A February I Remember

A February I Remember


Afraid to put too much store by the account I’d given of myself, yet putting FebthisAon a brave face and ploughing forward, I took the elevator up to the 4th floor for the second time and approached the door.

On my walk-up, I held the envelope in my coat pocket between thumb and forefinger. All I had to do was to fish it out, deliver it and get out without being seen by any of the principals who had not too long before grilled me in a round of no-nonsense questions, sprinkled here and there with pleasantries tempered by officialdom.

I’d remembered to take the thank-you card that I now clutched when I’d left my apartment some three hours before.  Over the last twenty minutes or so, I’d been standing at the eating counter of the Tim Horton’s at the end of the block, writing in the names of the members of the panel from my writing pad. When my job coach had made the suggestion to pay attention and get the spelling of each correct, I’d observed, “Wouldn’t it be easier for me to fill the card out at home and drop it off on my way out after the interview?” Accustomed by then to my newcomer brand of practical common sense, she’d countered most patiently, “How do you know who will be interviewing you? It’s best to wait to know for sure. Also, it would seem staged and that would certainly put them off. You want the job. Just remember to write down all the names accurately on your notepad during the interview.”

I’d got it down pat.

Luckily, too, you don’t have to buy a coffee at Tim’s to stand around, because I certainly needed shelter from the drip-a-drop snow. If the eating counter became too crowded, I could make up time walking around the block under the shelter of the hoodie of my winter coat, because it didn’t matter how mushy my hair would be now.

The trick at this point was to deliver the thank-you card to the secretary and get out as fast as I could. She would be alone, I figured, because for all the time I had waited in the outer office, she and I had been alone. However, I hadn’t factored that one of the reasons that I’d met no one was because the interviewees had been staggered for just that purpose – so that candidates for the position not meet one another in the small waiting room.

So when I peeped in the glass door to make sure that none of the panel was in the outer office, I was surprised to see seated in the same armchair that I’d been in, an hour before, a young lady who looked nervous and discomfited, and who bore similar to me, hair  plastered from the ravages of  the snow we’d come through. She certainly was smarter than I’d been, though; she had an umbrella at her feet. Had I looked as damp and out of sorts? All the same, she was competition; I hoped that her job coach hadn’t been as thorough as mine, to tell her to walk with a thank-you note.

“For whom?” the secretary said, in that first-responder voice, that crisp no-nonsense tone. Did she have to be so loud? I lifted my whisper a little. Slowly my face seemed to register. I guess she’d been fielding so many of us since morning that it was hard to remember particular features of the various Unsubs who had come through, all dressed in white and navy blue.

Luckily, no one emerged from the inner chambers, (and why would anyone? I later thought), so after my fumble I sped off back to the elevator and walked to the bus stop to wait in the slush.

Lord, I need this. Let this be the one.

I’d been out in the cold and treading snow since December, but truthfully, waiting wouldn’t be the worst part; I’d become inured to waiting. I was merely on my way to my apartment to send out more applications and to see if, while I’d been out, I’d been lucky to get another call.

An eggy yellow sun coloured the bus windows, muck-stained with the melting mud and grit and splash of the day. The floor of the bus was wet, my seat was cold, and whenever the bus stopped, the air from the street blasted in, further chilling my bones. However, I was just so relieved that it was over, I didn’t care to move.


©Cynthia James – February 2016


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