Corso International is in a posh building on Brickell Avenue in downtown Miami, which I can actually see from my apartment. I walk there, arriving with fifteen minutes to spare. After signing with the security guard at the lobby, I take the elevator to the eleventh floor. The name of the company, stylishly written on a glass panel, greets me as soon as the doors open.
God, it has been a while. I feel as out of place as a womanizer in a gay bar.A cute receptionist sits behind a desk talking into her headphone’s mouthpiece. I smile awkwardly and announce myself. The receptionist smiles and asks me to wait for a moment. Soon, a woman with a confident swagger walks into reception.
“Mr. Caine? I’m Susan Delgado. Nice to see you in person.”
“It’s my pleasure.”
As we walk to her office, I check the space out. It’s like one of those places you see on a TV series: busy, modern and tasteful.
I keep repeating to myself that I have nothing to worry about. For Christ’s sake, I used to rescue mangled people while getting shot at by terrorists for a living. So why in the world am I so scared of a stupid interview for a job I didn’t even apply for in the first place?
Mrs. Delgado starts by talking about the company. The speech is short but impressive. Corso handles major development projects all around the world, including many contracts with the Department of Defense. Then she focuses on my résumé.
“It says here that you’re fluent in five languages: English, Spanish, German, French and Arabic.”
“My mother was a language major,” I say. “I learned French from her and English from my father. She also enrolled me in a bilingual school where I learned German and participated in exchange programs in Europe. My friends used to call my house ‘Babel’.”
“Seems that your parents put a premium on your education,” Delgado says. “How about Arabic?”
“I lived in Qatar for three years when I was a kid,” I say. “My father’s company sent him there. My mother didn’t want me to lose the language when we returned to Venezuela, so she hired a Lebanese live-in maid so I could practice.”
Delgado pauses to think about something she just read. “You entered college at sixteen? And studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a partial scholarship, and graduated Summa Cum Laude in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, then got a Master’s in Engineering. You were also part of the jujitsu and flying clubs and started… ‘The Eskrima Club’?”
“It’s a Filipino martial art,” I say.
“Thank you. I like to keep busy.” I’m amazed by my own eloquence so far. I thought I’d come across like Woody Allen.
Delgado continues reading, “You worked five years for the National Security Agency doing information security operations and vulnerability discovery.”
“They recruited me in my last year,” I say.
“I’m sure you must have had plenty of offers from the private sector,” Delgado says. “What made you choose the NSA?”
“I wanted a challenging job, where I could work with the latest technology,” I say. “I figured the NSA would give me invaluable experience that I could later bring to a private company. Plus, I liked the fact that I could serve my country.”
“Is that why you joined the Air Force after that?”
No, because I felt useless and guilty after 9/11. “After the terrorist attacks, I felt I could do more,” I say.
“Of course,” she says with the expected solemnity. “I can see why Mr. Montenegro recommended you so highly.”
All of this might sound tremendously self-serving and shamefully sappy if it weren’t true. I did join the service with those noble intentions. It took politics and the reality of war to mire them.
“How do you feel about traveling for work or being relocated?”
“I don’t mind at all,” I say. I’m not about to get picky at my first job offer in almost a decade. “That’s all I did when I was in the service, so I guess you can say I’m used to it.”
“Excellent,” Delgado beams.
At this point, I’m oddly optimistic that my days doing CPR could be over. When the interview is done, I return home feeling two inches taller than when I left that morning. I’d have called Tony to thank him, but he told me via email that he’d be out of town for a few days. I’ll have to wait until I see him at his BBQ this weekend.
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Genre – Political Thriller
Rating – R