Susan noticed that black Beetle outside her apartment building for the fourth time since morning. She couldn't see anyone inside due to its tinted glass that was dark as coal.
Chewing down a toast, she prepared herself to leave for her interview at Amalle Corp. She needed this job. It paid higher than she would've imagined.
The day she applied for the job, she knew that it would be hard getting into a multinational company like Amalle. It only meant a few hardcore interviews, personality tests and computer skill tests.
Getting out of the building, she headed towards the bus stop. She usually travelled by the city bus or the cab sometimes.
For a second, she felt like the Beetle moved forward its stationary position. A glance at it made her realize that she was over-thinking it.
The Beetle was parked in the same place. No movement was observed.
Amalle Corp was a twenty-minute ride from her place. Located in the middle of the busy Flagmen Street, the building stood like the king of the town. Its windows were so large that it reminded her of a store-front of a huge mall.
She took a deep breath and entered through the huge double doors, past the fully uniformed guards.
A brunette plump lady sat gazing at her computer screen in the reception desk. She looked very sophisticated in the blue Amalle uniform. It made Susan feel a little inferior towards her looks. She barely got time to get dressed like a lady.
"Good morning. How can I help you?" The lady's appealing voice brought Susan back.
"Well, I've got an interview with Mr Andrew Jones. Here is the application." She took the folded paper out of her green purse and handed it to her.
"I see." She checked it for a second before turning to her computer.
"Yes, there's an interview today at 10 am that Mr Andrew would like to conduct with Ms Susan Parkinson in the Conference hall. Please go to level 5. The elevators are to the left." She spoke like a robot and handed her a visitor's badge.
Mouthing a thank you, Susan started walking towards the elevators. It was going to be a day full of anxiety.
Her mouth was already starting to get dry once she stepped in the elevator. Time seemed to be passing real quick all along.
The elevator door opened wide, revealing a long passage lined up with lots of aloe vera plants.
A silver nameplate carrying the title of the conference hall was right on the frontier of the passage.
"Excuse me, Miss? Are you lost?"
Susan spun around to find a middle-aged guy, carrying a folder on one hand and a Starbucks cup on the other.
"No, I was looking for the conference hall and have found it." She smiled.
"Ah! You're here for the interview, aren't you?" He chuckled.
"Yes, I am."
"Andrew already had five candidates since morning." He shook his head. "But none of them could match up to his expectations. A very choosy guy he is. Good luck." He stepped in the elevator.
Great! He already managed to give out a character sketch of this Andrew. The tension was increasing already inside Susan's head.
Knocking at the door, she waited with a fast beating heart.
"Come in." Called a gruff voice.
The conference hall was every shade of grey, from washed out concrete to almost steel-blue. Every line was straight, every corner sharp, and the chairs looked as comfortable as a train station bench.
A guy was swinging round and round in a big comfy swivel chair at one end of the long table.
As Susan entered, he stopped and turned to face her.
"Please have a seat."
Mr Andrew had a sort of hen-pecked look. His French beard was perfectly shaved. Every piece of his clothing and accessories seemed to be of highly expensive material that helped him provide a classy look.
"Morning, Susan, sorry, but I don't really believe in formalities that include calling people by their titles." He smiled. "In fact, I've banished that rule in my company. Call me Andrew. Now have a seat."
"Good morning, Andrew." She carefully sat on the opposite chair.
"So I was told, well, I read actually... in your resume, that you are efficient in sales and marketing and also in tactfully dealing with clients."
"Yes, sir." She nodded.
"Ah, there it goes again. No sir, no ma'am. Just call us by our first names." He smirked. "Now back to your answer."
Yes, Andrew. I'm good at it."
"Cool. Let's see how you can handle me."
"I'm sorry?" She frowned.
"Pretend that I'm your client and you've come to my office to persuade me to buy one of Amalle's products. How would you do that?"
"Okay, so first I would-"
"Not like that. I don't wanna hear a storyline, Susan. Roleplaying it is." He cleared this throat.
"Hello, Andrew. My name is Susan and I'm from the sales and marketing team of Amalle Corp. And here is our the product brochure that you'd ordered from us. Have a look." She planted an imaginary book in front of him.
"Thanks, Susan. I guess I like this one in white more than the other one in blue."
"Great! If you book your product now, you'll receive it in three days."
"But this yellow seems to look better on my laptop table than the other one, doesn't it?"
This was tricky. Andrew was trying to put it the hard way.
"I like this one more too. Do you want to use our instalment system or book it right away at a discount? " She gave a tight smile.
"Ah! I'd rather pay up-front and get the discount. How much is it?" He grinned.
"Wait a minute, I was informed that it's on sale. And it was 50% off or something like that." He took out his handkerchief and rubbed his forehead.
"Sorry, Andrew. But that offer was only applicable last weekend, after Black Friday. But I can offer you something better with the same discount of 50%".
"No, that's fine. Okay, Susan, back to reality." He placed his handkerchief back in his pocket. "I must say that you are a good salesperson."
"Thank you." She smiled.
"But I need to go through every other person's profiles before confirming one of you to the job. Give me two days, please." He stood up.
"Alright, take your time."
And with a hand-shake, Susan left the office building and came to the bus stop.
Phew! That wasn't so bad, she thought.
Her phone vibrated and she found a text from her sister, Linda who had asked about the interview. Linda stayed a few blocks away from her and worked as a hairdresser in a posh salon that paid well.
Typing a quick reply, she stood there, waiting for the city bus. It was almost 1 pm and she could already spot several office goers crowding around food trucks and restaurants for lunch.
But there was something she thought she recognized in the driveway, along the road on the opposite side.
The black Beetle.
She quickly looked away.
Why was that car everywhere? Was the driver following her? What did she do?
She couldn't think of anything but waiter eagerly.
The city bus arrived and as she was about to board along with two other passengers, she felt a tap on her shoulder.
"Yes?" She looked back and found a young guy, mostly in his twenties, smiling warmly at her.
"I'm from Amalle Corp. Andrew needs to see you." He stated.
"What? Now?" She was surprised.
"Yes, please." He pleaded and she had to let go of the door handle.