Andrea felt like she was suffocating.
About her, all those that had been left were pretty bombshells. She was pretty much surrounded by them since the beginning. A busty red-head to her right was showing an ample amount of cleavage fingering a pendant that nestled between them. The blonde to her right was retouching lipstick to already blood-red lips for goodness knows how many times in the last few minutes. A brunette in front crossed and uncrossed her legs continuously hiking her too-short miniskirt higher up her legs. Others were the same – either fidgeting or toying with something – and no one talking to one another. She felt as if she would drown in a sea of boobs and legs and pretty faces.
She was almost sure the heavy air was due to competition. What she could not guess is if it was a competition of looks or the much coveted prize of landing the job. If it were the former, she would definitely be outclassed. In all points. But she wasn't sitting there for that. Her tight, heavily-gelled bun did not match their luxurious hair. Her pantsuit showed only the skin of her hands and head unlike the Victoria's Secret models (they could very well be!) who had no qualms about showing off their 34-24-34 stats. They might as well have worn just their underwear for all that it covered!
Perhaps she would be able compete when it comes to her eyes. Everyone had always told her that her blue-gray eyes contrasted her dark hair well. But when she looked in the mirror, she could only see that these features, along with her wire-rimmed glasses, only highlighted the workaholic nerd.
She had tried to talk to them once. Her efforts to start a conversation earned her a hiss a silent glare or a rude retort. All she said was hello. She wondered what they would do if she said more than that. Maybe the tension was only because they were the catty cheerleader types. Or at least they looked like catty cheerleaders. She, after all, had never any good memories with cheerleaders. At least, none that she could remember. All that she did remember was that fancy lighting right above her head looking like water that had always been dunked on her because they thought she was the teacher's pet. She just wished she had been one – not some unpaid help the teachers ordered around every so often.
The clock on the wall told her she had been waiting for about twenty minutes but it seemed – borrowing a cliché – an eternity to her. She felt as if she was being imprisoned and the colorless white room, which only made her think of the rooms where they put insane people in. Perhaps she was insane, being with this kind of crowd. All she needed was a strait jacket and for the walls to be padded.
Ever since the beginning of her application, she knew she never stood a chance and should have just left. But she stuck through it only because it was her dream job. It was a surefire way to experience business out of the theoretical walls of the classroom. It was only after the panel interview that she was sure she should have left. She decided that she would rather not hear rejection against a group of women with, she assumed, questionable résumés. She could bet all her savings most of them were embellished just to get through the first screening.
Sighing, she got up from one of the black couches that dotted the lobby area of the HR department. That stopped her mile-a-minute heartbeat. She was sure, nothing good would come out of this interview and that she was only mixed in with these eye-candies just for fun. It had always been like that. Nerds always got the short end of the stick. Even after slaving to get the job done in the best possible way, it was always the hot and the gorgeous who get credit – even if they did nothing but choke on booze and shove their privates wherever feels good the whole time. Even the Masters level was no different. And yes, she didn't envy those who participate in such debaucheries. She was happy to be miles away from hepatitis, liver failure, AIDS and pregnancy.
She stood deciding it was time to leave. Besides, even if it were her dream job, if it meant working under one of those in the panel, she would rather take the night shift at the call center just a few blocks away. The pay there was good enough, anyway.
"Finally!" Her head shot up to the middle-aged woman staring at her. "I'm glad you've finally decided to come back to earth, Ms. Andrea Dayne. And just in case your head is still in the gutter, you and Ms. Patricia Lambert are supposed to be reporting to the board room. Now. The rest can leave. Thank you all for your application."
Andrea took note of the way she said her announcement. It was authoritative and had a tone of finality but it was also a tone that would be given respect. Perhaps the way she carried herself was also a factor. The black power suit only emphasized that she held a position that the applicants could only dream of. She saw the way she looked at the women as if assuming they would protest. None did, but she looked at them anyway as if daring anyone to raise a voice. She took note of that as well. There would be a lot of things she could learn from this woman to transition from a nerdy loser to a big shot boss someday.
She looked at Patricia. And wouldn't you know that it was the busty red-head who had been fingering her necklace. She wondered what her credentials were and how she was able to land the job. Maybe she really shouldn't really care. As long as she landed the job, that was it.
The four men looked up at them as they entered the dimly-lit, earthen-colored room. The lack of light from the small lamps that lined the walls accompanied by the dark wooden fixtures, felt like a foreboding omen that told her to leave. Right then and there. She did want to, but her feet seemed to be stuck to the marble floors by a strong electro-magnetic force called a job. The ornate table had been cleared of all the papers (maybe it was their résumés?) but for a few sheets. She believed they were the contracts. She got excited. Her apprehension suddenly forgotten. What had she been so worried about? Being the assistant of the General Manager would be a great job. She would learn so many things, get great contacts and she would be learning from someone mature and a veteran at doing business. She couldn't wait to start!
"Welcome. Ms. Lambert, Ms. Dayne," the oldest of the four gentlemen smiled at them. "Since you are going to be starting in this company, I would like to introduce myself. I—"
"Dad, they know you already, I'm sure," the youngest of the three leaned back, cheekily. Andrea could imagine slapping him silly for his insolence. But that wasn't her place. At least not now.
"I am John Gibbons, President and Chairman of this company." He continued as if he wasn't interrupted. "This gentleman to my right," he motioned to a man nearest his age, "is Nathan Jameson. He's the head of human resources and would be appraising your performances for the next couple of months. I do hope your turnover would not be a quick as the last few assistants that we've had. To my left," he mentions to the one who looks like in his early thirties, "is the Vice President, Martin Gibbons."
She tried to keep her jaw from dropping. She knew she should have left. She just knew it! Why had she been thinking everything was going to be great? She could still refuse. She could! But the opportunity before her…the opportunity…
"There would be times," the president continued, without any signs of noticing what was in Andrea's head, "that he would require your services. Please do try to accommodate him. And the last is," Andrea felt bile rise to her throat as the President introduced the youngest of the bunch, "Nathaniel Gibbons, the General Manager you would be working for."
"I would be very demanding," Nathaniel leaned onto the teak desk. "Don't be surprised if you would always be working overtime." His eyes studied them – Andrea, in particular (or at least she swore the stare was directed at her trying to bore through) – challengingly.
Patricia smiled at him in that oh-so-sickly-sweet smile. "Oh I have no problems with staying up late at all, Mr. Gibbons."
"That's good to hear. Ms. Dayne?"
I quit! That's what she would have said. If only she didn't see that approving smile the president directed at her. Or maybe he smiled at the Barbie doll too and she just didn't notice. She really began to hate fatherly personalities. She just couldn't resist! "I'm quite certain you would not be displeased with my performance." She noticed that her voice sounded tight. She should have just said no. She wondered how could a two-letter word be so hard to say?
"Very good!" Martin nodded at them both. "If you would please sign these contracts?" He pushed the two thin sheaves of paper in ladies' direction. "I hope you would be staying with us for a long time. A very long time."
"Rose," Ms. Jameson motioned to the woman who called them in. "Please give these two ladies their documents." He turned to the new recruits. "You can just read them at home. If you have any questions regarding them, you can ask Rose or Nathaniel. Rose will orient you in your offices tomorrow. Where things are and everything else. Congratulations."
Andrea looked at red-head signing happily on the dotted line without reading the darn thing. Correction, Patricia read the darn thing after signing it. Or browsed.
Andrea sighed wondering what happened to the previous assistants. She took a glance at her new General Manager and saw him smirking – smirking! – at her. Her jaw tightened. She was screwed, she knew it. Maybe she shouldn't be wondering, after all.