My mentor is a vampire. I know that sounds ridiculous, but there’s really no other way of putting it. And no, I’m not talking metaphorically or trying to make some sort of pithy personality assessment: the guy is a vampire. He feeds on human blood. I don’t know if there are other kinds of vampire, but he’s definitely the kills-people-and-drinks-their-blood kind. Yeah. I was surprised too.
I’d expected a mentor, of course. That’s the way these things work: it’s the person who is supposed to look after you and to help you find your feet in the company as you settle into the world of work, someone other than your boss that you can seek out for advice. I knew that this person was probably going to be someone who had been around for a while and knew the ropes…. Hell, I expected the best. After all that recruitment, you’d hate to think that they’d ruin it by just chucking you at the first person to put their hand up in a team meeting. But, seriously? A vampire? You have got to be kidding me.
They were not kidding me.
I was excited about this job. I’ve worked hard to get here. The days when you could coast through your degree and expect to walk into a decent job are long gone. Graduates used to be the exception, but now they’re very much the rule. If everyone else has a degree, then you need to have something else that marks you out. I always wanted to study English Literature, but that just wasn’t going to make the grade on the job market, so I studied Business and IT instead, taking a year out between my second and third years to do a placement at some bank or other. I won’t lie to you: it wasn’t the most exciting year of my life, but they paid me, they trained me and they sent me back to university with a job offer and a year’s worth of experience for my CV that immediately put me ahead of the others who stayed in the campus bar. That job offer was my safety net, but I was determined to do better and I set my sights higher.
As everyone knows, the best paid and hardest to get jobs on the market are at this place. The recruitment is tough and the competition ferocious, but I thought I was good and I certainly knew that I was determined. Hell, I had nothing to lose. It took me three interviews, several group exercises and a battery of psychometric testing, but I made the grade and the day the job offer came through my door was a good one.
I was excited about joining. Of course I was excited. This was my first real job; the start of my career. This was going to be my launchpad and it was going to be amazing.
And they put my career in the hands of a killer.
Ack. I make it sound so melodramatic. It actually wasn’t as bad as you might think and I’m pretty sure now that it could have been a lot worse. When I first saw him, I thought he was just another guy. Older, of course, but that was to be expected and he otherwise looked pretty normal to me. Tall. A generic looking older guy in a suit. He as one of those people who looked to me like he could as easily have been fifty as thirty. I was barely twenty-one years old, so to me he was ancient either way.
“Hello. You must be Natasha. I’m Joshua”. He smiled at me warmly and extended his hand. I took it. I don’t remember if it felt cool to the touch. If it did, it certainly didn’t seem unusual to me.
I’d spent most of the preceding two weeks on some sort of company induction with the other new graduate starters. They seemed okay, a little earnest and eager to please perhaps, but I was no different and I suppose it was something to be expected. It was my ninth day with the company, and it was now time for me to join up with my department and to spend Friday afternoon with them before starting in earnest on the Monday morning. I was expecting my line manager, someone called Phil Johnson, not this guy. Joshua seemed to read my mind and moved quickly to clear up any confusion.
“I’m afraid that Phil is on holiday this week. He’ll be back on Monday, but they’ve asked me to look after you this afternoon. I’m going to be your mentor.”
“Yes, tea and sympathy. That kind of thing.” He smiled again, a lop-sided, sarcastic kind of half smile. He went on. “I’m not sure if you need any sympathy just yet. I suppose that depends on the induction”. He glanced at the lady from HR hovering just behind us. “Can I get you a cup of tea though?”
“Well, follow me then”. With that, he swept out of the room, leaving me trailing in his wake as he strode off down a long corridor.
Did I know he was a vampire then? No. Did it take me long to find out? No. Once he’d bought me that tea and sat me down on a comfortable chair in the café, he told me himself. Why? I still don’t really know. Did I believe him? Well, he was very convincing.
It was an interesting way to end the week.