Sarenna Kane was seated at her desk in the Town Clerk's Office entering data into the computer system when Town Clerk Weldon Morrison stuck his head out his inner office door.
"Sarenna? Got a minute?" he asked.
Sarenna glanced up from her computer screen and nodded, tossing the Assistant Town Clerk Margaret Pearson a look before getting up from her chair and heading for Mr. Morrison's office. He was already seated at his desk when she stepped into the office.
"Go ahead and close the door," Weldon said.
Sarenna was convinced she was about to be fired from her administrative assistant position but she kept her smile glued on her face as she took a seat across from him, having closed the door.
"So, how's it going?" Weldon wanted to know.
"Fine," Sarenna said cautiously. "Is there something wrong?" She worried.
"No, not at all," Weldon assured her with a smile. "I just thought it was time for a check in."
"Oh," Sarenna said with a laugh. "Sure, okay, great."
Weldon grinned with amusement. "You thought you were in trouble?"
She shrugged. "You never know in this job."
"That's true," Weldon laughed. "But I wanted to let you know how well you've been performing since you joined us last year."
"I know I wasn't your first choice for the job," Sarenna said. "So I appreciate the kind words."
"Listen, I knew you were connected with Margaret and that's fine," Weldon said. "But I have to be conscious of nepotism and favoritism in the hiring process, whether it's perceived or real."
"I was hired by committee," Sarenna reminded him.
"Let's not bring up ancient history," Weldon replied. "You've been in the job for a year and you're exceeded almost every expectation," Weldon said. "Your customer service and quality assurance is superior to anybody in this building. I've never seen you in a bad mood or without a smile."
"I learned to hide my moods a long time ago," Sarenna explained.
"Well, you're consistently cheerful, happy, upbeat, positive, and friendly," Weldon remarked. "It's hard not to notice."
"Thanks," she said.
"You've adapted well," Weldon continued.
"I've tried to learn the job as quickly and accurately as I can," Sarenna told him.
"And what have you learned?" Weldon asked with interest.
"That people can be demanding," Sarenna replied honestly. "That Politics can be ugly. That town government is often a thankless job."
"And yet you approach it with a smile each and every day," Weldon grinned.
"That's part of my job," Sarenna replied.
"The Hillsboro Town Clerk's office is committed to be a reliable provider of information and quality services to the community and its residents to work cooperatively and in conjunction with all departments, boards and committees while complying with state and local statutes." Weldon recited the Mission Statement from memory. "We are dedicated to the preservation of the Town's vital records and historical documents for the benefit of future generations. We respect the right to vote as a fundamental civil right and we will assure that all elections are conducted in a fair and open manner providing equal access to all citizens."
Serenna grinned. "Our services included recording of vital records, issuing licenses, overseeing elections, town census, voter registration, town meeting, zoning decisions, annual town reports, town by laws, municipal code, bulletin board, web site, oaths of office, appointments and resignations," she stated confidently. "We are the doorway to local government and serve as the central information point for residents and visitors alike."
"You've learned well," Weldon approved.
"I feel I owe it to Margaret," Sarenna admitted. "God help me if I screwed this job up."
"Your references didn't indicate that you screwed up previous jobs did they?" Weldon wondered. "Did Margaret cover something up?"
"No, no, no," Sarenna blushed. "I was actually referring to my personal life."
"We don't have those here," Weldon joked.
She made a sympathetic face. "I've noticed that with you," she said, and then she looked horrified. "Oh My God, I'm sorry! I can't believe I actually said that out loud!"
Weldon lifted his hand up in a waving motion. "I know people like to talk around here," he said with understanding.
"Do they talk about me?" Sarenna wondered.
Weldon laughed. He liked her spunk and sense of humor. "Don't listen to them," he advised.
"So, everything's okay?" Sarenna asked hopefully. "With my job performance?"
"We're glad you're here," Weldon assured her. "Keep up the good work and thank you for everything you do."
She smiled. "I like working here," she said truthfully as she stood. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity."
"I thought it was Margaret who gave you the opportunity," Weldon replied sardonically.
"Well, you're letting me stay," Sarenna said knowingly as she headed for the door.
Weldon sat back in his chair and let out a sigh once she was gone. He was finishing his fourth term in office and he had been contemplating making a return to the private sector, burnt out from the job and tired of the politics.
The hiring of Sarenna Kane was going to be the last straw – he resented Assistant Town Clerk Margaret Pearson for using her influence and position to advocate for Sarenna's hiring even though there were other candidates more qualified with better suited experience.
Margaret Pearson was a woman in her early sixties who had been Assistant Town Clerk for more than thirty years. She had no interest in running for the elected position and while she respected Weldon and allowed him to do his job, she knew how to use her institutional knowledge, historical perspective, and a long list of contacts and connections to her advantage. Weldon learned early on in his tenure not to rock the waves around her and he was willing to let her 'have' Sarenna, figuring he'd be out of there by the end of the term anyway.
But then he started enjoying the job again and he realized it was because of Sarenna's presence. She replaced Mabel Hathaway, a forty-seven year veteran town employee who still hadn't figured out the computer system but sure did know how to milk the system.
Sarenna's resume was light with little administrative experience beyond a volunteer gig at a homeless shelter and a year working in a Union Rep's office but it was her personality that was her greatest asset - her laugh filled the office, she treated every customer as her best friend, and she was so cheerful that it was hard not to be positive around her.
Sarenna was an attractive woman too, with black curly hair down to her shoulders, and a sturdy body with bulldozer hips. Weldon had to force himself not to look at her backside when she was standing at the customer service counter helping people and he was seated at one of the desks in the outer office.
Weldon figured he could tolerate the politics of the town, the interference of Mrs. Peterson, and his own cynicism about some of the work now that Sarenna was in the office. She was simply a joy to be around. If it helped his morale and he looked forward to coming to work - although he wasn't going to give Mrs. Peterson the satisfaction of saying 'I told you so'.
It didn't matter much anyway. Weldon was nearly forty, twelve years on the job, Sareena was barely thirty with a year under her belt. He was her boss and in this new age of #Me Too and all the rest of it, getting involved with an employee might be politically toxic and not very smart.
Weldon would just have to admire the bright spot from afar.