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Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Published: 9/13/2005

Help wanted: Articulate go-getter to lead city

In a generic strip-mall office close to Arrowhead Park (c'mon, where else?), a woman leaned across a rickety desk to answer the phone.

"A-to-Z Employment Agency. How may I help you?"

"Yeah, we're looking to fill a position and thought maybe you'd have some prospects for us."

A man's voice, it sounded distinctly weary, and yet somehow hopeful.

"Of course, sir. That's what we do here at A-to-Z! Let me just ask you a few questions about the opening."

The woman hunched over a keyboard, preparing to type.

"OK, then, sir. First, is this a full or part-time position?"

"Definitely full-time. Plus plenty of nights and weekends."

"Oh, my! You do need help, don't you? All right then, tell me: Is this position management, clerical, professional, general labor, or ?"

"Hmm. Well, it's a little of everything, really. Although probably not much actual heavy lifting."

"Would this be a marketing position? Or technical? Engineering-related, maybe? Possibly accounting?"

"There's plenty of marketing involved. Not so much technical - unless you're counting some basic knowledge of sewer systems and roadway resurfacing and stuff like that. And accounting? Boy howdy! Plenty of accounting!"

"Jeepers, you folks sure are looking for a lot in one package!" said the woman.

"Lady, you don't know the half of it. Not only must this person be good at marketing and savvy with numbers, this person has to be v-e-r-y articulate."

"Oh! So, you're also looking for a good public speaker?"

"Yessss! Someone who can think fast and say it right the first time. No blunders! But, it's even more than that. It's - well, this is hard to put into words, but "

The phone line was silent. The woman, hands poised over her keyboard, waited as the man collected his thoughts.

"Ma'am, the thing is, this person will have to - and this might sound silly to you - but this person needs to express the unspoken dreams and visions of thousands upon thousands of people. This person needs to be able to tell an entire city where it's going, and how it's going to get there."

This time, the silence came from the woman's end of the phone line.

"You mean," she said, hesitating, "like, um, be good at reading maps and giving directions?"

"Well, sort of. Lady, we're looking for a mayor, and yeah, you could say we're looking for a mayor with a really good map. We need to know what road to take, which path to follow. D'ya see what I mean?"

At A-to-Z, they like to say the customer is always right, so the woman took a deep breath and tried to sound confident.

"Why, of course we understand, sir! We know exactly what you're looking for. And, even though you're expecting nothing less than a miracle worker, I'm certain we can find exactly the right hire! One last thing: How many words-per-minute should this person be able to type?"

"Oh, no typing! Well, not unless the budget gets so bad that layoffs gut city hall."



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