Glass of Water
by m. james moore
There was a drinking glass with water in it, leveled in the middle, on the interviewer's desk. I'm not sure whose it was or why exactly it was there, until he asked the question.
It was late for a workday -- about 6pm -- and the interviewer seemed to have been through a long list of applicants before me. Since there were no others waiting when I came in the room, I assumed I was the last prospect for the day.
I was daydreaming of a cartoon I'd seen the day before, when, breaking the pause in conversation, he remarked, "You're doing quite well Mr. Leonard -- but I have just one last question."
I lifted my eyebrows, coming back into focus.
"This glass here on the desk -- is it half full or half empty?" he inquired, predictably.
This is somewhat of a difficult quesiton for me, because it implies something with either answer, of which I am neither. Comedian Steven Wright said it first, the glass is too big.
I looked at the glass for a moment, chewed on the corner of my mouth, then met his gaze.
"Whose is it?" I asked.
"To whom does the glass belong?"
"It's the company's."
"Who put the water in it?"
"It doesn't matter, just answer the question -- is it half empty or half full?"
"Who will drink the water?"
"I may, later."
"Are you thirsty?"
"Not... will you just answer the question?"
'The degree of the contents of the glass are not particularly up to me since I have no affiliation with it, so I have no opinion to offer."
"Ok, then it belongs to you."
"I can have it?"
"The water, or the glass, too?" I could've used another one.
"Just the water, Mr. Leonard."
"I'm not really thirsty. Thanks, though."
"So the water is yours. Is the glass half empty or half full?"
"It is water?"
"I mean, I don't regularly accept offerings of water from sources I know nothing about. There could be something in it I'm not aware of that might harm me." I was beginning to think, by the expression on his have, that he may hae wished there was.
"The water is purified, from a bottle."
"Why not just leave it in the bottle -- why waste a glass?"
"Just answer the question."
"Has someone already sipped from it?"
"No, just answer."
"Then why does the water level only meet halfway between the top and the bottom of the glass?"
"Is the glass too big?"
"I'd like to go home."
"Was there enough water in the bottle?"
"Was the glass clean?"
"YES! Now ANSWER the question!"
"I've forgotten it now."
"IS the glass HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY? One of those answers will do. I am required to ask this of every applicant. So what is it?"
"Without further information to the circumstances of the water therein, I am incapable of making an accurate assessment. That is my answer."
We both stood up and shook hands. Upon passing out the door, he noted, "You're hired. Welcome to Bradley Insurance."