Robert had butterflies in his stomach. It was the first interview he had landed since he had interviewed for his job at CompTech five years earlier. Now that CompTech had burned down he and dozens of other coworkers were scrambling for new employment.
While strolling down the sidewalk on his way into SavvyWare's building Robert had to step around two business-suit-clad men having a disagreement at a light pole. He stopped only briefly to observe one guy smashing the other's head into the pole. Each blow caused a high-pitched "DING!" noise.
Robert winced, almost feeling the man's pain. But he had more important things to worry about than some poor bastard getting his clock cleaned. He bounded into the rotating glass doors, determined to get this job.
He strode over to the receptionist's desk occupied by an attractive-looking young woman with chestnut hair.
"May I help you?" the woman asked in a pleasant voice.
"I'm Robert Smolinski, I'm here to see Mr. Garner," he answered.
"The elevators down the hall and to the left, go to the fourth floor, his office is room 405," the woman said, pointing to the left, "just follow the giant ducks."
Robert frowned. He didn't see any giant ducks. He shrugged and followed the directions anyway.
When he reached the floor Robert had to step over a guy licking the floor to get to room 405. He was polite, though, saying "Excuse me" as he did so.
Robert didn't have to knock on the door. Mr. Garner came out of his office to greet him. He was a jovial, sharply-dressed, silver-haired man, a little taller than Robert, and in good shape.
"Mr. Smolinksi!" he said happily. "It's nice to meet you." He shook Robert's hand heartily. This was certainly refreshing, thought Robert. He'd never been greeted like that at an interview in his life.
"Why, er, the pleasure's all mine," Robert said, smiling back. He flinched when he heard a woman screaming somewhere on the floor.
"Step right into my office," Mr. Garner said, ushering Robert in, "let's get started."
Robert sat down in a very comfortable leather chair opposite Mr. Garner's desk. "You have a nice office, Mr. Garner."
"Oh, that's all right, you can call me Jim!" Mr. Garner said, smiling and waving his hand dismissively. "So I have your resume here. Says you worked at CompTech from 2002 until a few weeks ago... you were on the software development team?"
"Yes," Robert answered, "I was in charge of a team of developers at the end, doing more managing than coding. I was dedicated to the quality improvement process and..."
"Yes, yes, yes, sounds very nice," Jim said, "but let's go beyond the skills. It looks like you have what we need in that department, but in times like these I'm more interested in how well you work with others."
Robert thought about it a few seconds, wondering how best to approach the question. "Well, let's see. Until recently I never had a problem with any of my coworkers. Um... well obviously there have been some problems lately. But I can tell you this for sure, though: I've never set anybody on fire."
"Good!" Jim exclaimed happily. "Great! The past couple of guys in here, they loved to set people on fire. As a matter of fact one of them, on his way out after the interview, poured kerosene on one of my designers and lit him up like a bonfire! I guess he knew he wasn't getting hired."
"That's terrible," Robert said.
"Yeah, after The Crazy, well it's hard to find good employees," Jim sighed. "That day wasn't all bad, though. We just happened to have some hot dogs and marshmallows on hand!"
"You see," Robert added, "I've beaten some people up, ran down the street naked a few times, and I did toss a toddler off of a bus one time, but besides those incidents I've been pretty tame. I think I'm partially immune to this Crazy thing."
"That's good!" Jim exclaimed. "That's kind of what I was looking for."
Robert saw something fly downwards past the window behind Jim. It appeared to have been a man in a dark suit.
Jim turned around to look out the window, probably trying to see what Robert had been distracted by. "Was somebody else practicing their swan dive out there?"
"Something like that," Robert replied.
"Oh well," Jim said. "Now, let's talk more about your social skills. Have you ever decapitated anybody?"
"No, Sir," Robert said proudly. "I have never taken anybody's head off!"
"Well I have!" Jim said. "I didn't like the way that guy was looking at me! But that's good, good. No setting people on fire, no decapitations. Excellent. Now, uh--"
A loud explosion somewhere in the distance cut him off, caused them both to jump up from their chairs a little. Robert saw, in the window, a fireball jetting up to the sky on the horizon.
"Dammit, that's the fifth time this week!" Jim said, banging his fist on the desk. "It really rattles me, y'know? I wish there could be some warning. I'm old. My ticker can't take much of that."
"Yeah, me, too," Robert agreed. He actually liked the explosions but he decided not to mention it.
"Really? But you look young!" Jim said. "What are you? Thirty? Thirty one?"
"No, no," Robert said quickly, "I mean, I wish there was warning, too."
"Ahh, yes," Jim said. "Warning would be good. So... anyway. Back to your interview."
But again, they were interrupted. A woman screamed and a man yelled obscenities somewhere outside the door. Jim growled, got up from his seat, and peered outside.
"Oh for the love of Christ!" he exclaimed. "Johnson! Yeah YOU! I told you to stop raping the mail girl! She doesn't like it!"
Jim sighed and shook his head. He looked at Robert again and held out his hands in surrender. "We even have sensitivity training for crying out loud! Even specifically added 'No raping your coworkers' into our bylaws!"
"With all due respect, sir, laws of any kind don't seem to be holding up very well these days," Robert said. He shrugged.
Jim sighed and sat down. "I must admit, you're right. I dunno. Maybe I should just demo this place. Get one of those trucks filled with fertilizer or something. That would be fun wouldn't it?"
"Sounds like it'd be a good party," Robert said.
Jim grunted. "The last party I went to my wife ended up pushing the hostess down the stairs and I threw the television at the host. Now that was a good party!"
"It's not a party until you throw a TV at somebody!" Robert said, grinning.
"I like your style, Smolinksi!" Jim said, winking. "So, what do you hope to accomplish here? Well, if I don't go with that whole demolition idea."
"Well I hope to streamline your development process, kick everything into shape," Robert said. "One of the things I've always--"
Suddenly a printer came flying into the office, narrowly missing both Robert and Jim, and crashed into the back wall!
"Dammit!" Jim said. He got up and ran to the door. "PRINTERS DON'T GROW ON TREES, GOD DAMMIT!" Then a stapler beaned off of Jim's head.
"Score!" somebody in the distance yelled.
Jim growled and ran over to his closet. He whipped it open, shuffled around in it, and then came out with a grenade launcher. He turned and smiled at Robert. "I brought this home from 'Nam!" He ran to the door and yelled "This'll teach ya to throw a stapler at me!" He fired and that was shortly followed by some yelling and a large explosion that rocked the whole office.
"Hmm, what a mess," Jim said. "Darn, maybe I should have went with my shotgun. Oh well." He turned and went back to his chair. "So, where were we?" Before Robert could answer he said "Ah, yes! I was about to scream like a little girl." And he did. His little girl scream was surprisingly high-pitched, given how low his normal voice was.
"That's...." Robert paused. "That's, uh, very good."
"It's very cathartic, you know," Jim sighed. "So before I hire you, you have to do one thing. Ever since The Crazy I've made it a new requirement."
"Sure, anything!" Robert said excitedly. "What is it?"
"You have to kick me in the nuts as hard as you can!" Jim exclaimed. He stood up as straight as he apparently could and put his hands on his hips. "Come on, Smolinksi! Give me your best shot!"
"Well, OK," Robert said. "Now, um, do I get the job if I drop you? Or if I don't kick hard enough, will I not--?"
"Jesus Christ, enough talking!" Jim yelled. "Just kick me in the family jewels! I'm tired of waiting!"
Robert approached, swung his leg back, and gave Jim the best nut-kicking he'd ever administered to anybody before. The man who might soon be Robert's boss grew red in the face, groaned loudly, grabbed his crotch area and fell over against his desk. In a very strained voice he grunted: "You're hired!"
"Great, when do I start!" Robert said, smiling from ear to ear.
"Right now!" Jim said, still in a strained voice. "And You can start by firing a couple of these extremely incompetent software developers I have. They spend most of their days jerking off in the janitor's closet. And the only thing their programs ever do is yell 'Your shoe is penis!' to the users. Yeah, I don't know, either."
Jim stumbled over to his closet. He brought out another big weapon. It looked like a...
"Flame thrower!" Jim answered before Robert could ask. He stumbled back over to Robert and handed it to him. It was very heavy and almost caused Robert to drop it.
"Oh, you mean literally--?"
"Yes!" Jim interrupted. "It's the best way to fire people. Why not with real fire?! It's time for you to set people on fire for the first time. Just make sure it's only ever on my orders."
"Well, OK," Robert said, a little unsure of himself. "Who are they?"
"Look for Tony and Ben in the back," Jim said, some of the strain gone from his voice. "Ask them if they're hot. No matter what their answer is, you've got to ask them 'Is THIS hot enough for you?!' and then torch them."
"All right," Robert said. Then he left the office to go do his first task at his hot new job.