The Hiring Committee Makes Its First and Final Offer

By Carrie Shipers

Featured Art: untitled by JC Talbott

We don’t negotiate salary because we’re already certain 
what you’re worth. It may be less than you’d hoped, 
but it’s enough to live on if you’re practical. We don’t
negotiate benefits because we think you’re lucky 

to get any. The single therapist is prone to naps and lousy 
metaphors, but you’re so sad that you’ll keep going back. 
We don’t negotiate duties because the job ad was crafted 
to include everything that we don’t want to do, and then 

revised again when we got sued. Belonging to a group 
always requires sacrifices: someone has to do the dirty work 
for which no credit is received, take on difficult tasks 
where failure means you’ll probably get fired, and it’s not 

fair for you to skip your turn. We don’t negotiate 
vacation time because we’re angry it exists. You’re also 
not allowed to work from home unless you’re quarantined—
we tried it once and were so drunk by noon we answered 

our email with kitten pictures. We don’t negotiate 
office space because you’ll be assigned a cubicle, 
bottle of bleach to combat creeping mold. If you choose 
to decorate, make sure all items fit into a single banker’s box, 

which allows for ease of exit if you suddenly get fired. 
And should you have requests we haven’t covered, 
the answer’s No to those as well. We know winning 
a small concession would increase your confidence, 

make you feel truly wanted. But honestly you weren’t 
our best or favorite candidate. You were the one 
we settled for because you seemed most likely to say yes, 
and the fact that you’re still listening suggests 

we were correct. Regardless of your reasons for taking 
this job—debt, despair, misguided optimism—
we think you’ll fit in fine as long as you remember: 
We don’t negotiate because there is no need.

Carrie Shipers’s poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, NewEnglandReview, NorthAmericanReview, PrairieSchooner, The Southern Review, and other journals. She is the author of Ordinary Mourning (ABZ, 2010), Cause for Concern (Able Muse, 2015), Family Resemblances (University of New Mexico, 2016), and Grief Land (University of New Mexico, 2020).

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