A new Job
I bang my head gently on my steering wheel in frustration. Up ahead is the massive Astor stadium; home to the Dalton football team. One of the best sports teams in the country and my new employers.
It's my first day of work, doing a job I am very unqualified for. I was to start as their assistant branding manager. My job was to help them get endorsements and keep their image as clean as possible. The only certification I have is a marketing degree from the University of Essex and my only work experience is two different waitressing jobs.
I tried repeatedly to tell my mother I wasn't qualified enough for this job. "The person I'm working under has over fifteen years in the field. She graduated from Oxford and is going to fire me my first day there."
My mother just laughed and rolled her eyes. "Sweetheart you underestimate yourself too much. Your boss will see your value right away and will give you the respect you deserve."
Bryan walked in at that exact moment looking as chirpy as ever. He walked up to my mother and kissed her. "What's all this I'm hearing about first-day jitters." He laughs. "I personally reviewed your CV and decided that you could handle the job."
Bryan is my mom's new husband. They got married a month ago and they've moved into his mansion in one of the most expensive estates in London. They asked me if I wanted to move in with them and I vehemently refused. He also offered to pay for a nice apartment for me but I declined. I don't want to become dependent on him. It's bad enough that he got me my new job.
In my defense, the job market is brutal, especially for black women. Well, I'm biracial. And it's a really good position. Bryan owns a significant percentage of the Dalton football team, he pulled some strings to get me the job. It's bad enough that everyone will think I got this post because of privilege. I mean I did, I just don't want people thinking that.
I take a deep breath and exit my car. I struggle with the door and it closes after a few attempts. I also declined the offer for a new car. I still have some dignity that I'll like to maintain. I walk carefully to the glass doors that lead to the building. The doors slide open automatically as I approach them, I enter the reception and feel a wave of dread wash over me.
Everything looks so shiny and posh. I'm scared I'll break something important. I walk up to the reception where a young woman is seated. She has brown frizzy hair and big glasses resting on a nose dusted with freckles.
"Good day Miss." I say to her. She looks up and offers me a bright smile. "I'm here for a job. I...um already have the job, I'm here to start the job." I laugh awkwardly.
She offers me a sympathetic smile. "You must be Riley Hartely, Avery your immediate superior has been waiting for you all morning."
"It's 7:30." I say surprised. "Does she sleep in the office." A joke.
Thankfully she laughs. "Nobody knows. She's usually the first to come and the last to leave. She drives all her assistants crazy." She loses her smile. "Good luck with her."
I nod. "Put me in your prayers, will you. So do you have any forms for me to sign."
"Ah yes." She brings out a folder from her drawers. "Just look this over and sign them. Your ID and everything has been organized. You just need to move into your office, it's on the second floor. And as soon as you're all set up, Avery would like to see you."
"Thank you so much." I take the folder and go to the waiting area to fill out the forms. As soon as they're all signed I pick up my ID, office keys and she directs me to my office. It's a standard office, there's a desk and two visitor chairs which take up half the room in the office. There's a big window beside my desk which shows me the car park. I can't spot my car but I see the expensive display of sports cars parked around.
I remind myself that the people I work for are all millionaires who like showing off how much money they have. I drop my few belongings at my desk. Just my purse and a few files the receptionist Shelby gave me. I pick up my phone and go up the stairs to the floor directly above me. That's where my boss Avery's office is located.
I see 'Branding Consultant' written in a gold plaque on one of the doors and knock on it. A voice comes from the other side. "Come in."
A woman dressed in a white chiffon dress sits behind a big mahogany desk. She looks up from her papers and stares at me. "You must be Riley." She says. "What took you so long."
"I'm sorry Mrs. Collins." I say to her. "I was filling out the forms and I thought I was coming early because work doesn't start till 8:30 and."
She raises her hand to stop me. "First of all call me Avery. Second of all don't worry about being late. It's your first day, I'll give you a pass." She looks me up and down. "And what are you wearing."
I glance down briefly at my outfit. I'm wearing a knee-length black skirt, a white button-down shirt, and a black blazer. My hair is packed into a neat bun. She stands up and I fully see her outfit. Her dress stops just below her knees and she's wearing high designer heels. Her hair is blonde and straight. It's long and reaches her mid-waist, I notice the black coat draped on her coat rack and the expensive Prada handbag sitting comfortably on the edge of her table.
"I thought I looked professional." I say embarrassed. "I'm so sorry I'll dress better tomorrow."
She sighs. "You work with social media and branding, not Wallstreet. You'll be working with celebrities, try to dress more casual. Formal yet casual."
I have no idea what that means but I nod my head yes. "Shelby said I should meet you when I was done signing my forms. She said you'll tell me what to do."
She walks past a sofa and two armchairs to get to the shelves. Between the armchairs is a glass table placed on top of a black and white rug. She picks up a manuscript with the words KEVIN MALONE: MY AMAZING LIFE written on it.
"This is one of the player's manuscripts. I want you to read it and circle some lines, the most offensive phrases. Before it reaches the publisher." She drops the manuscript on her table. "Finish it as soon as possible, I need it before 5."
I pick up the book. "Well, then it's a good thing I'm a fast reader." I joke but she doesn't even smile. "I'll start the book right now."
"When you're done I have more tasks for you. I just hope you're not incompetent." She goes back to her desk.
"Avery." I call her. "I know you think I just got this job because of privilege but I want you to know that I will work hard till I truly deserve it."
She doesn't look up from her papers. "I hope for your sake that's true."
I leave the room holding the book to my chest. I go back down to my office and bury my head in the book. It's my first page and I've already circled 90% of it.
The book is so bad. There are so many offensive lines, stereotypes, jokes, and the writing is barely average. I'm halfway through the book when I get a call from my mum.
"Mum you can't call me at work." I whisper into the phone. "I'll call you later."
"But I want to know how your day is going. Have you met your boss, have you met any of the players." She giggles.
"Don't call me again." I whisper yell back and cut the call. I glance at my door, at least Avery doesn't know I took a personal call during work.
I spend the whole day reading the book. When I'm done the sun is getting ready to set and the car park is almost empty. I go to Avery's office to give her the book.
"I'm done." I say dropping the manuscript on her desk. "I would have finished earlier but I had to write down the notes."
"Not bad, Riley." She says unwillingly. "Now let's see if you can handle your next task. I'm sure Shelby gave you all the player's contacts. I need you to call this number and ask to speak with Siobhan." She hands me a thin folder. "These are the details concerning the shoot. Everything has been previously arranged, you just need to make sure everything goes perfectly."
"I'm giving you such a big task because I am currently overbooked and handling other projects. I don't care who your stepfather is, if you screw up, I will fire you in a heartbeat." She says seriously.
"Of course." I reply a little scared. "You can count on me to take care of this."
She doesn't look convinced. "I'm so desperate I'm going to trust you."
I smile. "Good night Avery. I'll look this over when I get home, all night if I have to."
"You better." She waves her hands dismissingly.
I leave the room and go back to my office. I put my laptop and the folder in my bag and pick up my blazer. I leave my office and make my way down to my car. I struggle to open the door, as usual.
I drop the bag on the top of my car and get ready to force the door open. I pull and pull but it doesn't budge.
"Do you need any help." A voice asks. I turn back and see a beautiful tall woman standing next to a Porsche.
"I'm good." I say and turn back to the car. "I've almost got it." I pull harder and harder.
"No, it's alright. I don't mind." She says and walks closer to me. On closer inspection, I finally realize I've seen her before.
"Oh my, I know you. You're Ellie Medina." I say out of breath.
She smiles sweetly. "I am. But right now I'm the girl who's going to help you break into your car." She crouches down and stares at the handle. "Can I please have the key"?
I can't stop smiling. "I can't believe Ellie Medina is helping me with my car." I hand her the key with shaky hands and she gets to work. She inserts the key and juggles it around in the hole. "My friends will never believe this." I frown. "But what are you doing here, Ellie Medina."
She moves the key around forcefully. "Please, Ellie. I cringe when people call me by my full name." She chuckles. "As for what I'm doing here, I'm picking up my boyfriend, he's one of the players."
I nod. I know she's dating a football player, I just don't know which one. "Forgive me for acting so starstruck. It's just you were my favorite judge on Runway's."
She turns back to me. "You watched that show." She laughs softly. "It's always nice to meet a fan." She turns the key around one more time before it clicks open. "Good." She then stands up straight and yanks the door open. "And there it is."
"Thank you so much for helping me with my car." I say. "I don't know what I would have done without you."
"Glad to help. But you should get your car looked at."
"I will." As soon as I can afford it. "Thank you again for your help. Have a good night."
I enter the car and she waves goodbye before walking back over to her Porsche. I pull out of the driveway still starstruck, I call my mum.
"Oh, you're ready to talk to me now." She says as soon as she picks up.
"I met Ellie Medina just now." I say. "Can you believe it"?
"Isn't she dating one of the players, Penny Campbell." She asks.
"She helped me with my car. The door wouldn't budge."
My mum scoffs. "Oh sweetie, don't you know how embarrassing that is." She moans. "Why don't you just let Bryan and I get you a new car."
"Because I don't want to mooch off him. It's bad enough he got me this job."
"There's nothing wrong with getting a little extra help. And of course, you'll pay us back." She reasons. "Sweetie everybody there must be driving sports cars. You'll be working with them, don't you want to drive something fancier."
"For them, not with." I remind her. "And it's alright, I'm good with this car."
"Please just take the car, what if something happens to this one while you're driving and you're stuck." She pleads. "It doesn't have to be anything too fancy."
I sigh. I've had this car for five years and it's been reliant up till two months ago. I have to get the oil changed every two weeks and I keep getting locked out. It's a miracle I haven't been stranded yet "Fine mum, I'll take the car. But I will pay you back as soon as I can."
I feel her smiling over the phone. "I'll send one over to your apartment tonight."
I find myself smiling at the thought of a new expensive car. "Thank you, mum. And thank Bryan for me."
"You're welcome." I hear his voice shout through the phone.
"Is he on speaker"? I ask to which they laugh. I roll my eyes and cut the call.