This week I’ve decided to share a short story instead of my usual blog posts. Yesterday, I posted the first part of this story, so you already know Shauna is hunting for a job. I kept on writing because I was curious to see what would happen during her next interview. Turns out it was a bit more than she expected. Let’s see.
By the way, have you subscribed to The Change Diaries Podcast on Apple podcasts? New episode coming this weekend! Now, about Shauna…
The Interview Part II
On a normal night, the sound of Roxie barking fiercely at the neighboring dog would have jolted her out of slumber. But in the wee hours of Wednesday morning Shauna was already wide awake. She peered through the window to make sure there was nothing awry and then hissed at the half-breed Doberman to ‘be quiet’ before drawing the curtains closed.
She had sent resumes each week to private sector companies while holding out hope for the opportunity to host a prime-time radio show. After three interviews at different stations, she still had nothing. Each conversation had been more demoralizing than the next. Everybody wanted experienced talent. Was it that hard to break into radio as a newbie?
Now Shauna feared she would never know. Under mounting pressure from her parents to get a job she was booked for an interview at the local telecom giant the following day. Her best friend, Tanisha, had put in a word for her with Tariq Morrison, one of the HR managers. He also happened to be Tanisha’s neighbor and had arranged an internship for her there last summer.
Tanisha had branded it corporate hell. “Full of backstabbers and fake-smilers,” she had reported while gratefully pocketing the generous salary for ten entire weeks.
Shauna rolled over and reached for the remote to start the ceiling fan. It wasn’t yet summer, but the heat was fierce. She would have preferred to turn on the air conditioning, but she was tired of fighting with her parents about the electricity bill.
That was another reason why she loved visiting her cousin in Miami – central air conditioning, along with shopping and The Cheesecake Factory. Anyway, there would be no more trips for now – her parents had refused to dole out any more cash. Shauna told herself, ‘Tomorrow I’ll do whatever it takes to win that job’. She started practicing interview responses in her mind and bid the thought of sleep goodbye.
Cocooned in his office, Shauna was perfectly still while Martin Campbell, Vice President of Regulatory Policy, perused her resume. She used the time to observe him from across the small meeting desk. He was a tiny man, pale and balding. Peering through Tom Ford eyewear, he stroked his greying beard absentmindedly. His office was dotted with awards and a framed law degree from Stanford hung above his head. Shauna tried not to smirk. Islanders loved to show off their foreign degrees…as if the local University wasn’t good enough for them.
“Miss Templeton. First class honors!” He was beaming when he finally looked up at her. Shauna was convinced she could see all thirty-two teeth. “And you won the Principal’s Award two years running. I am impressed indeed.”
“Thank you, Mr. Campbell. I worked hard and I am proud of my achievements.”
“Please call me Martin. We aren’t so formal here.” He grinned again.
‘That’s weird’ Shauna thought. Tanisha had told her it was a stuffy environment and you had to address senior staff formally. It was already unusual that she had a shoo-in to meet with the VP directly, but that was the power of connections – life on a small island was a closely networked affair. If she played her cards right it would surely mean a job come Monday morning.
“What do you believe you bring to our company?”
“I am a hard worker, determined to find solutions, and I get along very well with people. I’m also a natural leader, and I am excellent at public speaking. In fact, I co-hosted a radio program as you can see on my resume.”
Martin Campbell was intrigued. The questions flowed like rapid-fire, and Shauna was surprised at how confidently and easily she fielded them while asking some of her own. Dressed in her favorite Ann Taylor grey suit and a crisp white button-down from Zara, she was prepared and focused. Plus, he was turning out to be likable. She hadn’t expected to enjoy the conversation and she felt a twinge of guilt at her earlier cynicism.
“Why don’t we finish this over lunch? It’s already twelve thirty but I’d like to continue the discussion.”
The suggestion caught Shauna off guard. She hadn’t prepared for this in her script.
“Ahm, now? Do you have a canteen in this building?”
Martin laughed at her question and Shauna was suddenly on high alert.
“Oh no. I was thinking of somewhere more deserving of a fine young lady such as yourself,” he said.
Chill, Shauna, just chill. She willed her body to relax as a horse started galloping in her chest.
“You flatter me Mr. Campbell. I’m actually not hungry.”
“Trust me, you will have an appetite when the lobster arrives.” He stood up and grabbed his keys and jacket. “Have you ever dined at Morgan’s Park?”
Shauna was nonplussed. The horse was thundering about in her mid-section now.
Morgan’s Park was a swanky dining spot next to the famous Harbor Hotel. It was also a thirty-five-minute drive away from the town center. Even if she was okay with going to lunch, the whole thing would take at least two and a half hours.
She swallowed over what felt like a guinep seed in her throat, her confidence slipping away while ‘win the job’ floated across her mind in subscript. “Mr. Campbell…”
“Martin, please. And don’t forget your purse.” He was already opening the door.
“Mr. Campbell are you married? The question slipped out but Shauna already knew the answer.
“Why would you ask me that?” He was squinting behind his glasses.
“Why would you want to take me to lunch thirty-five minutes away?”
He closed the door and stepped toward her, “Because you should aspire to have the finer things in life.” His voice grew softer, “Don’t you want the best for yourself. Fine dining, a nice apartment, trips overseas, diamond rings?”
Shauna Templeton contemplated the temptation of a thousand years. It meant driving a nicer car, taking more shopping jaunts. It would come with her own apartment, a steady rise in pay and promotions and a coveted Prada purse. But while she could stomach the privilege of getting a job through her connections, she couldn’t do this…this other thing.
“I told Mr. Morrison in HR that I would be down before 1:00pm to complete the last page of my application form. Thanks for your time but I need to head back now.” She rose to her feet.
They faced each other. In her red Aldo heels, Shauna was close to his height, so they were practically eye to eye. They both knew she was lying. She hadn’t completed an application form. She didn’t even know if Tariq was at work.
Shauna held her breath and waited. The herd of horses was galloping through her entire body.
Martin Campbell placed a hand on the doorknob to signal that the interview had indeed come to an end. His parting smile looked more like a grimace.
“I’ll take you across the floor to meet Victoria Jenkins. She runs the Corporate Events unit, and they are looking to take on one or two promising graduates. I think you have the polish and savviness that they would value. It’s a shame you won’t work out for me. Best of luck.”
That’s it for Shauna. Definitely hope she has better luck next time!
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© Arlene Amitirigala 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.