New work: Chapter 1- Tag, you’re It.

Haley peers across the street at the magnanimous mirrored green building with the prominent ‘pwc’ lowercase letters flush right on the top floor exterior.  The ‘w’ is in italics, and this bothers her. She’s one of those women who refers to herself as a grammarian. Yes, it is snotty and affected, this title, but people really need to learn to use the English language correctly, Haley thinks. There is nothing more irksome than someone saying, “between you and I,” or “I feel badly.” And if a man says those things on a first date, it’s an immediate turnoff and rejected second date invitation.

But “don’t take it personal,” Haley jokes, playing on his misuse of adverbs. Mike, her latest reject, didn’t find this funny. In fact, he texted her the following day with a middle finger emoji and a Mean Girls meme referencing why she will be eternally single.

Haley’s struggles extend beyond courtship and dating into her flailing career. She knows it’s time to take work more seriously, and this is exactly why she’s prepping for her interview at PwC, or Price Waterhouse Coopers, which is in exactly 37 minutes. She orders a second nitro cold brew at Cafe Nero (which she initially mistakes for Cafe Nerd, because the ‘o’ looks more like a ‘d’) and scrolls through the company website aiming for a deep dive into the Leadership. She will be sure to mention these leaders in her interview with Tag Phillips, Senior Recruiter, to demonstrate her interview prep. This is a round one interview with Tag for the Salesforce Manager position on the Marketing team. Haley is already bored thinking about it, which is why she needs a second nitro cold brew, even though it’s ill-advised with her anxious temperament.

Two men sit behind her talking about Better Help, the online therapist network that has exploded along with all of telemedicine. The thinner man, with greying temples and pointy ears securing his tortoise shell glasses extols the convenience of this type of therapy. Haley wonders if he’s in the mental health field or just a loser. She jots down the name of two directors at PwC on the little black spiral notebook she carries with her for ideas. Then, she applies a gold-flaked lip gloss, checks her teeth in her phone’s camera, and packs up her laptop, glasses and air buds.

When she arrives at reception, Haley checks her underarms for clammy sweat. She tries to recall if she put on her deodorant, and if she took her medications, but it’s unclear. She didn’t think she even wanted this job, but now her nerves are getting the best of her. After all, she has a lot weighing on it. First off, Haley desperately needs to start making more money, since she has no excuse for the debt she’s accrued since graduate school and pays exorbitant monthly rent to live in a condo at the Shipyard on Boston’s South Shore. Her parents advised her against getting a Master’s in English Literature at B.U., but she did it anyway. More recently, they had an intervention and affirmed she was no longer welcome to ask for a financial bailout.

Haley moved to Hingham about ten years after her friends’ mass exodus from Beacon Hill and Back Bay to the suburbs. She was like the last girl at the party in her late-30s, and she hoped moving to Hingham would enable her to meet one of the divorced single men who seemed to inhabit the Shipyard condos. These condos appear to be a place of transition, rumored to be occupied by hot single men and divorcees as well as recent transplants to the area and loners.  Haley is always in transition, which, up until now, didn’t seem to be a problem. She is a self-proclaimed life enthusiast and spontaneous. But she knows she needs to set down some roots, starting with an impressive marketing job in Boston at PwC.

When Tag Phillips rounds the corner near reception, Haley is startled by his good looks and dashing smile. He’s wearing a cornflower blue colored suit, perhaps Armani she thinks, that’s tailored a bit too tight—the way Millennial men wear their suits. His black, pointy loafers scuff on the rough patterned carpet as he approaches. Tag extends his hand, as Haley rises to greet him, and makes a concerted effort to look her directly in the eye as he firmly grasps her hand.

“Great to meet you, Haley,” Tag says. “Can I get you anything before we sit down? Coffee? Water?”

“Um, no thanks. I think I’ve had a little too much coffee,” Haley jokes. “Two of those Nitro Cold Brews at Café Nerd, I mean Café Nero, might have been a bold choice.”

“Bold is good,” Tag says, grasping the handle on the glass door to a tiny office, about 200 square feet, with a round table, also made of glass, an old-school office phone, a flat screen TV mounted on the wall, and nothing else. She feels like she is in an episode of The Jetsons, modern and exposed. Tag pulls a chair out for Haley. It feels chivalrous, more like a date than an interview. Haley wonders the last time Tag had sex. Stop it, she thinks. This is not how to put your best foot forward.

“So, tell me about yourself,” Tag begins. “You have a colorful career path, almost like nine lives!”

Haley wonders if colorful is a kind way of saying she has been lost, jumping from one career to the next, always starting over, never finding footing.

“Well, this is what happens when you spend too much time daydreaming, reading books, and going to school for eternity,” Haley says. “No, I mean—”

Tag laughs. “It’s okay. I get it. I went to law school because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and somehow, I ended up here in recruiting.”

“Do you enjoy it?” Haley asks.

“Hey, who is doing the interview here?”

“Sorry, I’m curious, to a fault sometimes.”

“It’s a good quality,” Tag says, sliding her resume around on the glass in circles. She wonders if his fidgeting means that he too is nervous. He never answers her question.

“So, what brings you to PwC, and why this position as a Salesforce Manger?”

“Well, besides my draw to the proficiencies of Salesforce and how its prominence in the workplace has just exploded and added to worker productivity, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of its promotion and adoption. I think introducing Salesforce to other accounting professionals is essential and very exciting.”

Is he believing any of this bullshit, she wonders.

“I’m also very inspired by your leadership team here, including…” and Haley namedrops the masthead she’d researched.

“Well, you certainly did your research,” Tag winks.

“It’s a problem I have. I’m overprepared.”

“That sounds like one of those canned interview answers to the what-is-your-weakness-question, and you say that you’re a perfectionist.”

“Touché,” Haley says, chagrined. “Should I leave?” She laughs.

“Not yet,” Tag says. “I would like to introduce you to some others on the floor, and you will be meeting with a few folks on the marketing team. I’m just the gatekeeper,” Tag says. “You’re moving to the next round.”

“Already?” Haley asks. Was it this easy to get hired at the esteemed PwC, she wonders.

 “Yeah, I’ve got a feeling about you.”

  Tag stands, shakes Haley’s hand, and leads her down the hall to the marketing team offices. She has a feeling about Tag, too.  But her feeling is something more than professional; it’s personal. This could be dangerous, she thinks.

2 thoughts on “New work: Chapter 1- Tag, you’re It.

  1. Marybeth Mahoney March 24, 2023 — 6:03 am

    I’m hooked! Love your cool new writing spot too. Btw…I’m requesting a cameo in this book.😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hah! Yes!! Def. her best work pal will be you!


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