‘Do you have a fire in your belly?’
‘Are you passionate about serving the community? This isn’t just a job, you know. It’s a
lifestyle.’ This idiot in his cheap business shirt with sweat stains in the armpits and nylon tie
looked smug and simple-minded. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I wasn’t applying to join
the Police or the Fire Service. This was Buzz Boys; a budget lawn mowing service. I don’t
need passion or a fire in my belly to cut the grass.
Within minutes the interview was over and I knew I hadn’t made the cut. I hadn’t even tried
grovelling or false flattery. Dejected, I headed for home.
That afternoon I went across the street to have a whinge with Shelly. We’d graduated from
high school last week and needed part-time work to help with university.
Shelly pushed a glass of homemade iced tea in my hand and we took seats on her patio.
‘Today I had an interview with a fat, ignorant toad with B.O. He asked if I had an ardent
passion to join his team. I nearly accused him of sexual harassment.’ I laughed and took a
swig of iced tea. ‘He said he and the team were proud of the uniform.’
‘What were you applying for, the Foreign Legion?’
‘Ha! Check-out chick at the supermarket. The toad kicked me out in under four minutes. I
mean, you’re starting Engineering and I’m doing Business Admin. It’s insulting when the
unwashed and unlettered dare to talk down to us.’
‘Tell me about it. Yesterday a dried-up old biddy accused me of being flippant! I was only
applying for a job selling plastic tat! She said I should have a flame of enthusiasm.’ Shelly
snickered. ‘She said working at Crazy Carlos Discount Warehouse was a career!’
‘They resent us, because we’ll have a real career and a shiny new university diploma to
hang on the wall. They can’t aspire to anything beyond unskilled dead-end jobs.’
I nodded and had another drink before all the ice cubes melted.
Shelly’s mum came home lugging a briefcase and two bagsful of groceries. She
commiserated with us and said nothing much had changed since she was applying for her
first job. ‘You have to decide what’s more important; poverty and dignity, or swallowing
your pride in order to get the blessed job. What’s your next interview, Robbie?’
‘The Burger Barn. Hard to whip up enthusiasm for rubbishy junk food in a so-called family
restaurant painted in primary colours.’
‘Pretend that you’re an actor.’ I looked blankly at Shelly and her mum. ‘You were quite
good in the senior musical, Robbie. Just play the eager young puppy. Not too bright, but keen
to join the ranks of the minimum wage slaves at your very favourite teen hang-out.’
‘Excuse me, Mum, I think I need to throw up.’ The three of us laughed and moved on to
other, more enjoyable topics of conversation.
‘Is your heart a burning?’ asked my interviewer. He was obese, had bad breath, greasy hair,
a bad haircut and a cheesy moustache.
‘You mean for service in the Burger Barn, Sir?’ I asked, playing the dopey but well-
meaning young man for all it was worth. My interviewer concurred, exhaling onion breath.
‘Yes, Sir! Food insecurity is a serious problem all around the world. I’d be proud to solve
community hunger at the grassroots level.’ I wondered if I’d accidentally used too many big
words, so I concluded with a couple of exaggerated nods.
I reckoned I may as well reel him in while he was on my line. ‘They say that the Burger
Barn menu makes up an essential part of the Healthy Food Pyramid! Low sugar, low salt, low
grease burgers, chips and drinks are necessary to achieve good health. And the prices at the
Burger Barn are competitive. And the free gift in the Happy Meal is a really good way of
getting children into a lifelong habit of eating at the Burger Barn.’ I wondered if I’d said
‘Burger Barn’ enough to rate as a brain-washed loyal consumer.
‘Healthy Food Pyramid?’ Fatso remarked, thinking hard with his limited supply of brain
cells. ‘That might suit our next advertising campaign. I’ll suggest it to the home office.’ I
smiled happily. If he thinks he can get a kickback from the home office using that ridiculous
suggestion, good on him.
‘You’ll have to learn how to clean, run the fryer and dispense the drinks.’ I sat up even
straighter and made my eyes gleam with enthusiasm. ‘How soon can you start?’
He chuckled in a condescending manner. I didn’t care. I got the job!
That evening Shelly came over to announce a successful job interview, using her mum’s