“Have you been looking for a job?”
When Mr. G. didn’t answer, I kept looking him in the eye, saying nothing, an old trick I’d learned when I was a middle school teacher. Sit there silently, looking them in the eye and eventually the silence becomes too much to bear.
“Um, a job?” he mumbled.
“Yes. Have you been looking for a job?” I repeated, not breaking eye contact.
“Yes. Yes, I have.” Mr. G. straightened himself in his chair and looked at me timidly, then looked back at the ground.
“Mr. G.,” I said, “You know it is part of your parole that you must not only check in with me weekly, but you also must be actively looking for employment.”
“Well,” Mr. G.’s eyes brightened momentarily. “I had something lined up last week. Kind of a freelance thing.”
“Yeah, but it didn’t work out like I expected.” His shoulders drooped and he looked up at me like a dog expecting to be punished after tearing up a cushion on the sofa.
“It wouldn’t have anything to do with this, would it?” I turn around the monitor of my computer and show Mr. G. a website. The headline of whovilletimes.com says “Local man finds gifts on mountain, returns them in time for celebration.” Next to the story is a picture of Mr. G., seated at the head of a huge table, preparing to carve the roast.
“Well, you see, I can explain that…” stammered Mr. G.
“No need, Mr. G. If this story is true, I think I have all the information I need about the status of your parole.” I begin typing, entering data into Mr. G.’s file.
“Wait, wait, there has to be another way!”
“For what?” I ask, my fingers hovering above my keyboard. “It says right here you heart is enlarged. The doctor says it’s grown three times since he first examined you. That qualifies you for a medical disability, Mr. G.”
“Sure, you can’t work with an enlarged heart.” I begin typing again. “I’ll finish your application this afternoon and you should start receiving your check next month.”
A grin came over Mr. G.’s face. In fact, it seemed to take over his whole face. “Could you say that again? It’s something I simply MUST hear.”