Thursday, March 31, 2016

My Batman-Loving Colleague's Opportunity of a Lifetime

I write a lot: for work and school, as a hobby, in my sleep. It is usually not appropriate for me to publish what I write for work, but I can in this case. Yesterday this story I wrote about my colleague published in my organization's newsletter. Enjoy.

* * *

James Olsen, an ace interviewer at Manhattan's immigration office, arrived at work March 28 with a case already resting on his desk. His supervisor left a sticky note on the file: “For James only.”

Olsen spent his entire lunch break studying the file and preparing for his 1 p.m. interview. After the interview, he would have to recommend that the immigrant either get approved or denied for citizenship.

Olsen, the only employee at his office to wear a bow tie—or for that matter, the only person at the supermarket, swimming pool and Sahara desert to wear one—waited his entire life for this opportunity. Olsen grew up as the “smart kid” in Yonkers, New York. Other students teased him for his quick brain and too-polite manner. Olsen didn’t care because his mind was always elsewhere, on his next project or big idea.

He never imagined his next project would be conducting this naturalization interview.

With his typical afternoon glass of cucumber juice in front of him, Olsen called in the applicant. He introduced himself and offered his coat rack for the applicant’s cape, though the applicant respectfully declined. Olsen began. “Please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the statements you are about to make will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

“Yes,” the applicant said, and sat.

“Thank you,” Olsen said. “I hope traffic wasn’t too bad. I know how it gets around lunchtime.

“Please state your name.”

“My name is Kal-El,” the applicant said.

“Have you gone by any other names?”

“Yes. Many people call me Superman,” said the applicant.

“Great. And Kal-El, what is your date of birth?”

“February 29, 1938.”

“Wow, you are 78 years old. Bravo! Thank you for giving me that information. And what is your country of origin.”

Kal-El looked down and fidgeted with his cape. Now suspicious, Olsen sat upright and motionless in his chair, waiting for Kal-El to respond, and when he did, Olsen could hardly hear it. Olsen asked Kal-El to repeat himself. Kal-El raised his eyes and voice, yet spoke with a softness that would calm a Black Mamba on a 115-degree afternoon. “I hail from Krypton, a planet in the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way called Andromeda Galaxy. Krypton once boasted a great civilization but exploded as a result of unstable geological conditions. My loving parents rocketed me away to survive and I landed in Kansas, USA, where I grew up.”

Kal-El went on to explain how his adopted parents, the Kents, raised him to love his adopted country—America!

Olsen glanced at his Batman action figure sitting on his desk, a remnant of Take Your Action Figure to Work Day on March 4. Batman rescued a woman in his apartment building when he was a boy and Olsen loved the Caped Crusader ever since. He knew Batman had said unkind things about Superman in the past, but he could not let that cloud his judgement. The integrity of the U.S. immigration system was extremely important.
Batman action figure
James Olsen's Batman figurine, still on his desk weeks after Take Your Action Figure to Work Day
Olsen concluded the interview and thanked Kal-El for his time. Kal-El extended his hand which Olsen returned with a firm shake and a smile. "Take care, sir," Kal-El said, and left.

Olsen finished adjudicating the case and closed the file. Someday his children, and his children's children, will read about this in their history books. Olsen felt joyous knowing that he played a role in making America better.

Superman would soon be a citizen of the United States of America.

And Superman's first words as an American would be: Happy April Fool's Day.


Jeff R said...

Great posting. I was glued to this story and the ending was a real surprise.

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Thanks, Dad. I'm glad I "got" you with the April Fool's ending.