“So, let me guess, ahhhhxxxCCxxshheeecczzzahhhhem,” started Mr. Thompson, Ed B’s prospective boss, pausing to make the most vile power-snorting, throat-clearing, wet-cough noise ever heard. “You’re Edward – cxxxxshxxx cxxxxcaaaheem – and you’re here for a job interview? A harr harr harr!”

Ed forced a smile as Mr. Thompson half-laughed/half-coughed at the apparently funny joke: moments earlier, the receptionist called to say that Ed had arrived for the interview. Before even sitting down, Ed knew he could never work in that office, for that man.

Thirty minutes before that moment, Ed was having a Fantastic Day: the weather was gorgeous and he was on his way to interview for a systems engineering position in the Parks & Recreation Department. Ed didn’t hate his job – in fact, he loved working for The State – he just wanted a change of pace. And the fact that he was allowed to interview for a new position was an honor in and of itself.

You see, when you work for The State, shifting from one department to another is not so easy a task. First, there’s form 753-B, the Intent to Relocate Form, which must be signed by one’s supervisor and his supervisor’s supervisor. After that, it’s Form 88496.3 (Job Competency Test Scheduling Form), Form 11-A-773M (Authorization to Take Competency Test Form), Form 13-B17 (Test Cost Allocation Form), and finally – if you’re lucky enough to score in the 90% Percentile – Form 7973-C, The Request for Application Form. And once you have one of those, you can apply to apply for virtually any position listed on Charter 8-11N!

And that’s exactly how Ed wound up standing in one of the most disgustingly dirty offices he’d ever seen. “Go ahead, son,” Mr. Thompson bellowed in a raspy tone, “take a seat!”

Ed looked down at the chair to find a crumb-filled thirty-year-old cushion covered with a whole variety of stains of unthinkable origins. He clenched his teeth and slowly sat down, surveying the filth that had taken over the cramped, little room.

A putrid stench emanated from the corner trash can, which was overflowing with Chinese takeout containers, soda cans, and wadded up tissues that must have accumulated over several months. There was a mountain of cigarette butts and ashes burying a “small” ten-inch ash tray on the desk with a thin plume of smoke spiraling upward to the yellowed ceiling. And the man behind the desk – a large, sweaty fellow who outgrew his shirt three sizes ago – didn’t seem to mind it one bit.

As tempted as Ed was to flee, he decided to give this opportunity the benefit of the doubt. Fifteen minutes later, and especially after learning about the tedious nature of the day-to-day and the several-hour-long road trips he’d have to take with the boss, Ed knew it wasn’t the right job for him.

“Whadd’ya mean, ‘it’s not the right move’,” Mr. Thompson shouted after Ed timidly declined, “why would’ya waste all my time – The State’s time – if ya don’t want a new job?”

Try as he might, Ed just couldn’t get Mr. Thompson to understand that, while he did want a new job, traveling across the state each week was not a good fit for him and his family. “Well, Edward, cxxxxshxxx cxxxxcaaaheem,” the interviewer balked, “if you insist on wasting our time, then I expect you to sign Form 772-L. Here, take it!”

Ah, the dreaded Form 772-L. You see, when you work for The State and have a Form 7973-C approved, you are expected to be willing to accept whatever job you apply to apply for. It only makes sense: why apply for a job if you don’t want it? Form 772-L, also known as the Applied Job Declination Form, officially takes you off the Charter 1114S (the Approved Hire List). It takes a full six months before you’re allowed to start the hiring process again.

“Well, I’d really rather not sign that,” Ed nervously replied, “I mean, that’s only valid if we’re given a signed offer, form eight-eighteen dash three?” Ed was hoping for a miracle; that Mr. Thompson would be all out of Form 818-3s and have to fill out an FRF (Form Request Form), which could take months to process.

“Oh so that’s how you want to play it, Edward,” Mr. Thompson bellowed, reaching for a pen, “it takes me two seconds to sign this offer form. You WILL sign the declination form!”

Ed panicked. He had no idea what else to do and just got up and headed toward the door. “Hey, ahhheexxxmm,” Mr. Thompson shouted, “where do you think you’re going?”

Ed picked up the pace and started down the hallway. Mr. Thompson pounded his fists on the desk, overturning the monstrous ashtray. “You can’t leave!” he shouted as he got up to follow, “the interview is not done!”

Ed started rushing towards the elevator with Mr. Thompson not far behind. He pushed the elevator button and waited for an eternity. “You WILL sign the declination,” Mr. Thompson said, gasping for air as he approached closer and closer, “I will have you working here on Monday if you don’t!”

The elevator finally opened and Ed rushed in. He hit the ground floor button and watched Mr. Thompson struggle to make it before the doors closed. The doors closed just in time allowing Ed to make his escape.

Fortunately, that was the last Ed had ever heard of Mr. Thompson. It was the first and last time he had ever threatened to be hired against his will.