Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Did I Get Job?

Did I Get The Job?

I work as a hiring manager for a hospital in Queens, NY. It’s not exactly the job I had set out for, but I like it. I have full hiring authority for all the healthcare workers in the hospital, aside from my boss occasionally pulling some strings for people and maybe reviewing a few of the candidates I approve of. Otherwise I coordinate with the nursing department to determine when we need to bring on more staff and how many people they need. Until recently, this job has been relatively worry-free.
I received a call about a month ago from a former employee, Suzette White. She had started working at the facility as a Registered Nurse long before I came on board. Earlier this year she retired, not because she was too old, but just because she had enough of the job. I believe she had worked there for 23 years where she had been a valuable member of the team. Everyone had the highest praise for her and her efforts. It was sad to see her go.
During my 5 years doing the job, I had gotten to know her fairly well. I usually don’t warm up to people, but there was something so warm and nurturing about her. She was a pseudo mother-figure to me.
She had called to tell me that her daughter recently graduated from nursing school and was looking for a job. I had never met her daughter, but without hesitation, I told her that she’s more than welcome to come in and fill out an application and I would gladly interview her for an upcoming orientation I was planning with the nursing department. I typically don’t entertain new graduates since the numbers indicate they don’t always perform up to expectations. I guess their first taste of the real challenges of nursing in the field overwhelms a lot of them, and they quickly throw in the towel before I can even show them where the bathroom is. This is common throughout the industry and new graduates will usually go months, even a year sometimes, without landing their first job. But for Mrs. White, the pleasure to accommodate her daughter brought me joy.
“What’s her name?” I asked.
“Jane. Jane White.”
“Ok. Tell her to come in tomorrow morning at 11:00.”
“I will. But please…I know it’s difficult to bring on a new grad, but…help her.
Her pause and tone caught my attention when she said it. It didn’t sound like “help her, no one will give her a chance to prove herself.” It sounded more like “she needs guidance. She’s troubled.” I brushed it off; a simple case of a loving mother wanting the best for her daughter I concluded. “Don’t worry about a thing Suzette, I’ll see to it she’s taken care of.”
“Maybe I should come with her.”
“Oh, Suzette you shouldn’t do that. She’s a big girl and can’t have her mom following her on job interviews.”
“I know, you’re right. Just give her a chance.”
I set the interview on my outlook calendar for the next day. I interview a lot of people, but I was really looking forward to this one; to meeting Jane. If she was anything like her mother, her employment at the facility would have a tremendous impact on the day to day functions of the facility. The next day at 9:15am, the front desk pages me in my office.
“Good morning. I have a Jane White here to see you.”
9:15?! This is a huge pet peeve of mine. While you certainly want to look punctual for a job interview, showing up too early makes you look over-eager and desperate, while it also makes me have to juggle my schedule around to keep you from waiting for too long. The unspoken rule is to arrive 15 minutes before the appointment. No earlier, no later.
“She’s here now? Her appointment is at 11:00.”
“Yup. Do you want me to send her in?”
“No, I can’t right now, I have a 9:30 meeting with the Chief Physician. Tell her she has to wait or come back.”
I hang up the phone and ten seconds later I get a call back from the front desk.
“She said she doesn’t want to wait. She wants to see you now.”
Have you ever heard that employers know if they want to hire you within the first seconds of meeting you? Yeah, this is 100% true. Most of my interviews are determined in the first few seconds and the rest of the time I’m just being polite. And even though I still haven’t technically met Jane, I already know I don’t want to hire her. That is, if she was anyone else other than Suzette’s daughter. That’s the only thing keeping my mind open at this point. If it were any other candidate I’d tell them to get lost at this point.
I figured I could squeeze the interview in before my meeting. Even though I’m already skeptical on Jane, I reminded myself that there could be potential in her.
“You know what, fine. I’ll be right there.”
I walked out of my office towards the front to meet Jane. As I turned the corner I had a full view of the reception area and I noticed a young girl sitting on the couch adjacent to the front desk. The receptionist discreetly pointed towards the girl, indicating it was Jane. I observed her briefly before walking over to her. She sat there staring blankly ahead, the only movement coming from slow, blinking eyelids. She had long, bright blonde hair that covered a significant portion of her cheeks.
I walked over to her. “Jane?” She looked over towards me without getting up from the couch or moving any other muscles. “You’re a bit early, but thank you for coming in. I’m Alex, nice to meet you.”
I extended my hand to her as I introduced myself. She reached up and shook it with a weak grasp. “Hi,” she said, slightly above a mumble.
“Please, come with me to my office.”
As she stood up I noticed how short (I guessed her to be around 5’ tall), and heavy she was. I never measure someone’s value based on their physical appearance, but I always take notice to overweight nurses. It’s always baffled me; how nurses can be overweight when they’re on their feet all day running from patient to patient, and most don’t have the time to eat their lunch. It’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask, “How can you be overweight when you’re doing cardio all day?” Of course, that would be rude.
Jane looked relatively young, maybe early 20’s, but clearly did not take very good care of herself. Aside from her weight, her skin looked greasy, like she hadn’t showered in a few days. She was dressed in all black; black khaki pants that looked about 2 sizes too small for her, black ankle-high boots with heels that I could have sworn I’d seen her mother wear before, and a black button-down shirt which appeared to be turned inside out. I guessed she did not have a solid set of interview-clothes and this shirt had some sort of print on the front that she was trying to hide and pass off as professional. Fine by me.
As we walked to my office I tried to carry a conversation with her. “Did you find the facility alright?”
“I know sometimes people who have never been here can get lost in this area, but I bet you’ve been here before since your mother worked here for many years.”
“When was the last time you came by here.”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you come by here a lot when you were younger?”
I couldn’t get more than a couple of words out of her. The only steady sound coming from her was the chorus of staccato as her boots walked across the tile floor. I tried to lighten the mood a bit. “Congratulations on finishing nursing school. Now you can actually have a social life again!”
“I guess.” Still hardly anything from her.
We entered my office. “Please, have a seat.” She sat in the chair opposite my desk and immediately adjusted her hair so it covered most of her cheeks again. She was obviously shy and a bit insecure, but it didn’t seem like she was making any effort to interact with me. I was starting to understand why her mother wanted to tag along.
“So, Jane, tell me about yourself,” I said as I sat down.
She stared blankly at me with dead, apathetic eyes, her face lacking any emotion or personality. “What do you want to know?”
I’m not going to tell you how to tell me about yourself, I thought. “Whatever you want.” She sat pondering for a few seconds, her dark pupils looking upwards as she thought of what to say. After a few awkward seconds, I tried to encourage her a bit. “Why don’t you let me see your resume.”
“My what?”
“Your resume.”
“What’s that?”
Did she really not know what a resume was? I wasn’t even sure how to express the definition of ‘resume’. “It’s…um, well you put your professional profile on it and hand it to prospective employers. Your education, work experience, skills, things like that.”
“Oh. I didn’t bring it.”
Seriously? “Okay. Well, where did you go to school?”
“St. Vincents.”
“They have a great program. Where did you do your clinicals?”
“…Elmwood Hospital.”
“Oh really? I know the Director of Nursing there. Ms. Thomas, right?”
“She’s an excellent teacher. I’m sure you can attest to that.”
Jane fell silent for a moment… “Don’t ask her about me.”
“Excuse me?”
“Don’t ask her about me.”
Sometimes I get this sort of response from people currently employed, and understandably so. It would be an inconvenience to call someone’s boss if they didn’t know they were looking for work. But she only did a clinical internship at Elmwood. There’s no reason for Jane to tell me not to contact Ms. Thomas unless she did something completely wrong. I decided to press her on the matter. “Why shouldn’t I?”
“She didn’t like me.”
That’s not a surprise. “Why didn’t she like you?”
Her blank face suddenly turned into a piercing stare of hatred. Her eyes widened, “Stop asking me about this.”
Whoa, red flag! She had said this so forcefully, I was taken aback. I was already well aware that something was off with Jane, but this look she was giving me sent chills throughout my body.
“Ok, we don’t have to talk about that.” I was trying to be polite, but I realized there wasn’t much more I could take of this girl. I had to cut it short. “Well, I’m somewhat pressed for time since you came in early, so I’ll have to end things here if that’s alright with you.”
“When do I start?” Did she really think getting a job would be that easy?
“I’m still interviewing candidates, Jane. I’m scheduled to meet with other people later today and tomorrow and after that I will be making my decision.”
Her face saddened and she looked down at the floor. “You won’t call me. No one ever does.”
Now I actually started to feel bad for this girl, she must have interviewed at a few other places with no results to show for it. Someone needs to give her something positive to walk out with. “Listen, I won’t lie, you could certainly brush up on your interview skills, but all I care about is whether you’ll be able to do the job of a nurse. It’s tough work, and if you went to school at St. Vincents I’m sure you can bring a lot to the table. I’m sure you’re just as qualified as the other candidates I’ll be meeting with.”
“So, I’m hired?”
“I’ll let you know. Thank you for coming in.” I extended my hand to shake hers again, and again, she shook it with a frail, weak grasp, only this time her hand was shaking as it approached mine. She stood up and I caught a glimpse of her eyes. They were filled with tears. I felt horrible, but I can’t give her a job just because felt pity.
As she turned to leave, she stopped short and froze. Something had caught her eye, and as I followed her gaze, I noticed that she was looking at my signed Derek Jeter baseball that I had on display. It sat on a shelf on the wall next to my desk. “Do you like baseball?” I asked, hoping she would leave me with something positive to end this encounter.
And that’s when my uneasy suspicion about Jane was confirmed. Without warning, she lunged at the baseball, grabbed it and threw it across my office at a framed picture of The Vitruvian Man I had on the wall. The glass shattered into pieces as I stood in shock. Before I could look back at Jane, she was bolting for the door and running out of the facility. Everything happened so quickly I didn’t realize that a small crowd formed outside my office door. I gathered myself and tried to shake it off. “So that’s why my mother always told me not to play ball inside the house.” Everyone outside laughed and walked away. I quickly looked out my window to see Jane getting into a black sedan parked on the street outside and drive away. She was gone.
I cleaned up the mess left in my office thankful that Jane had not thrown the ball at me and that my ordeal with her was finally over. After she had shown me her destructive behavior, I certainly didn’t feel bad about not hiring her anymore. I generally try to give every candidate a fair chance. I always think of what Jack Nicholson said in The Departed:
“The point I’m making is – a man could look at anything, and make something out of it. For instance, I look at you and I think ‘what could I use you for?’”
That’s always been my hiring philosophy. With Jane, there’s nothing I could use her for. Clearly this was a person who has no place working in the healthcare industry, or any industry for that matter.

Later that day Suzette called me to follow up on my meeting with Jane. I told her what happened and how I really did not feel comfortable trusting her with the responsibilities of a nurse. “I see. I’m sorry to have wasted your time,” was all she had to say. I could hear the disappointment in her voice. “I wish her the best of luck, Suzette. She just needs to find the right place.”
A day goes by, more candidates come in, some better than others. I eventually settle on a class of 6 RNs to attend our orientation on 10/06/14, which was about a week away at the time. I ran all the necessary background checks, reference checks, license verifications, I obtained all of their medical history documents, and I submitted all of the information to the in-service coordinator, Mrs. Pierre (she’s the person who runs the orientation class). Once I submit their information to Mrs. Pierre, my work is essentially done. Business as usual.
The day I submitted the candidates to the in-service coordinator, I received a call at my office just as I was getting ready to leave for the day and go home to a nice beer. I have caller ID and the number was displayed as RESTRICTED, which always makes me raise an eyebrow.
I answered, “Hello this is Alex.”
No response.
“Hello, can I help you?”
I heard breathing. Not heavy or over the top. Just the regular sound of someone breathing on the phone. I sat and waited for the person to answer for a few seconds. And then, she spoke.
“…did I get the job?” She spoke so as though she were in distress. I recognized the voice right away. It was Jane.
“Excuse me? Who is this?” I wanted confirmation.
“…did I get the job?”
“Jane? Is that you?”
“………did I get the…job?”
“I’m sorry Jane, but there were other candidates for the position I wound up hiring. I wish you luck in…”
What a strange girl. I thought. She really needs some professional help.
I placed the phone back on the receiver, grabbed my coat and my bag, said goodnight to a few people and walk out of the facility heading to my car. Since the facility I work for is in Queens, parking is somewhat limited. There is a parking lot on the premises, but most of the employees arrive at the facility at 7:00am, whereas I usually go in at 9:00am, so by the time I arrive the lot is full, aside from parking that is reserved for family members. My boss offered me a reserved parking space, but I’m not the type to take advantage of special treatment, so I declined it. Instead, I park my car on the street 3-4 blocks away. I get to take a nice walk by the park on the way, have a cigarette and clear my head.
It’s twilight by the time I leave, which I enjoy. The summer days of walking to my car in my work clothes when it’s sunny and 90 degrees outside are finally over for the year. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than getting in your car when you’re already sweating a little and having a wave of heat hit you in the face when you open the car door.
I had walked a block and turned the corner from the facility when I noticed a car was sitting double parked ahead of me. Probably someone waiting for a spot to open up, I assumed. It was an old black Honda Civic, probably an early 2000’s model. It looked similar to the car I saw Jane get into when she stormed out of the office. The rear bumper was riddle with dents and dings, something that one of those “Bumper Bully’s” would have probably saved. The windows were tinted, but it looked as though someone was sitting in the driver seat. I had an uneasy feeling…not ten minutes ago I had just gotten off the phone with a girl that genuinely gave me the creeps. Was she inside the car waiting for me?
Without breaking my stride, I studied the car thoroughly trying to see if there was a figure in the car. The closer I got to it, the more I doubted there was anyone there and I slowed my pace down to get a better look inside.
Nope, no one there. From the sidewalk I peered into the car to see if there were any clues. I had been so focused on trying to find something, that the sound of Jane’s voice from behind startled me.
“Did I get the job?”
A burst of fear swept through me and I jumped at the sound, simultaneously turning to see the familiar long blonde hair of Jane staring at me.
“Jane! You frightened me!” She was silent. “What are you doing here?” Still, she said nothing, refusing to react or take her glaring eyes off me. “Are you following me?” She just stood there like a tree, staring…that stare. There was something unsettling about it. “Listen, Jane, I mentioned earlier on the phone, I decided to go with another candidate. I’m sorry.”
Her head started vibrating and her eyes turned red with anger as her hands formed fists. Any person in the world would immediately interpret the situation as a threat.
“Jane…what are you doing?”
And like someone had flipped a switch inside of her, she suddenly collected herself, stopped shaking and relaxed her fists. “Have a nice night,” she said politely and walked into the Honda that was double parked. I wasn’t going to wait for her to drive off, I ran to car that was parked about a block away and jumped inside before she could do anything else. I sat and caught my breath hoping that would be the last I would ever see or hear of Jane. My hopes were short lived as I saw in my review mirror her car approaching slowly from behind. I was parallel parked, so there was no chance for me to speed off and try to outrun her from where she was.
Her car inched closer and I started panicking, debating whether I should get out and make a run for it. Before I could decide what to do her car had pulled up alongside mine, her tinted window was rolled down and she was staring at me. Her car never stopped though, she just drove slowly, making some sort of statement. Warning me.
And then, she sped off.
I drove home, my pulse racing the entire time. But what threat could this girl possibly be to me? Why should I be the least be worried?
I didn’t know the answer to that question…but I was worried.

Part 2 – Jane’s Handwriting & Background

After the incident with Jane outside my office I drove home to my loving fiancé. I didn’t want to worry her with this, so when she asked me how my day was, I just said “Good.” I know my fiancé, she’s a big time worry-er, and to bring this up would just instill fear in her. As it stood, I did not see any reason to let her know what had happened. The next day I went to work and decided to do a little research on Jane. First, I went to the front desk.
“Do you remember the girl that was here a few days ago, blond hair, came in early for an interview?”
“Oh, yes. Jane…something I think?”
“White. Yes, that’s her. Did she happen to fill out our employment application?”
“She did. I think I still have it here.” The receptionist opened a drawer and started sifting through a bunch of papers. “Ah! Here it is!” she said as she handed it over to me.
One of the hobbies I have is analyzing and building a psychological analysis of someone’s handwriting. I’ve taken classes on it, read books on the subject, and one thing I can definitely say from my experience with it: handwriting never lies. Anything I ever want to know about a person can be seen in their handwriting. Occasionally this comes in handy with some candidates. If I really can’t get a good read on the person, I’ll check their handwriting. If I have one position open and two equally qualified candidates for the position, I’ll compare their handwriting and decide from there. It’s not part of the job; it’s a personal skill that helps with the job.
So, here are a few samples of Jane’s handwriting and my takes on it.
First, her signature:

There is a difference in reading someone’s signature as opposed to their regular handwriting. Psychologically, a signature represents you putting yourself on public display. How you sign your name reflects what you want other people to think of you.
A signature like Jane’s, where you cannot actually make out either the first name or the last name, signifies someone who wants to keep themselves and out of the public eye. She’s reclusive, shies away from other people, and does not open up to many.
The next characteristic I immediately notice is the giants “X” through her name. An “X” where there should not be one, or someone striking a line right through their entire name, is someone who does not have a high self-esteem. You are literally “X-ing” yourself from existence. This was something that was fairly obvious from our interview, and her signature just confirms it.
The last thing I took from her signature, and probably the most important, are the sharp, jagged strokes. The letter “a” just looks like a sharp point instead of smooth, curved circle. Her last name (which is not actually “White”, I’m just protecting her identity and you can’t make out the real name in this signature) is filled quick movements of the pen. This is worrisome. Having sharp edges like this signifies a person who is aggressive, angry, and has little regard for other people.
Someone’s signature gives you the best outlook of a person, but their handwriting also gives you some clues towards their personality. Here is a part of Jane’s application that gives you a look at her handwriting: 

 Most of the time I use handwriting to figure out a person’s sexual habits, but Jane has none. Practically no sex drive, and she’s certainly not sexually active, meaning no significant other present in her life. But what I do get from this sample re-iterates what I saw in her signature. She’s a shy, reclusive person. You see how all the letters lean to the left? Think of this as someone leaning away from everyone else. You’re pulling yourself back from other people, and again, you don’t want anyone to know anything personal about you, and you have little to no social life (of course, the exact opposite, handwriting that leans forward to the right, are people who are overly social and usually have many friends).
And here’s another key characteristic: she’s a person who acts more on emotion than rationale. Her emotions frequently get the best of her, and considering her aggressive signature, this is really not a good sign.
After looking over her handwriting, I had a horrible pit in my stomach. This girl is deeply troubled.
My next task: contacting Ms. Thomas, the Director of Nursing at Elmwood Hospital. She used to work at my hospital one or two days a week doing supervision a couple of years ago. Not a tremendous amount of time, but enough where I had built a rapport with her. Keeping in contact with Ms. Thomas gives me the chance to do reference checks on candidates occasionally.
Jane had told me she did her clinicals at Elmwood, but insisted I should not ask Ms. Thomas about her. I have to know what happened over there, so I gave Ms. Thomas a call later in the day. We went through all the usual pleasantries before I finally asked her about Jane.
“I’m calling to ask you about a candidate that applied with me here. Do you remember a girl who did her clinicals over there named Jane White?”
“Jane White…why does that ring a bell?”
I tried to refresh her memory, “She had long, bright blond hair…”
“Oh, Jane! The short, thin girl that had the high pitched voice?”
“Thin? No no no, she’s quite heavyset actually. And she mumbles a lot.”
“Well, she could have put on weight. Her clinical rotations occurred here a long time ago.”
“Do you remember when?”
“Hmm, hard to say exactly when. I’d guess probably 4 years ago.”
4 YEARS AGO?? Nurses will normally graduate and get their license within a year of doing clinicals, but she was at Elmwood 4 years ago? How can this be?
“Wait, 4 years? Are you sure?”
“Pretty sure. She really stood out when she was here. Beautiful girl, top of her class.”
WHAT????? Jane, top of her class? “I don’t think we’re talking about the same person.”
“I’m pretty sure I got the right girl in mind. She’s Suzette’s daughter.”
While working a couple of days here and there at my facility, obviously Ms. Thomas knew Suzette, and this confirmed we were talking about the same Jane. Apparently 4 years ago she was a different person. I needed to know more.
“Yeah, Suzette’s daughter. You said Jane was the top of her class?”
“Oh yes, by far. Bright girl. She shadowed one of our nurses on the geriatric unit. She ran circles around the whole staff. That girl could move medications faster than we could keep up with. And she did it with such enthusiasm; she always had a smile on her face. Like this is what she was born to do.”
“Did you observe her yourself or are you just going by your staff’s evaluation?”
“Both. I wasn’t on top of her the whole time of course, but when I did observe her, she was one of the best. I remember telling her to call me when she graduated and I would make sure to give her a job.”
“So, did she ever call you?”
“She did, but when she graduated and got her nursing license, we had huge budget cuts and a large census drop. I would have loved to have her on board, but the only way I would have been able to do so would be to fire one of our current employees. She seemed really upset when I told her I couldn’t hire her at the time. Like all the life just drained out of her and she took it personally. I told her to check back with me in a few months, but she never did and I assumed she had gotten a job elsewhere.”
While Ms. Thomas was talking I decided to do some research on my computer. I visited the NYS Office of Professions website and ran a check on Jane’s nursing license. She passed the NCLEX in July of 2011, a little more than three years ago, meaning the timeframe Ms. Thomas had outlined for Jane’s clinicals was just about right. Jane was not a new graduate. She has been a Registered Nurse in the State of New York for more than three years. I searched for any disciplinary action that may have been taken against her license…nothing. Why had Suzette told me she was a new graduate?
“I’m finding all this a little hard to believe,” I told Ms. Thomas.
“Why is that?”
“Jane interviewed here a few days ago. She looked unhealthy, overweight, extremely insecure, and she threw a temper-tantrum during the interview that broke one of the framed pictures on my wall.”
“You’re kidding, that’s not the Jane I knew.”
“She also told me not to call you because ‘you didn’t like her.’ I didn’t think you would have such praise for her.”
“I’m not surprised to hear that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, when I told her we couldn’t hire her, she just turned into a different person. It was as if I hit a nerve or something, I think she took it as a personal insult.”
And that’s when I started piecing all of this together. Jane is not the type of person who takes rejection well. She’s had her nursing license for more than three years, but without relevant experience, a lot of employers just won’t give her a chance. That’s why her mom said she was a new graduate, because technically, without experience, you’re considered a new grad. Every rejection she’s gotten has eaten away at her. Three years of rejection creating a vicious downward spiral, altering her personality; stripping away all of her self-confidence. It’s made her go from a happy, smart, attractive girl full of life and a bright future ahead of her, to a miserable, emotional wreck.
Life can only be enjoyed when you’re doing what you love, pursuing your passion, embracing challenges. The world has prevented that for Jane. She has been perpetually deprived of her passion.
I thanked Ms. Thomas for the information and hung up the phone, more concerned than ever. I peeked out my window to see if Jane’s car was outside, making sure she wasn’t waiting for me again. It looked clear. I decided to leave work early to avoid any possibility of running into her.
I drove straight home thinking about the situation on the way. Maybe she just wanted to give me a little scare. Payback for anyone who rejected her. Maybe I’m overreacting to this whole thing.
But as I approached the door to my house, a piece of paper was taped to the door. I pulled it off, flipped it over, and written in red ink was:

Part 3 - Orientation

She knows where I work, she knows what car I drive, and, worst of all, now she knows where I live. She must have followed me the night she approached me on the street. How stupid am I? I should have been more alert!
I know a lot of you were thinking that there was something inside waiting for me. I’d love to tell you that inside my house, Jane was waiting for me with a machete, but there was nothing. I surveyed the area surrounding my house looking for any sign of Jane...nothing. No car parked, and no other sign that she was there. There was no sign of forced entry and nothing inside was disturbed.
It was just the note she left. Still, I slowly made my way upstairs and to my bedroom to check my gun. Yes, I have a gun. Besides taking it to the gun range when I first purchased it, it’s never been taken out of the case. My theory is, I’d rather have a gun and not need it than need a gun and not have one.
I keep it in a locked case under my bed. It sat there, untouched with a layer of dust on the top of it. When I pulled the case out and unlocked it, everything was intact. It did not appear that Jane had been inside my house at all.
My fiancé came home from work about an hour later. Now that Jane knew where I lived, I had to tell her what was going on. She could be in danger, and she needs to have her guard up. I told her the whole story, the interview, the temper-tantrum in my office, Jane approaching me as I walked to my car, the note left on the door…everything.
“Call the police,” was all she could say.
I thought about that, but I didn’t want to. I had little confidence they would actually do anything since there’s really nothing to go off of other than my word. But I knew contacting the police would put my fiancé at ease, so I called them. They sent a trooper to the house, and just as I suspected, they could not do anything.
“Can you prove this ‘Jane’ girl was the one who left the note?” the officer asked when he showed up.
“Do you have any video evidence showing this girl on your premises?”
“Has she physically assaulted you in any way?”
I couldn’t give them anything to go off of. We were assured they would “make a report” of the situation, and that was all.
We spent the night at my fiance’s mother’s house. My fiancé did not feel safe inside our home and vowed not to go back until there was some sort of closure. I didn’t blame her; I had an uneasy feeling being there too.
The next day was orientation for the nurses I hired last week. Orientations are always a bit trying on the nerves for me. For one, and you’d be surprised, a lot of nurses just don’t show up. Sure I go through all the necessary pre-orientation procedures; I call everyone to confirm the date and time to be here, then I call again and re-confirm the date and time with everyone, as well as emailing everyone the date and time. Still, people don’t show. It’s ironic; nurses will often take these opportunities for granted, whereas Jane probably would have jumped on it.
Orientation started at 7:00am. I showed up for work at 9:00am and approached the front desk.
“Good morning. Is everyone here for orientation?”
“One no-show,” the receptionist told me.
“That’s actually not that bad.”
She gave me the name of the nurse who didn't show up. It was the person who had the most experience out of the bunch. Typical, the ones who have been doing this job the longest are usually the ones who have the most entitled attitude. I’ll make sure to deny her a job in the future when she calls me looking for something.
I went to my office and sat down and went to work. On the first day of employment, legally I have to log every employee into the E-Verification Database to ensure that every employee is legally authorized to work in the United States. It’s a tedious process, but I don’t really have a choice. You can’t fight the government on these things. I also have to submit their W4 and I9 documents to the payroll office. It’s boring stuff.
When I’m doing paperwork, I tend to shut everything else out and focus on only the project at hand. If I somehow screw something up I then have to do ten times the amount of paperwork than if I did it right in the first place, so I don’t let anything distract me from the process. But because I was so focused, I hadn’t noticed her when she stood in the doorway to my office. I have no idea how long she was standing there for, she could have been staring at me for ten minutes for all I know. Watching me work, studying me. I only discovered her existence there when she spoke.
“You should have hired me.”
The sound made me jump. I instantly recognized the voice. It was Jane. I looked up; she was standing in the doorway wearing a white nursing uniform and a surgical mask. In her right hand was a scalpel.
I was speechless. What was she doing here? How did she get in wearing that? What was she planning?
We were caught in a stare-down with each other, neither saying a word. I tried not to show any fear, but I’m not sure if I was successful. My mind was racing as I was trying to figure out what to do. Should I call for help?
Jane, on the other hand, looked completely calm, never flinching, hardly blinking.
I’m not sure how long we were staring at each other, but suddenly, she stepped out of the doorway into the hall, and walked away towards the front of the facility. I didn’t move; trying to comprehend the situation.
I called security from my office phone. “We have an intruder. Short heavyset young girl with bright blond hair. Name - Jane White.”
I didn’t wait for a response, I hung up the phone and walked towards the entrance to my office and looked down the hall. She was gone. Carefully, I walked towards front desk, keeping myself alert in case she was waiting around a corner somewhere. I was about 30 feet from the front desk and within eyesight.
“Did you see her?” I frantically yelled across the room to the front desk.
The receptionist turned to me. “Who?”
“Jane White! The blond girl!”
“Yes I saw her,” she answered matter-of-factly.
“Well, where did she go?!”
“She’s in orientation. What’s gotten into you?”
Did I just hear her correctly? Jane was in the orientation class? I closed the distance to the desk and spoke directly to the receptionist.
“What do you mean she’s in orientation?”
“What do you mean ‘what do I mean’?”
“Look, go to the classroom and see for yourself.”
She wasn't getting in it, but to prove her wrong I walked over to the classroom used for orientation across from the front desk. The door was closed, but it was made of glass and I could see inside. All the new employees were facing away from the door facing the in-service coordinator, Ms. Duncan. I counted the heads....1, 2, 3, 4, 5...6? There should only be 5…
I opened the door and walked into the classroom.
“Ah, good morning!” Ms. Duncan said, announcing my entrance to the class. “You all know Alex.”
All of the nurses turned around to look at me, including Jane. They said hello, Jane just stared.
I nervously waved and walked over to Ms. Duncan. “I need to speak with you outside for a minute.”
“Of course. Everyone, please read over the HIPAA manual, I’ll just be a moment.”
Ms. Duncan followed me outside and as soon as we left the room, I began berating her.
“What the hell is she doing here?”
“JANE! I didn’t put her in the class. Who authorized this?”
She looked at me with confusion. “David did.”
David. The administrator. My boss. He rarely does this, but occasionally he’ll hire someone without telling me about it. I threw both of my hands to the top of my head in exasperation.
“What in the world has gotten into you?”
I didn’t answer her, without saying a word I immediately ran to David’s office. I burst through his door without knocking, something I know he hates.
“Did you hire Jane White?!” I didn’t even address him.
“Alex! Sure, you can come in,” he said sarcastically. I told you he hates when people don’t knock.
“David, please this is important. Did you hire Jane White?”
“Yes, why?”
“Did you even interview her?”
“Didn’t have to. I owed Suzette a favor. She called to cash in.”
“Sir, I interviewed her last week.”
“You should have hired her,” hearing that made my skin crawl, “then I wouldn’t have had to do any favors for anyone.”
“She’s a liability.”
“I’m sure she’s not that bad.”
“She threw my Derek Jeter baseball at a frame on my wall, she followed me to my car, she left a threatening note on the front door of my house...believe me, she’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
“The last time you gave me a hard time about hiring a nurse she won ‘Employee of the Month’ 7 months straight.”
“This is different....”
“Look, what’s done is done. Now if you don’t mind, I’m very busy.”
“But sir…”
“I’m not going to ask you again. Please leave.” He looked at me with that serious look he always does. Don’t test me. There was nothing I could do.
Defeated, I went back to my office and closed the door. What the hell was I going to do? Just being in the same building as Jane was filling me with anxiety. But she has what she wanted now - a job. Maybe now that she’s finally done what took her more than 3 years to do she would leave me alone. She has no reason to be mad with me anymore. But even if that were true, what would she do when an unruly dementia patient gave her the finger? Or what if she gets into an altercation with another employee? A person this unstable could not be trusted.
I got Suzette on the phone. She was my last hope.
“I need to speak with you. In person.”
“I figured you would call…”
We decided to meet at the Starbucks a few blocks from the facility at 1:00pm. I hadn’t seen Suzette since her retirement party at the facility earlier in the year. I missed her, but I wished we were meeting under different circumstances.
When I arrived at Starbucks, Suzette was already there waiting for me. Walking towards her I could tell she was nervous. Before I could say anything, she got up and gave me a warm hug.
“You look well,” she said.
“Thanks. It’s nice to see you, Suzy.”
Suzette looked different from the last time I saw her. Like she had rapidly aged. One thing that anyone would tell you about her was that she was a health nut. She ran half marathons, regularly ate healthy, and she was never shy to talk about it and give you her diet tips. But she didn’t look healthy. She was in her mid-40’s, but always looked like she was in her early 30’s. Now she looked like she was in her 50’s.
We sat at a table by the window. The place was empty except for a young man typing away on his laptop with headphones in his ears.
“Suzette, there’s more to Jane than you initially told me, isn’t there?”
She turned red. “Yes.”
“You should have told me everything. It’s obvious she’s not well.”
“I know. I’ve been dealing with it for 3 years now.” She started getting emotional, like she felt guilty for her deception. “It started with Ms. Thomas. She couldn’t give Jane a job, and that first rejection set off a chain of events for Jane. She went on so many interviews, and each time she was rejected she just became more depressed. She never took rejection well. She started putting on weight, her overall attitude was changing for the worse. After two years and still no job, I started trying to help her. I called my friend at a home care agency, but by then it was too late. Jane wasn’t the same person anymore, she became...troubled.”
“I’m guessing they didn’t hire her.”
“No. And when they didn’t, Jane lashed out at me.”
She reached up, grabbed her shirt collar and pulled, exposing her right shoulder. There was a scar that ran about 4 inches. “She did this to me,” she said, choking on her words as she spoke. “She plunged a knife right into the top of my shoulder, blaming me for the rejection.”
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My mouth was wide open in shock.
“Remember those two weeks I took off last year for a “family emergency”?
“It was because of this??”
“Yes. I was only in the hospital for three days, but the rest of the time was spent with Jane when she was placed in a psychiatric center. They diagnosed her with Stage 1 Anxiety, dramatic to full lifestyle impairment. They insisted on one-to-one assistance before they released her, considering it resulted in violence. She spent 6 months there before they determined she was capable of normal, lasting health. And then she was home with me. That’s why I retired; so I could stay home with her.”
“Wait, that’s why you retired?”
“Please, I’m middle aged, still plenty of fight in me. I don’t need to hang it up just yet. But there was no way I could possibly juggle work and Jane at the same time. Since I left the job I’ve been taking care of Jane, my girl. It was grueling, but she showed signs of improvement, and soon she wanted to start going on job interviews again. I was against it. She wasn’t ready. Despite my objections, she started sending out her resume. I knew I couldn’t prevent it, so I thought I would put in a good word for her at my old stomping grounds.”
“Why didn’t you just bring her to the facility when she first graduated?”
“I don’t believe in nepotism. If you want something, you gotta earn it. But after what we had already gone through, I didn’t want to risk another rejection. I figured the surest bet was with you.”
“You really didn’t think that I would be oblivious to this, would you? I mean, my entire job is to read people.”
“I had hope. But then she came home and it was if all the therapy she went through never happened. I was afraid she would attack me again, so I called David and cashed in a favor.”
“Suzette, you realize that she’s not mentally capable of being a nurse. She’s a risk to everyone in that facility.”
She started crying. “I know, but I just want the best for my little girl. You should have seen her four years ago, you would have liked her.” She grabbed a napkin and wiped away a tear. “She was such a sweet girl. So beautiful. Any mother would have been proud.”
I reached out and placed my hand on Suzette’s shoulder, the one without the scar. “You’re a wonderful person; a wonderful mom. I admire you for everything you put yourself through. The bottom line is, Jane cannot work as a nurse. As sad as that is for you and for her, she can’t.”
Suzette buried her face in her hands, she was overcome with emotion. “I know.”
“You need to call David and tell him this. All of it. He’s the only person capable of removing Jane from the orientation, and if he knows all of this, he’ll send her home today.” I reached into my pocket and placed my cell phone on the table. “Make the call.”
Suzette reluctantly grabbed the phone and dialed the number. “Hello, David? It’s Suzette. I need to talk to you about Jane.”
I sat and listened while Suzette explained the whole situation to David, occasionally stopping to collect her thoughts and emotions. After five minutes on the phone she hung up. She seemed relieved when she handed the phone back to me. “He’s going to speak with Jane right away and send her home.”
“You did the right thing. Jane needs to receive more psychiatric help, and you should contact the hospital she stayed immediately at to tell them what’s been happening. I’ll help you with anything you need.”
“Thank you.”
We said a tearful goodbye and I left the Starbucks to head back to the facility. While walking I thought more about Suzette. I felt horrible to put her in this situation. What other choice did I have? I couldn't just ignore this and pretend that Jane was like any other nurse. She’s different, and her presence at the facility posed danger to everyone there, including me.
When I arrived at the facility, I went through the front doors and spoke with the receptionist.
“Do you know if David spoke with Jane?”
“He did. He took her out of the class and into his office. Jane left shortly after, running out of the facility in a panic. She seemed upset. What’s this all about?”
“Long story, I’ll tell you another time. If you see Jane here at all, call security.”
I left the desk and began walking to David’s office. I needed to speak with him and ask him what happened when he told Jane she had to leave. When I reached his door, I knocked. “David? It’s Alex. Can I speak with you?” He didn't answer. I knocked again. “David, please, I know you probably don’t want to talk about this, but I need to speak to you about everything.” Still no answer.
I twisted the knob and opened the door to the most gruesome scene I ever laid eyes on. There, sitting in the chair behind his desk, was David. A scalpel stuck out of his chest and his throat was slit. His clothes were soaked in blood.
Jane had murdered David.

Part 4 – A Mother’s Love

I want to ask you a question. Have you ever sympathized with someone who did something violent? A Father who beat his daughter’s rapist to death? A woman who shoots her abusive husband? Who determines the line of morality? We’re all capable of violence. We just need the motivation. I don’t regret anything. Not what I’ve done, and not what I’m going to do.

My legs buckled. I dropped to my knees. I cried.
David had finally given Jane something she was trying to achieve for more than three years, and then swiftly took it away. She made him pay the ultimate price.
Investigators later said David was stabbed 36 times. A crime of passion…emotion.
But the real question now was: where is Jane? And who would be next?
At the scene, police attempted to contact Jane and Suzette. Neither answered. They asked me a bunch of questions. It was one of the moments where your mind was operating in slow motion while everyone else whirled around you at a much faster speed.
“She’s going to go after her mother. You have to send someone to protect her,” I told one officer.
“Don’t worry, we have a cruiser headed to her house now.”
Once they eased up on me I called my fiancé. “Go to your mom’s house, pack one bag for you and one for me. Enough to last us a couple of weeks. We’re not safe here. We need to leave town. Don’t go anywhere by yourself. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
She didn’t put up a fight. I explained the entire situation to the officers and told them I was leaving town until everything was resolved. One officer gave me a suspicious look when I told him.
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask that you don’t leave town at this time.”
“Why? Am I a suspect?”
“You’re a person of interest. Personally, I know you had nothing to do with this. But on paper, you’re the person who found the body, and other employees have made statements that you two had an argument earlier in the day.” Ms. Duncan. “Once we get the prints back on the murder weapon you’ll be cleared.”
“And how long will that take?”
“Couple days.”
“So what am I supposed to do in the meantime when this psycho comes after me?”
“Don’t worry; we’ll have a cruiser outside your house at all times.”
Yeah, so you can watch me, I thought.
I called my fiancé again. “You only need to pack one bag...”

How can we live in a world where those who perpetually take advantage of the system somehow always get special treatment? They act irresponsibly and get rewarded for it. And the ones who genuinely apply themselves are spit on by society? Is that fair?

They took me to the station for some more questioning and to take my fingerprints. The sooner they got the results back the better. They took a DNA sample too, just for good measure. I had nothing to hide, and I wanted them off my case.
My fiancé left town with her mother to stay with some family in New Jersey. She came to the station before leaving for support and to say goodbye. I really wanted to be with her to make sure she was safe and no one could harm her. Sadly, she was safer being as far away from me as possible.
They located Suzette and brought her to the station. She actually never left the Starbucks. When she saw me she looked away. I think she was ashamed. But still no word of Jane. They pinged her cell phone; no response. She must have taken the battery out. There was an APB out on her car. I was told investigators were monitoring her credit/debit card activity as well for any clues on where she could be.
After a few hours at the station, investigators “escorted” me home. When we arrived at my house, three officers came inside with me to search every room. They looked in every closet and behind every door. Nothing. One of them looked under my bed and found my gun.
“You got a permit for this?”
He studied the case and inspected the lock. “Glock?”
I nodded. “29. Subcompact 10mm auto.”
He looked at the case some more before handing it over to me. “Be careful with it.”
Duh. That gun was now the best security I had. If I have to stay here while they take their time ruling me out I wasn’t going to let it out of my sight. After the police left I took the gun out of the case, loaded ten rounds into the magazine, loaded the chamber and put the safety on. I never keep it loaded, but I needed to be prepared. I kept it in a holster that gripped the belt on my pants.
The window overlooked the police cruiser parked on the street outside. Only one officer stayed behind. His job was to sit out there all day and watch my house. What fun. A day went by. Life became a mixture of boredom and anxiety very quickly. It’s difficult to focus on anything to occupy yourself when there’s a person out there who wants you dead. The next evening, I had enough of sitting around. I had to get out of the house. Pizza, that should do the trick. But when I walked outside towards my car, the officer in the cruiser outside stopped me.
“What are you doing?”
“Pizza. I’m hungry.”
“Tell me what you want, I’ll get it for you.”
“I’m not a flight risk, I’ll be right back.”
“It’s not safe for you to leave. Tell me what you want.”
I’m a prisoner in my own home. “The place around the corner, Penìspies. Just two plain slices.”
He called in my order on the radio. A few minutes later I watched as another cruiser pulled up and handed a pizza box to the guy sitting outside. He got out as the other cruiser pulled away and walked to my front door and rang the bell. I walked downstairs from my bedroom and answered the door.
“Here’s your piz...”
Before he could finish the word, a baseball bat appeared from the side of the doorway, striking the officer in the head and knocking him out cold. His body fell forward and landed with a large thud on the wood floor.
A figure dressed in all black walked through the door, stepping over the unconscious police officer with black combat boots as I fiddled with the holster to take out my gun.
It wasn’t Jane. It was Suzette.

This world…this backwards, messed up world, ruined my daughter and took her away from me. She’s gone. Soon I will be with her again. My lovely Jane.

She lunged and swung the bat at me, missing by inches as I stumbled backwards, falling to the floor.
“It’s YOUR fault. YOU made me do it.”
She raised the bat above her head and swung it straight down at me. I rolled out of the way, fumbling with my holster as I landed into a position on all fours looking behind me to see what Suzette’s next move was. I started crawling away.
“You forced me to make that call. You cost my Jane her life!” She swung again, but I pounced to my feet and began running towards my dining room.
Finally, the gun was free from the holster. I planted my feet and turned towards Suzette, pointing my gun at her in the process. “Don’t move, Suzy. I don’t want to shoot you.” Suzette’s face suddenly filled with defeat, realizing there was nothing more she could do. Attacking me was out of the question without the risk of bodily harm. Her body let out a sigh as she stood still looking at me.
“Go ahead. I have nothing left to live for.”
“That’s not true, Suzy.”
“NO!” she started crying. “I have nothing now. Because of YOU!”
She stepped forward. “DON’T! Don’t make me do this, Suzy.”
Suzette ignored my warning and jumped at me with the bat above her head. I pointed my gun and shot her in the leg. She instantly fell to the floor, grasping the wound and crying out in pain. I pulled out my phone from my pocket and dialed 9-1-1. Suzette heard me on the phone and left me with one last threat.
“You’ll rot for this.”

The police came and whisked Suzette away on a stretcher, asking me tons of questions in the process. Nobody expected Suzette to be the attacker, and I was just as surprised as they were.
While searching Suzette’s home later that evening, they found Jane’s body. She had killed herself by slitting her wrists in the bathtub. Her time of death was estimated at 10:00am. Suzette had been hiding Jane from authorities, but Jane apparently had had enough of life.
The next day Suzette's body was found in her hospital room. She strangled herself with an IV line, but not before scribbling her suicide note on a napkin with a crayon.
As for me…I’m getting married next month. My fiancé finishes nursing school in January.
I hope she gets a job.

The Fourth Domain - Finale

Thank you, once again, for those who took the time to read the third entry in the Shaun Brewer series. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as...