”
“Bothers a lot of people. Especially when they are watering the plants and leave the door open.” She walked around the table the other direction to take her new seat.
The interview went well. I still was not interested in getting a new job, so I relaxed throughout the interview. Probably too much. I made jokes, I was candid about things I didn’t like, and I propped my feet up on the chair next to mine. I couldn’t have made a bigger statement that I do things my way if I tried.