The phone rang at 9:00 a.m. the next morning as Dan was having his third cup of coffee and thinking about the prior day’s interview. He picked it up on the second ring, his heart racing, yet knowing that it could not yet be the expected phone call. “Dan speaking” he said, trying to remain calm.
“Is this Mr. Amor?” A woman’s cheerful voice asked.
“Yes, it is” he responded.
“Please hold for Mr. Lantz.” After a few seconds, a familiar voice came on the line. “Good morning, Dan. I have some good news. We’d like to offer you the academic dean position, starting immediately. What do you say to that?”
“I’m very pleased, Mr. Lantz. And I accept.”
“It’s just Marvin, remember? When can you come in?”
“I can be there Monday if that’s all right.”
“Any chance you can make it today before the close of business? I know it’s Friday and short notice, but I’d like to get the paperwork started and schedule you to spend the day with our senior dean at the flagship school in Manhattan on Monday, if that’s at all possible.”
Dan was surprised at this and a bit puzzled at the rush, but he acquiesced and promised to be there by noon. Already showered, he dressed and grabbed his leather portfolio with copies of transcripts, and his passport and Social Security card in case it was requested by HR.
He called his girlfriend to give her the good news. “Hey Linda, remember your skepticism at my landing the dean’s job yesterday?” He asked, beaming, when his girlfriend answered the phone.
“Yeah?” she answered, with a hesitant, questioning tone. “What about it?”
“Well, I got the job and am leaving for work in a few minutes. I wanted you to be the first to know.”
“You got the job a day after the interview and are starting today?” She asked incredulously. “Congratulations, Dan, but does that sound right to you?”
“I’ll admit it surprised me how quickly they made the offer, but I’m sure they have their reasons. Maybe their last dean left them in the lurch by leaving without giving adequate notice. Or maybe he or she was fired. Who knows? They’re a small school with a limited staff and they don’t have anyone competent to step in other than on a short-time basis.”
“Maybe,” Linda responded sounding unconvinced. “But be careful. You can be incredibly naïve at times.”
“Yes, mom, I’ll be careful not to inadvertently sign on to a cocaine distribution facility or brothel masquerading as a business school, even though I have the credentials for the latter at least as a member in good standing of the world’s second-oldest profession” Dan quipped.
“Look, just be careful, all right?” Linda insisted. “Remember the time you were approached at a bus stop by Queens College while waiting for the bus to take you to work? And the four guys in the car that stopped and offered you a management trainee job on the spot?”
“Yeah,” Dan said blushing. “I guess I just looked like management material all cute and cuddly in a nice suit on my way to work after classes and they could tell quality when they saw it.”
“Joke all you want, Dan, but you actually gave them your real phone number and they called you at home the next day too. Remember?”
“Okay, okay point taken. That was stupid. But they left me alone when I lied and told them I had been offered a promotion and was not interested in the non-specific management position they were offering.”
“And just what do you think that position was? Really, even at the time, it did not occur to you that no legitimate employer would EVER recruit at a bus stop from a car—with four guys in it? Or did you really want to become the local drug dealer?”
“They caught me by surprise and seemed like nice folk—Jamaicans, I think, by the accent of the guy doing all the talking--well dressed, well spoken. I guess I didn’t want to offend them. I dunno.”
“You are by far the smartest idiot I know. I love you, but you lack the basic common sense God gave the average gerbil. If you don’t find some soon, you’ll live to regret it.”
“I don’t need common sense. I have cuddly delectable you as my personal Jiminy Cricket” he quipped smiling, glad she could not see him still blushing.
“Just be careful, okay? Promise?”
“I promise. I do.” But now I gotta run. I want to call mom and dad to give them the good news. And I’m going to take the subway again rather than have to look for parking and risk being late. I’ll stop by tonight. Big hug.”
“I’ll see you then,” Linda replied. “And Dan, congratulations on the job. I mean it. Sorry if I’m a bit cautious. But you need a keeper sometimes. See you tonight.”
“Always wanted to be a kept man,” Dan replied as he sent her a kiss over the phone and heard her sigh as she hung up the receiver.
Dan then called up his parents and, speaking to them in Spanish as usual, related the good news about his having accepted the dean’s job. His mom was thrilled—though she would have been thrilled if he told her he had decided to open a business to sell ice to Eskimos—and would immediately offer to invest their life savings in his company. When his dad came on the phone, his first question after congratulating him was predictable: "How much money will they pay you?” When Dan answered, he groaned and repeated an offer made many times before to give him the money to open a law practice, hire a legal secretary and practice the profession he had sacrificed so much to achieve. He was not mollified by Dan’s assurance that this was just a stepping-stone, and that the salary would soon improve when he had a chance to prove his worth.
At 11:00 a.m., Dan bid his parents good-bye, told them that he had to leave for work and assured them he’d call them later that evening. He then left for the subway station, eager to begin his new career.
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