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Tick tock, race the clock. I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. Can’t be late. It’s rude. Impolite. An insult to others. Even if they are late. Can’t be late.

Thoughts ticked to the click of bike spokes against a small branch that blew into them a few minutes after I started my race through the village to my appointment. Stopping wasn’t an option. I was late. Late for a very important date, mate, state, crate, fate…anxiety driven by years of training by parents, teachers, and work ethics smacked around the inside of my skull, competing with the myriad decisions I needed to make to turn this way, that way, shortcut, watch for hazards, sidewalk, street, lights, stops, and yields.

Which would get me there faster? Could I speed up or slow down to limit the stand and wait then restart of the bicycle’s motion? An object at rest, an object in motion…the laws of physics were for and against me, and the wind in my face, now pushing at my side, now at my back through each twist and turn of the journey was constantly against me, pushing me back against the clock.

30 seconds past the designated and duly appointed time, out of breath, slightly sweaty, rosy-checked and wind-blown hair the least of my concerns, I debated locking, leaving, or carrying the bike into the building. I settled on the last idea. It was a small village, but not small enough to allay my fears of thievery. What a world I’d made for myself. Panic over being late, anxiety over random acts of theft.

The guard gave me issued a stern look and stiff finger pointing to other bicycles parked against the wall. Trusting the guard to do his duty, I left the bike there unlocked, moving to the reception desk.

Dressed in a fine dark blue suit with gold trim along its shoulders, hearkening back to the days when people were greeted by human concierges in uniforms of elegance and class, the robot nodded to me and directed me to the fourth floor with a slight accent.

In the elevator, my watch spoke a rude reminder to remind me I was now 90 seconds late for my appointment.

The office area opened up to a waiting area, a couple black leather sofas, two wooden chairs, and an empty coffee table between them. There was no one else in the immediate vicinity visible, and no one to ask, so I sat down and concerned once again my choices.

I was applying for the technical assistant position in the IT department for this multi-billion dollar international company, a position formerly known as executive assistant, but in today’s politically and socially correct terminology, had been downgraded in tone to technical assistant. We wouldn’t want to get too above ourselves, did we? It was interesting to have lived through these social changes from a strict hierarchy of the corporate ladder complete with glass ceilings to one that democratized the employment structure – or at least pretended to do so. It also allowed for more freedom of movement in the company, since a executive assistant tended to stay one, but a technical assistant could technically become the executive they were assisting.

Still, this employer was a fussy one. I’d studied everything I could find, her history, interests, read every article published about her as well as written by her, analyzing her behavior, thought-processes, likes, dislikes, as best as I could in today’s locked down privacy world of open social platforms. She was a dichotomy of interests, so I’d decided to experiment with my own dichotomies to stand out from the other applicants.

Book, knitting, or nothing? I patted my sling bag, always prepared for any wait. Book, knitting, or nothing? Hmmm. Let’s try the total non-standard, non-technical approach. I pulled out the knitting from my small backpack. I’d finished one sock and was working on another, the other hanging from the same circular needles as the one I was working on to allow comparison and measurement. I’d been working on the socks for the past week, and was about to focus on the heel when I heard the soft swish of rubber soles on tile floor. A sideways glance at my watch showed she was 4 minutes late. Not bad but not good. A least I looked like I’d been there for a while, accomplishing my goal of not looking late even if I’d been late.

“Knitting?” I wasn’t sure if that was scorn, confusion, or a complement.

“Socks.”

“I can see that.” She leaned over to examine my progress. “Top down, I see.”

“Yes.”

“Gapless gussets?”

I steadied the surprise in my voice. “Of course.”

“Excellent. You are hired.”

I couldn’t hide my surprise at that announcement. “What?”

“Hearing difficulties?” She smiled as she straightened up, tall, slender, and poised in jeans with a loose, blue t-shirt.

“No, just confusion.”

“Why?”

My mind raced through all the prep work I’d done for this interview, all my qualifications, all the ways I could dazzle her to ensure the job was mine. Without ticking anything off the list, the job was suddenly mine. She led me fluster then waved her hand in the direction of what I presumed would be my office.

“I do my research, too.” I could hear the suppressed laughter in her voice. “Just as you researched me, I did my homework on you. I like what I find, you were late but faked it well, and you don’t meet corporate expectations, which makes you my new best friend. Welcome to the company.”

What else could I do but put my knitting away and follow. I had the job. I smiled, relaxing for the first time since waking up late this morning. I had the job. And I could tell from the start, it wasn’t going to be boring.