Good Honest Work

Marta twirled a strand of her hair and avoided looking at the spindly-armed lie detector across the conference table. Its sensors probed her like unblinking eyes.

The door opened and HR lady entered. “Thanks for waiting!”

Marta patted her damp palm on her skirt and stood to shake hands.

“Please, take a seat. Sorry to leave you alone with this thing. It makes some people uncomfortable.”

“Oh, it’s okay. I’m getting used to it,” Marta lied. The interviews had been unnerving. There was nothing comfortable about a machine intelligence analyzing her every inflection, judging the truth of every word.

HR Lady sat next to the machine and folded her hands on the table. “Well, Marta, congratulations are in order.”

Marta’s heart skipped a beat.

“Your credentials are stellar. The hiring manager tells me you’re his top choice. You’ve reached the final interview, and it only involves one question.”

Marta slid her fingers over the good luck charm that had given her strength through the previous interviews: a locket with a photo of her mom at the community garden, where they had worked together all summer. The job hadn’t paid much, but the experience had been rewarding and fun. She sat up straight and made a conscious effort not to fidget. “One question?”

“Don’t worry, dear. Based on what we’ve seen so far you’ll have no problem. Are you ready?”

“Yes?”

HR Lady grinned. “As with the other interviews, you are free to comment, but verbal response is not necessary. The machine will know.”

Marta nodded. “Understood.” This was her big chance. She had worked so hard for this.

“Okay. The final question is … do you want the job?”

Marta stared, unable to reply. Wasn’t it obvious, after all she’d been through in the interview process? Hadn’t she expressed her enthusiasm? “Sorry, I don’t understand.”

“Let me put it another way. If money was not a concern, would you still apply the dedication this job requires?”

Marta willed her business demeanor to the forefront and gave the only acceptable answer. “Yes.”

HR Lady’s smile broadened. “Excellent. Please wait while I review the results.” A moment later the smile disappeared. She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, Marta. You failed to register a truthful response.”

“Oh. I see.”

“Thank you. We’ll be in touch.”

Marta began to rise, but HR Lady received an incoming call and motioned for her to wait. “Yes? Is that so? Yes, of course.” After a few moments she ended the call. “Well, Marta, we have a little confession to make. None of the other candidates answered the final question truthfully either. All things being equal, the hiring manager would like to offer you the job. Congratulations!”

Marta bit her lip and then realized she was still clutching the locket. She opened it, gazed for a moment at the photo and looked back at the interviewer. “You know, I’m going to have to decline the offer. I’m looking for good, honest work.”

END

THANKS FOR READING! This is part of a forthcoming series of Twenty-Nine Flash Fiction Stories examining the oddities of working in the modern world.

If you this is your kind of thing, please SUBSCRIBE so that I can serve your future entertainment needs. I’ll send infrequent notifications about upcoming publications, maybe a few emails per year. Either way I’d love to receive your feedback through my CONTACT form. Thanks again! CW

Blog Hop, January 2019

Morning Has Broken, by Katharina Gerlach
Bad For Business, by Gina Fabio
The Last Friday, by Raven O’Fiernan
Lost And Found, by Angela Wooldridge
Bia Trevi’s Worldly Eats, by Barbara Lund
Hunting Bob, Vanessa Wells
Don’t Drink The Water, by Juneta Key
Duty, Elizabeth McCleary
The Footnote, Karen Lynn
The Monster Under The Bed, by Nic Steven
Field Trip to the UFO Museum, by Bill Bush