The assessment panel is in place to choose the candidate for the post of Deputy-Sub-Director of Potential Parliamentary Issues/Media Consultant after the job offer was launched in the Government Gazette and the respective curricula vitae were sent. One of the candidates sits waiting smugly - so smugly you would think the job was already his.
The interview room is buzzing with nervous anticipation as the jury fidgets in the uncomfortable wooden chairs getting ready to assess the performance of three candidates for the post of Deputy-Sub-Director of Potential Parliamentary Issues/Media Consultant. First on the short-list, a Senior Politician, followed by a Senior Executive from the Banking Sector and then, a Media Consultant.
The following minimum requirements for the job were posted in the Government Gazette:
Male, 59 years old. A national. Exclusively worked in public sector for 30 years minimum. Speaks English, Lithuanian and Latvian. No previous media experience required.
Chair of the Panel: Ah please come in Alan, I mean Mr. Hogg. Come in and take a seat. How's your handicap these days?
Mr. Hogg: Thanks (sniff), not bad... now this had better be brief, I have an important lunch to go to at the golf club.
Chair: Yes, so sorry Mr. Hogg. We'll try to get finished as soon as possible. So could you summarize your career so far?
Mr. Hogg: Yes, I've been in public service for the last thirty years. During that time I closed down factories, sold off fisheries, shut hospitals, closed schools, I laid off two and a half million workers, destroying well over a million and a half families and directly affecting some fifteen million people...negatively of course (chuckles and general laughter). I involved my country in four unnecessary and illegal wars in which six million people were killed or injured, and I am responsible for leaving vast swathes of territory poisonous or radioactive, occasioning the terminal illness of some seven hundred thousand children (sniff).
Let me see (sniff) what else...erm...oh! I arbitrarily blocked the entry of spouses of nationals earning under twenty-five thousand a year, destroying some seventeen thousand families and creating the phenomenon of Skype Mum and Skype Dad (sniff) (chuckles all round) and I deported illegal aliens, destroying another two hundred and seventy-three thousand families. I...er...I...er...I...er ordered the bombing of several countries, following my grandfather's precept "The darker the skin, the worse the person" (general laughter) and so I think I could be held directly responsible for some two hundred million people hating our guts...but what's good for the goose is good for the gander, eh what? (general guffaws of laughter).
Ah, and I cancelled school lunches, meaning twenty-three per cent of schoolochildren go hungry (applause), I cut social benefit meaning that for the first time in our history since Medieval times we have families with no money to place food on the table and I personally marginalized a further twenty per cent of the residents in our inner cities. Plus...(raises his head skywards and lets out a sonorous belch) (The panel collapses) Plus...we have more people dying every day from hypothermia and rotting teeth than in the time of European Colonization!!
Chair: Hmmm, impressive performance indeed. And all this without any personal gain?
Mr. Hogg: Ah come on now, do you think I am stupid or what? (the panel is table-slapping, rocking back and forth) (one panel member is heard breaking wind). Why do you think I'm in public service? To feather the nests of Tom, Dick and Harry? No, no! (general laughter). No! I was a member of several lobbies, at one time I was in the pay of the Six BARFFS - the Banking, Arms, eneRgy, Finance, Food and pharmaceuticalS lobbies - and I was responsible for overlooking the transfer of some tens of millions into offshore accounts and got a handsome pay-back for each.
Chair: Hmmmm, sounds like you have been quite busy. Well we like an active sort of chap. Now, your mother was a Latvian wasn't she?
Mr. Hogg: Yes and my granny was a Lithuanian so I speak both languages reasonably well.
Chair: Righty-ho! And er...how old are you, Mr. Hogg?
Mr. Hogg: Er...fifty-eight?
Chair: Fifty-nine very soon then! OK won't keep you any longer, sorry to have taken up your time! Haven't had such a good laugh for ages, thanks Alan, Cheers!
Chair: Sit down, Mrs. Banks!
Ms. Banks: Ms. Banks
Chair: Ah so you have an attitude! Won't get you very far in government you know!
Panel member: Ms. Banks could you give us a general run-down of your career so far?
Ms. Banks: Well it's all on the CV you have in front of you. I would be happy to answer any specific questions you have on my performance, past and future.
Chair: Think you're a smart-ass do you?
Ms. Banks: If you are referring to how I would highlight my professional curriculum, I would say that I have taken some wise decisions. For instance I downsized all our executive operations, outsourcing services, cutting some 230,000 jobs worldwide and reducing our workforce some four-fold. The oursourcing meant that the quality of the service became extremely poor (panel nodding in approval) so much so that our customers could never reach a human voice when they made a complaint (panel goes "hmmmm")
Chair: I see...carry on!
Ms. Banks: I...I automated our services so that when the customers came into a bank and asked to speak to someone...
Chair: (Slamming his fist on the table) ...you said What do you think this is, a freakin' dating agency? (roaring with laughter) (panel collapses, curled up giggling)
Ms. Banks: (smirking) Well more or less. There is one human in every branch for at least five minutes every day. If the customers insist on speaking to someone, we charge them a conversation charge and refer them to the automatic machine.
Chair: (nodding vigorously) Meaning that they still don't actually speak to anyone but they still pay a charge?
Ms. Banks: Basically, yes!
Chair: Well I see I underestimated you, Ms. Banks. OK well that seems to be that for now, don't call us, we'll call you!
Chair: What do you want?
Candidate: I...er...came for the job interview, the one for media consultant?
Chair: Oh all right then, what's your line of work?
Candidate: I'm a media consultant
Chair: Overqualified, **** off!
Candidate: You posted an advertisement for a media consultant. I am an experienced media consultant. I gave up my last job to be here, it took me three days to get here and the least you can do is hear me out even if the job has already been allocated.
Chair: (sigh) It has. Go on then...
Candidate: OK I speak ten languages fluently, including the ones in your job specification, as Media Consultant I have worked in the area of printed, online and broadcast media - TV and radio - and have occupied all the positions from junior correspondent to owner. I built up three media groups in three continents, all of them with eight-digit value tags and in so doing I created thousands of jobs, lifted tens of thousands of families out of poverty, launched thousands of scholarships, decreased marginalization, increased inclusiveness, contributed towards women's empowerment, firing one person in thirty-seven years, donating a lot of money and resources to charities.
Chair: Self-important ponce, conceited stuck-up know-it-all. You're just the type of shit we want nowhere near Government. I bet your son steals strawberries when you aren't looking. Police!! (pointing at the candidate) Thief!! Thief!!
Planet Earth 2017.
Photo credit: By WarpFlyght - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2018243
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.