15,600 words. This section takes us to the end of Chapter 3.
The offer arrived at mid-morning on Wednesday, and it was everything she could have wished, except that after her interview experience the idea of working for Aspire gave her almost the same stomach churning feeling as thinking about her current unemployment.
She printed the offer letter off so that she could sit staring at it more easily. The salary written on it was deeply gratifying. And after all, surely working there couldn’t be as much like psychological warfare as the interviews themselves. She wouldn’t be reporting to Larry or Alexia, perhaps would not even see them often. The interview with her own potential boss, a blandly managerial woman named Bryn Masters, had not gone badly, though as the final interview of the four Kristy could remember few details from it. Why let a couple bad interviews turn her away from an opportunity this good?
But even as she tried to convince herself that she should take the job, she knew that she did not want to.
Shortly after noon an email came through from Cathy Bradford. “Just wanted to see if you’d received the offer from Aspire and get your thoughts.”
Kristy wrote back, “I got the offer, and it does look like a good one. I need a day or two to think about it as I may be on the verge of receiving an offer for another position as well.”
Then she emailed the recruiters for the three other jobs she’d heard back from, warning that she’d just received an offer on another job, but telling each one that she was in fact very enthusiastic about the opportunity she had contacted her about and expressing hope that things could move forward quickly as she was less enthusiastic about the offer she’d just received. This ploy, however, did not produce the gratifying results that she had hoped for, as over the next several hours each one wrote back cautiously expressing congratulations and saying that although she would pass the word on that time was of the essence, she could not make any promises.
Katie came home in the afternoon to find Kristy morosely watching daytime TV and drinking Bourbon.
“So did you get the offer from that job?”
“Yes,” Kristy confessed. “I got it. It’s a good offer, too.”
“So… Is that good? Are you happy?”
Kristy flipped channels listlessly. “I don’t know. That was the most psychotic set of interviews I’ve ever had. And I don’t know why they offered me the job so quickly. I’m worried they’re crazy to work for, or they’re in some really bad situation that I’d be blamed for, or just that I’d really hate working there.”
“So… Are you going to turn them down?”
“I don’t know.” They both stared at the TV. A dubbed Japanese game show was playing in which contestants had to pick which of three doorways to try to crash through: two covered over with white paper, the third with drywall.
“Could you get me some more Bourbon?” Kristy asked, holding up her glass. “It’s the one with the buffalo on it.”
Katie took the tumbler to the kitchen, sloshed more liquor into it, and brought it back. “Should I make dinner, or are you planning to be totally shitfaced by then?”
“I don’t know.”
Katie retrieved a Coke from the refrigerator and sat down next to her sister. “Look. Kristy, this isn’t good. If the job makes you this unhappy, don’t take the job. You said you’ve got enough money to keep going for six months. You’re smart. You’ll get another job.”
“What if I don’t?”
“You always have before.”
“But I haven’t gone turning down good jobs before. This is a good job. It pays more than my last one. A lot more. It’s a promotion. It’s being product line director for the Courier bag relaunch. It’s a great opportunity. I wouldn’t deserve another job if I turned this down.”
“Was that a Courier bag that grandma used to always carry?”
“See? Iconic. Even you know what it is. I can’t turn that down, can I?”
Katie shrugged. “I don’t see why not. If it makes you unhappy, don’t do it.”
Kristy sighed. “Why are we watching this?” She flipped channels until settling on a cooking competition in which men and women in chef outfits seemed to be competing to see who could cut vegetables most violently.
“If you don’t like what I have to say, maybe you should call someone else about it and ask their advice. Call Dad.”
“Dad’s had the same job for the last fifteen years. What would he know?”
“Well, I don’t know then,” Katie said in an exasperated tone, getting up from the couch and heading into the kitchen. “I’m making enchiladas and spanish rice for dinner, so you figure out whether you’re going to get serious about the Bourbon or not because this would not feel good coming back up.”
“Hey, Dad,” said Kristy, in an unusually meek tone. “Do you have a little time? I really need your advice.”
“Sure, honey. What’s up?” Even over the phone her father’s voice carried the tone of bedtime stories and checks in the closet for monsters. Kristy found herself instinctively curling up and hugging a couch cushion.
Kristy described the job at Aspire and her fears in relation to it.
“Look,” her father said when she had finished. “I don’t have your experience with trading jobs and all that. You’ve had an amazing career, and you know your mother and I are both really proud of what you’ve done. But I can tell you this based on my experience: You spend more hours each day working than you do at home. You’d better make sure that it’s something you can be happy doing. It’s normal to feel a little nervous when you’re starting something new, but if you really think you’ll be unhappy at this place, don’t take the job. It’s not worth it.”
Next she tried Dan, but the advice was similar.
“You know me, Kristy. I tried one year of corporate law and decided it didn’t matter how much it paid: I’d rather be stuck writing wills and divorce decrees than combing through merger documents sixteen hours a day. If you think you’ll enjoy it: go for it. If you think you’ll be miserable: it’s just not worth it.”
She slept badly, and the next morning, rather than going for her run or getting dressed she sat at the kitchen table in her pajamas, coffee cradled in her hands, and stared at the acceptance letter. Each time she questioned it, it responded with the same bland phrases and compelling figure. Finally she hit reply and typed out, “I would be happy to accept this offer. Please let me know what the next steps are.”
Within the hour emails from Aspire’s HR department started to make their way back: Background check. Drug test. Tax information. Tentative start date in ten days, assuming no problems showed up on the above.
Later in the day she received an email from Bryn. “So excited to have you joining the Aspire team, Kristy. Just wanted to check: Do you have a passport? I’m going to need to have you go to China the week after you start.”