This is the second half of a two-part series, so if you have not already done so, you might want to read Part I before continuing.
Alex ran into Helen on his way to George’s office. He held his head high, but refused to meet her gaze as she glared at him.
“Going to drop off your list of credentials?” She practically spat the words at him.
“As a matter of fact I am.”
“I just dropped mine off.” The air of superiority in her voice made Alex want to smack that smug smile off her face. “I hope Max doesn’t have your sense of timing. You know being on time is everything.”
Alex forced a smile. “In fact, Max and I both have an excellent sense of timing. This way my list will be on top and he’ll read it first.”
“Not if he’s already reading my list.”
Alex narrowed his eyes and Helen waggled her fingers at him in farewell as she sauntered off.
Alex hurried into George’s office where he found George talking to Margaret.
“I’m sorry, am I interrupting something? The door was open.”
“No, not at all,” said George. “Margaret and I were just scheduling her interview.”
“Oh. Good. Well. I just wanted to drop off my list of credentials, as requested.”
“Great. You can just put it on my desk,” George said as he turned his attention back to his computer screen.
Alex felt a thrill of triumph as he placed his list on what was obviously Helen’s list. Now George would be sure to read Alex’s list first.
Alex stopped by Max’s desk on his way back to his office.
“Hey, I was just about to come talk to you,” said Max. “I have a few more questions on the Wilson account.”
“You have got to stop asking questions about that account. Margaret knows it inside and out.”
“So, I’m not supposed to ask questions?”
“Not now. Wait until after you’ve gotten the job. Then you can ask all the questions you want. Right now, you have to act like you already know all there is to know about the account.”
“Wouldn’t it be more convincing if I actually knew more about the account?”
“Never mind. I stopped by to ask if you’ve scheduled your interview with George yet.”
“Not yet. I wanted to finish up these reports first.”
“Well, you’d better get in there. Margaret is scheduling her interview right now. If you wait too long, he’ll have already made up his mind to promote Margaret.”
“OK, I’m almost done.”
Alex counted the minutes while Max was in his interview. He looked up every few seconds to see if Max had returned to his desk. He tried to focus on his work, but his mind raced with additional things he should have done to prepare Max. They should have gone over the account more. Alex should have spent more time buttering George up, or explaining George’s quirks to Max.
It was too late for all of that now.
Eventually, Max made his way around the corner and headed for his desk. George caught his eye and beckoned him into his office.
“How did it go?”
Max shrugged. “OK, I guess. You never can tell with interviews.”
“Sure you can. There are all sorts of signs. Did he laugh? Did he seem interested in what you had to say? Did he ask you a lot of questions? You were in there for forty-three minutes.”
“Nah, I wasn’t even in there for half an hour. I just took a smoking break afterwords to get outside and clear my head. Interviews are intense, you know?”
“Yeah, I know. All right, get back to work. The phones haven’t stopped ringing all day.”
A few days later, Alex looked up when he heard a knock on his door. George was standing in the doorway.
“Mind if I come in for a minute?”
“Not at all. Please, have a seat.”
“Oh, I won’t be staying long. I just wanted to let you know I’ve decided to offer Max the job.”
“Really? That’s great! You won’t regret it. He’s a great employee.”
“I’m sure he is. I just wanted you to be the first to know and I also wanted to be sure to tell you to take it easy on Helen.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean. Everyone knows about the rivalry between you two and that Max and Margaret just got caught in the middle of it. I don’t want you to think my decision means I support you over Helen. Or Margaret, for that matter. I just felt Max would be a better fit with the rest of the sales team.”
“Of course he would. I’m sure Margaret wouldn’t even like it over there. She’d probably feel outnumbered.”
“Yes. Speaking of which, I have to go talk to her and Helen and make sure we don’t have a discrimination suit on our hands.”
“Oh, I’m sure it won’t come to that. Margaret’s ambitious, but she’s reasonable.”
George looked less sure, but he didn’t say anything more as he let himself out of Alex’s office.
“To Max!” They all threw back their shots and slammed their glasses back on the bar.
Looking up through watery eyes, Max saw Margaret entering the bar. He scrambled off his bar stool and made his way over to her. “Margaret! I’m so glad you came!” He threw his arms around her and leaned a little too heavily into the embrace.”
“Sorry I’m late,” she said, half-heartedly returning the embrace. “Looks like I missed more than just the first round.”
“That’s OK. I’m really glad you came. Listen, I want to tell you I think you should have gotten the job. I think you’d make a fantastic sales associate.”
“Thanks, but I didn’t come here to talk about why I should have gotten the job. I came to celebrate your promotion.”
“That really means a lot to me. Really. You’re a classy lady.”
“Thanks, now can we get some drinks? Looks like I have a lot of catching up to do.”