Are they recruiting secret agents?

So I told you about the time when the security guard stopped me because I was too hot. I went for an interview, and it ended with stepping into the company building. This is where the story continues…

[What follows had been highly exaggerated for entertainment purposes. About 72.59% of it was created out of thin air.]

Bright lobby
[image by Freezingtime]

The gigantic lobby was brightly lit. The company representative had said nothing other than “Follow me” since I passed the security heat scan. He moved purposefully to the lifts and pressed a button.

I noticed the receptionist was staring at me. Not with adoration, sadly, but with an ever so slight frown on her face. The lift doors opened, and she went back to looking at her computer screen. The representative had already went into the lift, and I moved in quickly.

He pressed the button “B3”. We’re going below ground? He faced the button panel in a stiff manner, and I didn’t dare to engage him in conversation.

The doors opened, and I saw a long hallway stretching away from me. He exited the lift and I followed suit.

*Glung glong glung glong* The sound of our footsteps echoed emptily in the hallway. The tiled floor was clinically white. The walls were a uniform washed out grey, devoid of decorations.

I was half-expecting a door on the side to break the monotony when the representative stopped. A glass door was in front of us! There was a security panel on the right.

“Please move to behind me.” It wasn’t a request.

I practically leapt behind him, for fear of lasers sweeping the hallway. But the curiosity in me won. I took a quick peek at what he’s doing at the security panel. I mean, it’s not everyday you see retinal and fingerprint scans in action. But he’s just entering a few digits on the security panel. Oh, he just didn’t want me seeing him entering his passcode.

The glass doors opened with an almost imperceptible swoosh. I waited for him to take the lead, but he stayed where he was.

“This is as far as I can take you.”

I stared at him incredulously. “Uh, how do I get to where I’m supposed to go then?”

“Go down the hallway. When you reach the fork, turn right. There’ll be a room at the end. Wait there. Your interviewer will be a bit late.”

I almost wanted to ask him how was I supposed to return to civilisation when he turned abruptly and walked swiftly back to the lift. I went past the glass doors and they swooshed shut. My throat constricted a bit.

Following his instructions, I found the door leading to the room he mentioned. My hands shook while I turned the door knob. I entered the room.

It was a fairly large room. There was another door on the other side of the room. The lighting was uneven, where the brightest part was on a corner. Coincidentally, that’s where a table and two chairs reside (the only pieces of furniture in the room). A ceiling light flickered at the darker regions, momentarily allowing me to see… nothing there. The walls were the same pale grey, and even the light switches blended into the walls. The only thing missing in the room was a polygraph near the table. I swallowed.

There was a sign on the wall, near the table. I moved closer to read it, happy to see any form of decoration. It was a “No camera phones allowed” sign. My heart jumped, and I instinctively touched my pockets where my camera phone rested.

“I am so dead.”

After waiting for ten minutes, I decided they wouldn’t kill me if I sat down first. I placed my briefcase against the leg of the table, and mentally rehearsed what I was going to say. I had to tell the interviewer about my camera phone, of course. Checking that I had extra copies of my resume and academic accomplishments did nothing to calm me.

I jumped when a door opened. The interviewer came in from the other side of the room. “Sit down,” he said, a smile on his face. “I’m sorry I was late. Held up by a meeting.”

“I have to tell you this. I have a camera phone, but I’ve already switch it off.”
“Oh. It’s ok.”

He proceeded with what I felt were standard interview protocol. I was still in shock, when he threw an unexpected “I have a grandfather’s clock and it’s faster than my watch. Should I shorten or lengthen the pendulum?” I stared at him for a few seconds before answering. He must have sensed my confusion, because he said, “Oh it’s not part of the interview. I’m just curious.”

Then he showed me a piece of code on string concatenation and asked me how to make it faster. Then he showed me another piece of code, and asked about the rounding errors of the monetary calculations (oh I know that one!).

Finally, it ended. He told me he had to attend to something, and he couldn’t take me back (to the surface). But it should be easy that I retrace my steps back to the glass doors. Someone would pick me up from there. He exited via the same door he came in. I packed my stuff and left the room too.

Retracing my steps, I found the glass doors. And the representative waiting for me. How did he know when my interview would finish? As I walked towards the glass doors, he entered his passcode, and the doors slid open.

He took me wordlessly through the (endless) hallway, back to the lift, back to ground floor, past the (cute) receptionist, and out into the afternoon sun. “Thank you for your time, and we’ll be in touch.” was all he said.

I’m just glad I’m still alive.