Inside the waiting room the air is warm and stale. If there’s air conditioning in this place, it’s sure as hell not working. The wall in front of me is painted a banal blue grey. I feel as though I’m soaking up depression from its’ melancholy tone. There is one door in and out of the room with just one small window at head height. I can’t see out of it from where I’m sitting. Footsteps can be heard coming and going on the other side of the door. If you time it right you might catch a glimpse of a floating head as it passes by.
My eyes are now focused inside the room bouncing between the three other candidates sat around me. They wandered in one at a time at least 15 minutes after I had eagerly entered. This is exactly why you should always be early for a job interview in my opinion. To the potential employer you’re an eager beaver. To the potential employee, my good self in this case, it gives you time to scope the place out, see how things run but most importantly gauge the competition. The butterflies that would grace my stomach in these situations yesteryear ceased their tickling flutter long ago. All I can feel in there today is an under-chewed triple chocolate muffin that was forced down my gullet moments before I entered the office building. I really have no understanding as to why some people choose to inconvenience others over a meal time.
Sat opposite me on the other side of the room is a pale greasy teenager. Dark hair super-slick and sharply styled. He is dressed in a bright white shirt and brilliant blue tie. The trousers he wears have an all too neat crease down the middle. I suspect that this is their maiden voyage or that there is even the possibility that his mother has spent time ironing them to perfection. As I stare at him I’m positive I can see the inexperience oozing from his pores. I am distracted from the teen’s face however by the irksome bouncing of his right knee. Foot planted on its toes, fast yet intermittent, it only stops for a few seconds before starting again. It’s been happening since he sat down. I have stared at him for the last two minutes now but his gaze never leaves the floor. I repress the urge to say something about his foot. Then I hear his stomach rumble. Loudly. Like a Nordic God attempting to enter the room via the medium of his body, the sound thunders around the room. The two other candidates glance at him. This causes the teen to shift self-consciously, crossing his legs and thankfully stopping the exasperating bounce. Maybe a lunchtime interview could benefit me after all.
My eyes and mind drift back to the blue grey walls. The tedious colour is dulling my senses. Two seats along from the teen, sitting directly under the wall clock, is a chubby man. I’d hazard a guess that he may be in his early twenties. Maybe even mid twenties but it’s harder to tell theses days. The sweat across his forehead beams despite the dull light of the room. A collar so tight on his shirt that his chins spills over the top. He regularly adjusts his tie then rakes at his tight collar. Unbeknown to him there is a ketchup stain at the bottom of his tie. To me, this implies that he made time for his lunch before arriving here today. A man with priorities like myself. This could be both a good or a bad thing for me. I choose to play it safe and don’t say anything to him about the stain. I feel he is of no threat to me but remind myself that I should never underestimate my opponents.
About The Author
Andy Luke lives in the North East of England and writes short stories, poetry and has written comedy for the BBC.
Sitting two seats down to the right on my side of the room is who I perceive to be my only true threat. A very average looking older chap. Tough to describe his physical appearance but he is dressed real cheap. His tired tattoos are visible through his thin low quality white shirt partnered with ill-fitting well-worn shoes. There has been an obvious recent attempt to polish them up but it hasn’t brought any life back to them. The neutral expression on his cleanly shaven face, calm breathing and relaxed body language offers the feeling that he is quietly confident. The grey hairs that pepper his brown hair are evenly distributed and coiffed in a way that implies good effort has been put in. I watch him check his fringe simply to ensure that it’s all still in place. I’ll bet he’s had a substantial meal before he got here too.
As I analyse him our gaze accidentally meets. For a split second a great unease comes over me then he looks to the clock and I look to the window. A shiver trickles down my spine causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. My head shakes slightly but I rearrange my posture to cover this. I don’t want him thinking I’m nervous in any way. If any weakness is sensed it could give him the upper hand.
A minute passes so I carefully look over the three men again fleetingly. I bask in the fear emanating from my two younger competitors. Without risking further eye contact with the older chap I raise my eyes to the wall clock. My interview is only a matter time now. I feel good.
There is a knock at the door and it immediately pushes open. Everyone including me shuffles to sit up straight. A woman with dark hair walks in holding a clipboard in both hands. Surely she’s got to be here for me. She shoots a glance around the room and smiles to acknowledge our presence. I’m absolutely positive she gave me eye contact for a fraction of a second longer than the others. Advantage moi.
Her gaze drops to the clipboard.
My name is called and we all stand up.