Who’s The Boss?!

By Curtis Hewston

It doesn’t happen often, but I sometimes experience that warm glow of validation from afar. You might know how it works. You think a thing, but you keep it to yourself like another shameful memory, or you dare to share it with another soul and it’s a game-ending pop-up. It hits the left upright. It rattles out. Some folks, I’ve learned, are better validators than others. Wingnuts are the best. They’ll agree with anything, and in direct proportion to their wingnuttiness. Doctors are the worst. They hate it when you come to them with your diagnosis, and when you’re right, you’ve made an enemy for the short remainder of your life.

One of my favorite strokes from our collective consciousness came from Keith Olbermann. I was learning to come to terms with Glenn-Beck-who-haunts-me and I landed psychically on Andy Griffith — not the one from Mayberry, the one from Arkansas, in the 1957 Elia Kazan film A Face In The Crowd. And lo and behold, the very next night, Keith unveils our “Lonesome Rhodes” Beck meme to a national cable audience. Glenn “Lonesome Rhodes” Beck! Yes! Eureka! I have found it!

Well, it’s happened again. My validator du jour is Norman Goldman. And we’re both wondering why more of us don’t get it. This is election time. Democracy is in motion. It’s silly season. Our American menagerie has come looking for a job. They are here for an interview. They want to work for us, and we get the government we hire. Well, dammit then! Commence! Be the boss!

Once the job is posted — in our case, in the Constitution — most hiring processes begin with the boss poring over a slush pile of resumes. Fortunately, if you’re even remotely capable, you can weed out 90 percent of your candidates. You know, if the can’t spell “potato,” for instance. Or perhaps their employment record is a bit spotty in relation to the desired position. Let’s see. City council, small-town mayor, half-term governor, wants to be vice president of the United States. It’s a no-brainer. “We regret to inform you … but we’ll keep your resume on file, and should a position commensurate with your qualifications ….”

Even less brainier than none, once a little diligence is applied, is your decision to 86 the falsified resumes. Say an applicant claims to have attended Oxford University when a cursory check reveals her single summer course there was operated by the Phoenix Institute. Where there’s smoke, there’s not always a fire, but there sure is gonna be a lot more smoke. (Pro tip: The Military Service section of the resume also requires special attention.)

Or suppose you have an opening for the highest executive office in your troubled state of California, and you see the applicant not only hasn’t ever held elected office, you learn she has never even voted. Voting is kind of important. This would not bode well for the future of your state’s democracy. It’s a tedious process, I know, but you must move on.

Having come to the interview portion of your hiring endeavor, you should be alert for a few red flags — or red, white and blue ones, masted to a cross. Appearances are not really all that deceiving to the experienced interviewer. There are those who will be less than honorable in discussing their fellow candidates. Listen for such tell-tale vocabulary as “so yesterday,” “unmanly,” “Marxist” and “whore.”

Unclear answers are not positives. If, for instance, to the question, “Do you believe evolution is a myth?” you hear, “I believe that the local, I was talking about what a local school, taught, and that should be taught, that should be decided on the local community …. What I believe is irrelevant …,” you might not have your ideal candidate. Remember, if it sounds like complete bullshit, it probably is. Besides, you, as the interviewer, get to decide what the relevant questions are.

And along those lines, at some point in the interview, your candidate might announce, “We’ve drawn a line in the sand. You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues — I’m not going to answer.” You are permitted to show him the door. If, say, your interviewee accuses you of stalking his illegitimate, 10-year-old daughter and threatens to “take you out, buddy,” then ditto. He’s probably not a good match.

This brings us to the hiring. With just a modicum of due diligence, you have weeded out the contenders with relative ease. You only have to trust your instincts and be a little smarter, and in 2010, that’s not too awfully hard. Most of them are dumber than a bag of hammers and twice as clunky. From those who remain under consideration, we must choose carefully. These are bad times. They can get better. They can get much worse. On November 2, we decide. We’re the boss.

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  1. [...] to Saturday’s post Who’s the Boss?, no, candidate for our job opening as U.S. senator, you may not arrest your interviewer. We wish [...]

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