A month ago I wouldn’t have expected myself to be standing in front of the city’s finest Hotel. But it was better than having to face another day in my old dragging job and looking over my shoulder. Standing by the pavement, the reality had finally dawn on me. The feeling wasn’t of defeat. I knew when I was through those double doors I’d start a new phase of my life.
“Let’s do this,” I whispered to myself.
Entering The Grand Hotel, one of Chicago’s famous and luxurious hotels, I felt a rush of euphoria with the possibility of working for someone famous and big. When the sister of my best friend, Amy, told April her boss was hiring someone in the secretarial division, I was in. But I had doubts. With what happened on my last job, it was an understatement if I wouldn’t. The three unsuccessful attempt I had with a job in above average companies made me think all of these professionals are creating a façade to hide their ungodly agendas. Even the most sophisticated work environments, predators are always waiting to pounce. And things like this make you even more weary on your choices in life. But sometimes you don’t have room to choose. You have to suck it up and trust your next boss wasn’t a sexual harassment in a suit.
I approached the blonde woman across the reception counter. To be wise, it’s better to ask where I’m going than wandering around the place and finding the room.
I cleared my throat before speaking. “Hello. I’m here for a job interview with Mr. Rufus Fletcher.”
The woman looked up at me with a welcoming smile. “Of course. Did Mr. Fletcher told you where your interview would be held?”
“Yes. He informed me it will be at the conference room?” Rather than a statement, my voice dangling into a question.
She nodded like she finally understood where I’m getting at. “You just head up in that stairs. The receptionist, Sarah, will lead you to the room.”
“Oh! Okay, thank you.” I nodded and slowly headed towards the stairs she pointed.
“No problem. And good luck.”
Following her instructions, I walked up the flight of stairs and was greeted by another reception area. Regarding the woman behind the desk, I guessed she was Sarah. The woman looked up and greeted me with the same professional premediated smile.
“Hello. Good morning, how may I help you?” Sarah asked.
“Yes. I’m here for a job interview with Mr. Rufus Fletcher.”
“Ah, yes. You must be Ms. Curtis?”
“Yes.” I smiled.
“Just walked down the hallway there,” she paused and gestured towards her left, “and enter the first door on your right.”
I nodded. “Got it. Thank you.”
“Good luck, dear.” She called as I headed for the room.
Following her instruction, I knocked the first door on my right. It took a few seconds until I heard a muffled voice asking me to enter. With a heavy heart, I entered and met a middle-aged man sitting by the head of a huge oval table in the middle of the room.
“Ms. Curtis?” The man inquired. His English accent was thick.
“Yes.” I nodded. “Good morning, Mr. Fletcher.” I greeted.
The man smiled and gestured towards the seat on his right side. “Please sit.”
“Thank you,” I replied and settled down.
“How are you today?”
“Did you have trouble getting here?”
“No. I live in this area.”
“Would you have trouble commuting a few miles from here? The main office is located in the Loop.”
I processed what he was trying to say. “Oh! No, sir. It won’t be a problem. So this job isn’t for this office, if I may ask?”
“No. You’ll soon be working in the branch office of the Hawksley Holding Inc.”
“Hawks… Hawksley Holding Inc.? They have a branch office here?” I didn’t bother hiding my surprise.
Even if my work wasn’t in-line with real estate, hotel, and restaurant industry, I’m familiar with the name. Since my ex-boss used to take trips around the country, he used to stay in their hotel – the man loved to live lavishly. Plus, the Hawksley name had been thrown around the spotlight for topping as one of the successful businesses in the country.
“We’ve opened the branch almost a year ago. Since we’re new, we’re still growing as a team and workload are increasing. Hence, why you’re here.” He gently explained. “I viewed your résumé and saw you’ve been a secretary for an advertising company. Is there a reason why you are no longer working for them?” He changed gear and started asking the right questions.
“Yes. I decided to part ways with the company since they didn’t hold the same values and work ethic as I am.” I smoothly lied, which was partly true.
“And you think our company held the same values as you?”
“I’m well aware of the standard Hawksley Holding Inc. hold, sir. And I’m sure a company as grand as this one have an even higher standard and values than what I have.”
“What makes you think you're capable of upholding the same values?”
“Because I know my limit and I’m willing to learn as I grow part of the company.”
“And do you think to be a part of the team you’d be able to take on a task and pressure working for a different interest? Advertising and the Service Industry are different.”
“The interest might be different; however, the workload and paperwork are mainly the same. I’ve worked as a secretary for three different Industries for the past five years. I had taken it upon myself to make my bosses’ life easier the moment he walked into the office and out of the door 24/7.”
“Glad to hear such dedication to your job, Ms. Curtis.” He remarked. “What if you’re needed for the holidays? Would you be able to give up your time for it?”
“Of course, as long as it’s part of the job and I get paid for it,” I truthfully answered. If I wasn’t plainly truthful on getting properly compensated, I’ll be doing charity work which I might not enjoy. And from the first year working as a secretary, I learned my lesson on that.
“Of course. The compensation is very handsome. Trust me.” He commented again. “Well, I don’t have that many questions for you since Amy had vouched on your capability, and I trust her judgment. I know it’s unprofessional of me, but I have a long day ahead of me.”
“You know Amy, sir?” This comes as a surprise. From what I know, April’s older sister was a receptionist. I didn’t know she was working for one of the country’s top business powerhouse.
“Yes. Everyone in the office is well-acquainted with her. Nothing gets pass without her approval. And to hear nothing but good things about you from her, that’s a plus in my books.” He remarked with a smile.
“Oh, wow. I didn’t know Amy thought highly of me.” I muttered in disbelief.
“Aren’t you friends with her?”
“I only know her through her younger sister since she’s my best friend,” I admitted.
“That’s even more interesting…” He trailed off in thought. “Well, since we’re done here, I’ll be contacting you about your training in the following week.”
“Oh, thank you, sir. Does this mean…?” I trailed off, feeling like my question was too informal.
Nonetheless, he told me the words I wanted to hear. “Yes, Ms. Curtis. You got the job.”
To keep my cool, I cleared my throat twice and remained composed. “Oh… thank you, sir. I shall wait for your call.”
With that, we exchanged a few pleasantries before I left the room. As I walked back towards the reception area, I nodded towards Sarah as thank you before I headed back down the lobby. I wanted to thank the blonde receptionist who helped me but she was nowhere to be found. Once I was finally out on the street, with the gentle breeze of Chicago in September, I let out a controlled squeal. I didn’t mind nor care how the bystanders at the entrance turned and looked at me weirdly. I’ve finally hung up my status on unemployment.
In the afternoon after my interview, it was expected April would be visiting. The apartment had become rowdy as we both started talking animatedly while I recounted what happened. Then things turned for the worst – for my neighbors, not us – when we got out a bottle of wine and started doing karaoke in my living room. However, since no one reported us for the noise, I kept it in mind to send everyone on my floor and the apartment below mine a fruit basket during holidays.
When the weekend arrived, I gathered my wits and decidedly made the short trip to my parent’s place. Since I left my job, I started cutting down my visit. At one point, my mother personally gave me a visit and asked why I hadn’t been around. Of course, I lied. After hearing how my last two jobs ended, I didn’t want to worry them. Since now I’m getting an upgrade, I found my confidence make the trip this time.
It didn’t take long for me to get the whole word out as I entered the familiar hallway. When my mother asked how I was doing, the first thing that came out of my mouth was “guess what?”
She studied my uncharacteristic enthusiasm and humored me. “What, my dear?”
“I just got hired a few days ago.”
“Hired? Don’t you already have a job?” She pointed out in confusion.
“Yeah, but I quit. I got a new job instead with a better company.”
“Wait, hold up! What happened to your last job? Why did you quit?” She remained unhinged, pressing on the previous issue.
“That’s not really important, mom. I just didn’t like the work environment.” I vaguely answered. “But that’s not what I’m talking here. Guess which company I’ll be working for?”
“You didn’t like the work environment? What happened? Did something happen?”
“Mom! Can we drop the topic and move on the this better, and most likely awesome news you’d hear from me?” I huffed in frustration.
“Not unless you tell me what happened on your last job, honey.” She grilled.
I stared at her dead in the eyes. And as her usual stubborn self, she didn’t bat an eye and waited for me to answer her question.
“Fine,” I muttered in defeat. “My boss was harassing me so I quit.”
“What the?!” She looked at me wide-eyed. “That’s the third time already! That’s it! You should start suing them, pumpkin. If not, I will be calling one of my girls. They have connections and I’ll make sure these men won’t see the light of day!” Her voice raised higher as she got worked up.
“Mom, mom. It’s okay. I walked away, as you’ve told me. He didn’t do much nor ruined my dignity as a human being. I’m fine now, mom. Please calm down or you’ll raise your blood pressure.”
I watched as she started breathing in and out raggedly. To help soothe her, I rubbed her back in a slow rhythm. “Don’t worry about that mom, that’s all in the past. Let’s now focus on my good news.” I offered and averted her attention to a lighter topic.
“Okay. What’s this new job you’re gushing about? Tell me who you’re working for and I’ll ask a private investigator to get some dirt on him. I’m not letting you throw yourself in yet another awful workplace.” She adamantly decided.
“Don’t worry, mom. These people aren’t like my past workplaces. They’re the big fish in the sea. This is bigger than New York.”
“What’s bigger than the job you got at that small, sleazy, entertainment industry in New York?” She sounded dry mentioning the first job where all my bad luck started.
“My job as an assistant’s assistant at that company hardly hold a pinky for this job.”
“Just tell me already, honey. I’m not getting young… and while we’re talking about that, when will Ben and you get married? You’ve been dating for nearly three years already. And where is he now?”
“Mom, don’t get sidetrack, please. We’re not talking about my love life right now.” I sighed.
“Right… but you need to answer those question after you tell me this news of yours.”
“Got it.” I rolled my eyes and finally spilled the beans. “So, I’ll be working as a secretary for one of the top hotel and real estate company in the country, Hawksley Holdings.”
“Who? Hawks… what?”
At this point, I’ve already lost the hype. “Mom, you sure know how to make someone lose interest in something quickly,” I remarked half-heartedly.
Rather than giving me a verbal response, she lightly patted my arm. “So, where were we about Ben and you?” She shifted the conversation again.
A few minute after that I was saved when my father entered the living room, interrupting our mother and daughter bonding time. With the new addition to the company, I told my father about my new job, only to get nearly the same conversation with my mother. And he wasn’t as verbal about his dislike on what happened to my last job, but the fire in his eyes and how he hands balled into a fist, he was ready to punch someone – particularly my old boss.
I stayed for the rest of the day and joined them for dinner. Halfway through the meal, my older brother, Mateo, one of the twins, come over for a visit as well. I had to repeat myself about the news, for the third and last time, and finally got a response I wanted to hear.
“For real? Hawksley Holding?” He stared at me like I was delirious.
“I’m not kidding, Matt.”
“Did you tell Kathy about this yet? She might flip. I think she has a crush on of those brothers… the older one… the CEO.” He stuttered as he thought of a name.
“Huh? Kathy has a thing for older, bald-headed men?” I inquired, sounding a bit prejudice for stereotyping CEOs.
“What do you mean old and bold headed men? From what Kathy showed me last time, which I didn’t want to see by the way since she shoved her phone to my face, this guy looked like he was in his early thirties.” Mateo argued.
“I heard of the company name, that’s all really. But I’m not so sure who this man you’re talking about. Isn’t the owner of the company a seventy-year-old man with grey hair?”
“Wait! I’ll call Kat.” Mateo held up his hand as he pulled out his phone.
Rather than a phone call, Mateo video called Kathy instead. From her white clothes, she was on duty at the hospital.
“Why are you calling me? I’m at work.” Kathy grumpily informed though she still answered the call.
“I’ll be quick, sis. What was the name again of the CEO of Hawksley Holding Inc.? The guy you have been pinning for over a year now.” Mateo had gone straight to his point.
“Oh! You mean, Julian Hawksley? Why are you asking?”
“Because little sis here is going to work for Hawksley Holding.”
From there, Mateo had to pull the phone away as Kathy’s squeals had started to irritate our ears. Well, at least someone in my family was more excited about this than I was.