11 Feb A Moment of Time
Alicia had just stepped out of her house into the unusually quiet street and wondered why there were no taxis to be seen.
As she looked around helplessly, a helpful passer-by informed her about the taxi strike. She glared at the creature who had dared to apprise her of reality as if he was personally responsible for her problems. Not one to take blame without guilt, the man quickly explained that the news of the impending strike had been widely reported in the past couple of days and elaborate notices had been placed in the newspapers to help commuters plan in advance. But hey, how was she to know if no one had told her. Since when was the newspaper useful for anything else other than swatting flies or scouring where the next sale was. Even angrier and frustrated than before, she growled and stomped her foot. Wondering what he had done wrong, the innocent man scuttled off – too scared to even point out his innocence in the whole taxi situation. He had even been in favor of the taxi drivers, he mumbled to himself.
Alicia boarded the train and stood near the door, watching the handrails whiz past.
Trust everything to go wrong today, she cursed. From the alarm not going off to the cold water in the shower. Not to mention the taxi drivers being on strike today. To top it all, she had had to take the train. Never mind that the train was the only thing that seemed to be holding true to its promise.
She alighted from the train and looked at the watch. The duration of the journey had been just 17 minutes, exactly as promised on the route map.
Alicia hurried down the curb, muttering under her breath. She was already late. Of all the days, she had to be late today! The day of the all important interview. This was her dream job and this was her dream company. And she was late for this most important interview. The one final interview where it would be decided whether she was qualified to join or not, for that very interview she was late. Alicia scowled, and berated herself repeatedly.
As she passed by the big windows in the shops, she glanced at her reflection in one of the windows and cursed inaudibly. Her shabby appearance would certainly help if she was playing the part of the sweeping lady. But no, she was appearing for an interview and hence any fancy dress competition would have to wait. Of course, if there was a fancy dress competition she would win first prize as a scarecrow. Or maybe, permanently become a scarecrow, if she didn’t get the job.
She smoothed her hair down with one hand and with the other, fought with her scarf. She glanced at her reflection again as she passed by another shop window and wrapped the scarf again as elegantly as one could at that pace. She strode down the street, trampling anything that dared to cross her path. Even the birds and animals seemed to sense her hostile mood and attempted to stay away from her. The angry, rapid clickety-click of her platform heels was an indicator to the squirrels to duck for cover. They peeked out and breathed a sigh of relief once she passed by. The bees fluttered out of her way and the ants skittered away. She wasn’t one to be messed with today, they figured.
The street was full of annoying people trudging along, she thought, as she maneuvered in and out of the crowds. Why couldn’t they take the taxi? She thought irately. “Oh right, strike!” She remembered sullenly.
She rapidly darted in and out of the curb, sometimes even stepping on the road to gain speed and time.
Just as she stepped on the road again, her foot landed on a drain grill and she lost her balance, twisting her ankle. “OWWWWW!” Her yelp made a bewildered puppy run for his life and a grown man jump out of his skin.
She sat there on the curb, massaging her foot while cursing and muttering under her breath; oblivious to all the pedestrians rushing toward their destinations.
She finally got to her feet and tested her ankle. Fortunately, it wasn’t a sprain and she would be able to walk on it in a few minutes. She slowly hobbled and hopped, careful enough to not put too much weight on the injured ankle.
After what seemed like a walk along the length of the Nile, she reached the building.
She pushed open the double doors of the skyscraper and stepped into the foyer. She was finally here, she thought relieved. Worried about the time and the negative impression her tardiness would give, she hurriedly limped across the lobby and pushed the elevator call button. To Alicia, it seemed to be taking its own sweet time. Just when I am in a hurry and injured. I am injured! She shouted soundlessly at the elevator doors.
Is it even moving, wondered Alicia, while annoyingly staring at the overhead display, waiting for the numbers to change. She was on the 4th floor and at this speed, it would be a miracle if she ever reached the 19th floor. She tapped her fingers on the silver panel and rolled her eyes.
After what seemed like an eternity to Alicia, the elevator bell dinged. Finally!
“What the …. ” She stared aghast, as the elevator doors remained closed. She ranted and screamed, silently again, as the elevator doors conspired against her. Finally, they did open and Alicia breathed nervously as she smoothed her hair down again. She stepped out and walked to the reception, her ankle feeling more comfortable now.
“Hi,” Alicia said to the plump girl at the desk. “I am Alicia Marks. I spo…”
“Oh. Hi! You must be here for the interview,” the lady interrupted.
Alicia smiled brightly. She had, after all, managed to reach at the appointed time.
The lady looked at her computer screen and clucked her tongue, shaking her head. Alicia stared in displeasure at the girl who was opposite to her, and not just because she stood across the desk. Did she just make that clucking sound at Alicia? How dare she? Alicia decided she would complain to her interviewer about the insolence of the receptionist.
“Uh… huh. No. I’m afraid it’s been pushed to tomorrow. We’ve sent you an email more than an hour ago…” She paused to check the time. “Yep, more than an hour ago updating you about the same,” said the lady and beamed back at Alicia.