Cafe de Desiree

October 8, 2012

If Only:)

Filed under: Blogging,life,story — desi83 @ 8:34 am

I logged onto indeed.com as I do every day in search of a job that won’t make me miserable, but this time I plugged in a different location: Jacksonville, FL. I scrolled through the listings casually, and then there was one that stopped me in my tracks: legal secretary no experience needed with college degree. That is one of the career possibilities that I have been considering, but every time I see a post for it, the experience required is usually 3+ years. I have none. How in the hell does one get that experience if there are never entry level jobs open? Well, this was starting to look like a prophecy. I wasn’t going to jump ahead of myself,  though. After being either rejected or ignored for so many months by prospective jobs, this one may not be any different. So, I clicked “apply”. I filled out every detail about myself along with my resume, which pretty much summed up everything that I had to write on the application. I pressed “submit”. I sighed. I could live in Jacksonville, Florida, even if just for a short while. I could spend my free time lying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, jogging along the shoreline, or just sitting in the sand with a good book in my hands while listening to the waves. This would no longer be a big ordeal. It would be a trip right down the street. Oh, if only.

A week passed by, and I got a call from an out-of-state area code that woke me up at 8:00 in the morning. That is a ridiculously early hour for someone who has no where to be. I almost didn’t answer, because I figured either it was a tele-marketer, or I’d sound too groggy to talk to anyone seriously. The little cricket in my head whispered to me to answer the phone. “Hello?” I mumbled. “Hi, is this Desiree?” asked a voice that sounded like it came from a cheerleader. I cleared my throat loudly. “Yes, this is she,” I tried to say clearly. “I’m so sorry, did I wake you?” the peppy voice asked. “No, no I am awake, I’m good. Can I help you?” I asked, still not entirely sure this wasn’t a tele-marketer. “This is Ashley from Bennett and Bailey law firm. You submitted an application online for the legal secretary position?” she explained. Holy shit. This was a dream. There is no way this is happening. “Yes ma’am, I am still interested if you are interviewing,” I stammered. “Great. Well, we’d love to set up an interview with you, Desiree. When will you be available this week?” she asked. I’m always available, I thought. “Anytime really. I am in Tennessee right now, but I can be there in about eight hours,” I answered too enthusiastically. “Awesome! Well, since you are driving such a long distance, how about we set an appointment on Wednesday at 9 am? That way you can have until tomorrow to get to Jacksonville, then you can spend the night in a hotel and get right up and come see us,” she planned for me. I guess I hadn’t been too enthusiastic. It only made Ashley more peppy than ever. “I will be there. What is the address?”

I didn’t know what to do. Should I tell my parents and my friends? I should wait. I may not even get the job. I was going to get the job, though, I just knew it. I nail interviews. The only problem is that most of the time I cannot get the interview. I’m usually either over-qualified or under-qualified or lack the experience wanted. If I can get into the interview, I can usually get the job. I went to my closet and tried on five different outfits until I found something suitable enough for a legal secretary job interview. I don’t have a lot of office appropriate clothes because I’ve worn a retail uniform for the past five years. I would love the chance to dress nicely for a change. I dragged my suitcase out of the attic and packed my interview outfit and shoes. It was a long sleeved button-down red shirt from Express and a grey business skirt that fell right below my knees. I packed some black pumps, which I detest because they are so horribly uncomfortable. I am a jeans and tshirt girl. Okay, I said I would like a job where I dress nice. In a way I do because it makes me feel pretty and important at the same time. However, I hate feeling uncomfortable. I threw in underwear and stockings, pajamas, and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief to read at the hotel. I was ready for my big interview. Then I realized-I’m going to the beach! I threw in my bikini and a beach towel and zipped the suitcase shut.

After a sleepless night spent thinking about how happy and successful I was going to be living on the beach, I arose to make my way to Jacksonville. I guzzled some coffee, quickly stuffed some toast down my throat, and I headed out with my suitcase and resume. I stopped for lunch in Georgia at the Cracker Barrel, because I always go there on trips. I was making a mini vacation out of this even though I couldn’t really afford it. The toast hadn’t done anything for my appetite, so I gobbled up my scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and hashbrown casserole. I downed a large orange juice, made a pit stop, and headed out. I didn’t even get lost like I usually do on long trips. My gps did not fail me. I checked in my hotel at eight p.m., only thirty minutes later than I had predicted. I guess I spent more time at Cracker Barrel than was the plan. There was a pool and a hot tub at this hotel, so I decided to change into my swimsuit when I got into my room. When I first walked into my hotel room, I immediately threw down my suitcase, kicked off my shoes, and ran to the window to see the beach that was just outside. The view was like something from a dream. The moon was shining down on the dark water below, the waves were crashing fiercely against the shoreline, and I wanted more than anything to just be down there.

I decided that the hot tub was the best way to relax before my big interview. The beach would be safer and warmer during the day, any way. So, I changed into my swimsuit and made my way downstairs. I arrived at the hot tub where I found a young man sitting alone in the hot tub. He looked about my age, maybe a bit younger, and he was strikingly good-looking. He smiled at me. “Hi, how are you? Don’t worry, I won’t bite if you want to come in,” he said. I couldn’t say no to that Tom Cruise smile. “Okay, if you don’t mind,” I said timidly. I hoped a girlfriend or wife wouldn’t suddenly show up. “Of course I don’t mind. It’ll be nice to have someone to talk with,” he answered smoothly. I wanted to do more than just talk-no, stop it! I am not here to flirt or get into trouble, I thought. I climbed in and sat beside him with a comfortable distance between us. Suddenly, a bottle of some craft beer I’d never heard of was placed into my hand. “Fritz Hefeweizen is from the Bold City brewing company-right here in Jacksonville,” he explained. “Oh, cool, I love trying local beer wherever I am,” I replied. It was pretty good beer, too. “So, what is your name?” I asked after taking a sip. “Jackson,” he replied, jerking his hand from the water and splashing me a bit. “Sorry, I was just trying to shake your hand,” he said awkwardly. I laughed and shook his hand. “Are you kidding me? If we are using fake names, at least come up with something original. I met Jackson in Jacksonville, really?” I said, slightly offended. He shook his head, and we were still holding hands very awkwardly. I let go when I realized this. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but I can show you my license later,” he reassured me. “Oh, so you have a specially made license for picking up girls in every city, huh? Clever,” I quipped. He laughed. “Well, what is your name? Oh, please let it be Jackie. That would be priceless,” he joked. “It can be if you want it to be. No, kidding, my name is Desiree,” I replied, blushing. “Nice to meet you, Desiree. I like that name better anyway,” he said smiling that hypnotizing smile again.

“So, Jackson, what are you doing here in Jacksonville?” I asked. “Oh, I am here for a job. I might be moving here soon if all goes well,” he replied. “How ironic, I am here for a job interview,” I responded. “So we might be neighbors one day,” he suggested. “Maybe. Have you looked at any houses yet?” I asked. “I have, but I don’t know that I’ve found what I am looking for quite yet. I do know that I am finding Jacksonville to be quite charming and inviting,” he said as he leaned toward me. “Yes, yes it is. Well, speaking of my job interview, I need to go to my room and get some sleep. I want to be rested and ready for it,” I replied nervously, moving my face away from his. “Yes, good idea. I’m so glad that we met here. I’ll be staying here for a few days if you want to grab a drink tomorrow night? My room is 322, so give me a call or come knock on my door sometime tomorrow,” he suggested. I blushed again. “Okay, I will. Good to meet you,” I said as I turned to leave. “Good luck!” he shouted.

I went up to my room with my towel wrapped around my warm and relaxed body. This was all surreal. After wallowing in self-doubt and misery for so many years, could Lady Luck really be paying me a visit? I opened the door and fell onto the bed, praying that this wasn’t just some moment, one day out of my life that would pass and mean nothing. I needed this to be the starting point of a new journey. I changed into my pajamas, brushed my teeth for a good five minutes as I’m constantly worried about having stained teeth, and I crawled under the covers on the hotel bed. I passed out immediately, and I slept so hard that I barely remember dreaming. I think Jackson was in one of those dreams.

The alarm on my phone caused me to jolt up and almost fall out of the bed at 7 am. I got out of the bed quickly because of my excitement for the day, and I took a short hot shower with the little hotel shampoo, conditioner, and soap. I don’t know why I love those little things so much. I wrapped myself in the white fluffy hotel towel, another thing I love about hotels. I opened the door of the bathroom and felt a rush of cold coming from the room. I held my towel tighter around me and walked over to the closet where my interview outfit hung nicely and miraculously without wrinkles. I grabbed my underwear out my suitcase below and got dressed swiftly. I looked in the mirror and admired my wonderfully appropriate choice in dressing. I combed and dried my hair, put on make-up (something I usually never do), and strapped on my uncomfortable but stylish shoes. I headed down to the lobby to have coffee and a quick breakfast. There, sitting alone at a table with a coffee and bagel, was Jackson.

“Good morning!” he shouted. I was embarrassed. “Good morning, Jackson,” I greeted. “Are you stalking me? Because that would be kind of hot,” he joked. I laughed, still feeling embarrassed. I’m so bad at flirting. “You know, I might be,” I said awkwardly. “Come, sit down after you get your complimentary continental breakfast. Yum, cold bagels!” he said, smiling. “Okay,” I mumbled. I got my coffee and a plate of fruit, some type of sticky pastry, and something that was supposed to be sausage I think. I sat down with Jackson and took a sip of my coffee. I almost spit it on him. He just laughed. “I’m sorry, but this is not coffee. This is water with some dirt in it!” I said. We both laughed. I tried to eat my cold, disgusting breakfast while we talked about the hotel and what we wanted to do in Jacksonville. “Well, I have to go to my interview now,” I said. “Oh yeah, where is it, anyway?” he asked. “It’s at Bennett and Bailey law firm. I applied for the legal secretary position,” I replied. “Are you serious?” he asked. “Yes, what is wrong with that?” I asked, not sure if I should feel offended or not. “It’s just funny because I’m a lawyer. I have a friend who has an office on the same block as that one. He asked me if I wanted to work with him at his office here,” Jackson said enthusiastically. “There is so much irony with you, I just don’t even know if I believe it,” I said smiling. “Yes, it’s Franks and Johnson, but Johnson just left. So, I’m hoping to make it Franks and Jackson,” he explained. “Awesome. So what kind of lawyer are you?” I asked. “I mostly do family law-divorce, issues accompanying divorce, that sort of thing,” he replied. “Okay, cool. Yeah, Bennett and Bailey do litigation,” I replied. “Yes, they do. Well, good luck today. You look great, very professional but also kind of hot,” he said smoothly. My face was red, I just knew it. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. I just tend to say whatever I’m thinking,” he said. I love it when people say what they’re thinking. That is how I am when I’m not trying so hard to just not throw up or trip over something. “Well, thank you, and I will see you later, I am sure,” I said, stammering. Then, I did trip over a plant. He winked at me, and I waved and ran out the door.

I drove to the law office, located in downtown Jacksonville. I parked as soon as I got into the town and decided to walk the rest of the way. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, and the temperature was a perfect 82 degrees. My feet were throbbing with pain, but I still wanted to walk. Why didn’t I bring slip-ons to walk in? Oh, if only I was a more prepared and organized person. I passed by al fresco coffee shop, then a restaurant of the same type. There were some tourist stores with swimsuits and sundresses in the windows. I was definitely going to explore all of this after the interview. I breathed in the fresh Florida air and saw the sign straight ahead for Franks and Johnson. Well, maybe he didn’t make up his story. I passed by it and looked inside for a moment. There was nothing spectacular about it. I continued to walk, passing by more tourist shoppes and eateries. Then, I came to Bennett and Bailey. I took in a long breath and let it out slowly before I opened the door. I walked in and introduced myself to the receptionist, whom I was sure had to be Ashley. She had long, thick blonde hair, a big white smile, and a perfect little hourglass figure in her designer skirt suit. She held out her hand excitedly. “I’m so glad you could make it! Please have a seat,” she gestured to the seat in front of her. It was a tiny reception area, and I was guessing the office through the door wasn’t much bigger. “I just had good feeling about you after seeing your resume. I just knew Mr. Bennett and Mr. Bailey had to meet you and see if you were the one,” she said in her peppy voice. “The one?” I asked, a little scared now. “We are a very close family here. Mindy was the last secretary here. She had to leave us after being here for five years. It was rough,” Ashley said, suddenly downcast. “So, we’re looking for a new family member, and I’m hoping that you are the one!” she said suddenly chipper again. “Okay, well, I hope I am too,” I said, not able to muster up that much enthusiasm. She smiled and went back to typing.

“Desiree?” a deep voice called out from the other side as a large hand opened the door. “Yes sir,” I answered. “Come on in,” the deep voice ordered, leaving the door cracked. I looked over at Ashley. “Go on, get in there,” she whispered. I timidly and softly pushed open the door with my resume in my hand. “Good morning, how are you?” a much higher voice asked. There, sitting in two office chairs, were Bennett and Bailey. The large hand and booming voice belonged to Bennett. He was about 6’2, red-faced, built like a line-backer, and his hand felt like it would crush mine when he shook my hand. His hair was cut like an army soldier’s. Bailey, however, had that high-pitched voice, was about 5’5 in stature, skinny as a rail, and had a quick but light handshake. They were a strange pairing.

The interview is a blur. I’m not even going to try to recount the questions that were asked, but I do remember answering with long and intelligent responses. They both nodded their heads and smiled throughout the interview. I do remember the last question. “So, what made you decide to leave Tennessee and retail management to come to Florida to work at a law firm?” Bennett asked, then gave me an intimidating stare. “I am ready to find where I belong, and I did not belong there. Something tells me that I belong right here,” I answered truthfully and smoothly. He nodded and smiled widely. “I think someone thinks you belong here. Ashley said she had a good feeling about you,” Bailey added. I smiled. “So, I’m going to be honest with you, Desiree. We have interviewed ten other candidates. Ashley chooses the candidates for us, weeding through the ones that are definitely not worth looking into. She didn’t have that “feeling” about anyone else. I’m not one to solely base decisions on intuition, so I have done all of these interviews to see who has the best credentials as well as the right personality for the position. There were a couple of other candidates that we were considering because they have the right credentials. They have more experience than you. Of course, we put entry level on the job poster, so we weren’t looking for a large amount of experience. I think it is better actually to find a fresh lump of clay with the right potential to mold into what we need,” Bennett explained. I felt the beating wings of the butterflies throughout my gut.

I walked out of the office and looked at Ashley. She looked back at me with wide, curious eyes. I smiled widely and giggled. I don’t giggle. “Oh my gracious, welcome to the family! Eek! I’m so happy we are going to be complete now,” Ashley squealed. “Thank you. Now I need to try to find a place to live because I’m starting in a couple of weeks,” I replied. I was about to turn to to leave when Ashley shoved a stack of papers in my face. “Take these with you. These are listings near Jacksonville that aren’t terribly expensive. Good luck!” she said. Oh, I was definitely being graced with plenty of that now. The road through misery had finally ended, and I turned on the road to happiness.

 

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