Josie is waiting for an appointment in the Human Resources Department. She sits in the corridor outside the office, opposite the HR manager’s assistant, a woman with long black hair, who stares at her relentlessly. Josie, in turn, stares at the door impatiently.
Josie: (looking at her) Yeah?
Assistant: …You can go in now.
Josie gets up.
Josie: (stopping in her tracks) What is it?
Assistant: …How did you get so thin?
Assistant: How did you get so thin?
Josie takes a minute to consider this and then walks over to the assistantant’s desk and leans over.
Josie: (quietly) My parents used to hang me from the banisters to dry me off after baths.
Josie: No. And if you ever ask me anything that offensive again, I’ll report you to HR and you’ll have to go to this Conduct At Work Seminar too.
Josie walks away.
Assistant: I will find out your secret, tiny African girl!
When Josie enters the office, she is greeted by a woman in a skirt suit, and man in a shirt and tie. The woman stands up and shakes her hand.
Clara: Hello! We haven’t formally met yet, have we, Ms Waterhouse? I’m Clara Ravenou, head of HR, and this is my colleague, Hector-
Josie: Yes, we’ve already met.
Josie: We went on a date once. Well I say we, it was actually a friend of mine pretending to be me.
Josie: (laughing) That’s the sort of tomfoolery and high jinks I provide in the office. (Noticing that no one else is laughing) No, but seriously, that entire situation was a huge misunderstanding and I’d like to apologise again to Hector for any misfortune that befell him that night. I take my job very seriously. Apart from that one time…and obviously the several things that have led to this meeting.
There is a pause. Hector looks on unimpressed. Clara looks baffled.
Clara: Okay. (looking at a file) Before we tackle the most recent incident in a catalogue of questionable circumstances, I’d like to discuss your overall performance at Vantage. Are you aware that there is a dress code?
Josie: A dress code? Sure.
Clara: Is that a yes or a no, Miss Waterhouse?
Josie: Is what a yes or a no?
Clara: That you had knowledge of there being a formal dress code in this office.
Josie: Today or…?
Clara: Everyday, Miss Waterhouse.
Josie: I won’t lie to you, I have heard a rumour of such a thing, but I personally don’t like to get caught up in rumours.
Clara: It is not a rumour. There is a dress code. It is clearly stated in the handbook.
Josie: (talking rapidly) Handbook? I don’t even have a handbook. I’m just an intern here, right? You don’t pay me. So really I don’t see how you even have the right to ask me to conform to your fascist style regime. If you want to start putting a little money in my pocket then maybe I could purchase certain goods, and comply like a good little worker, saluting you as meine fuhrer.
There is a dramatic silence that follows, while Josie realises what she has just said. Hector is shaking his head, and Clara is so surprised she is speechless. Josie stares at the table.
Josie: (quietly) I shouldn’t have said a lot of that.
Josie: when I get in trouble, I panic, and I compare the situation to Nazi Germany to make it look farcical and insignificant. It is a problem I struggle with. (sighing deeply) You’re going to fire me now, aren’t you?
Hector: (immediately) Yes-
Clara: (cutting him off) No. Look, Josephine, there is some one upstairs who thinks that you’ve got the potential to be amazing at whatever it is you do in those silly notebooks of yours.
Clara: But only if you take your time at Vantage more seriously. You cannot keep messing around and wasting this opportunity. Learning to curb you witticisms to your articles, and to adhere to rules like everyone else, might be a good start. Unless, of course, ‘Smart Mouthy Intern’ is the role you’d rather play than ‘Editor In Chief’. I suggest you go home now and think about what you want. Come in tomorrow dressed properly, or to pick up your things. Do you understand?
Josie: Yes. Thank you.
Josie leaves the room quietly.