What is normal for them (Chapter 1)
“Are you able to ride a horse?” an older man with gray-streaked hair asked.
The three faces on the zoom call watched me hesitate to answer. Their gazes luckily focused on me and not my hastily cleaned small living room behind me.
“Uh, well… I’ve been on one once or twice” I answer.
“Do you have any experience with weaponry such as swords or daggers?”
This was the weirdest interview I’ve ever participated in and if I didn’t need the job so badly I would’ve already asked them what they’re smoking because none of this made any sense. It’s a research assistant position within some new institute at the university; the only weapon I would need is caffeine to send off sleepiness.
“No?” it comes out of my mouth as a question for who knows what reason. But honestly, did a lot of people answer yes to that question? “By the sounds of it I’m auditioning to be an extra on game of thrones” I mutter under my breath.
“Sorry, can you repeat that Miss Wagner?”
“Oh, just that… um…” I trail off as I desperately try to think of something to cover my faux pas, “I’m really good with a knife” and by that I mean I can slice vegetables and not cut myself, a much undervalued skill if you ask me.
The older man hums and nods on my computer screen while the other two people on the zoom call remain silent as they had the entire interview. Damn my new stepmother and her greed. If she hadn’t convinced my father to stop funding me halfway through my master’s degree I wouldn’t have to take a job with these nuts.
“Tobias, do you have any questions for Miss. Wagner?”
“Uh, just one or two” A younger man, maybe in his late 30s with a goatee replies before continuing, “Miss Wagner do you tend to get dizzy or nauseous?”
“How about allergies?”
“Um… no not really”
“Have you had all of your vaccines? I mean, excluding the coronavirus one obviously, although if you have it all the better”
“Uh, I’m up to date but no coronavirus vaccine, unfortunately,” I shrug, “My father is a retired doctor so you would think I would have the connections, but no such luck.”
They don’t even smile, but just stare at me through the screen. Geez, these guys are way too serious.
The younger man looks down at something and then says, “I think that’s all I have, Helmut”
“Hmmm…” Helmut, or as I should call him Professor Sauer begins, “okay, um, Alexis do you have any questions?”
“Yes, uh, Miss Wagner, do you have any experience working with vampires?” asks the only other woman on the call who appears to be in her late 20s.
“No, I-” I begin, but I’m interrupted
“There will be no vampires involved in Miss Wagner’s work” Professor Sauer interrupts.
“Then why am I here?” Alexis asks confused.
“We’ve been getting complaints and you’re the only female on my team except for my secretary” Professor Sauer explains unapologetically.
Alexis rolls her eyes.
I take a deep breath. Sexist and nuts. Lovely.
“So what is this project about then?” Alexis asks the question I have been begging to ask since the beginning of the interview.
“Fairytales” Professor Sauer smiles “specifically Grimm fairytales. And Miss Wagner would be working on the Goose Girl.”
“Oh,” I let out without thinking. The job advertisement had been very plain, just describing a non-distinct research assistant position- you know the type: it asks for someone studying at the university, asks for the Microsoft skills, you know, nothing everybody doesn’t have. Honestly, when I applied I didn’t think I would get an interview because the job ad was so generic that it could really be anybody. They really could’ve mentioned the whole horse riding thing…
But I could do it- I could work on analyzing a fairytale. Honestly, it sounds like the easiest job there is. I’ve always been the indoor sort of gal, and by that I mean the idea of cozying up in the university library and reading a fairytale sounds ten times better than jaunting around outside. Yup, I’m definitely a future office worker.
“Okay…” Alexis begins, “are you familiar with the story Goose Girl?”
I try to rack my mind, but it comes up blank, “I’m sure I’ve read all of the Grimm fairytales at some point…”
“Alexis is American, she doesn’t realize how popular the Grimm fairytales are” Professor Sauer explains.
I can see Alexis purse her lips but the only thing I can think of to say in response is, “oh okay.”
“So, Hannah” Alexis begins, but now her voice sounds a little tight, “do you have any experience in research?”
I lick my lips. I really do need this jobs, but… uh, “No, but I am a master’s student here at Goethe University”
Alexis nods, “Okay. How about experience with coding?”
“As in computer programming?” I am so confused.
“No, no… as in coding text” Alexis clarifies.
“I don’t think so…” I’m never going to get this job. Maybe I can find work in a retail store or something? I’m not sure with covid they are hiring, but then again maybe people quit? I could work in a bar if I had to, it’s only for a year until I graduate.
“That’s all I have” Alexis states.
“Okay, so Miss Wagner we’ll be in touch,” Professor Sauer says.
“Yeah, and I am the Queen,” I say under my breath.
“Sorry, could you repeat that, Miss Wagner?” Professor Sauer asks.
“Great, thank you so much!” I smile as broadly as I can, most likely looking like an idiot.
I hear a chorus of goodbyes before I close out of zoom.
I slump back in my chair as my fake smile falls off of my face. Well, shit, I’m going to need to apply for more jobs. I rap my knuckles on the desk in front of my computer once, twice and then I drag myself forward so that I can see the computer screen properly and click on my computer until I open my university’s job page.
I look through their list again- I’ve applied to all the good ones.
Ugh. I open my resume and begin editing it again.
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