Pronghorn, Chapter 12: Going to an Interview

Continued from the previous chapter, here.

The next day, Asa Pemewan found himself in slacks and a pressed shirt cinched by a tie despite the already-building heat as he drove into town to apply for a job. A folder with several copies of a resume sat in the passenger seat next to him. I hope this goes well, he thought to himself as he crossed onto North Main and pulled into the first open parking space of the 200 block. I really need to find some work soon.

A glance at the clock on his cell phone told him it was 9:03 in the morning. This counts as “9 to 5,” right? Asa straightened his slacks and his tie, grabbed his folder, and proceeded across the street to 200 North Main, where a three-story building loomed over the intersection. Signs advertising the Pronghorn First National Bank and no few financial products faced out from the lower stories; the third seemed to be shuttered, but when Asa arrived at the door leading up to it from the street, he found it open. No lettering was on it, outside or in, but the stairs were clean and well lit, and Asa proceeded up them.

I really need to get into better shape, he thought as he ascended and his thighs began to protest. And at the top, at the entrance to the third floor, he paused to catch his breath. I need to not look desperate. He ran a hand through his hair and pushed through the door, triggering a bell; he found a reception desk–tall and with a lower-set cut-out–with no occupant on the other side of the door.

Is this the position, or is the desk-worker out at the moment? But it’s a little early for that, isn’t it?

A door behind the reception desk opened and an older man emerged. Asa recognized him from the day before as Bartholomew Smitherson as the older man asked “May I help you?” in his hoary voice.

Asa stepped forward, extending his hand. “I hope so, Mr. Smitherson. My name’s–”

“Asa Pemewan. Yes. I recall you from the service yesterday.”

Asa nodded. “Yes, sir, and I’m here because I saw the advertisement for an office assistant position at this address–the one in the newspaper, I mean.”

“Hm. Well. Perhaps you ought to come into my office, then, Mr. Pemewan.”

It should be “Dr.,” dammit. “That’d be great, sir!” I have to look like I can work well and happily.

Smitherson motioned Asa through the door, closing it behind them. A hallway stretched down a way, making a turn to the right after several doors on both sides; Smitherson led Asa past them all, going around the corner and into a larger office of wood paneling. An imposing desk faced into the center of the room; a bank of shuttered windows stood behind it and an old leather chair into which Smitherson lowered himself before gesturing at a much less impressive seat. Asa took it, sitting forward.

“Well, Mr. Pemewan, do you know what an office assistant will need to do?”

Asa nodded. “In general terms, certainly. I expect specific duties vary by office, but they typically involve preparing correspondence, accepting incoming correspondence and packages, running telephone operations, and doing light maintenance on the office and its equipment.”

“Good. Have you a resume with you, Mr. Pemewan?”

“I do, sir.” Asa withdrew one from the folder and handed it across the desk. Smitherson took it and glanced over it briefly, nodding. “So, postgraduate education, several collegiate teaching jobs. Why, then, would you want to work here as an office assistant?”

I should’ve known I’d get asked that. Clearing his throat, Asa answered “I’ve been away from Pronghorn for long enough, sir, and thought it was time to come home. That meant that I need to find a job, and this one was advertised on the very day I came home.” Here’s the stretch. “It’s the kind of thing that might be called providential.”

“Hm.” The older man’s dubiousness emerged in his tone, hoary as his voice was. “There were other jobs advertised that day, as well, yet you’ve not applied for them.”

“This also seemed a better opportunity than those jobs, given my skill set.”

“Hm.” The grunt was less dubious in tone. “Well.” Smitherson cleared his own throat with a rheumy cough. “I’m keeping the position open for a few more days; I paid for the advertisement in the paper for two weeks, and I mean to get my money’s worth. After that, though, I’ll review such applications as come in, and I’ll be sure to get back to you about yours.”

He sat back. “Now, do you have any questions for me, Mr. Pemewan?”

You jackass, you know it should be “Dr.” “I did have one, sir. Having been away from Pronghorn for some time and only recently returned, I’m not sure what all you do here. I’d heard something about legal practice, but I’m not about to proceed on rumor alone.”

“As well you should not, for I am no attorney. No, Mr. Pemewan, this is something of a complicated business. You, given your studies, might have the right word to describe it as it deserves; I have not had the luxury of such studies, so I do not have such a word. You might say, however, that I coordinate a number of things from this location, much as it might seem that I am less than ideally equipped to do so.”

“I’d not presume, sir.”

The older man smiled. “Good.” He stood, then, and extended his hand across the desk. “It’s been a pleasure, Mr. Pemewan. I’ll be in touch, as I said.”

Asa shook the offered hand. “Thank you for the opportunity, sir,” he said, and he followed Smitherson’s gesture towards the door, leaving quietly whence he had come.

Did I bring you as much pleasure as a package of pens does? Could you kick in as much for me as you pay for that so I can keep doing what you like? Click here, then, and thanks!

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