April 22, 2008

Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 8 (Kite Meets an Employment Counselor)

By liam

Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 8 of the my online book "Excited Delirium". Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index .

Kite was asked recently about when he stopped taking the corporate world seriously. At one point in his life, not too many years ago, he still tried to maintain his level of integration with the rest of society and made an effort to get, keep and hold a regular job. Oddly enough, it wasn’t his last job that did it for him, although he did experience significant torture while working with one of the world’s largest marketing organizations. Instead, it was his meeting with Chip Mackenzie, the Scottish-Canadian owner of CapGuard Personnel Management.

He was "in between jobs", the politically correct and less embarrassing term for "out of work and desperately seeking reintegration with society" when he sent a resume to Chip’s firm, thinking it might increase his exposure to some of the opportunities they purported to have on a job-seeking web-site. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

CapGuard Personnel Management was a pathetic shell of an organization built around the ego of one person: Chip Mackenzie. If candidates understood the flimsy association that Chip has with "human resource management" it’s unlikely that anyone would ever take him seriously. That hasn’t stopped Chip from staying in business for more than thirty years and from taking cash from desperate job seekers.

Shortly after sending in his resume, Kite received a call from CapGuard. The woman on the other end sounded nice enough and asked me politely what his schedule would be like over the next week.

“Next Wednesday morning, 10AM?” Kite suggested.


When Kite arrived at their office building, he took an old elevator laminated with cheap looking wood grain to the third floor. The elevator shoved him out into a plain and dull green hallway, the existence of which was only proven by the fact that there were four offices in the various corners of the building. Had it not been for the directional signs, Kite felt it unlikely that another human being would ever find a use for this chunk of cement held in the sky.

The office door was a cousin to the elevator as it had the same look and feel borrowed from the 1970s. As he entered, he took a quick look around and quickly realized that this was a mistake for someone like him. There was a crappy little waiting room that had old copies of Forbes lying on the side table (insecure enough to follow other people’s “trends”), smelled like peppermint toothpaste (poor implementation of bad HR ideas), tired old hangers in the closet that were the cheap white plastic kind that broke easily and not nice wooden ones that you’d find in a successful office place (company going broke or cheap owner), a reception desk that was glassed off to the general public, like a banker’s window (no communication), and an old shag rug that would have made Austin Powers proud: It was lime green and still smelled of tobacco.

As he entered his office (no assistant, no screening process), Kite looked around to get a better grasp of his lifestyle. There was more laminated product, including the arms of the chair opposite his laminated desk. Even the books on his shelf and his picture frames seemed fake. In one frame, there was a picture of Chip’s family and in another, a group photo of he and his golfing buddies (Kite can’t stand golf) each with a fat cigar in their mouths (insert Freudian comment here). There was no diploma hanging over his head and no sign of any kind of communication with the outside world (ie. a computer).

That was the most odd thing. Kite thought to himself: “I’m a techie! What am I doing talking to a sixty year old from the old school in an office that doesn’t have a computer?”

MacKenzie sat in his vinyl chair and had a churlish, smug look on his face (pompous) and didn’t rise to shake my hand when Kite entered his room (rude). Kite plopped himself into the worn vinyl chair (cheap and definitely not cool) in front of Chip’s desk and looked at him as Kite pulled out his note book.

MacKenzie introduced himself and told Kite about the great many things that he had accomplished in his life. For fifteen minutes (dull).

“Shut up, already,” Kite wanted to shout.

All the while, Chip name-dropped as much as possible (insecure), interrupted Kite when he went to speak and finished most of Kite’s comments (rude, again).

He finally stopped ‘introducing himself’ (vain) and said, “Now let’s talk about you.”

Without waiting for Kite to actually say something, he lifted up a copy of Kite’s resume and he started to attack it (jerk).

Kite thought to himself: “Did I hit his mother while driving over?”

“You’re unreliable. You’re unstable. You’re unable to keep a job for more than a couple of years. Your resume is ‘spotty’.”

What Kite heard: “You’re no good. No one wants you. Why are you wasting my time. I’ll tell you why: because you’re going to pay me, that’s why.”

MacKenzie continued: “I can tell you that you’ve searched a lot for a new job and you’ll probably start searching for a job as soon as you land a new one because you’re never satisfied with what you’ve got.”

He continued and asked, rhetorically: “How many times have you been fired compared to the number of times you’ve actually left voluntarily?”

“He’s setting me up,” Kite thought to himself. At any moment, he imagined that Chip would start pulling out Kite’s finger nails one by one and begin eating them right in front of him.

“This is awful,” Kite shouted in his head while he nodded blindly to the heap in front of him. “He’s bullying me. I’m being torn apart verbally and he’s kicking me when I’m down.”

The moment Kite had this epiphany and realized what was happening, he stopped paying attention and told himself to just sit in and see what else he could learn from this clown and what he would actually want to charge him for an extended version of this abuse.

As he came to this realization, it was where he consistently pushed all of his questions: “what will this cost, you scammer?”

Chip MacKenzie continued on about skills Kite needed and talents he would have to showcase to prospective employers. An old-world speech well rehearsed and lobbed at thousands before, hoping for that one-in-a-thousand people that will finally buy in to the shit that he was shoveling.

After about 20 minutes of pure garbage – and we’re talking ripe, steaming hot-out-of-the-ass bullshit about how great this guy was and how he and his company were going to get Kite a company car, a pension, a signing bonus, travel allowance and so on – Chip ventured to do this little test on his prospect.

It was an estimate of how Kite would rate on a scale of 1-5 for a couple of key characteristics. He wrote his down on the back of his pad. He then asked Kite to rate himself for confidence and motivation. It turned out that Kite was a 2-5, a perfect combination to be a successful student of his program.

What a wonderful coincidence.

“We can change that, you see,” he said in his think and probably fake Scottish brogue. “With our program, we’ll boost your confidence and get you all of those things that I mentioned and more. You will get 120% of your target revenue because we’ll teach you how.”

“And let me tell you,” he announced, “you won’t have to pay what you think it might cost to get there. It won’t cost you $15,000. It won’t even cost you $12,000.”

The alarm went off and Kite thought to himself: “What … was I all of a sudden a Ronco product up for sale on late-night TV? No … wait. I think what he’s doing is throwing ball-park numbers out there to guage my reaction. If I show any sign of interest as he moves his way down, he’ll likely stop.”

“When you’re finished with the program,” MacKenzie continued, sounding like a cheap Sean Connery, “you’ll be very happy with what you’ve paid.”

“And how much is that, exactly,” Kite asked mischievously, trying not to show that he was fully aware that he was being baited.

“You’ll find out when you come to our next session,” was all Chip would offer. “Now please take note in your book: you are being invited for another session. This will be your briefing and review before we launch into the complete program,” he said, think with confidence that Kite would be buying into the right thing. “I think we’ll be able to help you for sure,” he added as a quick afterthought.

Kite paused for a few moments, pretending that he was writing down some important bon mots of wisdom from the great Chip MacKenzie.

“You know …” Kite said slowly, “I’ve also done my rating of you. Would you like to see it?” The temptation to go too far and use a fake Scottish accent was squelched by a fleeting sense of kindness.

He looked a little surprised. He paused, cocked his head and smiled saying “Absolutely. It seems like you’re a quick learner,” with just a little hint of uneasiness.

Kite turned his pad around and on it was clearly written in very large letters, drawn to look like a 3-d image:


With that, he got up out of his crappy chair, turned and left without even looking at him.

Thus endeth my search for a real job and thus beginneth my life in the world of corporate intelligence.

(Note: "Excited Delirium" is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)

Read more with Chapter 9

Did you miss a chapter? If so, click here to see all chapters or click here to go to Excited Delirium: Chapter 1 (Prelude)

Creative Commons License
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .