Chapter 1: Introducing Jeremy

It was March 13, and Jeremy Rhodes was ready to start filling out applications at fast-food places. Graduation was next month, and unlike the rest of his college class, he didn’t have a job lined up. He also didn’t really want to go to graduate school, seeing as how he was a B student on a good day and more like C or D when it came time to take exams. His major was Accounting, which meant that he should have at least received a phone call from friends of his parents, but when they looked at his resume, they saw a person with no real ambition in life. This was far from correct; Jeremy’s ambition was to eat food, sleep under a roof that he paid money to own or rent, and maybe, just maybe find someone special to spend the rest of life with him. Of course, that’s not exactly mission statement material for your C.V., but that didn’t deter Jeremy. It also didn’t deter any of the fifty companies who had already received his resume from issuing the polite “we’ll keep you on file” response. Funny how they never mentioned that the file was a stack of paper with the words BASURA in big letters on its side.

The rejection letters were at first easy to ignore. Jeremy thought that there might be a specific reason, like the fact that he was middle-of-the-road gradewise, for the first four rejections, but it wasn’t until he received a letter written by an HR staffer stating that “…while you may think that you’re perfect material for Needham and Snogmire, we have a completely different opinion. Your grades, your attitude, your seeming lack of desire in the interview–our on-campus recruiter said he could even smell failure on you after one minute in” that Jeremy realized that no one wanted him. Further rejection letters kept pouring in, offering Jeremy unsolicited advice on the length of his hair, his posture, his suit, his interview strategy, and his choice of major. Paranoia started creeping in when one rejection letter mentioned that Jeremy “wouldn’t be a good fit in the on-site health club”. All Jeremy wanted was a job, not a life change, but he was starting to get the feeling that he wasn’t quite good enough for anything.

A bit surprised at their failure to find him something, the career counseling office wanted Jeremy to consider the Peace Corps, and Jeremy was looking at the paperwork when his roommate Jim (who already had decided to go with the one of his three job offers that would put him just far enough away from his parents that he could visit unannounced) handed the phone to him.

“Mr. Rhodes? My name is Jennifer Ashton. I’m a recruiter for several companies, and I was wondering if you’d be interested in talking about a contract position that might be a good fit.”

Jeremy’s innards puckered slightly. A contract was at least a job. There were no benefits to it, but Jeremys couldn’t be choosers at this stage. “Uh, sure, I suppose.”

“Okay, great,” continued Jennifer. “I’d love to be able to disclose the company, but confidentiality keeps me from doing so right now, but they’re looking for someone to come in and basically audit their books. It’s a special one-time thing that happens only every decade or so, and they have a hard time finding just the right person.”

“Ms. Ashton, I assume you’ve seen my resume. If I can be realistic, there are probably people who are much better qualified than I am with a special case like that, especially if it’s an audit. I don’t want to screw up someone else’s livelihood just because I’m desperate for a job.”

“Jeremy, I have your resume. I’ve talked to your references. I’ve talked to your career service people there at the university about you. In a roundabout way, I’ve talked to people you know about you without ever actually mentioning your name. Trust me, this client is…unique, and that’s about the best that I can say. And after a lot of searching, I think you might just be a good fit for this.”

Jeremy paused, slightly annoyed at the invasion of everyone’s privacy, even though the invadees were obviously unaware. “Ms. Ashton–”

“Call me Jen.”

“Ms. Jen, I don’t know if I have what it takes. I don’t know how you think you know so much about me.”

“How’s the Peace Corps application coming along?”

“What?”

“You heard me.” Jeremy paused. Jen continued, “You haven’t started filling it out. You’ve looked online at it, but you don’t think you’re good at building whatever it is the Peace Corps needs being built. You’re average at school, but let me tell you something, Jeremy. Work is not like school at all.”

“It’s not? Seems to me that both have a high degree of repetitive tasks and periods of boredom.”

“That’s not the point here, Jer.”

“Then what is, because I don’t know whether to hang up or not.”

Jeremy heard the sigh over the phone. “Jeremy, I don’t know how to say it, so I’ll just have to ask you to trust me on this. This might work out really well for you. The contract is unique in that it offers some benefits. There are a few downsides, mostly being a lot of travel and a blackout period for vacation, but the fact that they’d offer a contractor a paid vacation in the first place says something about the company.”

“Well, that’s different.”

“It is, and they are. When’s a good time to come by my office and chat about this?”

And so Jeremy started his trip that would lead him to his promised land. Or at least another interview.

Next Chapter

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