The caffeine made her perky and she knew she was at her best when she was perky. They had said make sure you don't have coffee breath. She popped some gum into her mouth while walking from breakfast to her first interview. Last minute panic-induced attempt to rid herself of the gum had left a potted plant a little richer by one chewed up wad of Wrigley's. Keep your handshake firm and dry, they'd said. She made sure that her hand wasn't limp in theirs. You don't want them to feel like someone's handed them a dead slab of fish. Keep your back straight, you don't want to look like a slouch, they'd said. She sat so erect that she thought her spinal cord would snap. Look relaxed and happy they'd said. Her jaws were aching from smiling already. Don't talk too fast. The goras won't understand, they'd said. She enunciated clearly and didn't use any slang. Look interested in what they say and ask intelligent questions if you have any, they'd said. She'd concentrated like she'd never concentrated before. Her head was aching, her hands were trembling from nervousness, her back was aching but she asked intelligent questions. It was almost over. The home stretch. Everyone seemed happy. The boss-man stood up, shook her hand, saying "We think you'd be a productive addition to our department. We look forward to seeing you again. If you have any questions, just ask Gus." It was over. Her knees went weak. She smiled like she meant it for the first time that morning. "Hop on the bus, Gus.", she quipped, witty with relief. The boss-man looked bewildered. "Excuse me?" he smiled in anticipation of elucidation. "Fifty ways to leave your lover", she clarified, chuckling a little, residually.
The door closed behind her softly. The last ten minutes will always get you, they'd said.