Rae braked her car gently to a halt as the traffic lights changed to red. The engine rumbled unevenly and it gave an asthmatic cough.
‘Oh please,’ she implored it silently, ‘Don’t give up on me now. Just get me to this job interview, and you can stop and never go again.’
The car continued to rumble and wheeze. She squeezed the steering wheel tightly and anxiously eyed the lights. This was so important. A chance to move on from her present low paid tedious job and do something she really loved. With more money, she could afford to move from her dingy shared accommodation and perhaps be able to afford something other than her late grandfather’s hand me down old clunker.
The lights changed to green. She released the brake, pressed down on the accelerator and the engine died.
‘Oh no!’ she wailed. Frantically, she turned the ignition key. The engine ground uselessly. Behind her, a car horn blared. In her rearview mirror, she saw an arm gesticulating out of the driver’s window. She turned the key again. This time, there was nothing, the battery had died. Her heart sank. She would never get to the interview in time. She didn’t have roadside assistance, she couldn’t afford it. Nor could she afford a taxi. She rested her head on the steering wheel. She had no idea what she was going to do. A horn blared again, then the car behind her, a sleek expensive limousine swerved past her. She caught a glimpse of a blonde woman mouthing at her as she went by, then the car was gone. She supposed she had better get out of the car. Sitting in it wasn’t going to help.
She opened the creaking driver’s door and watched as a large SUV pulled up behind her. A pleasant-faced young man got out and came over. He looked at her sympathetically.
Unable to speak, she just nodded.
“Stay in the car and I’ll just push you off the road into the emergency lane.”
She did as she was requested. By now, several other motorists had stopped and had soon helped to push her car out of the traffic lane. The young man went back to his vehicle and pulled over behind her, allowing traffic to continue flowing. He came back and opened the left passenger door.
“Anything I can do?” he asked.
She shook her wearily.
” I think she’s finally died,” she said.
“Well, can I give you a lift anywhere?”
She looked at him hopefully, explained where she was going and why. He looked at her appraisingly.
“I know the place.”
She looked at him in surprise.
“Come on,” he said briskly.
“We might still make it. You ring and tell them what happened. I’m sure they’ll understand. If they don’t, they’re not worth working for.”
She grabbed her portfolio and followed him back to his car and soon, they had joined the flow of vehicles heading into the city. She watched in trepidation as he weaved his way expertly through the traffic. She did as he had suggested and rang and was told they would wait for her. Now excited, she belatedly introduced herself. He was Gary, and he also had an appointment in the city, although this was with a solicitor. He did not elaborate any further.
Soon, with five minutes to spare, they drew up in front of an imposing building just on the edge of the city.
“Thank you so much,”
“Not at all, good luck with your interview.”
She got out and watched as, with a wave, he drove off. With trepidation, she walked into the large foyer and was directed to the first floor where, along with five other interviewees, she waited. Nobody spoke, they eyed one other nervously. She supposed she was lucky there were only six of them. Maybe she stood a reasonable chance. She was first up.
Thirty minutes later, she was standing outside the building. She knew she had blown it. She had been so nervous, she felt she had been almost incoherent. The three-person interviewing panel, two women and a man had been sympathetic but very likely unimpressed with her presentation. Miserably, she realised she hadn’t given a thought as to what she was going to do about her car or how she was going to get home.
She walked to a nearby low wall and sat down to ponder her situation. Her options were limited. Her credit card was almost maxed out, but maybe there was enough in it to get a taxi or Uber home. Head down, she was scrolling through her phone when a voice said,” Hi, how’d the interview go?”
Startled, she looked up. It was Gary. He was carrying a briefcase, and he seemed to be on his way into the building.
“Do you work in there?”
“Yes, third floor, computer graphics.”
She shook her head mournfully.
“I blew it. I was so nervous, I think I was almost incoherent. So, not good.”
He sat down beside her.
“I’m sure you’ll be alright. They’re used to interviewing people and should be able to see past your nerves and uncover whatever talents you might have.”
She shook her head.
“No, you should have seen me, I was awful.”
“I guess you’ll soon find out. Now, I’ve got a mate in the towing business. Would you like me to get him to pick up your car and take it somewhere?”
She said gratefully, “Oh, that would be fantastic. The nearest wreckers would do. There’s no point in taking it home. I don’t have a garage and it’s not worth fixing.”
“Alright,” he said.
“So are you going home now?”
“I guess so.”
“Would you like to have a coffee before you go?”
“Oh no, I’ve taken up enough of your time.”
“It’s no bother. Come on up to my work. We’ve got a new coffee maker. It makes great coffee.” He got up and pulled her to her feet. He led the way into the building and over to the lift. While they waited, he explained he had only just purchased the office space and relocated his business less than six months ago. It had been going well, hence the relocation from smaller premises.
On the third floor, he led her into a spacious open plan office with a number of workstations spread throughout. Only a few people were present, all of whom waved at him and gave Rae curious looks. He led her to a corner where tables and chairs, several couches, a fridge, microwave and coffee machine were placed. He seated her at a table, put down his briefcase and went to the coffeemaker.
“What kind of coffee would you like?”
She requested a cappuccino and presently, he brought over two mugs. He sat across from her, and, after a few gentle probing questions, elicited enough to get an idea of her precarious financial situation. He regarded her thoughtfully.
“You seem like a very talented person. This may not be your field, but if things don’t pan out with your job interview, would you be interested in trying something different? We might have something here you could do. I’ve got a meeting in a little while. I can get one of the guys to show you around. What do you think?”
She looked at him with a mix of confusion and hope.
“I don’t know. I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”
“Good.” he said.
He drained his mug and got to his feet.
“I’ll send Rick over. He can show you what we do. If I don’t see you after, good luck. I’ll make sure your car gets taken care of.”
“I can’t thank you enough for everything. I’m really grateful. I’m not sure what I would have done if you hadn’t come along.”
“My pleasure. Just called me Sir Galahad.”
He walked away.
Later, in an Uber on her way home, she reflected on the day’s events. Her card hadn’t been rejected, which meant she could get home. The wreckers Gary’s friend had taken the car to had rung and offered her two hundred dollars for it. Rick, a gangly but engaging young man had shown her all over Gary’s workplace, and there were several distinct possibilities where she felt her talents could be utilised. The day that could have been so disastrous had turned out to be quite hopeful. And it was just pure happenstance that her interview was in the same building as Gary. Maybe Lady Luck was finally starting to smile on her. She could only hope.