Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How I Met [REDACTED] Part II

Blackstone had the convex face of the true WASP, the ruddy hatchet profile of an Updike or any 19th Century governor of the commonwealth. He stood about 6’5’’ and was mostly thin through his arms and legs, but his stomach supported a paunch that suggested either an incipient tumor or a miracle-of-nature male pregnancy. His face had no hair on it and you could observe that the expanse of his forehead grew wider nightly. When I went to his mother’s house in Hingham to interview for the job, I shook his hand and found it doughy and cold.

He sat me down in his mother’s living room for the job interview. The d├ęcor mashed together nautical themed knickknacks and wall hangings (a porthole mirror was mounted above the sofa) with linen doilies and tiny birds crafted from Pyrex glass. He asked me if I had ever painted anything before. I told him that I had and that sufficed for him. He asked no more questions about my technical abilities with paint and brush or rollers. Instead, he began to drill me on character issues.

The first question, “Do you drink?” came with it’s own implicit correct answer. Even in college I knew that if anyone other than your own personal doctor asks you if you drink, you reply “Socially.” If someone interviewing you for a job asks you if you drink, you say “No” no with a flat, undefensive tone, otherwise you come off as protesting too much. Blackstone then asked if I did drugs, had ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, committed perjury, been fired from a job, missed an appointment, neglected to return a library book on time or broken the speed limit. I answered “No” to all inquiries. With the exception of the fealony conviction and the perjury, these were all lies.

Without any explicit offer, he then steered the conversation to my responsibilities as an employee of College Pro Painters. I could not smoke on the job, nor could I ever bare my chest, even on the hottest days. I could not curse, burp or fart. If I chewed with my mouth open, my pay would be docked. I would arrive on time, work until I was told I could leave, provide my own transporation and pay for my own paint brushes. I then realized that College Pro Painters was all about marketing itself as “Not Drunks Painting.” Even though I wanted none of that, I accepted the job. The following day I was to return to his mother’s house.

For our first job of the summer we would paint the sagging Blackstone manse.

This, I figured, was another perk of buying a College Pro franchise. It probably went a long way towards convincing Mrs Blackstone to put up the ten or fifteen grand it cost to get the business off the ground. As I drove down the South East expressway the following morning, this struck me as good and just. I would get paid, what did I care that his mom was getting a freebie?

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