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I sat there and listened carefully as Mr. Parsons explained what was going on. That everyone would be asked questions, as part of an evaluation. For what, I had no bloody idea. Was he considering a promotion? That was quite possible, but then why the secrecy? Inviting up significant others had to be a part of it, or why bother asking up to make the trip. While part of me was curious and even intrigued, another part of me was rather annoyed about the games. I could tell Angie was concerned, as she took my hand in hers and squeezed it a bit. She only did that when she was nervous and that got my back up as well. As Mr. Parsons was explaining himself, I leaned over and kissed Angie on the cheek, but whispered in her ear as I pulled away.
"I'm going to be the bad cop," I softly suggested.
Angie didn't respond, but instead uncrossed but then crossed them again, which I already knew was a signal she'd send to me to let me know she understood. Angie and I had an array of small gestures that we had been using for years, and developed over time with practice. The key was to make sure the timing was right with the situation, and that gestures were not misunderstood. Being the "Bad Cop" was also another code that Angie and I used. It meant that if I felt she was in trouble at any time during the exercise, that I would aggressively step in and even be a human shield if necessary. Once we were on the same page, I went back to listening to Mr. Parsons give his long and bloated monologue. For a guy who was talking so much, he wasn't really sharing anything new. He was keeping his cards very close to his chest.
"Alright then," Mr. Parson said, looking down at everyone. "Let's start off with something simple. Where do you guys see yourself in five years?"
"In a fucking mirror." I called out.
While some people at the table looked back at me with stunned expressions on their faces, Jimbo replied with a bellowing laugh.
"He beat me to it by seconds." He said, still giggling to himself.
Mr. Parsons on the other hand was still standing there, now with a stern look on his face.
"Was that necessary?" he asked.
"Yes, it was." I answered, looking just as serious. "If you want a specific answer, then I suggest you ask a specific question. If you're going to waste our time with these general, half assed, open ended questions, then I will continue to give vague, smart ass answers."
"Is that so?" Mr. Parsons then asked.
"Oh yes, it is so." I answered, stating the obvious.
"Alright," Mr. Parsons said, "So you don't look ahead to the future? Make plans?"
"There's nothing wrong with that," I countered, "But if you focus too much on it, you miss out on what's happening right now, which is just as important. As a wise man once said 'Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.'"
"That's a nice quote," Mr. Parsons admitted, "Who said that?"
"I don't know its origin," I admitted, "But I heard it from Master Oogway."
"Master who?" Nicholas asked, unfamiliar with the name.
Jimbo laughed again, as he was familiar with the name. "Kung Fu Panda... I watched that movie over a hundred times with my nephews."
"An underrated film in my opinion," I added.
"Oh, I agree." Jimbo concurred.
"Okay, that's enough." Mr. Parsons said, not liking the direction the conversation had quickly taken. "I was trying to start off with simple inquiries to ease into the conversation, but clearly the table is not in the mood for small talk. Would you prefer to jump to something more complicated?"
"We know how to swim," Nicholas added, "Let's jump right into the deep end."
"Fair enough," Mr. Parsons said, "Let's start off with the kingdom of Saudia Arabia."
"What about it?" I asked.
"Your views on the nation in general." He asked, looking at me.
"I don't like them." I honestly spat out.
"Okay, why not?" Mr. Parsons said, prodding for more details.
"They're a cartel," Jimbo said, "But instead of drugs, their product of choice is oil."
"They're an archaic group of sexist pigs," Angie said, taking over. "We should cut ties with those ignorant warmongers, and condemn them for their atrocious human rights record and the unnecessary bombing of Yemen."
"They treat women like cattle," Rachel added.
"That's not true," Jimbo countered, "Cattle are treated with far more respect than women. I don't see cows or other livestock being covered with tarps."