I drove pretty fast. Tie on the seat beside me on my suit jacket and portfolio of resumes. I calculated how late I would be for the job I didn’t want. Really, for the interview for the job I didn’t want. Maybe five minutes late? Sixty miles an hour is one mile a minute and I guess 70 miles/hour is a little more road in a little less time. Margeaux, the gatekeeper of this job, is now perhaps wondering where I am.
I tie my tie while sitting in my car. Too short. Four times a charm and I get it right as I put my jacket on and step out into the summer heat, walk to the building, to the elevator (check myself in the reflection), up to the third floor, and inside the room to my right.
I awkwardly move to a chair to sit down when, a voice and “May I help you?” redirect me to the woman at the desk on wall to my left.
“Oh, yes. I’m here to see Margeaux.” (Stupid, I don’t even remember her last name. I start to remember I hate this suit.)
“Are you here for an interview?”
Yes. “Have you already graduated from law school?” No. And I think to myself, “There are law school graduates sitting in leather chairs filling out forms on clipboards at temp agencies.” No, but that does sound worse.
“Here you go. The application is double-sided.” Great! Thanks. I walk to one of the chairs along the back wall. I’ve almost been here before, but I’m not exactly sure where.
Filling out the form, I notice that, while I have some qualifications, the questions are all in a different language. Supervisor? Firm? The woman’s question about law school is still bouncing around my head as I look at the two people sitting near me, the woman behind the front desk, men in suits walk by talking loudly.
Name: check. Employment history: sort of check. And then I read the contract: temporary work, weekly time sheets, legal this, jargon that. Money slowly collecting somewhere at the top and me filling out this form realizing that this half-hearted attempt to be employed was, perhaps, the most depressing moment of this exhausting week. “I need to get out of here,” I realized as I crossed my left leg over my right and then switched them back again. I started to rehearse some lines in my head as if they had been written somewhere else:
“Sorry, I think I’m gonna take myself out of this process. I just realized I don’t want this job and I don’t really want to waste any more of y’alls time.”
Nothing in the room feels the same as it had before. I realize that Margeaux, wherever she is, will not see me in this suit and tie. The older woman to my right, still filling out the forms, can have the job. And for some reason I feel like she deserves it. Or better.
So I walk back to the woman behind the front desk, mumble my semi-rehearsed explanation, and she replies with a little curiosity, “O.K.? I’ll tell Margeaux,” and I say thanks. I leave. I walk out of the room to the right and into the elevator hall where I see myself again in those shiny, gold doors. I walk through the lobby on the first floor of this building somewhere between here and there and once outside again feel hot summer sun.
At my car, I smile. And smile as I put my jacket back onto the seat to my right under the portfolio and resumes and the pen I accidentally stole in the process.
“That” I say out loud, “was the right thing to do.” And I smile some more as I back out of the space and drive toward the exit. I smile as I drive in the wrong direction, check my map, and get back on track.
For some bizarre reason, my primary goal at this point becomes finding a Starbucks. Perhaps, because I know that I’ll find one. Perhaps, because I know I have been there before. And where better to reflect on this experience?
As Gaskins nears I-64, I see the green logo to my right: I knew there would be one. I kind of hate and love that I was right, walk in, get the coffee that everyone claims they hate, and sit down to write this story. But as I write, I also take in my surroundings. I feel like I have seen this tile before, the gold bags of coffee, the photos of scooters on cobblestone streets, the music overhead, and the “Oh! I love that carwash!” But where is that scooter? Where is that cobblestone street? Somewhere between here and there, is a Starbucks and an empty leather chair. And a woman named Margeaux, the Gatekeeper.
And me: still smiling as this reflection now moves through the present and into the future. As I walk out the door, I drop the cup into the trashcan, and walk to the door of my car. I’m still smiling to myself because I’m not sure if I should really feel successful about my day, but I do. I took my skills with me when I left that room. I took my experience, my interests, my creativity. I literally took myself and, in a strange way, found myself.
And throughout the day I became increasingly sure: It was the right thing to do.