Unexpected Roadwork (1)

It had only been two hours, but it felt like two years. Meghan expected the interview to be tough. When her lifelong friend Lisa mentioned she was dating a partner from SHB&R, Meghan felt like she’d won the lottery. She’d been waiting years for the opportunity to interview with the prestigious law firm — since the day she walked across the stage in her black cap and gown. With Lisa’s help, Meghan was finally able to crack the gleaming glass, front door open just wide enough to slip her foot inside.

Why this particular law firm held such allure, Meghan couldn’t exactly put her finger on. Maybe it was the big name clients they represented, the appealing modern architecture of their twelve floor building or the ego boosting, bragging rights of telling her friends and family that she managed to procure a job with the most prestigious employer in their medium-sized Nebraska town. Meghan just knew that SHB&R is where her destiny led. She set aside why from the day Miss Howe called to schedule the interview. It was time to focus on how.

How indeed? Meghan did not have a law degree. She managed her high school diploma and a liberal arts bachelor’s degree, both of which seemed to qualify her for — nothing. Meghan was a smart girl who thought a lot, but often had difficulty narrowing her focus. Majoring in business was just another mistake in a past full of mistakes. Business majors were a dime a dozen. Meghan needed to find a way to stand out — above — beyond, but her elusive, unicorn skills hid even from her. She hoped the interviewer might see her spark and offer her a job. Any title would do — secretary, assistant, paralegal, heck — she’d be happy to run the snack cart, if that was the only option.

Looking the part of an SHB&R employee was Meghan’s first order of business. She sat at an outdoor coffee shop table for days, watching employees and clients come and go. Formal business attire was what she needed. Not having a lot of excess in her bank account, Meghan made her first stop at the St. Vincent DePaul Thrift store. Wouldn’t you know a load of business attire had recently been dropped off by a woman just her size? Meghan had a good feeling that the fates were on her side. She tried on a black pencil skirt and jacket, accented by a silk blouse the color of rosy wind chapped cheeks. She already owned an unworn pair of two inch, black heels. Perfect — the fit, the color, the look.

The morning of the interview, Meghan had enough time to attend her regular six o’clock yoga class. She stretched her body and her mind allowing a sense of peace to settle upon her twitchy nerves. She drove home to shower and dress, ate a granola bar and hopped back into her Honda Civic.

“You have no fear. It’s just a conversation. Rejection is a myth,” she repeated to herself as, shoulders back and head held high, she nodded, smiling at the doorman of SHB&R.

The conference room petite Miss Howe led Meghan to was the size of Meghan’s entire apartment. It must have consumed half of the tenth floor. There was a long bank of cabinets with a sink, refrigerator, microwave and bar. Each appliance had a custom wood front that impeccably matched the contemporary grey cabinet stain. There was a large glass table flanked by gleaming silver framed chairs. “I am strong. I am worthy of a job here. I am not afraid,” Meghan spoke inside of her own head.

One entire wall of the room was a mirror. That was an interesting design choice. Meghan for one, did not like to look at herself , and two, she couldn’t get scenes from Law and Order out of her mind. Who might be observing her from the other side?

The door opened and a tall, slender gentleman dressed in a precisely tailored black suit entered. His tie was dark grey with a silvery diamond pattern. His salt and pepper hair complimented his monochromatic appearance. He was quite handsome.

“Miss,” he looked down at the clipboard he carried. “Miss….Grimalkin, is it? Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself? Your history, as it were.”

Meghan could not place his accent. She had been hoping the questions might be a bit more specific. Where did you attend college? What was your grade point, course of study, your strengths, weaknesses. What was she to do with such an open ended question?

She began, “I was born and raised in Nebraska. I’ve lived here my entire life.” He seemed so very interested, Meghan began to feel comfortable. The volley of question and answer was simple, authentic and — easy. After about an hour, Meghan felt both excited and exhausted. Surely there must be interest for him to listen to the story of her uneventful upbringing, hobbies and relationships. Maybe that’s what they were looking for — somebody predictable, steady. Or, could it be that he was procrastinating a stack of work on his desk? Or, maybe they had already hired somebody and he was just meeting the required number of state mandated interviews?

“Please don’t let it be that he’s interested in me for the wrong, personal reasons.” Meghan’s thoughts were turning negative.

Just as the litany of questions ran through her mind, the interviewer interrupted with another question, “How do you feel about cats Miss Grimalkin?”

Meghan stammered back, “How do I, do I — feel about cats?”

“Yes, do you like cats? I think you’d get along famously with out new clients from Katz and Sons — the local road construction company? Everybody knows about Katz and Sons. Quite a controversial history they have — well documented by the media. Most people have strong feelings one way or another about them. You might be just the person we need to tame their litigious nature. You see, we are hoping to lead them down a road toward mediation.”

Utterly confused, Meghan took a breath and wondered what she had gotten herself into.