Hunting High and Low

Monday was quiet, she spent the day working on more applications and introductions. By the end of the day she’d set up two more coffee meetings and was feeling cautiously optimistic.

Tuesday was a mess from start to finish.

No one had remembered to go to the supermarket, so there was only a dribble of milk for breakfast. Calypso, with the guilty feeling of being the extra mouth to feed, volunteered to do a grocery run after her meeting. The list she was handed made her blink. How on earth was she going to get all of that from the shop to the flat?

Getting dressed, the shirt for her planned interview outfit had gained a mystery stain and the second choice was missing a button. The third choice was frumpy even by Titan standards but at least it went with the skirt and shoes.

When she got to the station, the train was delayed. A veteran of the train system, Calypso had built in plenty of buffer so she wasn’t late to the meeting, merely flushed-and-out-of-breath on time.

The interviewer turned out to be more interested in grilling her on Z Corp people and gossip than her experience and skills. The woman became increasingly abrupt and cold as the meeting wound on and Calypso left the building wondering what had hit her.

She ducked into a café to recover and spilt coffee on her skirt. As she tried to dab it dry, she overheard two women at the table next to her.

“Isn’t that the girl Margery was meeting with earlier?”

“Yeah, Marge got her in for an ‘interest interview’. Thing is though, I saw her CV on the printer and she’s ex-Z-Corp.”

“Ohhhh, so it was Marge’s interest, rather than hers was it? What a waste of time!”

“I’d say so. Marge stomped out of there like a thunderstorm, so clearly no useful info. And let’s face it, even if she did manage to get some inside info, Z Corp is never going to go for someone who dresses like they’ve been dragged through a charity shop backwards.”

“Maybe that’s why they got rid of that one.”

The women laughed, then both glanced over at her and lowered their voices. Not that she wanted to hear any more.

Giving up on the coffee stain, she left the café and decided to head home, by way of the supermarket.

On the train, someone tried to phone her. She answered and her phone network dropped out. They didn’t call back.

She was regretting wearing her confidence-boosting heels by the time she got to the supermarket. She was regretting her whole life as she staggered out of it under the weight of six newly-bought reusable bags, each full to the brim.

The flat was only a fifteen minute walk from the car park entrance, there was no way a taxi would take the fare. She staggered in the door, one heel broken, a grazed knee, and fingers ready to fall off, forty five minutes later.

She kicked off her shoes and focused on getting the groceries away, only to realise she had no idea where anything was supposed to go. Eventually she had all but a few things in cupboards. The remainder she gathered into a neat group on the counter top, for Jason or Hercules to deal with when they got home.

Looking down at the stained, crumpled mess of her interview outfit, she took her shoes and her miserable self through to change.

Her inbox had nothing. No replies, no meetings, no rejections, not even a note from Hecate, or Circe. She went through the next batch of companies on her list, checking names, tweaking skills and sending yet more emails.

Her two flatmates got home at a reasonable hour, both grumbling about bad days.

Jason said. “But look at you, all cosy there, how did your meeting go?”

“Very strange. Although it made a lot more sense half an hour after it finished when I overheard two of the interviewer’s workmates in a café. They thought she brought me in to find out how she could get into Z Corp.”

Jason’s jaw dropped. “No! Make a note of her name and I’ll put her on our recruiters’ bad list. That’s really not on.”

“It was interview practice. I was told it takes a few goes to get good at them, so the weirder, the better at this stage.”

She looked across the coffee table at the pair of them, flopped together on the sofa.

“What about your days? You both look drained.”

Hercules groaned. “Consequences of Zeus’s actions are still hitting. I had a delivery come in today. Instead of taking it directly to the loading dock, as usual, some genius brought it in to reception and Leda accepted it.”

Calypso groaned, he went on. “Naturally, I wasn’t told and it was too large to tuck out of the way, so this afternoon’s press and VIP guests had to dodge two hundred litres of loo cleaner, among other things, to get to the lifts. Aphrodite went spare.”

“I’m guessing it somehow ended up as your fault?”

“And then some, although Hera did have fun taking Leda to pieces, poor girl.”

They both looked at Jason, he said. “Athena and Psyche are clashing on the homewares project and rumours are, there’s more trouble to come with the Singapore supplier contracts.”

Calypso gulped, she hadn’t told them about Amy’s call. “What sort of trouble?”

Jason sighed. “I’m not able to say. I shouldn’t have mentioned it but it’s stressing everyone out and I know you can keep a secret.”

Hercules clambered up. “I’m assuming we’re all good with pasta for dinner. Jase, you can entertain us with the Athena v Psyche bout while I’m cooking.”

Calypso scrambled up. “I should be doing that; you’ve had a full day.”

Hercules shooed her back to her seat. “That shopping list was a big one and I shudder to think how you got it home without wheels.”

She sat down again. “It was an adventure. I think I’ll go for multiple trips next time.”

The slow trickle of rejections started on Wednesday. Calypso spent the day doing an online course on ‘uncovering the hidden job market’. It told her she should have started networking for her new job as soon as she’d started the old one.”

She told Jason and Hercules about it that evening.

Jason asked. “Is that the one where you have to be friendly with everyone and keep a spreadsheet to track interactions and basically make a full-time job out of ‘just saying hi’ to people?”

“They didn’t go quite that far.”

Hercules said. “It’s all fine for people who like keeping up with a vast tribe. For anyone else, it’s so fake and forced, it falls apart within weeks.”

Jason agreed. “We’re going through another phase of it at work at the moment. They crop up every couple of years. This round’s been triggered by Zeus announcing he had money problems as his excuse to get rid of you. It got a few people worried about further cuts, especially after Hera’s hiring freeze, so now there’s a whole swag of ‘just saying hi’ messages going around and they’re all freaking out because they only know other Z Corp people.”

Calypso gulped. “I thought he was just blustering when he said that.”

“He was.” Hercules helped himself to more potatoes. “The problem is with the people who haven’t yet worked out how to read him.”

“It’ll iron itself out soon enough, it always does.” Jason stole one of Hercules’s potatoes.

Thursday brought two meeting requests for the following week and a connection request from a recruiter who asked if she’d be happy to work for half her Z Corp salary. She said ‘no’ and sent some more emails.

When she mentioned that interaction on Thursday evening, Jason looked worried. “Maybe you should have said yes anyway, it shows you’re enthusiastic.”

Hercules scowled. “No, it would have showed that she didn’t know the going market rate for her role and would be easy to exploit. Z Corp salaries are in line with industry standards.”

Jason sighed, then reached across and squeezed Calypso’s hand. “Don’t worry, Petal, it’s early days yet, and once people get to know your capabilities, they’re going to be climbing the walls to offer you a job.”

Calypso gave him a weak smile and asked about the homewares project. Jason hadn’t had any details on the source of the problem the previous day, but had promised to see what he could find out.

“Psyche’s due to give a project strategy presentation to the department and a couple of other stakeholders on Friday, so I’ll be able to tell you more then.”

Hercules brightened. “Come and meet us for a drink to finish off the week. It’ll be fun.”

Calypso hesitated, then smiled. “I’d love to. Let me know what time and where and I’ll see you there.”

Jason gave an evil grin. “You could always meet us at the office.”

Calypso replied. “No thanks, I value my sanity. I know what Leda and Europa are like when they’re stressed.”

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