Vice Principal Hill and P.E. Department Head Logan scribble on their multi-paged interview forms. Jim Brightman, in his crisp suit and red-and-white spackled tie, tries to see what they write but can’t quite see past Hill’s big fountain pen and nails, nor Logan’s hairy knuckles.
The Vice Principal straightens her glasses under her blond bob-cut. “The P.E. instructor position requires you to work a good deal of weekends, especially in the months that you’ll coach. You can expect to work anywhere from twelve to fifteen hour days during certain times of the year.”
“Not a problem! Only fifteen?!” The candidate smiles unnaturally wide, exposing parts of his gums that aren’t supposed to be seen. He subconsciously rubs the corners of his optimistically yellow folder. “When I was a student teacher I worked eighteen, nineteen hours sometimes!” Hill and Logan glance at each other for a brief moment. “Are there any coaching opportunities for the baseball teams? That’s what I played at KSU. Pitcher and shortstop.”
Vice Principal Hill purses her lips. “We’ll inform you of that when-and-or-if we hire you, Mr. Brightman. Now, upon-and-or-at the time of hiring, you’re required to sign a waiver of liability due to the physical nature of the job-”
“-consent to a background check-”
“-and grow an unsettling mustache and-or beard.”
He caught himself mid-nod. “Huh?”
“And by the codes of the school board it will have to be one of the following,” said Logan as he read from the District 90 School Board Mandates, “‘Wiry, unkempt, patchy, scraggly, jagged, oddly-shaped, or perverted-looking.’ Looking is the key word there. We do not tolerate any inappropriate teacher-student relations.”
“In addition, Mr. Brightman, you will be expected to gain substantial weight, and-or incur diabetes type one and-or two. If you were to take up smoking, we would look the other way.”
Hill blinks. “Mr. Brightman, your resume says you attended an American high school, coached, and student-taught at physical education departments in the country – You should know by now these are standard measures for P.E. teachers in American schools. Haven’t you ever met another P.E. teacher?”
“Why are trees brown? Why are the elderly veiny?” Hill muses. “Why are attractive gym teachers a sex-scandal liability? It’s just the way life is.”
Department Head Logan clears his throat. “Now of course if you don’t want to gain the body and general lifestyle of a modern biker, there may be another to qualify.”
He perks up. “What’s that?”
“Can you provide documentation of mental illness?” Hill asks. “We’d accept patterns of aggression, delusions, narcissism, trauma. You know, gym teacher stuff.” The two staff members look at him hopefully.
“Yeah! I think I do!” says Brightman.
The Vice Principal and P.E. Head sigh.
Logan leans back and shakes his head. “Sorry, son. The correct answer to that question is something like, ‘What the hell do you mean, I’ve got issues?’ or ‘What are you trying to say, I don’t pleasure my wife?’ or Are you calling me a fag?’ etcetera. You see the problem?”
Brightman nods. With a sigh, he stands and glances down at the now tauntingly yellow folder from the desk. The faculty also stand. Hill extends her hand diplomatically, shakes the young man’s, and says, “It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Brightman, but unfortunately you lack the disgustingness, psychological damages, or emotional instability needed for a P.E. teacher at North Highlands… Or really at any public high school in America at large. It’s too bad that you didn’t study History Education at KSU, because we really could use a Geography teacher with your chutzpah, determination, and personal pride. But this is P.E. we’re talking about. Best of luck.”
A bit dazed, he turns around and heads out through the oak door. The faculty sit down and in walks the next candidate: A balding man, with a mushroom-shaped belly and a ketchup packet still stuck in the underbelly of his chin. His unbuttoned shirt is so wrinkled it looks like it would probably break the iron that tried to straighten it, and a certain odor comes from the man, like sea-salt mixed with rotting corn.
“I’m here for a job interview but first I need a friggin’ Gatorade, where n’ hell you people put duh damn soda machines? I looked everywhere up this freakin’ place. Disrespeccful!”
Hill and Logan light up. “Down the hall, near the cafeteria, and when can you start?”