Good news for Alistair: He has a job! He’s officially the new janitor at the mall.
Landing this role, however, wasn't easy. It required an appearance from a very angry Mama Grizzly.
I pick Alistair up from the shelter one morning to take him to a job interview.
“Alistair, you look amazing!” I tell him, as he hops in the passenger side.
For a moment, I am too stunned to drive. I stare at the man sitting next to me, who looks nothing like the one I met a few months ago. The new Alistair looks polished and professional, wearing grey slacks and a white collared dress shirt. He’s also sporting a new haircut that makes him look about ten years younger. You’d never in a million years guess that this man is homeless.
“Presentable, I hope?” He smiles shyly.
Alistair chats my ear off the whole way there, as we rehearse – me asking him potential interview questions, and him answering. His answers are perfect and by the time I drop him off, I’m convinced that when he comes back out, he will be employed.
A few moments pass and I see Alistair approaching my van, his eyes cast down at the ground. I look at the clock and realize it’s only been about five minutes. This can’t be good.
He gets in.
“What happened?” I ask him.
He is silent for a moment before looking up at me sadly.
“No one wants to hire a dumb old bloke like me. I should’ve known.”
Alistair explains to me that he hadn’t even sat down for the interview when the man had taken one look at his resume and told him that they don’t employ “the homeless.”
Immediately my blood starts to boil. Alistair is not “the homeless!” How dare he!
I throw the car into park and tell Alistair to get out.
“Take me to where he is,” I say, my nostrils flaring like a wild animal.
We reach the interviewer’s office and I see the little scumbag sitting at his desk through a glass door. Who the hell does he think he is? He looks like he could be homeless himself, with his ratty long hair and ripped jeans. At least Alistair looks presentable!
I barge through Mall Rat’s door, my heart pounding so hard that I can actually hear it.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” I shout at a shocked Mall Rat.
“Excuse me?” He says.
“This man is doing everything he can to get ahead. Do you know what he did to prepare for this interview? He used his only Christmas present to buy clothes for this! And I bet you didn’t even notice that this “homeless man” used to be an investment banker. Do you know what kind of drive and intelligence it takes to even get into school for that?”
“I’m sorry – I’ve just had bad experiences with them before,” says Mall Rat.
I look at him in disbelief.
“He’s not a ‘them’ - his name is Alistair and what you’re doing to Alistair is called discrimination. Do you also not employ women? Or black people? Maybe you thought that you could get away with it since he has no money to sue you with – but you know what? He’s with me, and for your information, my husband’s a lawyer.”
That last part gets his attention. He grabs the resume from my hand and asks Alistair to have a seat.
I sit in the waiting room feeling exhilarated. I can’t believe I just did that! I mean, I’ve seen The Blind Side and always secretly fantasized about turning into Sandra Bullock’s character and going all Mama Grizzly on someone's ass, but never thought I’d actually have the chance… or the balls!
Moments later, Alistair and Mall Rat emerge from the office. They shake hands. Mall Rat looks at me.
“I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, Maam.” He scurries back into his office.
“Practical Joe never told me he’s a lawyer,” Alistair says to me on the way back to the shelter.
“That’s because he isn’t one,” I say.
“Ohh,” Alistair stares into space for a moment before adding, “Good one.”
For the rest of the way, we are silent.