Mariah Steen stepped confidently into the elevator. She had been a star employee at the esteemed Powell and Fritz Corporation for fifteen years and rumor had it the President, Mr. Ronald Fritz, planned to make her Vice President.
Mr. Fritz had asked to meet with Mariah today at 9:00 a.m. It was now 8:40 a.m. She smiled, thinking how impressed Mr. Fritz would be when she walked into his office eighteen minutes early.
“Going up Miss?”
Mariah smiled at the innocent question which today held special meaning for her.
“Yes indeed. I am going up. Floor 39 thanks.”
The elevator climbed slowly, like an exhausted caterpillar. Both occupants stared lucidly at the silver doors.
“What’s your name Miss?”
The question caught Mariah off-guard. For the first time she noticed the other occupant. With thinning grey hair, slumped shoulders and clothes too loose for his skeletal form, Mariah wondered what business he had with the prestigious Powell and Fritz Corporation.
“Mariah.” She answered abruptly, not wishing to engage in conversation.
“Hmm, what a lovely name. Not very common is it? Apart from the singer I’ve never heard of it before. So, do you sing Mariah?” The old man laughed at his joke, waiting for a response.
If she had a dollar for every time she heard that! And everyone thought they were the first to come up with it. This time she did not even bother to give her usual forced smile.
“So Mariah, do you have children?”
“Yes.” Impatient with all the questions, Mariah sighed and tapped loudly on her briefcase.
“And how old are they?” The old man smiled kindly a twinkle in his eye.
Mariah looked at her watch and sighed. "What’s wrong with this stupid elevator. I could have walked up faster than this!”
“What’s your rush my dear? Life is to be enjoyed don’t you think? Every moment is precious. Now tell me about your children.”
“Look, I don’t mean to be rude but I’m not interested in small talk. I don’t want to talk about my hilarious name, my children, the meaning of life or stopping to smell the roses, O.K.?” She breathed heavily, trying to contain herself. This nosy man really knew how to push her buttons.
The old timer shook his head and sighed, “That’s too bad. That’s really too bad.”
She reached forward and pushed ‘39’ three times, believing her insistence would cause the elevator to acquiesce. As soon as she reached Mr. Fritz’ office she would call security and have them dispose of the annoying old man.
Standing close to the door with her back to the man, she epitomized the face of success. Startling good looks combined with confidence, intelligence, experience and business savvy made her highly desirable to any company.
The elevator ‘pinged’. Mariah sighed and stepped onto the hallowed ground of Floor 39. She could hardly contain her excitement. Not only were the surroundings more salubrious than she could have imagined, Mr. Fritz himself had come to greet her!
As he walked towards her she extended her hand. “It’s such a pleasure to be .....”
Her hand fell to her side as Mr. Ronald Fritz walked past her and embraced the old man who had also embarked at Floor 39.
“Dad, it’s been so long. An entire three hours I would say.”
Both men grinned childishly and laughed. Ronald playfully punched his father on the arm.
Mariah stepped backwards, wishing she could disappear through the floor.
“Mariah, I take it you’ve met my dad, Ronald Fritz Senior? It’s a well-kept secret but he actually owns 68% of the company and is my number one business advisor. I wouldn’t be where I am without my dad.”
Ronald Fritz Junior continued to joke with his father and Mariah’s face grew more pale with every passing moment.
“So dad, how did stage one of the interview go? Did she pass?”
The old man ran his fingers through his thinning hair, looked sadly at his son and shook his head.
Without a word, Mariah stepped back into the elevator and watched the silver doors encase her.
‘Going down,’ she thought to herself. ‘I’m going down.’
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