Saturday, February 26, 2011
Excerpt from a random chapter of We Interrupt This Date. Susan has just lost her job and desperately needs another.
I logged on to the Internet and started my job search with the online newspaper ads. I found only three positions to apply for, and two of those asked for legal office experience, which I did not have. The other said someone with a good phone voice was needed immediately in a vet’s office. I supposed my phone voice was as good as anyone’s. My fingers shaking, I punched in the number.
“I’m calling about the receptionist position you advertised in the Post and Courier.”
“Right, that ad is pulling a ton of responses. Before I decide if I should have you come in to fill out an application and talk to the doctor, tell me a little bit about yourself. Do you have receptionist experience?” The female voice on the other end of the line sounded like it belonged to someone who was pursing her lips between each sentence.
I glanced at my desk searching for inspiration. Once a customer had come into my office and paid in person. Another time, someone had stood in the doorway and asked if Odell was around.
“Sort of,” I replied. “In my current position I’m responsible for answering the phone and doing the billing as well as dealing with customers who drop by.” Both of them.
“Okay, you work in an office; good for you. But do you have veterinary office experience? Dr. Turnbill specializes in reptiles and he likes to hire people who are used to handling animals.”
“No, but I love animals and I learn fast.” I could even learn to love snakes and lizards if it got me a job. “My mother has two Chihuahuas,” I added, then clamped my mouth shut so I couldn’t say anything else stupid.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t see any point in letting you come in. We have a number of better qualified applicants.”
Better qualified applicants? Somehow I doubted the streets of Charleston were overrun with reptile handlers who had office experience. But unless I decided to stake out Dr. Turnbill’s office and speak to him when the dragon manning the front desk left for the day, I wasn’t going to get the job.
I sat back with a sigh. It had taken me six weeks to find this job and that was back when the paper carried three times as many ads as it did now. I could apply for the two legal office positions--assuming the gatekeepers who controlled access to the applications would let me--and hope for a miracle.
If there was only me to consider that’s what I might have done. But I couldn’t forget my son. Even with his scholarship, money from his father, and a part-time job, Christian needed my help.
I turned sideways to face the phone. I glared at it like it was my mortal enemy. When it didn’t burst into flames or melt into a wad of gooey black plastic, I gave up and dialed Veronica’s number. Her voice mail answered with a cheery, “Veronica is unavailable. Please leave a message.”
“It’s me. Susan. I, uh, had second thoughts about the job.” And third and fourth thoughts. “If you still want me, I’m ready to go ghost hunting. In fact, I guess I really need the work.” There, I’d committed, even if Veronica’s offer wasn’t my first choice.
I felt curiously employed now, even though I worried that Veronica might have offered the position to someone else. Once she makes up her mind to do something, she forges ahead like a bull on its way to a willing cow.