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Rated: E · Short Story · Career · #1480206
Charles liked change.
Charles Hemingway von Liechtenstein had never really been a man of consistency. When he was younger it seemed perfectly normal: All the boys wanted to be firemen one day and astronauts the next. The difference between Charles and the other boys was that his flippancy did not wither with age.

“It’s simple really,” Charles would say, “I like change.”

That is why, at thirty seven years of age he was sitting in the waiting room for his one hundred and fifth visit to a temporary placement agency. They didn’t know him as a regular at the Thomas Avenue location of Labor Empowerment Inc., which greatly increased his likelihood of finding a new position.

“Mister Williams?”

“That’s me,” Charles said as he stood and faced the young agent. Charles Williams was his legal name but he liked Charles Hemingway von Liechtenstein better.

The agent was prettier than the previous three female agents he could remember. The polished name plaque positioned diagonally on the corner of her desk read “Anna Colman – Junior Account Specialist.” Pictures of Anna and her co-workers at various company functions cycled through the digital picture frame on the other side of her desk. Nestled in the center of the Birchwood workspace was a freshly printed copy of Charles William’s résumé below carefully aligned pens and highlighters.

Anna motioned for Charles to sit in the chair to the side of her desk. The gesture was made with her left hand which was noticeably lacking any jewelry. It was a dark, slender hand adorned with recently pruned French tip nails. Charles liked nails.

“I was reviewing your experience with a few of my colleagues,” she started, “and we were wondering what exactly you were looking for.”

They were probably laughing at it. Some people didn't understand real experience. He could feel their eyes focused on him, awaiting his response. He stammered. He always stammered when people were watching for him to mess up.

“What I mean is, we place many positions and were wondering your, uh, your focus.”

Charles ignored the penetrating eyes and said resolutely, “I like change.”

“I see you have been a welder in San Francisco, an assistant press secretary in Portland, and even a ranch hand in Iowa, so what are you looking for here? How long do you plan on staying in the Valley?”

“I guess I am looking for a job is all. I tend to stay in places as long as it suits.”

“So nothing permanent?”

“I guess if I found the right job it could be.”

“Depends what you want.”

“I want a job. Jobs give me money, that pays for rent, which allows for a place to lay my head or a lucky young lady,” he winked at Anna.

She ignored the gesture and said, “Any specialized knowledge?”

“Unless you count an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts.”

“Not usually.”

He sighed and said, “They never do.”

“Could you tell me what you might be looking for in a job?”


“Right, so what would you like to do?”

“I don't know,” Charles said, “Things get boring so quickly. I know what I don't like doing.”

"That could help."

"If it's on that list there, I don't like it," he said while jabbing his index finger at the center of his seven page résumé.

“So, you want something you haven’t done before.”

“Probably a safe bet sweetie, whatcha got?”

“It is tough to search our database for ‘jobs not already had by Charles Williams,’ so specifics would be nice.”

“It’s von Liechtenstein.”


“Nevermind,” she wouldn't understand.

“Fine. What hourly rate are you looking for?”

“About as much as I can get.”

“Most of our clients are placed anywhere from $5 to $50 per hour and…”

Charles interrupted, “I am guessing that $50 per hour is a bit higher than I could fetch, and $5 sounds mean. Howsabout lookin’ for $40.”

“And our under-skilled placements are usually at the lower end of that scale.”

“Then why are you asking me if you already know what I can make?”

Anna said, “Force of habit. What is the least you can live on?”

“I am guessing I could live off of $1 a day like those African kids with the flies on them. I probably wouldn’t make it as one of them though. I hate flies.”

She tried a different tactic by saying, “How much is your rent?”

“Don’t have a place to live here yet, need a job first.”

Anna tried again by asking, “How much did your last job pay you?”

“It had to have been around $200 a week.”

“What are some of your skills you would bring to a company?”

Charles recited, “Great interpersonal communication.”

Anna laughed and caught herself, “Anything else?”

“No, that will be all,” he said as he stood up, “Thank you for your time.”
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