"You are going to be late!"
It's so typical of Rose to panic because she is always late. On the other hand, she does still manage to look like she has left a beauty parlor. Every! Damn! Time! I, however, have a very structured routine that gets me to where I need to be before or on time.
"Rose, we both know I am always early and today will be like any other day so, relax. I got this." I replied, applying a neat shade of burgundy lipstick.
"It's only a job interview as a waitress. Do you really need all that lipstick and what you have on now?" Rose asked, lacing my bareback and sleeveless mustard top.
"It's nearly thirty-two degrees outside and the humidity is not helping anyone. Besides, first impressions matter," I replied, fixing my afro. "You yourself said that the waitresses there are super cute!"
"Maybe you should have braided your hair. You know, look more professional," She said, nibbling on her thumb.
"You worry too much," I replied smiling at myself in the mirror. "And my afro is professional."
"Sorry, Rie. I really want you to get this job. It's your last summer here and I want you to enjoy it," Rose said, handing me my backpack.
"I will," I said, smiling. "See you later!"
My last summer in this town and I would be spending it working at a ramen shop. Well, that's if I actually get the job. I was done with school and I thought I would take a teaching job abroad. Leave this city for a while and gather my thoughts, find some direction in this near mundane life of mine. We have all been here, right? The feeling that time is simply passing you by and all you're doing is running to catch up? All I need is a break. A nice long break before I settle down.
Fifteen minutes away by the metro; that's how far Google Maps said it was. I could walk, but the humidity was one thing my afro did not need.
A friend of mine had suggested I work at Ramen Shoppe since it was the best noodle spot in town. I was skeptical at first because ninety percent of the workers are actually Japanese and I...But it's your determination that should count, right? It was funny however that I had never actually eaten there considering my love for oriental food.
I caught sight of myself in the windows as people got off the metro. Goodness, Rose was right! I was looking too dressed up for an interview. Oh well, whether I get the job or not, they are bound to remember my stunning self!
I was nervous. I could feel the butterflies in my tummy swarming like bees, threatening to burst out through my mouth. I mean, how hard could it be landing a job at a high-end restaurant? Many people have done it before and I should not be an exception.
I got off the metro and walked for about two minutes, stopping right in front of Ramen Shoppe. I took in a deep breath and smiled before I walked in.
"Hi, I have an interview with Mrs Lee," I said, approaching one of the waiters by the cash register.
"Ah, this way please," she replied. I would later come to know her as Anita.
She led me down a white corridor with beautiful art hanging on the walls. It felt more like a hotel than an actual restaurant.
"Mrs Lee, she's here," Anita said, leaving me by her office door.
As she approached me, I took in her presence: she was about my height, neatly cropped hair, neat pair of silver round glasses and smiled so genuinely the butterflies in my tummy settled down.
"This way please," She said, leading me into her office and slowly shutting the door.
"Rie is it?" She asked, finally taking her seat.
"Have you ever worked as a waiter before?"
"I did, for nearly two years at The Stick House."
"Why did you leave?"
"I needed a change of environment and I'm sorry to say but there was no respect given to the employees by the management."
"I am sorry to hear that," She replied. "I assure you that is not the case here. We treat our employees with the utmost respect. Furthermore, have you ever eaten here before?"
"Unfortunately, no. I have never had the opportunity to."
"Well, how did you hear about us then?" Mrs. Lee asked.
"A friend of mine is a regular here and he suggested that I work here since he loves coming by," I replied. "He saw your advertisement."
"I am glad we made a good impression on him. You understand that the position we have open is temporary and lasts only till the end of summer?"
"Yes, I do. I will actually be leaving right after that," I said. "It fits my schedule perfectly."
"The spot you will be filling is from Monday to Friday, the morning shift," She said. "Is that okay with you?"
Did I get the job?
"You come in from eleven to five," she continued. "The kitchen will already be open so all you need to do is come in, clean the tables, and arrange the place for opening at half-past."
"Will I be alone?"
"Yes," she said. "You start next week so could you come in for training for the next two days for three hours?"
"Well, see you tomorrow at eleven," She said getting up. "Anita will be here to train you for the next two days before she leaves." I followed her out of the office and down the hallway. "She will show you everything then."
"I love the art you have on the walls," I said.
"My son did all of them. He works here too as the head chef. You might have seen him as he was leaving?" She asked.
"I'm sorry, I did not."
"You will tomorrow."
The restaurant was busy. As I left, I could feel the butterflies in my tummy come back to life. What had I just gotten myself into? I was beginning to panic. I was ecstatic that I had gotten the job, but I felt so nervous. As if someone was watching me as I walked to the metro. I took out my phone, plugged in my earphones, and listened to some music. I quickly texted Rose before she started panicking.
Hey, I got the job!
OMG! Yes! I knew you would. When do you start?
I have training for two days then I officially start on Monday. Five days a week.
Phew! How are you feeling?
Ok. I feel weird though. As if someone is watching me. Maybe it's just me?
Goodness! Calm down. Is anyone following you?
I looked back and there were just a couple of random people walking in the street. There was someone on the ground tying his shoe but most of the people were heading for the metro.
Nothing out of place. I will pass by the bookstore before I come home.
OK. Take care. Grab some ice cream, we need to celebrate!
Shouldn't you be the one buying me ice cream?
Hey! You're the one working five days a week! Haha.
Maybe a quick look back won't hurt, right? Just to reassure myself? When I turned back, my heart stopped. I did not expect to lock eyes with anyone, let alone a stranger. Who is he? I forced myself to look away, slipped on my other earphone, and went through the metro doors, heart pounding.