She sees me behind the group ordering. Her smile is big.
“I didn’t even recognize you!” She said as though she was surprised I could look so professional.
“Oh your ring in your nose.” She says disappointedly. “Just tell her that you just got back from… Taiwan and you’ll take it out.” She continues.
She’s more nervous than I am. She pointed me to a seat in the corner of the yellow splashed restaurant. It was next to a mother and her child. They were watching Sesame Street on the mother’s iphone and that little girl was so happy she couldn’t contain herself. She shrieked frequently, with a smile on her face and her legs, in their pastel striped pants, wriggling with enthusiasm for life.
I waited. The owner of the restaurant was late. The nervous manager gave me a menu to study as though she would quiz me on the ingredients in dishes, but it was really just to give me something to look at while my interview was delayed.
The mother and I laughed as she scared her child back to a sitting position.
“You see that man over there?” The mother said in a very upbeat voice. I was amazed by her patience.
“If you don’t sit back down, that man will come over and get you in trouble.” She said it with a huge smile covering the bottom half of her face. There was no man who cared that her daughter was standing, but the threat worked and the infant sat back down in the cushy booth.
The table across from me had two men. It looked to be a father and son, but the father could no longer call his son a child. They were talking about an opera, as they attempted to get the lettuce of their salads to stick to their forks.
It was a chic restaurant, and its customers matched its sleek yellow interior.
A woman approached me while I was smiling at the little girl beside me. I stood up and put my hand out to greet her. She took it. I was surprised at how natural this all felt. I was confident.
I now could see why the manager was nervous. She had a very distinct presence and was not afraid to assert authority. She was in all black. She had a bulky silver necklace on and her eyes matched her outfit, dark eye shadow and mascara. Her hair was tortured with product and she smelled of strong floral, making her presence linger after she leaves any place. She does this on purpose.
We begin the interview and she is kind. Assertive but kind. She has an accent. I’m not sure where it is from, but it’s there.
“As women,” She begins at one point. She pauses, wanting to word the next sentence well. “we shouldn’t just roll out of bed and go to work. As women we need to look presentable.”
I nod. That’s all I can do. I don’t know how to respond to this. I think about my thighs that are exposed when I sit down and haven’t been shaved in weeks. She says nothing about my nose ring.
“Here at this restaurant, I am looking for someone to work for more than a couple months. There is room for growth. “ This statement scares me.
I walked into an art gallery in a small cobblestone alley in Istanbul. The artwork was vibrant and textured, using more materials than just paint and canvas. There was a corner dedicated to creating. Paint brushes and paint and blank canvases. Somebody used this space. They also made space for scrapbooks. I turned the pages and there were news paper clippings and letters from students and friends who met him right where I was sitting. He was a man of love. He loved life and food and wine and people. I wanted to know him. Sitting there I delayed myself, hoping he would come through the door to the empty art gallery. He was a tall, round man. He had long dark hair and a beard that covered his face. I wanted to ask him so many questions.
“How do you do it?” I would ask him.
And he would ask “Do what?” Because to him, he doesn’t try, he just is.
I would continue, “How do you create such beautiful…”
He would say “I just practice a lot. It is what I love to do, so I do it.”
I would tell him, “no not paintings. They are beautiful, but not those. I mean people. How do you share so much with people? How do you create such stunning, fascinating relationships? That’s what I want. I want my writing to be good, yes. But I want to provoke people. I want to be inspirational and create something gorgeous with them. “
He would say,” You already have. You do it every day. Pay attention.”
I took a post card. He never did walk in, but I know what he would tell me.
“You’re hired.” She tells me. “You can start on Tuesday. Come with ideas. We don’t like our employees to just sit and wait in a corner. Be proactive.” She smiles and calls me “Love” as she walks away.