We Didn’t Hire Molly
Catherine Wilson Garry
Illustration by Andre Poise
On Thursday, we met Molly. Molly had a neat fringe and two perfect rows of clean white teeth that she touched with her tongue when she answered all the questions we asked her. She gave a presentation on an iPad that included colour-coded highlights and two graphs. She brought copies of her resume on paper that felt like silk. She had worked at three other marketing companies and had seen some noteworthy success with an Instagram campaign for cucumber and elderflower sparkling water. She showed it to us on one of the graphs on her iPad.
We asked some anecdotal questions, and she provided a list of hobbies that showed she was hard-working and upstanding: running, learning new languages, listening to podcasts. We made sure that at least a third of the podcasts related to Business and Management before we continued with the interview.
Molly seemed to really want this job, and that made us feel good. We smiled. We took notes. Later, we laminated and filed them so what she gave us would be perfect forever.
When we spoke with Molly’s references on the phone we made a note of the adjectives used to describe her and created a dynamic Word Cloud in the shape of an arrow pointing upwards (because success is paramount to us and an arrow pointing upwards is a clear symbol for success). The most common words that came up in our conversations were:
Molly’s mother told us that when Molly was a child she once put her younger brother on the front of her bicycle and cycled them both all the way to the hospital because he had broken his arm. It took her over an hour and her feet blistered but she got him there. Her brother still has a scar on his elbow he would show when prompted. This added a sense of self-sacrifice to Molly that we approved of.
Molly’s morning alarm was one she set on her mobile phone, using the default Samsung ringtone “Retro Beep.” Her normal waking time was 6:00 a.m., and her standard time to get out of bed was 6:14 a.m. She would eat a nutritionally balanced meal and perform roughly thirty-six minutes of yoga before showering and dressing for her commute.
We agreed we found yoga as a morning activity heartening. One of us mentioned that yoga, as a form of exercise, has been shown to extend the average worker’s time in the workplace by roughly 2.5 years. If Molly retired when she was 67.5, she would faithfully give us 38 years of her life. We took a moment to think of those 38 years. They stretched ahead of us like a laden buffet table.
However, when we dissected her later over co-working coffee and team tear-and-share, we agreed that—if we are being picky—we wished she would rise more quickly after waking. We do have a poster in our office that says “The Early Bird Catches the Worm” after all. It’s our mantra. We decided to put a cross next to her name for that.
We went to Molly’s house and assessed the décor. Aside from her sofa and wardrobe, her taste could mostly be described as mid-century modern. We analysed a sample of Molly’s hair we found on her pillow. The results indicated she was exposed to an average level of air pollution and used Head and Shoulders shampoo.
When we scrolled through Molly’s Facebook profile we found a mixture of photographs.
- 23% involved her on, or near, the beach.
- 45% involved some sort of food stuff.
- A further 14% contained romantic partners, though it was hard to ascertain if they were past or present and what Molly’s particular preference, or “type” in a partner was.
- The remaining 18% we filed as miscellaneous.
Molly’s profile also indicated some of her favoured locations: businesses that served combinations of food and alcohol, quiet running spots, a particular brand of coffee shop that served cold drinks with swirled whipped cream on top.
When we called Molly and offered her the job she was very excited and made a joke about having earned herself a takeaway that night. We let that one slide. She posted a photograph that weekend on her Instagram holding a glass of champagne. She seemed happy to join us. We liked that. We like Motivated Team Members.
Four weeks later, a woman showed up for her first day at work. We thought that it was Molly—but by the end of the day, we noticed something had come over her. She had the same neat fringe and two rows of perfect white teeth, but she didn’t look quite right. It was as if someone had put a photograph of Molly at the bottom of a swimming pool, or behind a pair of test lenses at the opticians. It was hard to look at Molly. We all concluded, via our Friday Fun Google Hangout, that our eyes naturally slid off her, as if they couldn’t examine her for too long. Throughout the office we could hear her talking to herself in low, harsh tones. We made a note of that but shredded it later. It was probably just first day nerves.
The next day at lunchtime she heated up a “foul smelling meal,” according to Molly From Sales. Allegedly, it dripped black off the plate and melted through the inside of the microwave. Molly From Sales told us she showed her the fridge full of complimentary drinks—that had raised employee satisfaction by 7.8% in our last survey—and offered her a sparkling water. Molly From Sales said she wrinkled her nose.
“Oh no,” said the New Molly. “I can’t stand the stuff.”
And then she laughed a very deep laugh that sounded very strange and very not like her. Or at least Molly From Sales claims.
We put up a poster in the break room about Communal Kitchen Etiquette. Molly From Sales probably has a limited palette—she only ate two types of sandwich at the last Team Away Day—but we can all agree that fish in the microwave is not really acceptable. We have faith that Molly will learn and adapt.
The New Molly, as a general rule, worked in silence. She didn’t talk about her weekend or past holidays or share anecdotes that made others laugh. She would just sit at her desk in almost a trance-like state. Eye-tracking software indicated her pupils rarely, if ever, left the screen. We noticed and we approved.
Outside of work, Molly still seemed to visit her favoured businesses to acquire food or alcoholic drinks or coffee with whipped cream, or run in her quiet spots in the woods and, perhaps, we imagined, scream for release. She had friends and went on dates and phoned her mother once a week. There was no trace of work Molly in personal Molly’s life and vice versa. We liked it that way.
Sometimes, when Molly sits at her desk, we notice that her eyes roll back into her head. When Molly From Sales asked her if she was okay, she said she was just thinking. She was working on the caption for a new pair of shoes on the website. We understand finding the precise wording can take a lot of concentration. We made a note that perhaps Molly should present her unorthodox method of focus at our next Wellness Wednesday.
We cannot argue with her productivity. She doesn’t get up from her desk and meander over to a colleague to answer a question, she merely turns her head all the way round. She doesn’t take notes during meetings, but can precisely repeat back what was said—in the exact voice someone else said it. Sometimes her lips didn’t even move.
A couple of days later, Molly arrived in her standard outfit of all black—a colour we had assigned to all employees as our research indicated it was associated with productivity—but we noticed that as the day went on her hems became damp. The sleeves on her jacket, shirt, and the bottom of her skirt were all damp. The wetness crept up the fabric as the day went on until Molly was soaked. When Molly From Marketing offered her a lift home so she could change, she narrowed her eyes for a couple of seconds before turning back to a spreadsheet. Molly From Sales said she touched her on the shoulder and the wetness touched her back. She submitted a formal complaint.
Molly went into the break room last week and put a bowl of salt in the microwave. Then she sat with a wooden spoon and ate it all, gagging occasionally. Small mounds of salt and spit crusted onto her keyboard. She cried afterwards, as if it hadn’t had the intended effect. We made a note, but we do respect all employees’ dietary requirements. We ruled this was probably just a new form of body hacking tailored to optimise her work performance.
Molly looks tired. We approached her desk for a chat and offered her a cup of tea, which she knocked off her desk. She screamed “What have you done to me?” before her eyes rolled back again and her tongue poked out of her mouth in a sharp triangle. She used its point to drink the tea drop by drop from the carpet.
Molly went for three bathroom breaks yesterday at 11:17 a.m, 2:51 p.m., and 4:31 p.m. This seemed a little low for our projections of a normal adult female. Molly From Accounting said she went in after her and found a dead raccoon floating in the toilet, but she didn’t have sufficient evidence that the New Molly put it there. Perhaps a raccoon had already been living in the bathroom. We did some research and discovered raccoons aren’t even native to this country, so it was a complete mystery how Molly would even acquire one to put there. We didn’t want to push it any further, as Molly could have easily turned around and claimed it was our raccoon and we’d have nowhere to go from there. We asked Molly From Accounting to submit her concerns in writing and left it.
Molly seems angry. Anger can drive people—when sharpened to the right point.
Molly’s life at home changed. She now had no alarm on her phone, seeming, in fact, to no longer need sleep. She didn’t cook nutritional meals anymore, preferring roadkill or whatever she could find in the woods. We ruled this showed problem-solving and resilience. Her energy seems higher now. She has thrown off whatever she was fighting against. This is the exact kind of character development we like to see in the workforce.
She no longer performed yoga but still meditated. She would spend hours in her bedroom, sitting perfectly still as if waiting. As if in conversation with someone.
She no longer visited her favoured businesses—she was too busy with work. Sacrifices do have to be made. We used a pie chart to calculate when would be a good time to promote Molly. We wanted to strike the perfect balance between keeping her before she upskilled and moved onto another company and not letting her ego inflate too much.
During her appraisal, we phoned her relatives and friends again and turned their responses into a Word Cloud. The most common words used in conversation about her had changed from “friendly,” “funny,” and “hard-working” to:
- “odd” and
The last one was often pronounced with an exclamation mark—”help!”—before the phone line would promptly go dead.
A week later, Molly From Accounting complained, again, about dead animals in the bathroom. Now, it wasn’t just one raccoon but six deer, six street dogs, and six squirrels. We were forced to point out that Molly only ever brought in a smart handbag and lunchbox into work, so it would be very difficult for her to transport a so-called “menagerie of death” into the bathroom. We don’t use those bathrooms anyway, as we have our own floor of the building. But, we don’t like conflict between Molly and New Molly. This case has proven that Molly From Accounting can be unfocused, and could learn a lot from Molly.
We had booked such a lovely Team Away Weekend for the whole company. First, we gathered together to draw a big chart containing lots of words we thought were really important for our working. Some of our favourites included:
In the evening we shared a meal together at a nice restaurant, which we covered twenty percent of, not including drinks. Molly ordered red wine and poured it down her face until it pooled like blood in her lap. She ordered a steak blue and then sent it back for being overcooked. The waiter brought back some raw meat and she swallowed it whole.
Molly From Marketing looked tired at the breakfast buffet the next morning, so we asked why. We were concerned because tiredness can reduce productivity by up to 64%.
“I didn’t sleep a wink,” Molly From Marketing broke down, tearfully. “New Molly was screaming in her room.”
We patted Molly From Marketing on the back in a comforting manner and explained Molly was probably just celebrating the end of year accounts. We agreed it was good to see Molly let loose and engage with her peers.
That afternoon, Molly pushed several colleagues off the Teambuilding Rope Course. We admired Molly’s determination, zeal, competitiveness, and energy, but we made a note she may have to develop her teamwork. She didn’t even apologise for Molly From Customer Satisfaction’s broken leg, even though the bone poked through her trouser leg and she needed stitches.
Despite her flaws, we think Molly will make a fine addition to our management one day. It is a dog-eat-dog world, after all.
Molly came in to work today and, we can all agree, it went downhill from there. We shut ourselves away in the back office when the chanting started. The last thing we heard was Molly From Sales screaming, Molly From Accounting running out the door, and a drip of some kind of liquid on the company-branded linoleum.
The company branded linoleum cost us £2.81 more per square metre than the default option because it displayed our logo, so we regretted every drop we heard hit the floor. Between the pile of animal carcasses in the bathroom, the new pictogram murals, and what sounds through the wall like an unconventional form of mass staff restructuring, we’re not sure what to tell Molly The Cleaner, although we hired her expecting a strong stomach.
When we found her a few hours later, Molly’s hair was thick with blood. Her eyes completely black. Bodies lay crumpled in odd shapes. She had taken everyone’s computer monitor and put them together to make a huge screen which was automatically running the accounts through a series of algorithms. Numbers flowed down the screen, thousands of cells knitting themselves together into the shape of arcane symbols. She was painting a large flow chart on the wall with Molly From Marketing’s blood. She was chanting our Motivational Phrases over and over again: “Vision!”—the photocopier spat out a death mask of everyone in HR—”Togetherness!”—blood dripped from the end of her nose—”Brand story!”—the computer screens howled and screamed in unison.
We held an Emergency Manager’s Meeting to discuss mass recruitment for the now vacant positions. We all agreed that Molly’s performance, whilst promising, had an unfortunate ending and we won’t be keeping her past her probationary period. On reflection, she wasn’t equipped to keep up with our fast-paced work environment.
We have learned from our mistakes. We have a new strategy now and know exactly what kind of candidate we’re looking for.
We can’t wait to work with you.