She stepped off the bus and let her breath out slowly as she took in her surroundings. Immediately she found that she was in the path of bustling city people and had no choice but to move quickly. She had painstakingly planned this trip in great detail and knew that she had to take a right but instead she hurried straight forward to the safety of a department store window to get her bearings and steady her nerves.
“Okay girl, you can do this” she thought to herself. She took another deep breath, brought the directions she had memorised to the front of her mind and set off on her mission to prove herself to a bunch of strangers.
She’d caught the only bus she could from her village and was ridiculously early, but at that moment it was a blessing. She wanted to find the place and the right room and then she would just have the interview to worry about. A short walk, one pedestrian crossing and a left turn and she was there. The enormous austere doors were daunting, but she was determined to play the part of confident business woman and strode in purposefully.
The entrance lobby was impressive. What a floor! The shiniest, most reflective surface she had ever seen! And the echo… Heels clipping and clopping all around her, she looked down at her own mediocre footwear and immediately felt inadequate. “Damn”, she thought “Shoes. Oh God, why didn’t I think about shoes?!?” She turned and fled back out of the building. She was early after all and she knew where the nearest department store was, she had just been there. She strode back through the traffic and crowds to the store by the bus stop and scanned the aisles as she marched through the glass doors. “Shoes, shoes, shoes” she muttered to herself. “Ah, here we go”.
It didn’t take long to find a pair she really liked, several pairs she really liked and jigging impatiently her eyes darted around the room in an attempt to spot the possibility of a helpful shop assistant. The silly women were all busy straightening things and looking in every direction but hers. “Oh come ON” she groaned to herself quietly.
“Pardon?” Said a man’s voice next to her.
“Oh…I…um..er…Do you work here?” she asked
He squinted as if trying to focus on the question and then smiled briefly and let out one of those tiny little down-the-nose laughs that are possible without opening one’s mouth.
“No, not me. Sorry” He replied and turned away from her.
As he walked out of the building he tapped a member of staff on the arm gently and smiled. One of the silly women finally came over to assist and the shoe trying on could begin.
Fifteen minutes later she had made her choice and found herself in a queue to pay while a young member of staff seemed to be having till training. Glancing down at her watch she now realised that she was due at her interview in five minutes and she still hadn’t found the right room!
Eventually she made it back outside only to discover that it was beginning to rain. “Oh no. Why me?” she thought and dashed back to the impressive doors and through them into the grand lobby. As she hurtled through the doors she ran straight into the back of a man who didn’t seem to be in quite such a hurry as her and as he turned to identify his assailant their eyes flickered recognition at each other from their brief encounter in the shoe area of the department store. “Sorry, sorry” she muttered, sounding more irritated than apologetic and made a swift move to the right to avoid his path. But as she swung sideways her new wet shoes slid unceremoniously across the floor and took her several metres at a very fast pace right into the middle of the bodies hurrying about their work.
Grabbing instinctively at what ever she could as she hurtled through the black suits and laptop bags and eventually came to an undignified stop in a heap on the floor. The possibility of shattered bones avoided only by the number of people who had broken her fall along the way.
She kept her eyes closed for a moment while she tried to compose herself. And then slowly lifted her head and looked about her to assess the damage. A few sympathetic onlookers had remained to check she was alright, but most other people were moving away now.
“Shoes, new shoes” She tried to explain “It’s the rain. Slippy wet shoes. Oh God, my interview! I have to get… Oh shit!” She couldn’t stand up. Her shoes were still wet, she was shaking terribly from the shock, had a very sore bottom and was more ashamed than she thought possible.
Department store man suddenly appeared and offered her his arm. She grabbed it rather too roughly as she nearly lost her balance again.
“I don’t know why I’m doing this” he said. You ran into me and now I’m late for an interview. There’s some poor soul upstairs nervously waiting for a job interview with me and you’re keeping them waiting” . . .