“Hi, I’m Gertrude. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lily.”
Gertrude shook Lily’s hand firmly. Gertrude. What an odd name, thought Lily. Lily noticed Gertrude’s shiny red nails, and she then wished she had worn nail polish to the interview. Maybe we could’ve shared our favorite shades. We could’ve sparked a personal connection. A memorable conversation, a personal conversation that will separate me from the rest of the interviewees…but then again, I don’t want her to remember me as ‘the nail polish girl’.
“Thank you for your interest in working with us. You’re from the Los Angeles area, correct?” asked Gertrude as she scribbled something into her purple, moleskin notebook.
Make eye contact. Smile, Lily reminded herself. “Yes, I’m actually from the Downtown area.” Should I add anything else? Should I ask her if she’s from Los Angeles, too?
“Oh, that’s great. Transportation shouldn’t be a problem for you then. Follow me.” Gertrude closed her notebook and spun on her small, grey snake-skin heels. As Lily followed her, she rehearsed what she would say to Gertrude’s questions. Her palms began to sweat as she realized that she forgot some of her responses already—and her heart stopped when Gertrude motioned for her to sit down. We’re here already? Shit.
“So, how did you hear about us?” Gertrude asked Lily as she slid in a black metal chair. She crossed her legs and plastered another wide smile on her face.
“Well, through a friend, actually. My friend, Gregory Williams mentioned that there was an opening here and he thought that I’d be a great fit.” Greg said he’d put a word in for me. Did he?
Gertrude tucked her light, auburn hair behind her ears as she looked over Lily’s resume, nodding at Lily’s previous work experience: a full time barista at Starbucks, a sales associate at Macy’s, and a development and programming intern at a Domestic Violence shelter. “Ah, Greg? He was great. Too bad they paid him better somewhere else. He did so much for our team…But, so, Greg recommended you to us. That’s awesome. How do you think you’d be a great fit for this position? You’d be working with youth a lot, you know, and I don’t see in your resume that you’ve had that experience in that area.”
Lily remembered her favorite youtuber’s words: Wanna know how I got MY career? I faked it ’til I made it, and that’s what you gotta do in this world because people want fake. They want fake because it’s what they know. It’s what they expect. Her favorite youtuber was a middle-aged woman named Christina who drank large, caramel lattes while filming her videos and who wore varying shades of deep red lipstick on an everyday basis. She was a fashion designer who was recently hired by a famous boutique and was, according to her, living her dream. Lily loved her youtube personality and her rose-stained lips, but even more so she loved her advice videos. In fact, she spent last night studying for this interview by watching Christina’s My career, dream job, How I Did It! playlist.
Lily took Christina’s advice and did just that. She smiled as widely as Gertrude did, cracked a joke and laughed herself when Gertrude also laughed. Lily enthusiastically recalled her supposed work with youth at the DV center and explained to Gertrude that those children moved her heart. She told Gertrude that one of her life’s goals was to help at-risk children and youth and how she felt it was possible being part of Gertrude’s team. She eagerly asked Gertrude questions at the end of the interview and shook Gertrude’s hand more firmly than she did the first time. This time, she also complimented Gertrude’s nail polish color.
During the interview, Lily didn’t tell Gertrude that she actually disliked children because they were so needy, whiny and disrespectful but that she was applying because she needed this job. The salary and benefits were wonderful. She didn’t mention that she desperately wanted this job so that she can move out of her crummy, smelly apartment and finish paying off her college loans. Gertrude didn’t notice that Lily forced a laugh when she laughed and that when Lily’s mouth smiled her eyes didn’t crinkle with it. Lily did not hint at what was actually thumping in her mind, her own personal mantra throughout the interview: bullshit, bullshit, and bullshit.
A week later, Lily’s phone sang Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten while she sautéed onions in grape seed oil. She immediately switched the stove heat from high to low and cradled the phone between her ear and shoulder. “Hello?”
“Hi, am I speaking to Lily Saunders? This is Gertrude from Sparking Inner Youth, Inc.”
Lily’s hands tensed. “Yes, this is her.”
“Congratulations, Lily. Should I expect to see you on Monday?”