“You need to wear this jacket with that dress,” Karen's mom said as she placed the garments on her daughter's bed. “It makes you look more professional.” Karen nodded absently. Her mom was always giving her fashion advice. More than that, she was always giving Karen advice and was usually right. Karen had learned long ago to listen to her mother about everything.
“Thank you, Mom. I need to get ready now so I won't be late for the interview,” Karen ushered her mother out the door so she could start getting dressed.
“Don't forget to review your notes about the company. The more knowledgeable you are of the place, the more interested you appear.”
“Yes Mom,” Karen replied as she closed the door to her bedroom.
Karen dutifully put on the exact outfit her mom had picked out for her. She made sure she applied the exact makeup to her face the exact way her mom showed her. Karen sighed loudly. She really wanted this job. She had been out of work now for over a year and living at home with her parents was a royal pain in the butt. This job would give her the proper income to get her own place. Plus, the company had offices around the world, which meant an opportunity to move to another city or even another country and be far away from her meddling parents. Karen checked her appearance in the mirror. Perfect. She grabbed her briefcase and keys and headed out of the bedroom.
Mother was standing at the end of the hall. She looked at her daughter critically when she heard her exit the bedroom. She smiled her approval as Karen walked towards her. “You look perfect, darling,” she said.
“Thank you, Mom,” Karen replied as she took her mom's hands in her own. “You have been a wonderful help.” Karen gave her mother a hug. “Time to go,” she said as she drew away from the matriarch of the family.
“Remember to drive down I 94 instead of the highway. It's planting season and you don't want to end up behind a slow-moving farm vehicle.”
“Yes, Mom,” Karen replied as she headed out the door.
As her mother had suggested, Karen drove her car to the freeway and headed to the city as she was directed. During the drive, Karen thought about her life and how she had gotten where she was right now.
First, she had chosen a field of study she had no interest in. Her mother had guided her towards Accounting because “every firm needs a CPA”. Karen was good with math but hated accounting. She had been more interested in computers than ledgers. In fact, she's a quick study of all software programs out there and used that ability to her advantage in the corporate world.
Next, she got married to a man who was controlling. He had seemed wonderful at first, but once they had been married a few weeks, the control freak came out. He determined everything she did all the way down to the food she ate, the clothes she wore, the way she washed clothes, where things go in their house, and who she could talk to. He even tried to tell her she sneezed wrong! Karen was grateful he had tossed her out after 3 years because she was “a whore”, but mostly because he had found someone else who listened better than she did.
The divorce was what led her back to her parents' house where she is once again manipulated at a more subtle level. Karen was grateful to have a place to go once she was tossed aside, but being at home hadn't been easy.
Karen arrived at the office building with plenty of time to spare. She checked her reflection in her rearview mirror and then left her car, locked it, and headed to the building.
The directory in the lobby said the firm she was interviewing with was on the 5th floor. Karen walked over to the elevators, her shoes clicking on the marble floor. The car arrived within moments and Karen stepped inside, pushed the button, and waited as the car made its climb up to the 5th floor. The doors opened and Karen stepped out into a busy office space. She walked over to the receptionist, told the man her name, and took a seat while she waited to be seen.
Karen sat uncomfortably on a stiff, cold, green, plastic chair. While she waited, she cleared her mind of all distractions and negative thoughts, only concentrating on two things: I am perfect for this job and I will be given a job offer before I leave today. She closed her eyes and focused on those two things alone. She didn't hear the receptionist walk over to her.
“Miss, they are ready to see you now,” his voice interrupted her thoughts, causing her to jolt back to reality. Karen looked up and saw his smile, which helped her relax a little. “Thank you,” she said as she stood up. He led her down a hallway into a conference room.
There were 4 people seated around the dark brown conference table. A pitcher of water with several glasses sat in the middle of the table. The receptionist directed Karen to an empty red velvet chair located across from the 4 people. Karen nodded her thanks to the young man, then sat down gingerly in the soft, comfortable office chair. She smiled and looked at the 4 people sitting in front of her.
“Good morning, Miss Wagner. How are you today?” asked the only other woman in the room.
Karen speculated that would be Mrs. Judy Graham, the head of HR. “I am doing well, thank you,” replied the candidate.
“Wonderful. Let us begin,”
“I am Judy Graham, the head of the Human Resources department here at Niles and Young. Over here is my associate, James Brand, who is the head of the department you are interviewing for.” Mrs. Graham pointed to the dark-haired man to her left. “On my right is Peter Snelling, the head of the Information Technology department. Next to him is Thomas Jones, our CEO.”
Karen said hello to each person, stating their name after Mrs. Graham said it so that she could remember each one.
Mr. Jones spoke first. “You have done very well in the initial interviews, Miss Wagner.”
“Thank you,” Karen replied.
“We are very impressed with your skills, as well as your qualifications. That is why we don't think you are suited for a job in the accounting department.”
Karen's heart dropped. Then why was she here?
“We think you are better suited for a job in the Information Technology Department. We have several openings.”
Her heart soared! She took a deep breath, trying to control her emotions.
“What kinds of jobs?” she asked timidly.
Mr. Snelling leaned forward. “I have a Software Tester position available. I need someone proficient in several different software who is familiar with accounting. You fit that bill perfectly.
Karen could not believe her luck! Her face beaming, she swallowed hard. “Is this a job offer?” she asked.
“I do believe it is,” said Mrs. Graham. She slid a piece of paper towards Karen. “Here are the details. The description, the salary, the benefits. Please look it over and let us know if you have any questions.” Karen picked up the paper.
“You did state on your application that you were willing to relocate. How does Hawaii sound?” added Mr. Jones.
Karen dropped the paper, along with her jaw. She had always wanted to go to Hawaii but something had always gotten in the way. She swallowed again. “Hawaii sounds wonderful, as well as the terms of employment. Please forgive me for sounding impulsive but this is my dream job and my dream location. I accept the job! When can I start?”
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hi Ruth, i like this story of a young woman who finally makes her own decision based on her own desires. i see on your bio that you welcome critique. So do i! i’m on Reedsy to improve my writing, same as you:) your story comes alive in the interview scene which you do so well: There were 4 people seated around the dark brown conference table. A pitcher of water with several glasses sat in the middle of the table. The receptionist directed Karen to an empty red velvet chair located across from the 4 people. Karen nodded her thanks to the ...
Thank you very much, Cathryn, for the feedback and suggestions! I will contact Jenn (but I think she moved on and Laura is the one who sends out the prompt messages now) and see if I can get an answer to the why the story wasn't accepted. Also, I've been working on showing instead of telling so its great that you commented on that, it tells me I've figured it out! Thank you!