“Hi.” The man stood behind his desk, smiling and holding out his hand. “Thanks for stopping by today.”
Jason reached across the desk and shook hands. The man’s grasp was not firm. He just placed his hand in the air for Jason to squeeze.
“I’m Bill Brochure.”
“Hi. Jason Pike,” Jason said.
“Have a seat, Jason,” Brochure said.
Jason sat down in the straight-backed chair in front of the desk. Brochure sat down in his own plush leather-covered chair. He reached for a folder that lay on the top of the desk. Several papers were stapled inside the folder. He glanced at the papers, reviewing things that he had looked at yesterday.
“So,” Brochure said. “Looking for some work, huh?”
“Yeah,” Jason said.
“Have you ever applied here before?”
“Do you know how our company works?”
Brochure ignored the answer and explained how the company works anyway.
“If we find a position for you, you will sign a contract to work for at least six months, or until the client – which is the company where you will be working – decides to terminate you before that. Your paychecks are issued from our office, and any comments you have about the job assignment will be made to our office. You will not work on holidays that are honored by the client, and of course you will not be paid for those days, either.” Brochure stopped and raised his eyebrows. “Understand, Jake?”
“Jason. Yeah, sure.” Jason smiled and crossed his legs.
“OK. So now you’re probably wondering what kind of jobs we have available right now.” Brochure grinned and scratched the back of his neck.
“Yeah.” Jason hoped there was a good selection to choose from. He would really like to do something interesting.
“Well, Jason, we’ve reviewed your application and your references, and the transcript of your high school records. I think we’ve got several things you might be able to fit right into.” Brochure spoke pleasantly and soothingly. Jason was glad to hear there were jobs available, but he also had some ideas of his own. He decided to hear what Brochure had to say first.
“Your application says you like to work with computers, and that you can type. We do have several jobs in the area that involve working with computers, but the clients require a B average in typing classes. There are just too many kids coming out of high school and vocational schools that have good, strong typing and computer skills. The competition for those jobs is fierce.”
Jason put his hands in his jacket pockets.
“I guess I don’t quite cut it, huh?” Jason said.
“Well, unfortunately you do not. Sometimes a company will be willing to look at a former student’s overall record in school if a specific grade wasn’t that good, such as in typing. But in your case, I wouldn’t bother to show them your other grades. There’s just nothing in your record that I would want to show a prospective employer. Those D’s and F’s are a nuisance, aren’t they?” Brochure chuckled and winked at Jason. “But those positions may not be what you want, anyway. We have several others that I personally think would fit you to a tee.” Brochure smiled and showed a nice set of straight white teeth. He put his hand to his chin and scratched it, and Jason noticed his large gold ring, with a diamond setting that sparkled under the fluorescent lights of the office. It might have been a cubic zirconia.
“I have a philosophy about jobs, Jason,” Brochure said. “I always try to place somebody in a position where they can use their strengths. You might as well start out with an advantage, and build on that. In your case, I think you should concentrate on something where you can use your physical strengths. You’re young, you’re big and strong, and you can work hard. Lots of employers need kids like you, and they’re willing to pay good money as long as you’re willing to be productive.”
Jason liked the expression “good money.” There must be some really good-paying jobs around.
Brochure picked up a pencil and rolled it between his thumb and index finger. He tapped it on the top of the desk. “Most people don’t realize it, but there’s a lot of opportunity out there for someone that’s willing to work hard.”
Jason listened and wondered what kind of jobs Brochure was talking about.
“Interested?” Brochure said, still playing with the pencil.
“OK. I have two jobs, either of which I believe you would really like. The first is an auto parts deliveryman. This job involves delivering parts for a local supplier.”
Jason was glad to hear that one. He liked working with cars, and didn’t mind the thought of driving.
“What kind of truck would I have to drive?” Jason asked.
“Well, there is no truck,” Brochure explained. “You would be using your own car.” Brochure looked up from the desk. “You do have a car, don’t you?”
“Oh, yeah, sure.”
“And you have a valid driver’s license?”
“Great. Yeah, this is a real cream puff job, Jason.” Brochure grinned. “You interested?”
“Well, I guess. How much an hour?”
“OK, I thought you might ask that. Let me check here a second.” Brochure looked through some forms and charts on his desk. He found the one he was looking for. “Let’s see here…. Yes, here it is. Seven dollars.” He looked up at Jason. “Seven an hour, plus mileage.”
“Mileage?” Jason said.
“Oh, yeah. This job pays fifty cents per mile for every mile that you drive your car on the job. Not bad, huh?”
Jason considered the fifty cents for a few seconds.
“How many miles would I drive in a week?”
“Well,” Brochure said, “That depends. Let’s say it’s a hundred. That would be an extra fifty bucks for you every week. If it’s two hundred, there’s a hundred bucks. Adds up pretty fast, doesn’t it?”
It sounded interesting. The seven dollars an hour was not quite what Jason had hoped for. He wanted to get his own apartment, and he knew that seven an hour wouldn’t be enough. Even with a little extra for mileage. Then Jason remembered that it required gasoline to drive the miles Brochure was talking about.
“What about gas?” Jason said.
“Gas? What about it?”
“Do they pay for it, or supply it?”
“Oh, no,” Brochure chuckled. “The mileage rate covers all of your vehicle expenses. Nearly all the jobs we process here that involve vehicle use require that the worker supply the vehicle, and a flat mileage rate covers all expenses.” Brochure sounded like he was reading from a book.
Jason nodded and scratched his ear. He looked to his left and saw a large picture on the wall. It was an orange Ferrari, parked in front of a mansion in either Florida or California. Palm trees grew in front of the house, and a beautiful dark-haired woman stood next to the car. Jason thought about Brochure’s numbers. Seven dollars an hour was about fourteen thousand a year. It would take about ten or fifteen years of that to pay for that Ferrari, and then only if he paid no taxes, and spent none of the rest. Jason looked back at Brochure.
“What’s the other job?”
“The other one, I’m afraid, is only part-time. It’s set up for about thirty hours a week, and will only last until June. Sunset College needs someone to help out with the janitorial work during the school term, and as soon as school’s out you would be finished.”
“How much money in that one?”
“Well, let’s see.” Brochure acted like he was looking for the wage information, but Jason knew that he already knew it.
“Here it is. That one’s Seven fifty-five. A little better rate than the other one, except that it’s less hours.”
Jason thought a few seconds about that one and decided it was worse than the first.
“That’s all you’ve got, huh?” Jason said. “Just the two?”
“Oh, no. We’ve got quite a few others.” Brochure laughed. “But I just told you about the ones you qualify for.” He opened a desk drawer and pulled out a folder. He opened it on the desk and scanned several papers.
“Computer programmers, typists, receptionists, mechanics, CAD drafting, accounting, bookkeeping, dental technicians, librarians, machine operators, carpenters….” Brochure looked up at Jason. “The list is almost endless. And most of these jobs pay well – some between ten and twenty an hour.”
“What about the mechanic job?,” Jason said. “I think I might be able to do that one.”
Brochure shook his head.
“That one needs at least five years experience, or a technical degree. You know, the kind you can get at Community Tech.”
“Yeah,” Jason said. “But I can learn pretty quick.”
Brochure shook his head again.
“They don’t want to teach you the job, Jason. They want you to know it when you walk through their door. There are too many people out there looking for jobs now. The employers are real picky about who they hire, and they don’t have to train anyone. They want you to come in and start being productive from day one.” Brochure looked at his watch. “Well, Jason, what do you think? Will you take one of these today, or should we keep your name on file and call you when something else comes up? I’ve got a feeling both of these jobs will be filled pretty quick.”
Of the two, Jason favored the delivery job. But his car had nearly 150 thousand miles on it, and it needed a new exhaust system and shock absorbers. If he drove it much more without repairing it, it might fall apart. He couldn’t afford to get a different car until he got a job, and he really needed a job that would pay him enough so he could afford a different car. Not a Ferrari, or even a Corvette. Maybe just a used Camaro – one that didn’t have so many miles on it and that wasn’t covered with rust spots. While Jason was thinking, Bill Brochure checked his watch again and tapped his pencil on the desk. Jason felt like he was being forced into something he didn’t want to do.
“Well,” Jason said finally, “I guess I’ll just go look around some more, and maybe call you back in a day or two. Maybe something better will come up.”
“Ok, Jason. Well, good luck to you.” Brochure stood up and held out his limp hand. “Hope you find something you like. If you don’t, call us. We usually have something for guys like you, even if it’s just something to tide you over until a better job comes along.”
Jason shook Brochure’s hand and left. On the way out of the building he imagined himself wearing a grey janitor’s uniform at Sunset College, and walking down the halls pushing a mop shoved into a bucket on rollers. Some of the students would get up close behind him and mimic him, walking hunched over and pretending they were pushing something. They would laugh and whisper to themselves, and Jason would turn around and threaten to kick their butts, except that it was forty years from now, and he was probably too old to kick any college kid’s butt. Jason was fifty-eight. He made ten dollars an hour now, but ten dollars wasn’t nearly enough. His children were grown up and had moved away from home, and his wife was sick in the hospital. Jason drove a ten year-old Ford and lived in a small apartment behind a factory. He would never own a house, and never buy a new car. But he always remembered the picture of that orange Ferrari and the beautiful woman standing next to it. If things had been just a little different, it might have been his car.