Saturday, May 26, 2007

In The Beginning...


...there were 9 to 5 hours, cubicles, and multiple meetings per week. There was low pay, lots of overtime, and threats of lay offs. And MrFixit looked on it and said "Dude, this sucks."

I had decided that the fire department (anywhere) would be my career. It took five years, and not a few disappointments.

When my future employer announced it was giving the entrance exam, I went. I was in the top 10 thank you very much. I was called back for the physical agility test. I passed, and went on to wait a few months before being called in for the remainder of the hiring process.

When they did call, they told me I was number 4, and they were hiring 3. Just to be ready, they wanted me to come in and go through the process.

They had already had everyone who passed the agility test fill out a personal history. All kinds of personal information and background stuff. One of the Captains in the arson division called me in for a talk. He asked me all kinds of stuff. He asked if I had ever used drugs. I admitted I had tried smoking pot in high school. He said "Did ya like it?" Well, uh, kinda, but I felt like it was wrong so I never did anymore of it. He said "Hell, I smoked a bale of that shit in 'Nam, I mean real drugs." No, pot was it.

"Have you ever stole anything?"
Well, yes. I went to from work to night classes at Jr. College with stuff from the office supply locker all the time. Pads, pens stuff like that. "No No! I mean have you stole any real stuff?" No, that's it.

We talked a bit more but that he was satisfied. He told me he was taking me down to the Police Station for a polygraph. He said if I had been honest with him, I would be alright.

We went to the station, and he introduced me to Detective Jekyll, who would do the polygraph. Det. Jekyll was very nice and friendly. We talked a bit, and went over pretty much the same things as the Arson Investigator had. He told me how the machine worked. He had 10 questions that we had been over. They only required a yes or no answer. As best I can remember:
1. Is your name Mr Fixit
2. Do you live at 123 main street
3. Have you ever stolen anything of over $250 dollars value
4. Have you recently used any illegal drugs
5. Have you ever performed any illegal sex acts
6. Have you ever been arrested
7. Have you ever used another name?
10. I don't really remember the last 3, they were pretty mundane.

So, we go through the questions once. He turns the machine off, and asks me if I am nervous. Of course I am. We laugh, ha ha ha. He says he wants me to do something to help him clarify his readings. Would I mind? I'm here for you buddy, ol' pal, nice officer guy.

He gives me a legal pad, turns around and puts his nose in the corner. He takes his hands and cups them over his eyes. At this point, I thought he was going to start counting, and I would have to find a place to hide. He says to pick a number between 1 and 4, and write it with my left hand on the pad. Then, he says draw a circle around it. Now, draw a square around the circle. And finally re trace the number. Now, turn the pad over and put your hand on top of it.

He turns the machine on again, and says he will ask me if I picked number 1, then 2 then 3 then 4. He says to say no to each one, even the one I picked. We begin, and I did just as he said.

He turns the machine off, and I hear a heavy sigh. I'm sitting in such a way that I can't see him unless I turn my whole body, which is hard because of the tubing and wires he has on me. He says in an unfriendly voice "what did you do to me on number 3?"

I didn't pick number 3 I tell him.

"Oh, I know that! What did you do to me when I asked you about number 3?"
At this point I turn to look at him and see that nice, friendly Detective Jekyll, has been replaced with Officer Hyde. Officer Hyde doesn't like me. Officer Hyde thinks I am a lier.

I didn't do anything I say. He's having none of it. He accuses me of twitching or moving or something to throw the readings off. He's pissed, and it shows. We go back through the original questions 3 more times. He's still pissed, and he sends me outside to wait.

About 10 minutes later, he calls me in. I sit down as he closes the door. I'm thinking maybe he's feeling better about the whole thing now. I ask "How did I do?"

"Not too good. I have a problem with 3 questions. I see some dishonesty in those answers."

It went downhill from there. Which 3 do you suppose they were? Maybe the name, or address? Oh no! The three he had "problems" with were the ones about recent use of illegal drugs, theft over $250 dollars, and illegal sex acts.

OK, I felt really guilty about smoking dope in high school. But that was it! And the theft, well the office supplies were all of it, and again I fell guilty.

But illegal sex acts?!?!? What the hell? Is premarital sex illegal? I don't think so. I got married just out of high school. We never even really got weird. I mean, there was whipped cream, but that was only once, I swear!

I figured I was done. I thought I would never get hired now. Fail one little polygraph and it's all over.

The Arson Investigator ended up doing a lot more background on me and I came out OK. But he never let me forget it.

Mr Fixit


Dave said...

Gotta love those polygraph operators!

I'm about at the point you were in this story - the 9-5 office Dilbert cartoon is getting old. I'm a vollie right now, but I'm thinking about trying to go career - what did your wife say when you mentioned switching?

Mr. Fixit said...

It was something that I had decided to do kinda from the beginning. So, it was nothing new. It just took a while.

RevMedic said...

I was asked "Have you ever done anything you were'nt caught for?"
How the hell do you answer that one?