Twenties Girl

Page 21


He’s gone. He didn’t even give me a chance.
“What did he say?” Kate approaches, her hands clutched hopefully around a coffee cup.
“He hung up.” I slump in my chair as Kate puts down the coffee. “We’re never going to get anyone good.”
“Yes, we will!” says Kate, just as the phone starts ringing. “Maybe this is some brilliant executive who’s longing for a new job…” She hurries back to her desk and picks up the phone with her best assistant’s manner. “L &N Executive Recruitment… Oh, Shireen! Great to hear from you! I’ll put you through to Lara.” She beams at me and I grin back. At least we’ve had one triumph.
I suppose strictly speaking it was Natalie’s triumph, since she made the placement, but I’ve been doing all the follow-up work. Anyway, it’s a company triumph.
“Hi, Shireen!” I say cheerfully. “All set for the new job? I just know it’s going to be a great position for you-”
“Lara.” Shireen interrupts tensely. “There’s a problem.”
My stomach plunges. No. No. Please no problems.
“Problem?” I force myself to sound relaxed. “What kind of problem?”
“It’s my dog.”
“Your dog?”
“I’m intending to take Flash into work every day. But I just phoned human resources about setting up a basket for him, and they said it was impossible. They said it wasn’t their policy to allow animals in the offices, can you believe it?”
She clearly expects me to be as outraged as she is. I stare at the phone in bewilderment. How has a dog suddenly entered the picture?
“Lara? Are you there?”
“Yes!” I come to. “Shireen, listen to me. I’m sure you’re really fond of Flash. But it’s not usual to take dogs into the workplace-”
“Yes, it is!” she interrupts. “There’s another dog in the building. I’ve heard it every time I’ve been in. That’s why I assumed it would be fine! I never would have taken this job otherwise! They’re discriminating against me.”
“I’m sure they’re not discriminating,” I say hurriedly. “I’ll call them straightaway.” I put down the phone, then quickly dial the HR department at Macrosant. “Hi, Jean? It’s Lara Lington here, from L &N Executive Recruitment. I just wanted to clarify a small point. Is Shireen Moore permitted to bring her dog to work?”
“The whole building has a no-dog policy,” says Jean pleasantly. “I’m sorry, Lara, it’s an insurance thing.”
“Of course. Absolutely. I understand.” I pause. “The thing is, Shireen believes she’s heard another dog in the building. Several times.”
“She’s mistaken,” Jean says after the tiniest of beats. “There are no dogs here.”
“None at all? Not even one little puppy?” My suspicions have been aroused by that pause.
“Not even one little puppy.” Jean has regained her smoothness. “As I say, there’s a no-dog policy in the building.”
“And you couldn’t make an exception for Shireen?”
“I’m afraid not.” She’s polite but implacable.
“Well, thanks for your time.”
I put the phone down and tap my pencil silently on my notepad for a few seconds. Something’s up. I bet there is a dog there. But what can I do about it? I can’t exactly phone Jean back and say, “I don’t believe you.”
With a sigh, I redial Shireen’s number.
“Lara, is that you?” She picks up straightaway, as though she’s been sitting by the phone, waiting for an answer, which she probably has. She’s very bright, Shireen, and very intense. I can picture her now, drawing that endless crisscross of squares which she obsessively doodles everywhere. She probably needs a dog, just to stay sane.
“Yes, it’s me. I called Jean and she says no one else in the building has a dog. She says it’s an insurance thing.”
There’s silence as Shireen digests this.
“She’s lying,” she says at last. “There is a dog in there.”
“Shireen…” I feel like banging my head against the desk. “Couldn’t you have mentioned the dog before? At one of the interviews, maybe?”
“I assumed it would be OK!” she says defensively. “I heard the other dog barking! You can tell when there’s a dog in a place. Well, I’m not working without Flash. I’m sorry, Lara, I’ll have to pull out of the job.”
“Nooo!” I cry out in dismay before I can stop myself. “I mean… please don’t do anything rash, Shireen! I’ll sort this out, I promise. I’ll call you soon.” Breathing heavily, I put the phone down and bury my head in my hands. “Crap!”