It has only been fifteen minutes. Carl knows that is not so late. Still his heel hammers incessantly on the carpet of the waiting room, the rattling of his stack of resumes making more noise than the footfalls. His knee aches a bit from the constant motion but nowhere near as bad as his chest as anxiety grips him tight. It has only been sixteen minutes now, and that is more than enough time to worry.
It has been three years since he held a real job. He spent fifteen years at the old tool and die place, ten of them as a shift supervisor. That was until some suit decided to close up the plant and move all the jobs to Indonesia. Carl had been there long enough, they said they wanted him to stay on, and keep his not quite six figure salary, but he would have to move to Jakarta. He would have to take his two kids out of school and move them half a world away. That, or miss the last few years of their childhood while he lived away from them. They even offered him a raise, a good one, but it was still no kind of choice. So he sat back helplessly as his job moved to the other side of the world.
Now he waits in this office, and it has only been eighteen minutes, and that is not really that long, but it gives him more than enough time to check out the other pairs of bouncing knees and shaking resumes. It gives him time to notice they are younger. It gives him time to notice no rings on their fingers which means no obligations, or at least less of them, outside the job. It gives him time to realize he is, in all likelihood, the least desirable candidate.
He hears the voices on the other side of the door get a little louder as they move towards it. It has only been twenty minutes now, and that is not too late. Just like it is not too late to save for his retirement even though the company screwed everyone out of their pensions. It is not too late to start all over again with the kids in college. It is never too late, he tells himself as he hears “Carl England, they’re ready for you.”