Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

job hunting

Name of applicant: Tolstoy, Leo (interviewed in England)

We recommend something sensible from Marks & Spencer and a different hairdresser for the candidate to cut a more reputable figure at any future interview. While he scorned the beef sandwiches (although there were cheese and pickle too, and a vegan plate could have been ordered if he had made his dietary preferences clear), his chances truly began to go off when he asked the other candidates and staff how they intended to live moral lives. Even before the questions at his personal interview, he inquired if lepers could be hired as teaching assistants. While Slavically born, educated and souled, he must surely have undertaken his doctoral work in the American Midwest, perhaps with a year abroad in the Middle East, in the company of his fellow zealots. Despite his off-putting air of nobler-by-birth and holier-than-thou, he showed an uncanny understanding of our staff's fatigue, faculty frustrations in the hiring process and the nerves of fellow candidates. Some may consider the insight into people and sweeps of history - which he covered in his 15-minute presentation on the functions of great men, impiety of marriage and destiny of Russia - possibly beneficial. But we opted to forgo a colleague who is both mind reader and messiah. When the committee called to inform him of his rejection, the front desk reported that he had left on a mission to succour British serfs, after disparaging the hotel furniture.

The fates of other applicants — names include Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Austen, and Kafka — may be discovered here.

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