Roots and Circle May 7, 2021

The Candidate

It has been a long while since we’ve interviewed a candidate for this position. Just about forty-nine years, and my body has aged quite a bit since then. The mind is losing focus, and in the mirror, I notice that my shoulders are beginning to bow a bit. We’ve never let me get this physically old before. Even though this is a part of our strategy, I’m going to be honest with you, if a transition isn’t made soon, it’s possible I may actually die.

The sound of that isn’t half bad. It’s just that after making it back to New Orleans six or so years ago, I was kind of hoping to enjoy being home with a bit more pep in my step. Not as a man who can barely bend over to tie his own shoes.

“Papa,” Cammie said as she popped her head into my suite, “the candidate is here.”

“Thank you, Cammie. Send him in.”

So, today is the big day, and I am anxious to see who the trinity picked out this time.

“Here you are, sir.” Cammie is going to have to play the role of secretary for a little while as we train our new candidate.

Being careful not to throw my back out, I rise from the sofa and shuffle across the room to greet the young man.  

“Papa,” Cammie begins the introductions, “this is Mark Warrant, the gentleman who is applying for the General Manager position. Mr. Warrant, this is Papa.”

I extend my hand in greeting, as does he.

Firm grip in this one. He’s strong. Excellent.

“You said your last name’s Warrant?” I ask, looking him in the eyes and then giving a quick glance at Cammie.

“Yes, sir,” he answers. “Mark Warrant. It’s very nice to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you too,” I respond as I gesture him toward the couch. One more glance at Cammie, who is innocently smiling on the outside, and laughing her ass off on the inside. “Here, have a seat.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“You’re welcome,” I say as I make my way to the seat across from him. Now to sit down. Back just hold on a little while longer.

“Well, I’ll leave you two gentlemen to get acquainted,” Cammie says as she makes her way to the door. “I’ll be right outside here if you need anything.”

“Thank you, Cammie.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

I take a moment to look him over. Definitely in his mid-twenties, strong and handsome, almost pretty in a way. I wonder what type of work he’s done. No part of him seems aged at all. I bet his back isn’t giving him shit.

I’ve never really had much say in who the candidates are. The ladies tell me that it’s better if I just let them take care of scoping out the field. I’m always curious as to what they are going to bring me and trust whatever means of justification they agree upon among themselves. The days leading up to my part of the interview are always filled with them giggling amongst themselves, all the while knowing that I am just over here sitting in the dark.

I do have to say as I look at this one, those girls have good taste. I mean, I used to be young and handsome like this one oh so many decades ago.

“So, Mark,” I begin, “may I call you that?”

“Absolutely, sir.”

They picked out a gentleman again.

“Well, Mark, you can call me Papa,” my script began. “The girls insist on it, and honestly, I find it’s best to just do as I’m told when it comes to them.”

I let out a laugh to signal to him that this point is a running joke between everyone on staff. I’m kind of going to miss this distinguished old man laugh that I have.

He laughs as I settle into the comfort of the couch.

“In fact,” I continue, “I don’t have any say at all whether or not you get this job. If you are here, they have already made the decision. They haven’t been wrong yet, and I have found it best just to do as I’m told. Do you understand?”

“Um, yes,” he hesitates, “and no, sir?” Mark shifts in his chair a bit.

Nice kid. So polite.

“No worries, son,” I affirm. “No worries.”

“Yes, sir,” he says as he attempts to find that sweet spot of body language in an interview.

He doesn’t seem to have experience in any of this.

“Please, call me Papa,” I say with a wink. “Remember, the ladies insist, and they run things around here.”

“Yes, Papa. You’ve said that,” he says with a chuckle that sounds relatively comfortable.

Ah, good. He’s settling in.

Now it’s time to turn to business. You see, I only have one function in this process. My job is to develop a connection and to build trust. Those two elements are going to be crucial in the coming weeks. It’s very important that Mark feels like he is a part of the family. Otherwise, things could potentially get messy down the line.

“Do you have a family, Mark?” I inquire.

“No, sir.” He pauses. “I mean, no, Papa.”

They have never had a family. The ladies are staying consistent.

“Well, I have a feeling you’re going to feel right at home with us.”

A smile comes upon his face in the most natural of ways. It makes me wonder where they found this guy. I’ve grown to understand that the Trinity tends to bring candidates into the picture who almost need me as much as I need them.  

The last candidate was a fiery soul. He was completely undisciplined and violent. When they brought him to me, my first thought was, what kind of back-alley bar brawl did you drag this guy away from? Of course, it was a perfect match. At that time, I was physically much younger than I am today. I was in my mid-thirties and had just spent 21 years studying Ninjutsu in Japan. Let’s just say that back then, I needed something to assist me in some of my anger and self-discipline issues. That man needed something from me, and well, I needed something from him.

Something tells me that they know he needs a grandpa right now. Funny ladies.

“Mark, let me tell you what I’m going to need from you. You ready to hear it?”

He nods in agreement with that charming smile.

Good boy.

“My job is simple around here. I meet and greet our guests and make sure that they feel right at home. Some of our guests are regulars, and you will learn their ways. Others are passing through New Orleans as tourists. Those folks are drawn here because this place, this city, has a way of calling out to you. Do you know what I mean?”

“Oh yes, Papa,” he agrees. “I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

Well, I’m sure you have your reasons.

“Excellent,” I affirm with excitement. “Excellent. Remember that because that is what is going to make people like you. See, people are drawn here, and then when they arrive, they feel like the story of this city is their story too. Are you still tracking?”

“I believe so, Papa.”

“Your job is to make them feel welcome and help them believe in the magick that this city is immersed in. In essence, Mark, for you to be successful in this work, you are going to need to become a part of the story, of the experience. Your main job is going to be that of a storyteller.”

“I can do that, Papa,” Mark assures me.

“Good. You’re going to be my shadow,” I continue. “And that is going to be important for two reasons. First, you’ll get to watch me do what I do, and I’ll get to watch you do what you do. And then we’ll talk about it, and I’ll help you find your voice. Good?”

Mark nods.

“And secondly,” I begin to wrap up my pitch, “and this is the most important part.”

I pause for effect and leans in. He leans in too.

So innocently eager.

“Truth is, Mark, I’m an old man now. I don’t get around as well as I used to. Sometimes I lose my balance and have to catch myself. The aging process has not been kind to me recently. I get tired during the afternoon, and I just want to take a nap.”

We both sit back a little bit and laugh at my attempt at improv humor.

“I’m going to be relying on you, Mark, for your strength. The ladies take care of all the nuts and bolts of running this place. My physical limitations are causing me to feel like a burden. Can you help me with that?”

He nods slowly with compassion in his eyes before speaking, “Of course, Papa. Of course. Whatever you need.”

There he is.

“Thank you,” I say with caring and vulnerable eyes. “I mean that. Thank you.”

He nods and sits back in his chair.

“Well, that’s all I have, for now, Mark,” I wrap up. “Now, I’m going to put you into the hands of Jersey and Bella. I’m sure they have a tour of the place in-store, and probably some paperwork. Do you have any questions for me?”

“No, sir.” He hesitates again, and I can see he was laughing at himself. “No, Papa. Thank you for your time and this opportunity.”

“Of course, son. Of course. Now, can you help an old man out of his seat, and we’ll see if we can get Cammie back in here.”

Mark immediately jumps off the couch and came to my assistance. With gentle strength, he helps to lift me back to an upright position.

It’s going to be nice having a shadow around for a few weeks.

“Cammie,” I call out, “we are finished in here.”

Cammie arrives in the doorway with Jersey and Bella in tow.

“Mark,” Cammie begins the next part of the orientation, “this is Jersey, and this is Bella. They are going to take it from here. So if you would please make your way with them.”

Mark and I shake hands. “It was very nice to meet you.” He makes his way out of my suite and into the care of the two ladies.

Cammie comes to my side with that shit-eating grin again. “So what’d you think of Mark?”

My eyes squint with a stoic stare that was meant to convince her that it wasn’t funny. “Mark Warrant? How’d you pull that off? Never mind, I don’t want to know.”

Her shit-eating grin transforms into a burst of beaming laughter.

“Well, we know how you like cherries on top of your sundaes, so that is just a special treat for you,” she gleefully admits. “What do you think of him? Think he’ll do?”

It’s not like I have a choice, but damn, they did it again.

“I think he’s going to do just fine,” I say while nodding.

“It’ll be May in three weeks,” her tone changes to serious. “Think he’ll be ready?”

“I think he’d be ready tonight,” I assure. “I sense that he is looking to trust and be trusted.”

“That’s what we thought, too,” Cammie agrees.

“You ladies know how to pick ’em,” I say for the how many-ith time.

“Yes, we do. Poor soul.”

To be continued…

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