"Whew,” was all Jamal could say as he exited the conference room. He leaned back against the wall and began to loosen his tie so that the circulation of blood to his brain, which seemed to cut off his ability to think clearly, could get back to functioning normally. He never thought that an interview for an internship could be so grueling. This was his first taste of the real professional world. Jamal finally understood that there was a significant difference between the practical experiences of education versus the reality of hands on experience.
Just as he gathered his thoughts and began to walk off, Leslie turned the corner. “How was the interview?” Trying not to sound incompetent, Jamal told Leslie that although he wasn’t used to this style of interviewing, he think he left a good impression. He felt that where he lacked in finesse, he overcompensated in knowledge. “That’s sounds promising.” Leslie replied. “I will feel out the partners to see what they thought and then if necessary, I will pull my trump cards to make sure that you’re chosen. Don’t worry; the job is as good as yours. Too many people in that room owe me.”
Jamal was impressed by Leslie’s command of everything in her law firm. She was definitely the right person to know, he thought. However, he hoped that what he told her wasn’t a lie and that he actually did leave an impression on the interview committee. It was hard to read their poker faces, a trait he thought, must come naturally with the job. His nerves got the best of him and he could feel the wet spots that formed under his armpits as he handed the borrowed blazer back to Leslie. She must have sensed his embarrassment as she made light of the situation by pointing out to Jamal that, “Being nervous is a good thing. It shows that you’re not cocky, something that we all hate around here.”
Jamal admired all of the degrees and awards on display located on the wall behind Leslie’s desk. He also noticed that there wasn’t one picture of her family or friends located anywhere in the office. In fact, it was a little stale for someone who seemed so full of life. There was nothing that represented anything about Leslie outside of being a lawyer. “Well, she must love her job and keeping things professional is how she conducts herself. I’m feeling that.” Jamal thought to himself as he quickly remembered his current job and how easy it was for gossip to flow around the office.
“Well, let me get out of your way Ms. Smith so that you can get back to work. I want to thank you again for the opportunity and if chosen, I won’t let you down.”
“Oh you’re not interfering with anything Jamal. I’m actually caught up with all of my work and have time to spare. I was considering treating myself to this new Thai restaurant down the street. Do you care to join me?”
“Thanks, but I already made plans with Lela.”
“Oh, Lela. Is that your girlfriend that you came in here with? She’s a cutie and a sharp dresser. I can see why a young man like yourself would be interested in her.” Leslie responded, pretending to show interest in his young adult love affair.
“Yeah, that’s my girl. She definitely keeps me on my toes, which is why I can’t stand her up. So thank you for the offer of lunch, but I must be on my way.”
“Once you start working here, there will be plenty of time for us to eat lunch together. So go ahead and run off to meet Lela. Take it from me, you don’t want to keep a girl like her waiting.” Leslie offered this last bit of information in a playful manner. Her intent was to intrigue Jamal with her Jedi-mind trick, not overwhelm him.
Jamal didn’t have time to ask what she meant by that statement, so he shrugged it off and headed for the elevators. He said goodbye to the secretary on his way out. While she still managed to ogle him while he waited for the elevator, he noticed that her outspoken and rude behavior upon his entrance had changed. He figured that Leslie must have checked her for acting like a ghetto princess. It wasn’t the first time that an older woman had checked him out but she was too brazen to be working in an establishment like this. Jamal made a mental note to make sure that when he got his business off the ground, everyone would maintain a level of professionalism at all times.
“Hey baby.” Jamal said as he greeted Lela and planted a juicy wet kiss on her full lips. He noticed that she was wearing his favorite outfit; a pair of Baby Phat jeans that hugged her hips in all the right places and a purple low cut, scoop neck sweater that was also form fitting but yet not trashy. She added her special Lela touch with a multi-colored scarf, large silver hoop earrings and some black pointy-toed three-inch leather boots that drove Jamal wild. She was the only female that knew that he secretly had a shoe fetish. Lela made sure that she kept her footwear tight around Jamal. Sneakers were only a part of her outfit if they were going to work out or if they matched the designer sweat suit that she was wearing.
“Let me get a good look at you.” Jamal said as he twirled Lela around admiring her. “Girl you make a brother want to spend all of his money on you. Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Who me?” Lela said coyly. “That no good fool doesn’t know how to appreciate me. He’s so locked up into his work that he never spends time with me and I get so lonely.” She said in a low sexy voice. Then they both busted out laughing at each other.
They sat down at their usual table in Cab Caliente outside of NYU. The food was decent and reasonable there. Even though neither of them could legally drink, they imagined that the drinks were good too as it was a favorite watering hole for the NYU students and native wanderers. It wasn’t uncommon to see a young person stumbling out of there on a Friday night. This behavior made Jamal and Lela wonder why so many young people throw their money away on a feeling that will only lead to sickness the next day. Not to mention the irresponsible behavior that they seemed to partake in only while under the influence. Neither cared to indulge when offered alcoholic drinks at parties and the thought of being able to buy alcohol legally once they turned 21 didn’t excite them. Jamal only saw this as another form of covert genocide, which was inflicted upon the Native Americans and the African slave.
The waitress served their food. Jamal ordered a regular beef burrito because like most black men his age, he rarely ventured out of his comfort zone. Lela had an enchilada in green sauce. Given her Caribbean roots, she was more adventurous at trying foods outside her culture.
“So babe, tell me, how did the interview go?” Lela asked.
“Man it was like nothing I ever experienced. They were hitting me with some tough questions, but I feel like I handled them well. It was nothing like filling out that application and shaking the managers hand at my current job. I learned a lesson today about being prepared and being on my game at all times. Thank God, Ms. Smith had her ex-boyfriend’s blazer and a tie in her office. Otherwise, I would have looked straight up like a stereotypical hoodlum expecting someone to give me a job just because I am a black man then blaming the world when I don’t get it.”
“That was really nice of her to lend you that stuff. I guess it doesn’t serve her any purpose anymore. A woman like her shouldn’t have any problem finding another man, if that’s what she wants.”
“Well, I didn’t try to get in her business. She volunteered the information. She seems like a really cool person with a lot of pull at her job. She told me not to worry, that even if I didn’t do well on the interview, that she would pull some strings to make sure that I was offered the job. They said that I should hear from them by Monday. Until then, I will try to maintain my nervous energy. Maybe, I will go work out later.”
Before Jamal could start his next sentence, his phone rang. “Hello. Yes, this is Jamal. Uh huh, yeah that’s great. Yes, of course I accept. Ok, see you then.” Jamal hung up the phone and immediately began to thank Jesus.
“What’s going on babe?” Lela couldn’t conceal her excitement. She knew whatever it was, it was definitely something good based on Jamal’s reaction and she couldn’t contain herself, she wanted to know the good news too.
“That was the firm. They offered me the internship. Yo, I am so amped right now! Come here girl and give me a kiss!” Jamal planted a long and sensual kiss on Lela, something he didn’t normally do in public but this was a special occasion.
“I’m so happy for you baby. My man is moving on up to the east side. Don’t forget about a sister when your crusty butt makes it big. Remember, I know that your stuff does stink.” They both looked at each other and laughed as their lunch turned into a celebration of Jamal’s first conquest in his goal of entrepreneurialship.