Packet Trade – Sample

Chapter One: Pirates vs. Ninjas

“One final question, Ms. Jones, and I want you to give us your gut reaction. Don’t think about it, just say the first thing that comes to mind.”

So far the internship interview had been tough, but more or less what I’d expected. I’d done the research. I watched the YouTube videos. I knew about Google’s unanswerable questions and the lose-lose scenarios. I thought I was prepared.

The board of three interviewers were professional and they obviously knew the technical minutia of running a database cluster. It reminded me more of a final exam designed to fail half the class than anything else. That was fine. I knew my way around a database better than anywhere else, and I could talk tech until I ran out of breath. And it wasn’t terribly strange that none of us knew who the company was that was running the interviews. This could be a secretive industry.

The Computer Science department vouched for them, and Anwar, my semantic web TA, had a total gleam in his eye when I told him I’d been chosen to interview. He’d had this internship himself a few years back and all he’d say about it was that it was “the best thing ever.” It was the most desirable interview of them all; maybe the secrecy was part of the allure. Even so, I should have known something was up after that final question.

The interviewer, a forty-something Native American woman in a power suit, leaned in toward me and I forgot to breathe.

“Pirates or ninjas?”

What? I still don’t know why I said what I did. I wonder what would have happened if I’d gone the other way. Would I be sitting in some hotel lounge in Tokyo instead of a beach bar in Nicaragua?

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