Ki and Morgan had an on-again, off-again relationship, but not because they couldn’t commit; Morgan was Ki’s dedicated recruitment agent at Impracticable Resources. Ki had to admit he left every other recruiter she’d dealt with in the dust. That’s why she was excited when he described the position at Initech: Ki had started as a web designer and migrated into Java development, and Initech was looking for exactly that to be the glue between their Java and UX teams. Eight short weeks ago, the initial phone screen had gone well.

Mirror

Gerard was Ki’s would-be boss’s name, and warned her straight away that Initech was procedure-friendly; every box on their list had to be ticked and accompanied by its own list of ticked box-ticking-assurance boxes, supplemented by a list of ticked box-ticking-assurance-box-ticking-assurance boxes before they could bring her on board.

“I am very impressed by what I see,” Gerard said. “We want to bring you on-site, for our standard gauntlet of interviews. Sound good?”

“Definitely,” Ki said. “When would you like me to come in?”

“We’ll let you know,” Gerard said, “your recruiter will give you a call.”

Morgan did give Ki a call, almost three weeks later.

“Ki, how’ve you been?”

“Good. Waiting to hear about the Initech position, I guess… You?”

“Yeah, Initech. They seem really interested in you! Can you do Thursday afternoon?”

Ki stumbled out of Initech’s offices two-and-a-half hours after her arrival, exhausted but happy. Her interviews had gone extremely well. Gerard, who was head of the Java team, Celia, head of the UX team, and Armin, the lead designer, all agreed that she was at the exact nexus of design and development acumen that the job required. On the phone that afternoon, Morgan glowed to the extent one can glow via audio.

“Ki, the job’s as good as yours!”

“That’s great! Did they send you an offer?”

“Well… no. Knowing Initech, they’ll need you to come in again for a second battery of interviews. I’ll give you a call when they’ve been in touch.”

So that was that, for another three weeks.

“Good news, Ki!”

“You’ve got a lead on a company that hasn’t outsourced their hiring to a glacier?”

“Even better: Initech wants you to come in next Tuesday. Now, for this set you’re going to need a portfolio of previous work. You met Armin and Celia last time? Well, they’ll be grilling you on your presentation. That’s why I’m giving you all this notice!”

Ki looked at the past weeks sitting long and empty on her desktop calendar. “Uh, thanks.”

Gerard, Celia, and Armin were all glad to see Ki again, and somehow (perhaps because they had three weeks to prepare) they each had almost an hour of questions for her before her portfolio presentation. But she passed with flying colours and, on the brief tour of the office, Gerard apologized for the amount of time the whole process was taking. “If it were up to me,” he said, “you’d start tomorrow. But HR still wants to have a word with you, and the whole team is headed out West for the annual general meeting at Initech HQ. I’ll be sure to put in a good word for you with the bigwigs out there!”

Ki thanked Gerard and left. Soon after, she called Morgan.

“So Gerard tells me good things!”

“Yes, they seemed happy with me… again. But apparently there’s one more interview—did they mention when they’d be back from their visit to HQ?”

“Let me see… oh, yes, here’s Gerard’s email. Looks like you’ll be sitting down with HR on… hmm… uh, June 9th.”

“That’s two weeks from now.”

“Sure looks that way! Sorry, Ki. But this is going to be awesome once we’ve crossed the Ts and dotted the lowercase Js!”

And so Ki found herself up late on the night of June 10, having heard nothing from Morgan, Gerard, or Initech’s HR department. She was turning her mobile over and over in her hand, weighing her need to know against the possibility that Morgan, on the East Coast, would be asleep by now.

“Hell with it,” she told herself, “if he didn’t want midnight phone calls, he should’ve gone into used-car sales.”

“H-Hello?” Morgan sounded groggy, but Ki held firm.

“Hi Morgan, it’s Ki. I’m sorry to call so late, but I haven’t heard from Initech, and I’m wondering if they got in touch with you. I’m sure you understand that, after eight weeks, I really need to get some closure.”

There was a long pause on the other end, followed by a deep sigh. “…Ki, it’s… complicated. Really, I don’t know how this happened.”

There was that sinking feeling, the one that starts in your stomach and descends to places unmentionable. “How what happened, Morgan?”

"Well, I’ve got this email here from Initech HR. Apparently, in the wake of their annual general meeting at Initech HQ, it was decided that the role you’re applying for would be better suited to a less-technical candidate. I don’t know if they mean someone who just does web design, or what.

“I’m really sorry about this, Ki. It sounds like you’re out of the running.”

“I don’t understand,” Ki said. “You’re saying they changed the job so I’m no longer a shoe-in?”

“I suppose that’s what I’m saying. Yes.”

“Well… okay. I’m sorry to hear that. Goodnight, I guess?”

“Goodnight, Ki…”

“Oh, Morgan?”

“Yes?”

“Try to find me a position in computer vision or compiler design next, okay?”

“Huh?”

“That way, when they downgrade the position, I’ll be a perfect fit.”

“Goodnight, Ki.”