Narcolepsy

Today, I dusted off my heels, took a lint remover to my dark linen suit and with the assistance of some “super shaper panties” squeezed my rear into a tried and true ensemble. I was looking and feeling like a million bucks. Not only that … this time I knew the drill … where to go, which elevator to take and just how to announce my presence. I’d done this before and was getting pretty good at it.

Maybe it was the alarm sounding as I entered the building or the group of staff members appearing to evacuate a distant medical wing. As I waited for the elevator doors to slide open, my casual inquiry of those appearing to flee building was met with an unnerving response. “You’re okay, it’s only our quadrant that must be vacated.” As their footsteps retreated toward salvation, I weighed my options. Having glimpsed no signs warning of nuclear hazards and smelling no smoke, I decided to take the risk.

The lonely elevator ride to the top allowed me to straighten my suit coat and wipe the perspiration from my brow. What is it they say about not letting them see you sweat? I was asked to take a seat and perused the magazine selection while the receptionist attempted to track down the Chief Operating Officer to advise him of my arrival. As is my normal custom, I had arrived early and expected there to be a brief wait. It made sense to occupy myself with a bit of reading material the choice of which might reflect greatly upon one’s perception of my professionalism. While I wanted to reach for Reader’s Digest or Southern Living, I instead feigned interest in the Journal of Cardiology and Barron’s Weekly.

He appeared out of nowhere looking like a cross between a mad scientist and a diminutive accountant. His quick steps and hunched shoulders indicated a man carrying the weight of management issues inherent to a department the nets $50m. I liked him immediately. Understanding him was a different matter. His office was small and cramped. Filing cabinets overflowed with statistical reports, bookcases were piled high with spreadsheets and the plaques on his office wall indicated 18 years of stellar service as an Operations/Financial Administrator. He clearly liked his job and his job liked him.

I took a seat at his desk (the only chair in the room) and awaited his return with a secondary rump rest. Once he was seated, I realized that yet again I was in for an unconventional interview. The bottled water and wrapped sandwich hinted at a lunch uneaten, and I became immediately concerned as I noticed a slight shaking of the hands and eyelids that drooped significantly. I continued to make eye contact, which was no small effort given that his pupils were more often than not completely obscured. I had come prepared to use the appropriate lingo and with sample spreadsheets and strategic plans in hand. I had not come prepared to play nursemaid to a diabetic or epileptic. Thank God I was in a medical center!

As our conversation progressed, it became clear that my qualifications were not in question. In fact, as I had encountered in the previous interviews, I was coming face to face with someone interested in ensuring that any concerns I might have regarding the position were addressed. The right job fit makes for happy employees or so one hopes. While this was all well and good, any hope I had in coming away with a better understanding of the organization and it’s structure were soon dashed as the man sitting across from me began to slur his words. The fact that his responses were uttered at barely an audible whisper made him all the more difficult to understand.

Throwing caution to the wind, I waited for the most appropriate moment and suggested that he should feel free to eat lunch while we chatted.

“I’ve already eaten lunch.” He said. “But thank you.”

I was dumbfounded. Was I on Candid Camera? Was the Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Internal Medicine actually planning to sleep through my interview? And if he ceased talking altogether, should I slip out of the office leaving behind a note thanking him for his time.

“I have a sleep disorder.” He remarked casually with closed eyelids. “If I cease to make sense, just nudge me awake.”

The irony of the moment was not lost on me. How long had I spent in front of the mirror ensuring my eyebrows were properly plucked, lipstick applied perfectly, nails buffed to a high shine? I had used extra starch to ensure that my linen suit looked crisp. I had even used Crest Whitening Strips to add a sparkle to my teeth. And for what? I was interviewing with a narcoleptic whose most significant sleep episodes seemed to occur between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.! When I walked away an hour later knowing little more than I did when I had arrived, I was certain of one thing … these were my kind of people. I would feel right at home.

I have yet another interview. The final I hope. I’m recycling the linen suit and hoping this time around all parties will remain awake during our session.

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