Mitch walked into the office. He was 15 minutes early for the interview, so he sat by the reception area after checking in. The receptionist smiled at him, however he couldn’t help but notice her prolonged gaze, almost as if she hesitated before telling him that Mr. Smith would let her know when he could head back.
Mitch was 20 years old, and a college graduate. He’d studied hard, and his internship at a small branch of the larger company had earned him the interview. He was nervous, but well prepared for almost anything. It turned out that no amount of preparation could have helped him in the awkwardness that was about to occur.
Mr. Smith called for Mitch about 20 minutes later. Mitch walked down the hall and was beckoned into Smith’s office by his loud booming voice. Mitch could be quite loud too, however that was with friends. Today he was somewhat reserved, sitting in a new suit, mentally ready for the barrage of questions.
Smith and Mitch looked at each other for a moment after shaking hands, as Smith got a pen and pad ready to take notes.
“Uh”, Smith began, slightly taken aback, “Where are you from, Mitch?”
“From outside Newberry”, Mitch replied.
“Newberry…. “, Smith said, rolling it around in his mind and mouth. He almost visibly shook his head as if shaking off the feeling of discontinuity. He asked Mitch several pre-written questions from a standard interview form, but stopped about 10 minutes in.
“Mitch, I gotta ask this – have we met before?”, Smith asked.
“I don’t think so, I’ve never been to the city before, and I don’t think you ever visited the branch I interned at”, Mitch replied.
“But still, you seem really familiar”
“Yes, you seem a bit familiar too”, Mitch said as he glanced around the room. Noticing pictures of presumably Smith’s family, Mitch was shocked to see people who looked familiar as well. Smith noticed Mitch’s eyes glancing and took down the photo with the most number of people in it.
“Is that your mother?”, Mitch asked as he pointed to one of several older women in the photo, “And an aunt – there – from your father’s side?”.
Astonished, Smith replied affirmatively. Mitch looked at each member of the family and guessed their relationship to Smith, guessing correctly every time. Mitch then pulled out his wallet and showed Smith several photos. Somehow, Smith was equally able to name them.
“Mitch, you just graduated college, correct?”, Smith asked after the photos had been stowed and shelved.
“Yes, in December 2011”, Mitch replied.
“I graduated in December 2001”, Smith said.
The began to compare life histories, and over the course of the hour, an hour that was supposed to be filled with questions about a prospective job, benefits, challenges, and the like, they realized that their histories ran roughly parallel, 10 years removed. They even bore a resemblance to each other physically, although they didn’t notice this until near the end of their meeting.
The two men parted company but promised to consult with family and friends, looking to see if somehow they were connected. Obviously Smith liked Mitch, and recommended he be hired. Some months later, Mitch received a call from his great-grandmother, who was ill and normally not able to talk. She was feeling good that day, and wanted to speak to her only great-grandson. Mitch asked her about Smith, telling the matriarch the details of their meeting.
“Well Mitch”, the old woman began, “When you reach my age, you realize something. We’re all fundamentally living the same lives, just years apart. Some times it’s more noticeable than others, such as with you and your friend there. And you, my child, have hopefully saved yourself a lot of grief by learning this life lesson early.
“What do you mean Grandma?”, Mitch asked.
“It’s easier to spend life recognizing the common threads that bind us together, and not focus on the loose ends that distinguish us.”