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The Test

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posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:48 PM
The Test

The digital clock read 3:31 in soft green numerals in front of Richard’s bed. He awoke from an uneasy sleep and took a glimpse of the numbers and then outside. Snow pattered hard against his eight story window. The wind blowing against it and the furnace kicking on were the only sounds in the bedroom at that early hour.

But Richard’s mind registered neither. His mind was fixed on the test awaiting him the next day at work. The memo came late in the day and caught the entire team of applicants unaware. They were all already uneasy, and this made their lives just a little more uneasy.

“What do you think it will be,” Adele asked him and he simply shrugged.

“Well, I’ll be prepared for it, whatever it may be,” she said confidently, almost snidely as she looked down her nose at her co-worker. “I know I’ll be ready for it, but you…” she snorted and turned back to the group she was with without completing her sentence.

What could it be?

He shrugged his shoulders, whatever it was, he would find out soon enough. He closed his eyes again and hugged his down comforter tightly around his shoulders and eventually found his way back to sleep.

Richard worked for a company known simply as The House. It was situated on the outskirts of the city, not in downtown proper, but not too far away either. He started with the company as a janitor. He enjoyed the work and was content with cleaning the bathrooms and keeping the main lobby clean and its floors shiny.

One night as he was cleaning out the trash cans in one of the company’s offices he noticed Glenn, the Director of Foreign Relations, having problems with his computer.

“I’ll be,” the director whispered out loud exasperated that he couldn’t get his email sent. An urgent message to an overseas partner.

Glenn didn’t notice Richard standing behind him. Richard was hesitant then coughed, getting the man’s attention. He turned to see Richard standing there with a half-empty plastic bag in his left hand. “Oh, hi Richard,” he said, then shook his head. “My computer is giving me trouble when I least need it, and IT is gone for the day.”

“Do you mind,” Richard asked. Glenn didn’t understand at first but then realized that the janitor was offering to help.

“Oh, I don’t think it’s anything you can fix,” he said.

“Well let me see,” Richard replied. Glenn sighed and gestured to his monitor and an error message. “Be my guest.” He moved out the way and crossed his arms as Richard quickly looked at the message, opened a couple of windows, then the command prompt on the computer, typed in a few commands, closed it, and reconnected his wi-fi.

“Good to go,” he said looking over at Glenn. Glenn sat back down and clicked the send button. The email was instantly off.

“Thanks Richard, thanks a lot,” Glenn said. The janitor smiled to him and said, “No problem,” and returned to his duties.

The next week Richard was called into Glenn’s office and after a long meeting was assigned a position with IT. He had no official schooling for the position but Glenn knew he’d be good for the job.

Thus after three years as a janitor Richard suddenly found himself as an IT assistant. Better pay, poor hours, and a beeper on him at all times. He didn’t mind the change of pace and was a real asset to the company.

He served in IT for five years, and eventually became manager of IT, until finally he decided to apply for a counselor’s position. It was very different work but he wanted to try something different. Again he had no degree from college for the position, that required at least a bachelor’s in psychology, but he had taken a course and was certified as a tobacco cessation counselor and the manager in charge of the department gladly gave him the position.

There was always a class division that appeared - from the university majors that joined The House, to get experience, out of school, to pad their resumes to go on to “bigger and better things” - and the lowly “certified” counselor’s.

Many of the young ones that had just spent a lot of money on their college education for their degrees came with an air of arrogance. Richard noticed the way he was treated. Here he was, a mere janitor, who only had a high school education working with college graduates, some who were now getting their post graduate degrees. He was a mere simpleton. Not all viewed him that way, but that is the way many viewed him.

Adele was one such co-worker that viewed him with a haughty disdain, never missing a chance to let him know what place in society he held in comparison to her. He didn’t mind it, actually he agreed. He wasn’t anyone important. But he liked helping people. He eventually became a supervisor and then manager of the department.

Finally a director position was opening up, and he applied for it. Even though he knew he didn’t qualify for it. As he had no college education. All the other applicants, from within and without the company were college graduates, many with a lot more experience than him in management.

But he was allowed to be considered for the position. All of the interviews had already taken place, and they were told that an announcement would soon be made as to who would fill the director’s chair for this arm of The House.

The alarm sounded at 7:00AM. Richard awoke, hit the snooze button, and kept his eyes closed. Then after two minutes he opened them, clicked the alarm button to off then on again, and turned to look out the window. It was still snowing. A light snow, and the wind from the night was gone. A hesitant sun was rising, turning the sky into an ashen grey.

He slipped out of the comfort of his bedding and into his slippers and put on his robe and headed for the bathroom. There he took a fifteen minute steaming hot shower and then shaved and brushed his teeth.

After setting a pot of coffee and flipping on the morning news the phone rang.

“Richard here,” he said matter-of-factly into the phone. It was The House.

“Richard, be ready to be picked up at 8:00am. We’re sending a car to pick you up for a meeting we’re having with the applicants,” a perky young woman’s voice said on the other end of the line.

“Um, okay,” he said, and after a quick good-bye hung up the phone. “Well, at least I won’t have to drive in this weather today,” he thought to himself as he finished dressing, a blue suit, white shirt and gold tie, black penny-loafers, a black belt, and a London-Fog overcoat.

He was out the door with an orange in his left trench-coat pocket, and a mug of hot coffee in his right hand, and his 7” tablet in his left at 7:52am.

At 8:02AM a Chevrolet Caprice pulled up to the front door. The driver got out and approached Richard as he exited the building. “Are you Richard,” the chauffeur asked the man.

“That’d be me,” he said extending a hand. The chauffeur warmly took the hand and then slapped Richard on the back. “My name is Tony. I’ve been sent to pick you and the others up.”

In fact two others were already in the car. Adele, and another woman named Adrian. They were both dressed very flatteringly, with warm coats on over their attire, and pretty scarfs. Adele saw Richard look over and notice them and rolled her eyes and looked away.

Richard got into the car in the front passenger seat. There was going to be room in the back of the car for the four other applicatns, but it was going to be a tight fit.
edit on 31-1-2013 by SubAce because: (no reason given)

edit on 1-2-2013 by SubAce because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 11:49 PM
Tony got into the driver’s seat, turned on the windshield wipers and, as they cleared a light dusting of snow, he turned on his left blinker and then pulled out into traffic.

Adele and Adrian talked and talked and talked. Richard and Tony were pretty much silent most of the time. Tony listened in on the conversation of course and tried to pip in a few comments, but Adele cut him short: “Listen honey, we’re not talking to you.” She looked down her nose at him, and rose her nose into the air and turned away to let him know he was now officially ignored by someone better than he was.

At the fifth and final stop Tony slipped in the snow and stumbled hands first. Richard jumped out of the car immediately and helped the chauffeur to his feet. Adele, Adrian, another man with them named Kevin, and now the fourth one who Tony was meeting all laughed at the man.

“What a looser,” Adrian chided out loud, and the others broke out laughing.

“Thank you,” Tony said, ignoring the rude remark and dusting the snow off his coat. Richard picked up the man’s hat and offered it to him after dusting the snow off it. Again Tony said thank you, and they were all in the car and off.

End Part I

posted on Feb, 1 2013 @ 12:42 AM

The traffic was crowded, the streets were slick with fresh snow, and tempers in the car were frail. But in the front seat Richard and Tony started up a conversation. Richard asked a few questions about Tony’s job, he didn’t really know the company had chauffeurs, but Tony was silent on the matter. Realizing he was not going to get much information out of Tony about his present employment the conversation turned to the weather, Richard’s work, how he enjoyed the company and working for people.

The four co-workers in the back seat ignored the two in the front. They gossiped about the worst dressed at work, how little money they made, and how they deserved to be paid much better than what they were making, and took turns making fun of different clients they had helped the day before.

This went on for the better part of fifteen minutes when Tony suddenly hit the brakes. There were a couple of feminine gasps from the back seat and a curse from Adele. “What the heck do you think you’re doing, driver,” she scolded him. Richard had barely missed spilling hot coffee on his lap.

An old man was standing in front of the car in traffic. He had a cane in his right hand and looked utterly terrorized. On this side of the street cars were whizzing by him on both sides, only Tony and the cars piling up behind him had stopped.

Horns from impatient drivers started to beep while cars tried to peel out into the other lanes and zip on by. Adele and Adrian rolled down their windows and yelled at the old man. “Hey you, geezer, get your old fat butt off the street,” one of them yelled rudely at the terrorized old man.

Tony rolled the windows up and put the lock on it and was tempted to turn around and scold the women, but bit his lip. Richard jumped out of the car and took the old man gently but firmly by the arm and started to walk him across the street.

As they started to move Tony’s phone rang. “Yes sir…yep…I understand.” He said and hung up the phone as he was rolling the window down. He stuck his head out and looked to Richard. “At the rate he’s walking, it’s going to take you five minutes to get him to the other side of the road.” Richard shrugged. “I can’t wait that long. We’re on a time-table and I need to keep it.”

Richard understood the implication as Tony stared him in the eyes. Richard looked to his car and then to the frightened old man, who was visibly shaking now and holding on to Richard for dear life.

“Go on without me,” Richard stated.

“But, you might be blowing your opportunity, a very good one at that,” Tony contested.

“That’s okay. Go on ahead,” Richard said and turned to keep walking then looked back. “It was nice to meet you Tony,” he said.

Tony nodded and gave him a salute, “Nice to meet you too,” he rolled up his window, and as soon as they were out of the way, drove off.

“Good riddance,” Adele said from the back seat.

“There was no way he was getting the position anyway,” Adrian replied.

“Yeah,” Kevin stated and lifted a hand to his forehead in the shape of an L and stated, “looser.”

Richard watched as the Caprice drove down the lane and disappeared from view into the distance while helping the man across the wide lane. Impatient drivers were shouting curses from their windows and honking their horns. They finally reached the other side.

“Thank you young man,” the old one finally said. “I was going to the store to get some eggs and a half gallon of milk for my coffee,” he pointed to the grocery store half a block away. “I thought I could do it on my own,” a tear came to his eye and he looked down. “I can’t move anymore like I used too.” Richard looked down the road toward where his work would be and then to the man. He took him by the arm and said, “Come on, let’s go shopping.”

“Oh, no I’ve taken up too much of your time already,” he replied, but Richard was persistent. He walked him to the grocery store, helped him get his food and walked him back to his apartment across the street. By that time it was 9:15AM.

“I hope they don’t scold you for being late for work on my account,” the old man named Scott told Richard.

“Ah, don’t worry about it,” Richard replied. “One day I might need help. What if no one would stop to help me?”

He called for a Taxi and waited another fifteen minutes after saying goodbye to Scott. The taxi came and took him to work. He arrived at 9:45AM.
edit on 1-2-2013 by SubAce because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 1 2013 @ 12:42 AM
Richard paid the driver and taking out a key-card with a profile on the front swiped it across the main lobbies lock and opened the door and walked in. He greeted the security guard by name, passed the main lobby and found Cherri, a nice middle-aged woman sitting at the front desk.

“Richard, they’re waiting for you on the third floor, in the Continental Divide conference room.” It got its name from the previous director who enjoyed hiking on his time off.

Richard dusted a few flakes of snow from his London Fog and walked up a main flight of steps to the second floor and then a smaller flight that led up to the third. Opened the doors to the hall walked down halfway and turned to open a large wooden door to the conference room.

Inside the four other applicants were sitting, waiting impatiently. They all turned at the sound of the door opening and when they noticed it was Richard gave him a greeting and turned back to whispering among each other.

“What’s going on,” Richard asked Kevin as he walked forward and took a seat next to him in front of a large conference table.

“Well, we've been sitting here waiting since we got here. We've been told the owner of The House wants to meet with us personally, but that he has been delayed. So it looks like your detour didn't cost you at all Richard.” Then he reached over and patted him on the back, “What you did back there, that was nice. I was thinking about it, if that was my dad, I would have wanted someone to help him like that.

As he finished his sentence the oak doors opened one more time and the chauffeur entered. He walked to the front of the conference room and stood in front of five long windows where light from the sun shone in on them. In the distance the snow-tipped Rocky Mountains were now finally visible again.

“Tony,” Richard said and nodded to the man. Tony nodded back.

“The old man?”

“He’s fine.”

“That’s good to hear,” Tony replied and took off his hat and coat and laid them on the table.

“What are you doing here,” Adele asked the man rudely.

Tony merely smiled at her and took a seat.

“Greetings,” he said with a tone of authority and looked around the room. “I am Tony Fairbanks, owner of The House.”

The room got deftly quiet. Tony Fairbanks, the billionaire was an elusive and eccentric man. In fact one couldn’t ever recall him visiting The House personally. He was a well-enough known figure that they should have recognized him, but a large pair of glasses, a fake nose, and long wig under his hat disguised him well enough. He removed them and looked around the room.

“I founded The House twenty years ago to help society. All of the directors who serve under me must be willing to help humanity. You have all already been given your test,” he said then turned to Richard. “And only one of you passed it.”

The End

edit on 1-2-2013 by SubAce because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 1 2013 @ 12:44 PM
reply to post by SubAce

Cool story.

I liked it.

Well done!

posted on Feb, 1 2013 @ 02:55 PM

Originally posted by QMask
reply to post by SubAce

Cool story.

I liked it.

Well done!

Thank you.

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