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The Voice in the Back Seat

I hadn’t worked in years. Who would hire someone like me?

The Voice in the Backseat
Credit: Gudella

I shuffled through the articles I’d brought, trying to look like I belonged here—the offices of the Wichita Eagle, the biggest newspaper in the city. The receptionist spoke to someone on the phone in hushed tones, probably discussing how to politely turn me away. After all, I’d walked in off the street to ask for a job, even though I knew they weren’t hiring. If I told them I was following the command of a strange voice, they’d probably call security.

Just a few months prior, I never imagined I’d be looking for a job. My husband was the breadwinner in our family, and he’d moved up to Wichita before us to seek a more lucrative job opportunity. Our two kids and I joined him as soon as he was settled. But he had changed in the time we were apart. Then he hit me with four terrible words: “I want a divorce.”

Now I was starting over at 38 years old. I needed a way to provide for my children, but I hadn’t held a job since my time as a reporter for the Garber Sentinel, a small-town weekly, over a decade ago. My daughter suggested applying to the Eagle, but that was the big leagues. “Even if they had positions available, I wouldn’t get past the front door,” I said.

Instead, this morning I’d brought my articles to a temp agency. They weren’t too enthusiastic about my prospects. I was sitting in my car, wondering what to do next, when I heard it. “Go to the Wichita Eagle.” A loud, clear voice from the back seat. Of course no one was there. Great, now I’m hearing things, I thought.

“Go to the Wichita Eagle now.” The voice boomed again.

“Fine! I will!” I shouted, not sure who I was shouting at. I’d prove it was a waste of time.

The receptionist finally hung up the phone and smiled at me. “You can head upstairs,” she said. “One of our managing editors will interview you.”

Interview me? Flustered, I walked into the editor’s office. I showed him my articles and we discussed my experience. He seemed impressed. At the end, he extended his hand. “You’re hired,” he said.

“Seriously? Just like that?” “You’re perfect,” he said. “And with perfect timing, too. We needed to fill this job right away—the woman who had it quit just hours ago.”

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