The schedule they sent us told us to arrive by 7:30am. The first entry read, "7:30-9:45: Conference Center, Evergreen Room: H.R. paperwork, uniform sizing and scavenger hunt."

Scavenger hunt? I thought. Really?

The lady from H.R. kept things moving. She had glasses and a big voice. She directed her deputies well. They ran the paperwork session like a smooth machine. Forms to fill out. Copies of our IDs. Blood draw. Many things to sign.

They fitted us for our uniforms. It's not like I wasn't expecting it, having seen photos, but there was still something about the plush antlers and the blinking lights that I found disconcerting.

"Has everyone completed their paperwork?" she asked. The tables in the Evergreen Room were circular, and she was standing just behind me. There were two pretty girls and a heavyset man at the table with me. Around the room, more tables, many other people. A few nods here and there, but no one spoke. Paperwork complete.

"Excellent," she said. "Now is the time for the scavenging hunt."

I turned around in my chair. "Don't you mean scavenger?" I asked.

"Scavenging," she affirmed, her voice growing louder and more shrill. "You are to bring me a squirrel carcass, any sort of dead bird, and a smashed roadkill raccoon."

In my peripheral vision, I saw heads turning, people silently asking through flickering eye contact: Did I just hear what I thought I heard?

"Umm," I said.

She held her right hand up, index finger extended. "Bring them to me, my vultures," she cried. "You are proud, proud vultures!"

This is going to be a very, very weird job.

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