#tuesdayserial: tilly with the others part 3

Tilly squirmed a little in the waiting room chair. The Pizza Tela offices were located on the upper level of a strip mall. It had taken a subway ride and two buses to get to the location. Then Tilly had had to quiz three different shopkeepers about where the stairs were to get to the upper level. She'd made it to the office with only five minutes to spare before her interview. She reviewed the main details of her resume in her head, more to drown out Marcus's voice saying that he would never hire anyone who didn't show up at least fifteen minutes early for the interview than because she thought anything on her resume would count.

They would want a pleasant phone manner, that was certain. They'd want a good command of English. She definitely had that, although her accent did tend to pop out if she was upset or speaking too quickly. She had to show that she could use their computer software for entering the orders, and assure them that she was comfortable with upselling people over the phone.

Come to think of it, it would be like interviewing for the work she'd done with Marcus.

She didn't really have an interview outfit anymore, so she'd just worn her funeral ensemble and added her pearl necklace and earrings to it. She hadn't been able to find her lipstick yet and hoped that since she was applying for a work-from-home job it wouldn't matter.

Everyone else in the waiting room either looked like a student or fresh off the boat. Tilly suppressed a smile. Owen always got so upset when she used the term. "Ma, they're 'new Canadians,' don't say stuff like that!" Why shouldn't she? She'd been FOB herself. It was just something one had to get through.

The boy with the greasy hair was called into the office. He was the only one who had been waiting longer than Tilly. She hoped that was a sign she would be next.

Matilde (Tilly) Zondernaam. Completed bachelor's degree in European History 1965; married 1966; emigrated 1967; citizenship 1970; responsible for book-keeping, reception, and secretarial duties 1967-2005; taken several night school courses to learn computers and Canadian tax regulations; never committed a crime for which a pardon had not been granted...

She wondered how much of this these Others already knew about her.

"Mrs. Zon.... der... um, name?"

Tilly gave her brightest smile and looked directly into the young woman's eyes. "That's me."

"This way please."

The receptionist led her into an office that looked shockingly nice after the strip mall and the waiting room. Here the walls weren't scuffed, the furniture was not too obviously from a fire sale, and the computer wasn't that old.

If I were that receptionist, I'd be furious, thought Tilly, but she smiled and held out her hand to the very large man behind the desk.

He touched her hand more than shook it, not bothering to stand up. "Matt Peters," he said, giving her no more than a cursory glance before turning his attention back to his computer monitor. "Just a second here."

"Of course," said Tilly, easing into the seat on the visitor's side of the desk.

"There's a spelling mistake on your resume," said Peters, still looking at the computer monitor.

"Really? Where?"

"You spelled your last name with two As."

"No, that's correct. Two As in 'naam'." Tilly tried to remember if there'd ever been a month in Canada where someone didn't ask her about that.

"Huh. Weird." Peters gave the computer mouse one last slap, and finally looked like he was going to start the actual job interview.

"So why do you want to work for us?"

"I enjoy phone work, and working from home is appealing."

"This is part-time hours. And they'll take it off your pension, so you won't be making any extra money."

"Part-time hours would be perfect, and most of my income comes from investments my husband and I made."

"Your husband okay with you working 'til midnight once a week?"

Tilly was fairly sure that was an illegal question, but she smiled to smooth over her surprise and said her husband had passed away recently.

"Sorry to hear." Peters turned away, slapped the mouse a few times, then pounded at the keyboard with his index fingers for a few minutes. Tilly made sure her hands were in the palms-up, relaxed-and-confident position.

"You got high-speed Internet at home?"

"Yes." Her response was rewarded with a mouse-slap. Tilly was starting to feel sorry for it.

"How old's your computer?"

"Two years old."

"Runs Windows XP?"

"Windows 7 now."

"That should be okay." Slap, slap.

"You know how to install software on the thing?"

"Yes, I was always in charge of the computers at my husband's office."

"I just need to know if you're in charge of this one." Slap.


"No-one else uses the computer?"

"No," she said, biting her tongue before she added that she lived alone.

The Enter key was given a three-finger punch, then Matt Peters pulled open a desk drawer and handed Tilly a CD in a clear plastic case. There was a piece of paper folded into the case cover.

"Install this on your home computer," said Peters. "You're going to need a headset, because we do everything over the computer. No phone lines necessary. Make sure your phone is either in another room or the ringer's turned off when you're working. That's important."

"I understand."

"You have to pass a phone interview. We'll call you next Wednesday at.... three PM, via the software. Make sure you're logged in as a test account at that time. The phone test lasts about fifteen minutes."

"Sounds good."

"If you pass that, you fill in that" — he tapped the paper inside the case — "and fax it back to us. You live near a copy shop or something?"

"Yes. Is the fax number on the form?"

"No. I'm giving you a business card."

"Thank you."

Peters threw a business card on the CD case. "Talk to you Wednesday."

"Thank you." Tilly gathered the disc and business card from the desk and did her best to leave gracefully.

She waited until she was down the stairs and in the main corridor of the strip mall before she put the disc away in her purse. The business card went into her wallet.

She could smell that the food court was nearby, and decided to treat herself to a coffee and doughnut for the long trip home.