Jane stared out of the window. The rain lashed relentlessly, filling the gutters and running in rivers down the street. What a day for a first day at work. And she had to look good. Her interviewer, Matt, had emphasised that her appearance was part of job performance. “We are a design firm, Jane, and we have to look like appearance matters. And you need to change your name for work hours. Have you thought about Styria?” He grimaced. “You are the best applicant for the job but ‘Jane’ is a little, well, plain.”
This needed a little lateral thinking. There was no way any hairstyle would survive, even in the car, so she could wrap her hair in a boho scarf. Jane looked at the little honda sitting forlornly outside. She would get her feet soaked in the few yards from her door. That meant she wore boots to the car but changed at work. In fact, she could get completely changed at work. Jane hesitated. As long as they didn’t mind her diving in looking like a fisherman before she got changed. She swallowed. This was the perfect job and she had been craving something like this since school. She had to make a good impression.
The drive to work was one of the worst she had ever done, peering through the sheets of water as she swooshed into the carpark of the elegant and modernistic building, water spraying as she turned. The race from car to office was equally challenging and she dripped over the expensive marble floor as she ran to the bathrooms.
Thank goodness she had left plenty of time, Jane thought, as she looked at herself in the mirror. She definitely looked ‘boho’ with her hair quickly dried and wrapped in the tie dye scarf, and the flowing skirt and blouse that had survived the car journey uncreased echoed the bright colours. She swallowed. Did she look right? Had she hit the right note with what seemed more like partywear than the severe business suit of the last job. She took a breath and left the bathroom, almost colliding with a tall, elegant blonde with well cut, dripping hair and soaked, fashionable clothes. She stared at Jane for a long minute.
“A headscarf! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s genius!” She smiled warmly at Jane. “You must be Jane, or Styria. I’m Mel, but if you get calls for Cytheria, that’s me.” She shook her head. “I don’t know where Matt gets his ideas. I’ll meet you at your desk in a minute, once I’ve dried myself off.” She dived past Jane, trailing a cloud of expensive scent.
Jane hung up her coat on the coat pegs in the office and stashed her bags under the desk with a place card with her name on in beautiful copperplate. Everything looked so styled. The office furniture gleamed, abstract prints hung on the walls and even the pot plants seemed chosen for effect.
“Good morning Jane, or Styria.” Matt came over. “I’ll give you the tour in a moment, but I think you should have this first on such a morning.” He set down a cup next to her. Jane looked at the carefully constructed, uncomfortable looking mug. “The boss doesn’t normally make drinks for the staff, but today is definitely a day for a nice cup of cocoa.” He smiled and went to hand another, similar mug to Mel.
Jane picked the cup up with care and took a tentative sip. It was perfect – warming, soothing, old-fashioned cocoa. She was going to like it here.