Vol. 7, Issue 4, October 27, 2009
Sign of the Times: Help Wanted
Despite vigorous claims to the Contrary, every organization has that One Person who is Indispensable to its smooth operation, and our humble Publication is no exception. As it happens, this person is not Me - recent months have shown Ample evidence that the dusty confines of our News-Room remain a-bustle even while I am away for Extended periods (though, it must be Admitted, not a lot of News gets published during these times). The person without whom the gears of our machine Truly stop, however, is the redoubtable Elisabeth, she of the effortless Efficiency and peerless Coffee. No mere Modern Millie she, Elisabeth is able to keep the Fires stoked, Ephram's madcap schemes at bay, and the waistcoat of our resident Monkey, Colonel Worthington, spotless and Fresh. She is the Ms. Lemon to my Poirot, the Jeeves to my Wooster - words indeed Fail me, for once, in expressing her Value.
When she got Married last year, I feared that she would leave us to fend for Ourselves; but she has thankfully remained at her Post, with but the Occasional sabbatical (which I can hardly Deny her!) This time, she and her Husband are undertaking a trip around the World - by Zeppelin, I believe - resulting in a longer Absence than usual (some Months, according to the Brochure) and necessitating the hiring of a Temporary worker.
I am Puzzled as to how to write the Job Description. It takes me a full Morning, and three full Pipes, to enumerate all the Tasks that my dear Elisabeth handles for us. The resulting Advertorial was as Follows:
WANTED: A lady of Quality to fulfill a supporting rôle at a Modest News-Publishing Agency. Must be certified in Babbage Difference Engine care and Upkeep, Morse code, and capable of distinguishing between the three primary variants of Teletype-oil by sight and Scent. Ideally, the candidate shall be in Vigorous health and sufficiently well-versed in the modern European languages to handle international Visitors with aplomb. Employment duties include regular contact with the Constabulary (in the context of bailing out my ne'er-do-well Nephew), resisting the illicit promises of said nephew's Schemes, and Horse-Grooming as necessary. Occasional excursions in the company Crossley will necessitate facility with a Steam-clutch and a Tyre-iron. Intimate knowledge of Scotches, including the ability to distinguish Speyside from Lowland brands upon sight, is a Plus, as is the ability to successfully track Pachyderms through an Urban Environment and successfully distinguish the African from the Asiatic varieties sight unseen. Preferably, the applicant should possess an Encyclopedic knowledge of Longfellow, Poe, Dickens, Spinoza, and Rabelais; Latin compositions should be at a University level, though knowledge of Greek may be limited to reading Only. This business also employs the Tele-Phone, which applicant should be prepared to turn On, answer as Needed, and wax Thoroughly thrice weekly. Those with a talent for Scrimshaw will receive special consideration, as will those who are familiar with principal ships of the Line and the proper method of brewing a good strong café noir without setting the office on Fire. Position is temporary, to last no more than three or four Months, so applicants should Not expect to have time to learn additional languages while on the Job. Compensation to depend upon Experience and the presence or absence of a Parasol.
Upon looking over my masterwork, through the remaining clouds of sweet Pipe-smoke, I was forced to admit that we were asking for quite a Bit; surely there would not be more than Three or Four such ladies meeting this description in our greater metropolitan Area, and those with a talent for Pachyderm-tracking are frequently in high demand. Would anyone apply? I wondered.
But I had forgotten about the state of the Economy, for no sooner had we Posted our advertorial than we began receiving Applications a-plenty. Which meant that, after a mere Day or two, I now have more than Six Hundred resumés to review, each claiming knowledge of six Languges, extensive expertise in Scotches, and to have completely memorized Longfellow's edition of Danté's Divina Commedia. I wonder if I shall finish the job before Elisabeth comes back from her vacation.