If you are a movie buff, or at least one who enjoys a story about behind-the-scenes drama, you probably know the film All About Eve. Based on a 1946 short story by Mary Orr, the 1950 motion picture is regarded as one of the best films of all time, nominated for 14 Academy Awards and winning 6, the most prominent of the wins being Best Picture.
I’ve seen All About Eve only once. Well, I should say I actually heard it, when the story was re-enacted for radio a decade ago. I never saw the Bette Davis/Anne Baxter original, nor any other adaptation produced since then, including, obviously, the British stage adaptation put on earlier this year and whose poster you see to the right (more on why I included this particular poster in a moment).
For those who don’t know how All About Eve goes down, the gist is this (and, yes, ***SPOILERS ARE AHEAD***, thanks to the description on Wikipedia): Margo Channing, grand dame of Broadway, is introduced to a besotted fan, Eve Harrington. Impressed by her fawning fandom, Margo takes Eve into her home and hires her as an assistant. But distrust in Eve begins to swell in Margo, especially after Eve becomes her stage understudy. By then, the manipulative and ambitious Eve is well under the skin of both Margo and those around her.
(Yes, Eve is indeed not that innocent. The character’s deviousness, in my opinion, is captured better in the chilling stage poster you see here. A poster for the original film, by comparison, makes the tale appear to be a game of romantic hopscotch it only is on the peripheral.)
Now, you’re wondering why I’m going on and on about one of the highest regarded films of all time. Well, while I was at work this week, I came to the realization that my situation at my current work assignment seems reminiscent of, though not exactly like, All About Eve. Allow me to explain…
As I mentioned previously, the department where I’m currently assigned to work at went through a reorganization of duties last spring. A couple of new people were hired on, one of whom I’ll refer to as R. (her first initial) took over a task I had enjoyed doing but had a hard time keeping up on.
In my early impressions of R., she appeared to know the broad picture, our little department’s desired work results, quite well. But she also left the impression that she couldn’t make out the trees for the forest. Yes, that’s expected of someone relatively new to an organization, but it appeared as if she had never worked on a computer before, or at least had never worked with Microsoft Office. (Actually, at least part of that is true, as R. indicated to me in passing that she’d be taking a course on MS Excel later this summer.)
Through my training of and interactions with R., I could sense that underneath that suggested veneer of naivete was a mind with a steel trap. R. wasn’t… er, isn’t as young and impressionistic as Eve Harrington appeared to be early on in All About Eve. I mean, I know that R. must have had a strong enough professional background for our organization to hire her. And as noted above, it appears she’s willing to make up for her initial deficiencies in some areas.
But there are spots where R. appears to be… well, not quite but also just like Eve. Allow me to explain with a key moment in All About Eve (yes, ***SPOILER AHEAD***): After Eve became Margo’s Broadway understudy (must to an already irritated Margo’s chagrin), Margo’s friend arranges for her to miss a performance, allowing Eve to take the stage… and make quite an impression on the audience and a conveniently assembled (by Eve) row of critics.
For sure, I don’t think R. is as manipulative as Eve clearly was by that point in the movie. Far from it, actually. It’s just that R. is the beneficiary of the reorganization and reassignments that were set as she was coming on. Oh, and also lack of clear communication between management and us plebes. One duty I thought I would still be doing (I won’t bore you with details) was actually picked up by R. — at the direction of the CFO, who conveniently or otherwise didn’t make that known in the job descriptions that were clearly laid out just as R. was being hired on. Guess it was one of those last-minute changes they wanted to make, I guess.
That R. has caught on so fast (in no small part through my tutelage, I have to admit) is a big positive mark on her, for sure. But her advancement, along with the not-very-satisfying tasks I’m stuck with, makes me think of something not unlike another key scene in All About Eve (yes, another ***SPOILER AHEAD***): Margo is offered a lead role in another play written by the same playwright that penned the one she’s already starring in. Eve, still being her manipulative young self, demands to the writer (whom she’s romantically pursuing) that she be cast in that new role. Not knowing this chicanery, of course, Eve decides to stay in the play she’s still comfortable in… and by default, the ingénue is cast in that new production, earning positive reviews.
Once upon a time in my previous places of employment, I was like Margo. I enjoyed the roles I had been in, wanting to make that company my home. And admittedly, I allowed the young whippersnappers around me seek advancement, though for sure they weren’t all as shrewd and conniving as Eve. But as the past year-plus has proven to me, there may be better roles in other places where I can hone my skills.
So, last week Wednesday I had a job interview with a company I had applied with a year ago. I didn’t get an interview then, but they hung on my resumé and reached out to me last month. An e-mail invite led to a phone screening, which led to an in-person interview last week with the hiring manager. I’m not sure if I impressed them, however. Admittedly, I didn’t rehearse as well as I should have, not to mention the fact that I was rattled by a leaky living room ceiling.
But the interview has inspired me a little bit, reminding me that there’s always a potentially greener pasture out there. Matter of fact, this past Friday I had a sit-down with a staffing agency, not the same as the one through which I have my current assignment. And it was a hopeful talk. Indeed, for the first time I can ever recall, the agency’s coordinator said she was wowed by the work history on my resumé. They’ll try to set something up with a company they’re working with who has a work-to-hire role they think I may be a good fit for.
Of course, nothing is official. That potential interview may fall through. I may still be stuck in the assignment I’m in now. And said assignment may have a chance to improve, or at least settle down to something I’ll be happy in.
But if it doesn’t become something I’ll be happy in, at least I know that I served the role admirably and gave it my all. And when I leave that office for the last time, I know that R. will continue, and hopefully improve upon, the good work she’s doing.
But know, though, that just as (***SPOILER ALERT***) another doe-eyed starlet nudged her way into the award-winning Eve’s career at the very end of All About Eve, there will, likely by circumstance, be another colleague who R. will have to instruct… and to whom she’ll become the comparable servant to the new hire’s mastering. For sure, it won’t be a case of showbiz-style machination, but rather just the professional circle of life.