Waiting by the telephone

‘Look, there are two seats under the heater over there, quick’ says Aurore as we arrive at Le Progres. It’s a cold March evening but there’s only one place to be, the terrace and seats are rare at this time, it’s l’apero. Sitting here in Paris, it’s strange to think that I was in London this morning, having a second interview for my dream job. 

I  left the office early, jumped on the tube across London with my travel bag and a big knot in my stomach, changed into interview clothes in the toilets of the museum, and ran to the members room to meet Sheena Wagstaff for the informal chat. There were no tables available so we sat on the windowsill. I answered her questions with calm and assurance. She was hard to read and quickly had to go. 

“I’ll call you by the end of the day”, she said. I finished my tea and rushed to catch the Eurostar. 

On the train, I couldn’t read or listen to music. I kept reliving the scene in my head, repeating the questions again and again, picking holes in my answers. I couldn’t wait to get to Paris, I wanted to fast track the time. I was dying for a cigarette, I was dying to know. 

And here we are, Aurore and I at Le Progres, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, trying to talk about what’s been happening in our lives since we last saw each other but my mind keeps wandering and I keep staring at my phone hoping that if I look at it long or often enough, it will finally ring.

‘Do you think she’s going to call today?’ It’s already ten past six in London, this is fucking torture!’.

Aurore tries to distract me with the story of her last office crush, Nicolas. He works on the floor above, he’s one of the associates. She doesn’t know how to approach him. I look again at my phone, it’s nearly seven-thirty in London and I’ve resigned myself: it won’t be happening tonight. 

‘You never know’, says Aurore, ‘maybe they will call tomorrow’. 

‘Hmm, I think they’ve already called the successful candidate and I’ll get a ‘thanks for your time…’ email tomorrow.’ This is usually how it works.

We decide to order wine and then, the phone rings. It’s her. I get up and move away from the crowd. 

‘Thank you so much for coming back today’ she says with an apologetic tone. I’m not hopeful. 

‘I could really do with your help and I would like to offer you the position’. 

I hurry back to the table with tears in my eyes. ‘I’ve got the job, aaarrgggghhhh’.

Each time we talk about that night again, Aurore never fails to remind me that after we celebrated the news with a bottle of champagne, I turned into a broken record and bored her to tears as I could not stop repeating ‘I can’t believe it, I’m going to be the PA to the Chief Curator of Tate Modern, she curated Jeff Wall and Edward Hooper, can you imagiiiine?’ again and again and again.