Chapter 1: Getting a Job
~Love Is a Ring Toss Game~
"How could you do something like this?" I hissed, eyes holding a sharp glare and pressing my hand to my head in an attempt to quell the migraine that was threatening to unleash itself at any moment. I needed a glass of wine.
"Maxima Juliet Dawson, don't speak to your mother that way," Dad interjected from behind his coffee cup from where he was sitting across the kitchen.
"Dad, I'm 28. I'm adult and Mom is an adult. As an adult, I am treating her like I would any adult that had meddled in my life to this extent!" I stated, my glare now in his direction, but he wasn't even looking at me, he hadn't even taken his eyes off of the newspaper.
"As long as you are under my roof Midge, you are going to be respectful to your mother," Dad, stated sounding like it took zero brain power to produce the well-used line. I had heard this almost every argument growing up. I love to argue; I had heard this particular phrase a lot.
"Mom is under your roof, can she be respectful to me?" I inquired tersely. "She sent in my resume and an application to Harris, Hewitt & Myers," I hissed as if it should explain everything.
"You've been looking for a job for months, I don't see the problem." He replied, flipping the page and taking another swig of coffee.
"Harris, Hewitt & Myers has had a job freeze on hiring lawyers! the only opening is as a personal assistant," I stated, trying to keep my blood from boiling.
"A job is a job Midge," Dad said, he would see it that way. He wouldn't think about how I had slaved two jobs and kept a GPA high enough to get scholarships-still had student loans, all to go to Columbia University, to become a lawyer. Not a coffee runner, not a dry-cleaning grabber, not a call screen-er, not a message taker, not a schedule checker, a damn lawyer. Why couldn't he see that? Why couldn't he see how this would feel from my end of things?
"Honey," My mother started, her slight accent hinting to be that she was still recovering from the way I had spoken to her moments earlier. I could tell from her body language that she just wanted to hug me tightly to her and pet my hair like she did when I was really little. I wasn't going to have that, even if my refusal to let her placate me would break her heart just a little. I was still angry.
I was beyond being placated, I was still feeling too angry. "Mom, NO. Don't apologize, please just don't. Nothing you can say will make this better. Nothing you do will make what you did less offending and less hurtful."
"Mi amor, I never meant for this to hurt your feelings. I just thought you might have a good chance of getting this job. Everett Myers, you remember him?—his mother told me that he is looking for a personal assistant."
Oh, did I remember him. How could I forget? Maxi-pad, Eczema, Miss Mexico (my mother is from Argentina)…countless others as well, but they didn't have the same 'ring' to them and weren't used as often growing up.
"He is the last man on earth I'd want to work for," I told her. "And I cannot imagine taking a job that is so degrading, I'm a lawyer mom! I passed the bar exam first try! I don't want to pick up anyone's dry cleaning or hold their calls, let alone Everett's!"
"He's grown up Maxa. I saw his picture when I was at his mother's for coffee; he sure is handsome," My mother offered, knowing I was likely thinking about all the times I came home from school crying because of Everett and his friends.
"Mom, I can't work there. Even if I got the job, which I'm sure I wouldn't because 'I'm over qualified', I couldn't stand the humiliation of it. I was supposed to be someone by now, but I'm not. I hate this economy. I hate my rotten luck!" I ranted.
"You need a job, your bills are piling up, your father and I are happy you are living with us again but you need to get back on your feet, you need to start somewhere and I knew you wouldn't apply to a different sort of job, so I did it for you." She explained.
"And imagine my surprise when an automated voice called my cellphone to tell me that 'Your interview at Harris, Hewitt & Myers has been set for between 9:00 and 2:00 on Monday August 23nd," I retorted.
"You said you don't think you'd be hired," My dad said, I had thought he had tuned out, now that I wasn't shouting.
"Yeah, and that I wouldn't want to be hired either," I added with a slight edge, still feeling sour.
"Tell you what; I'll give you five hundred dollars if you go to the appointment," He said, my eyes bulged, "and I give you two thousand if you get the job."
"Dad, I couldn't ask you to do that."
"Maxima, I'm looking at this as an investment, I think you have a real chance at getting this job. No girl of mine is going to turn her nose up at an honest day's work, law degree or not. And if you do get it—it will be worth every cent because I'm on the line for collateral for your student loans as it is," He said.
"Dad… you are going to make me feel guilty if I turn down the interview, I was already planning to call and cancel tomorrow; now I'm going to feel like a slacker and a snob." I whined.
"Midge, you need to face the facts, nobody is hiring lawyers right now, in a few months or maybe by next year things might be different, but you can look at this as a humiliation or you can think of it as getting your foot in the door. That way, when they are hiring you will have the best vantage point."
Did I mention my father was always right? Yeah, well he was. As much as I hated to admit it sometimes.
That was what brought me to the interview at H, H&M goodness knows I would never have been able to do it otherwise. I waited four hours. Apparently there were just over 190 applicants. The process was spread over three days. It was a good thing I didn't actually want this job, it seemed like a snowballs chance as it was. This was day three. At least I'd be five hundred dollars richer after this. So far based on the time I had invested, it was like 100 bucks an hour. Sweet deal!
"Maxima Dawson," the receptionist said in a bored tone, if I was tired of this rigmarole just sitting here, she must have been completely sick of it, after being on the third day. If I were her I might have stabbed my eyes out with freshly sharpened pencils or tried to climb into the industrial size paper shredder that was likely somewhere in the main office.
I stood, straighten my skirt and followed her.
"Bet you hate this whole interview process, huh? You must hate having to usher people constantly. I apologize, my mother actually applied for me, sorry to add to your pain." I told her, I had a tendency to ramble whenever I got nervous.
She seemed to appreciate being noticed, "You were supposed to be 54th on the list of 72 but Mr. Myers says he knows you," The girl stated. "Normally, Matilda Grant does the interviewing, it's her job that's being filed, but Mr. Myers wants to see you personally," She rattled on, and I found myself feeling panicked. I had not expected to actually see Everett Myers; men like him didn't do their own interviewing. It was true; he didn't, the receptionist had confirmed that this was a special thing because he 'knew me'. Why'd he even see the list? What was it to him, if only one person was going to get the job, why would he interest himself in the list of applicants?
Oh was this hallway long, she was tempted just to turn tail and leave.
"Here we are, best of luck!" the girl offered with a friendly smile.
"Thanks," I said, feeling my stomach roll with nervousness. Don't throw up, I chided myself taking in a sharp breath and biting my lip.
"Mr. Myers, Sir," she said after opening the door, "Miss Dawson as you requested."
It was awkward. That was the best explanation for it. Everett was sitting behind a dark wood desk, in a leather swivel chair, with a knee crossed relaxed, left ankle resting over his right knee, in that manly way as only men can. He looked so relaxed when the door was open but quickly straighten himself and now almost looked tense. His expression looked a bit startled, like the appearance of a person suddenly roused from sleeping, but it quickly settled into a more neutral look.
"I'll leave you two, and again, good luck," She smiled, but I felt so trapped and strange that I couldn't return it.
The pause was obvious. I really felt like bolting now, but I firmly believe you never turn your back to an enemy, never show your fear—even if said enemy doesn't necessarily hold hostile feelings for you anymore; you still must maintain a smokescreen of strength.
"Come in, have a seat." He said gesturing casually to the chair across from him.
"Hi, Ever—, ah Hello Mr. Myers." I corrected, a blush undoubtedly flashing across my face. I silently thank my mother for giving me some color so that it wasn't terrible obvious when I blushed.
"Sheesh, you can call me Everett, it's fine, let's not be so formal, okay?" he said.
"Alright but let's keep it professional, no Eczema, Maxi-pad or Miss Mexico, alright?" I asked.
His eyes widened, I guess he wasn't expecting any of that to bubble up from the past.
"Maxima, I am so sorry for all of that. I was young and stupid but I never meant any of those things to really hurt you, since you still remember them , I'm assuming they did, will you accept my apology?" he asked, I could see the emotion expressed in his eyes and face. It was shocking but I truly believed he was sorry. I didn't want to believe it possible that my mother had been right—that Everett Myers had grown up, but it may have been true.
"I was only teasing, it was years ago Everett, of course I accept your apology," I told him, it was what etiquette required me to say. What was I going to say? 'No, I still want to be mad at you.' Nope, it might have been kind of true but his apology seemed so genuine and this was a job interview, regardless of whether I wanted the job or not, I would have to at least be civil.
"Thanks, I mean I wouldn't hold it against you if you still wanted to hate my guts," he said with a slight smirk.
I blushed; it was a token phrase of mine back then. 'I hate your guts Everett Myers!' was the ever ready retort, for when he'd say or do something mean or stupid.
"I should also apologize, if I said or did anything that hurt your feelings as a kid, I'm sorry, forgive me?" I said against my own will my conscience kicked in and rattled out an admission of guilt followed by a request for forgiveness! What on earth was wrong with me? This kid was practically the devil incarnate growing up. What in the world was I doing fessing up to things that paled in comparison to everything he'd done to me?
"There is nothing to forgive Max," he said and then there was a short pause where he gave me what can only be explained as a look of pity/compassion.
It didn't last long but it was definitely strange.
"Well thankfully that's all over and done with," he said after clearing his throat, "Let me start fresh by saying you look amazing. I was expecting a grubby tomboy to walk into my office, so the long legged Victoria Secret model was a bit of a shocker."
"Um...thanks," I offered lamely, another blush flamed my cheeks.
How was this actually happening?
This wasn't the way this was supposed to go down.
"You look really good too. I mean like professional and um—not like I was expecting either." I garbled out. Oh, this was infinity worse than anything I could ever have envisioned.
"Thanks. So shall we start this thing?" he asked.
"Definitely," I said eagerly, the sooner this started, the sooner I could leave and escape this awkward situation.
"So, should admit that I don't actually have a copy of your resume. I could run over to Matilda and grab it or you could just fill me in on the details."
"Oh, don't bother; I'm not really expecting to land this job. I can fill you in and save you the walk." I replied. "I graduated from Columbia in 2009 and then did an extended internship with Dorsey & Whitney, but they aren't hiring, nobody is, that ended in May. My parents told me to lower my standards and let my law degree collect some dust, so here I am," I said, the sarcasm was likely off-putting but I wasn't planning to actually work here.
"I'm sorry to hear that. I guess I was lucky to finish out school and get hired before any of the recession stuff hit," He replied.
Luck in my opinion didn't have much to do with it. The Myers' were wealthy. Blue-bloods through and through. There were no such thing as 'obstacles' when you have the kind of money they did. When you had the kind of money they did, you became partner in three years. When you have the kind of money they did, mothers like mine cleaned their houses. While Everett had the benefit of being a few years older than me and thus grading sooner, luck had very little to do with it.
"Yeah, but don't worry about me, things will turn around," I stated, far more enthusiastically than I felt.
"If you want this job Maxima, it's yours," He said. "The pay is decent, it beats busing tables," he said, almost knowingly.
I wondered if he knew I had bused tables and waitressed through school. Something about the way he said it made me think he knew something.
"What makes you think I don't want it?" I asked with a slight edge in my tone.
"Come'on, Max, You're a lawyer. We are aggressive by nature, we hate sitting back and waiting for things to fail into place. We're the type that go out and make it happen. Plus, it is only natural want to do what you've worked you butt off to do. I can imagine it feeling pretty tough to set that aside and work at a law firm as a PA."
"Got any law jobs for an old pal?" I asked with a plea, and then a chuckle at how surreal this whole thing was. Who was I and what had happened to my integrity and dislike for this guy?
"If it was up to me, I'd make one up but I can't do that. I'm the new guy in the partnership. I don't have that kind of power yet."
"You can have time to think about it," He offered, extending his hand to shake. I shook his hand for the first time ever. It was strange, it suddenly hit me how grown up we really were.
"What if I said I don't want to pick up any dry cleaning?" I asked, looking sheepish.
"I'd say fine, Jada can do that. I was thinking with your skills, I might dump some of my work off on you. You could look over depositions, help with case prep stuff, I guess what I'm saying is your job detail will probably look a bit different than the other PA's here."
"So, I'd be doing a lot of intern or first-year associate stuff?" I asked with glee, that wasn't quite concealable, in my voice.
"Probably a fair bit of that, of course there will be times when you more valuable sitting at the desk taking calls and booking my calendar up or grabbing coffees for our team, but we can play it by ear. You might end up being a bit of a floater," he said.
"Okay, I'll take it." I said emphatically, feeling I needed to lock in my answer and leave quickly before I changed my mind.
"I talked you into it! That's great! Rumors around the courthouse say I'm pretty good at the whole persuasion thing," He said with a teasing tone, looking casual again in his desk chair.
"When would I start?" I asked.
Was this really happening? Half of me was hoping that I had fallen asleep in the H, H&M waiting room and that I was snoring loudly with my neck twisted at an odd angle, so I would have a kink in it for days.
"Why not next Monday? That way you can work with Matilda and Alexa, they can get you situated and on top of things before Matilda leaves on the 17th of September." He said,
All I could so was nod my agreement, it strange backing out of the office like a weary dog, but honestly was this really happening? Did I just get a job? Did I just accept a job from him?
What was I going to tell my mother? How was I ever going to live this down?