I was getting desperate.
I’d left the news world and realized I was unsuitable for anything corporate like public relations. I thought about trying my hand at advertising but somehow convincing people to buy crap they didn’t really need or want seemed… unethical.
I’d turned to compulsively applying for every job I thought I was qualified. I then started lying and applied for jobs I knew were over my head. Process engineer. Financial planning. Internal auditing.
The big problem was that I was too far removed from school to suggest that I could be taught a new job. Plus, explaining how great you were at covering triple homicides or tastefully printing the amusing parts of a rape trial doesn’t translate well to most other jobs. And of course, a good reference from the paper was out unattainable.
For a time I was able to make it on the meager amount of savings I’d stashed into the paper’s retirement plan. I thought I would get unemployment benefits but there was a dispute as to whether I was fired with cause. Looking back, it was a fairly mutual parting of ways.
The job I originally applied for was Cementing Field Engineer. Oil field services companies generally have no need for English majors. It was dumb luck that the head of HR even looked at my resume.
The president of the company, Stuart Byrd, had an estranged daughter named Jessie. The girl was totally adrift with slight sociopathic tendencies.
Mr. Byrd had given up on his daughter a long time ago. When she was younger, he and her mother had created a trust fund for her. Her mother died and her contribution to the fund was entered into the proper accounts for Jessie. The money, some $6 million, was hers if she managed to graduate from a credited university.
All things being equal, he was willing to write her off as a failed project but Jessie was becoming a bit of an embarrassment for him around Houston. Mr. Byrd worked hard his whole life to remove himself from his humble beginnings. Now, his 24-year-old daughter’s antics were threatening to expose the white trash genome than ran deep in the family tree.
If she had the money, the hope was she’d eventually go away or grow up. Mr. Byrd really didn’t care which route she took. He just wanted to keep her out of sight.
I was told she was a bright girl but “lacked focus.” My “job” was to get her back into college and to eventually graduate. Sort of like being a tutor/mentor except the job turned into more of a babysitting gig.
Lots of people out there would be better at this than me, perhaps a hospital orderly. Luckily, the head of HR was fairly lazy, as most are, and under the gun to “diversify” the work force. My name looked hispanic and that was enough to help mend a previous discrimination case entangling the company. He actually marked the “race” box for me on my application. The English major was, for once, a plus since Mr. Byrd figured if worst came to pass, I could just ghost write Jessie into a cap and gown. It’s the only time my name has ever worked in my favor.
I was warned that if she didn’t make progess academically the employment agreement would end. If she finally does graduate, Mr. Byrd promised me a small stipen. Regular reports would be filed to him directly.
Also, I am suppose to make sure she keeps a low profile.
The money is good. The hours are unpredictable.