On the second day of in-service week between the semesters my TA had just settled into compiling the results from my course evaluations when the fire alarm stopped my heart.
Outside we watched the response team wrestle with their fire gear and deploy to the affected buildings. Milling about we spotted our boss coming down the yard with one of the librarian candidates. The Librarian position is ridiculously difficult to fill. Despite the numbers that have been laid off there seems to be no one left in our state with a Library of Science degree, as the position requires; and of those remaining, none were willing to work in the prison. Not that I blame them.
Our boss walked back to the library with another candidate. This string of interviews looked promising. Beside me a coworked smirked, “The man’s going to get it. Isn’t is that the rule around here?” I looked at her. A couple of the staff agreed. I had to ask, “But I thought I was competing against a man.” She rolled her eyes, “He didn’t pass his background check. That’s all. Otherwise it would’ve been the man, for sure.” We headed inside, my heart mixed. What she said jived with the treatment I had received, the cold, cautious welcome to the facility. I had always suspected that my boss and his second-in-command had serious reservations about hiring me. I guess that’s what made my success that much more of a welcome surprise. None of that would matter after I had time to reel from the coolness with which this information had been passed to me. If it were in my nature, surely I would have said something smart back since she seemed oblivious to my feelings. More likely she didn’t care.
Driving home that evening when I had the time to reflect on the conversation in peace I would thank God for the conversation. Didn’t it confirm His providence? That’s what I would tell myself on bad days in the face of sneers from the offenders. With Him on my side what could these guys do? Why was I here? You’ll have to ask God himself that question.