In the Beginning

“The job didn’t start out too badly. In fact, I was quite excited about the prospects. Sure, event planning wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do for a living, but it was something in which I had experience and thought a year of organising meetings wouldn’t be so taxing on the brain. It would sort of be like a working vacation, or so I thought. I don’t really know what gave me that impression, except that I was only thinking of the actual work and not everything else that would eventually come with it. If nothing else, at least the job paid overtime.

I was also pressed to take the job. My former boss, an older parliamentarian, was eager to launch me from the nest, so to speak. He had this ambition to drive his assistants onto bigger and better things. Moreover, I don’t think that I was quite what he expected. Then again, I’m not sure anyone would ever meet his expectations as it involved skills like mindreading, which can never really be learned. He was notorious for going through research assistants. Anyway, it was his idea that I take this job with Josephina Steele.

We had worked with Josephina and PEWE before on various events, which the old parliamentarian had hosted. As you know, Josephina is the Director of Events at PEWE. Josephina and my boss had remained close, as people do in this town, periodically having lunch or dinner together and meeting at the many events for interest groups or embassies. I had also tried to have somewhat of a friendship with her. She didn’t seem so bad in the beginning, just a strong and determined woman who had worked hard in her life. I guess in a social setting she was different. It’s hard to say now. I also wasn’t reporting to her, which makes a big difference.

When it was announced that Plebeia would be hosting this year’s CACA, and PEWE staffing up as a result, the old parliamentarian saw this as a perfect opportunity for me to move on and up in the world. I wasn’t so sure, but it didn’t seem to be a step down either. And moreover, at least I would be able to maintain my contacts at the embassies, because everyone in town would be interested in CACA. It was vanity speaking, and I’m not so sure that an ego is ever a good thing on which to base any decision in life. Nonetheless, I took the plunge.

Initially there had been two jobs I was looking at in PEWE. The first was with Josephina in Events and was essentially coordinating meetings. The second was with the Protocol Division and would have meant dealing with just one or two countries throughout the year leading up to the main CACA Plenary of the Leaders. I had preliminary interviews with both the directors of Protocol and Events at the same time, which Josephina had organised at the behest of the old parliamentarian and myself. Josephina had been the first to offer me a job, before Protocol could jump through the necessary bureaucratic hoops to have me start the formal interview process. On the very day that Josephina made her offer, I received an email from Protocol inviting me to participate in the standard interview process. Being an honest person, I asked Josephina what I should do. Her response was short: “Please tell them no thank you.” Looking back, I am a little sorry that I listened to her.

Working around the usual hurdles, Josephina was able to pull me in on secondment. Thus, I technically remained an employee of the old parliamentarian, but was given leave to work for PEWE. It’s a convoluted process, but it meant that I didn’t have to go through the normal job competition process. Instead we just filled out a bunch of paperwork and away I went. I started work at PEWE less than two weeks later.”

Lia stopped to look at the Agent who had been listening intently from across the table. Is this what she wanted to hear? Lia wondered, trying to assess from the woman’s ordinary face whether the information so far had been useful, but found nothing. The Agent just sat on the other side of the diner booth with a posture designed to encourage the storyteller to continue, but without emotion or expression that might betray much anything, really.

The Agent noticed Lia’s study of herself and took it as a cue to prompt Lia to continue talking, asking in the same deliberately friendly tone, “so in the beginning it wasn’t so bad? When did it start going south?”

Not entirely convinced of the Agent’s earnestness, Lia thought it better to just cooperate and answered, “Around the holidays.”

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