The Mathematician’s New Job

32-year-old George Williams from Warwick stood outside the imposing, red bricked, country house in the freezing cold, wishing his job interview had been on Zoom instead.

Feeling daunted by the building looming over him, George decided to look at the extensive parkland that surrounded the manor instead, this certainly was a lovely place to live, but the house itself was enough to fill you with dread if you were there for a job interview.

Until a few months ago, George had been a maths teacher at a local school. But his job had become one of the many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he was made redundant. He’d considered applying for a maths teacher job elsewhere, as he loved his job and helping children succeed in maths and in life, but then he’d spotting a job working for the illustrious Paddy O’Brien’s meat company. Sure, it probably wouldn’t be as glamourous as being a teacher, but it put food on the table, and more than that, it would literally put the exact same food his family eats on the table, as they were loyal to Paddy O’Brien’s. He wasn’t sure whether his application would be successful, but clearly it had, so now he was waiting outside the CEO’s country mansion, waiting to be interviewed by the man behind the manic face on the cardboard packaging; Patrick O’Brien.

After a while, the front door opened, making George jump. A tall man in a butler’s uniform loomed over him. Being accustomed to the cardboard packaging his food came in, George knew that this man was not Patrick himself.

“Can I help you?” Asked the tall man.

“Er, yes. Hello. I’m George, George Williams, I’m here for a job interview at 15:00.” George replied.

“Of course, Patrick is expecting you. He shall be here at any moment,” the tall man responded. The man then leant closer to George and whispered in his ear, “whatever you do, humour him. It’s best to stay on his good side and not to make him angry.”

“Ok, I’ll keep that in mind,” George said before giggling awkwardly. He gulped, he’d heard about Patrick’s criminal record. But that was all in the past, wasn’t it?

Just then, an Irish accent was heard behind the tall man.

“It’s ok, Cordell, I’m here now. I’ll take it from here.”

“Ok, sir,” Cordell said before mouthing a quick “good luck” to George and quickly moved away.

In his place was a man in his mid forties with jet black hair and jet black eyes. He wore a black suit, white shirt, and speckled black tie. This was Patrick O’Brien without a doubt. He didn’t look as manic as he did on the packaging, but that didn’t make meeting him any easier.

“George, welcome. Virtual handshake,” Patrick said, whilst doing a handshake gesture six feet away from George’s actual hand.

“Come in, we’re conducting the interview in the library if that’s alright with you.”

“Sure, that’s ok,” George replied.

“Ok then, step this way,” Patrick responded, and George walking into the doorway as Patrick closed the door behind them.

The first room George entered from the front entrance was the Great Hall. A massive room with a red and white chequered floor, filled with busts, paintings, and deer heads. George looked around in amazement.

“This is rather more than my semi-detached in town,” George mused.

“It’s gorgeous isn’t it?” Patrick enquired.

“It is, yes,” George replied. “I inherited the house from my Grandparents when they died, which proved useful.”

“Indeed,” George replied.

Patrick then walked over to an oak door in the top right hand corner of the hall, to the right of the large fireplace. He opened.

“Of course, this room would be perfect for a socially distanced job interview. But the library is more… shall we say… cosy. Come” Patrick said before ushering George into the library.

The library was far more cosy than the Great Hall, with Oak panelled walls with book cases in them, and paintings surrounding the walls above them. Patrick sat in on of the two armchairs facing each other on either side of a lit fireplace.

“Sit.” Patrick ordered. George sat down in the armchair, and immediatly relaxed by the warmth of the fire.

“Nice, isn’t it?” Patrick said.

“Indeed,” George replied once more. The two men sat in silence for a moment, before Patrick broke it.

“Well, then, George. My name is Patrick, I’m the CEO of Paddy O’Brien’s as you should well know. I will be your manager and as such you will be reporting to me and to me alone. Got that?”

“Yes,” George replied obediently.

“Good,” Patrick said before picking up a pile of paper.

“Now then, first thing’s first. Why do you want this job?” Patrick questioned.

“Because I believe my mathematical expertise will help identify any problems in the meat processing process and will solve them within a matter of minutes.”

“Interesting,” Patrick mused as he wrote on the paper in front of him.

“I also buy Paddy O’Brien’s from the supermarket, it’s practically all I ever eat,” George continued.

A wise move,” Patrick commented.

“Of course,” George laughed. “But anyway, I would love to be involved in the making of the food that my family eats at the end of the day.”

“Tell me a bit more about your family,” Patrick asked.

“Ok. Well, I have a wife, Ruth, and a five year old; Melanie,” George replied.

“Good age, five,” Patrick commented, “they’re lovely at that age.”

“She’s a little ray of sunshine,” George said.

“Hmm,” Patrick said to himself, “anyway. Moving on. If you were an animal, which one would you be?”

“Oooh, that’s a tricky one,” George said. “I would say…. a west highland terrier because I’m very energetic and full of joy.”

“Ok, interesting.” Patrick responded.

After thirty minutes or so of other basic questions that are asked at job interviews (“What would you do if a problem occurred?”/ “tell me about your experience as a math’s teacher”/ “would you say you’re more of a team player or a solitary type? etc.) It was almost the end of the job interview, much to George’s relief.

“There’s just one more question,” Patrick announced, “perhaps the most important one. I want your full attention and I want you to answer the question as honestly as you possibly can. Got that?”

“I do, yes,” George replied, concerned about what the question might be.

“If I asked you to, hmm, let’s say…. murder someone, would you do it?” Patrick glared at George.

“Well… it depend on why you’d want-”

“It’s a simple yes or no question, Mr Williams, which one is it?” Patrick glared at George once more, making him uncomfortable.

After a while, George stared blankly at Patrick and then replied; “Yes.”

“Good….” Patrick replied, before sitting back in his armchair.

“Before we conclude, are there any questions you want to ask me?”

“Yes,” George answered. “Would PPE be provided or would I need to bring my own?”

“We’d provide it of course,” Patrick responded, “everything you wear will be branded with the Paddy O’Brien’s branding. The safety of our employees are our top priority.”

“More so than the person you’d ask me to murder,” George remarked.

“Indeed,” Patrick replied, before breaking into a fit of maniacal laughter.

George laughed as well, mainly because he felt he had to.

“Ok, any more questions?” Patrick asked.

“No, that’s all, thank you,” George replied.

“Ok, then,” Patrick said before getting up from his armchair. George got up from his.

The two men walked over to the door, and Patrick opened it.

“Thank you for attending the interview today. I have quite a lot of interviews to get through so I’ll email you in a week or two if you’re successful. If you don’t receive anything in that time, assume you’re unsuccessful,” Patrick told George.

“Ok,” George replied, “I’ll stick to teaching if that happens.”

“Of course,” Patrick replied before laughing again.

“Before you go, do you fancy a game of Croquet?” Patrick asked suddenly.

“It’s a beautiful day for it. You might be able to spot some deer as we play?”

“Erm… no thanks. I’d like to go home now.” George responded.

“As you wish,” Patrick said, luckily not sounding too offended.

Patrick then opened the front door.

“Ok, goodbye Mr Williams. We may or may not meet again.”

“Indeed, goodbye,” George said before stepping out into the brisk cold air. Patrick closed the door behind him. George breathed in and ran down the road to his car, ready to go home.

“Ok, Cordell,” Patrick said to his butler, “let’s go play croquet.”

“Ok, sir,” the obedient butler replied.

And so the two men walked about into Patrick’s extensive garden, ready to play yet another game of croquet. Which Patrick will win, of course, as he always does.

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