I Want to Work in the Mailroom

We’ve been going through a lot of changes at my company lately. Outsourcing some services, bringing others in house. One of the services we’ve decided to bring in house is the mail room. For years now Pitney Bowes has provided service, now it seems we can save money by running it ourselves. All of the current Pitney Bowes employees have applied for the newly created jobs. It’s been my job to interview them, somewhat of a formality, but necessary nonetheless. A strange phenomenon has emerged.

One of the questions I ask is “Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with someone you didn’t get along with. What was the situation and how did you handle it?” Basically, as long as they don’t answer, “He looked at me wrong and I took an axe to him,” they’re in. I ask this question to the first candidate. He looks at me with a blank stare then says, “I don’t understand. I get along with everyone.” I look back, somewhat incredulous. “You mean to tell me, in 15 years of dealing with customers, you’ve never not gotten along with someone?” He shrugs. “People get upset, it’s okay. I listen, I fix the problem. It’s all good.”

I ask the question to the second candidate. She says, “Oh, no, we all get along. No problems. We are one big happy family in the mail room. No problems.” I press further. That’s her story and she’s sticking to it.

The third, the fourth, the fifth candidates all answer similarly. Each time I get to that question in the interview, I start to smile, wondering if this candidate, too, will extol the virtues of working in the mailroom. They all do.

I’m in one of the last interviews. I ask the question, waiting for the answer, smiling to myself. “Oh, there is no not getting along. We all work together, we help each other out. Please, please, I ask you. Please do not hire only some of us. Don’t separate us. I really hope you can hire us all.”

After the interview I address my manager. “I’m officially entering my name as a candidate for the mailroom. I don’t know what they’re doing down there, but I want a piece of it.”

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