Another day at the Ferrari garage – Jess couldn’t tell you which day it was, because to her, it didn’t matter. It was just another tick on her timesheet.
The shifts given to her by the recruitment agency helped keep her head above increasingly murky financial waters. But beyond that, they meant nothing, and she intended to keep it that way.
She arranged the stapler so it lined up with the post-it notes and looked out the window. Another blow-up blonde was on her way into the showroom to spend her husband’s money on something other than pneumatic breasts.
Jess plastered a grin on her face. “Good morning!” she said cheerily.
The woman glanced in her direction with barely a nod of recognition and strode over to inspect a canary yellow vehicle parked in pride of place at the centre of the room.
Jess sat down again and resumed rearranging stationery.
One of the salesmen, Ali, slithered out of the office and sidled over to his potential customer. Jess could tell from his swagger that he was about to commence showing off.
As he reeled off his usual spiel he smoothly opened the driver’s side door and the blonde folded her unnaturally orange legs into the car.
Jess clucked and swung around on her office chair. For lack of anything better to do, she checked her email for the 13th time that morning.
Nothing. Eight job applications in two days and not a single response.
Temp work was supposed to be giving Jess the freedom to apply for full time jobs, but after four months of dead ends it was starting to look like a frighteningly permanent career.
Last week she had spent three days at a property management company which had an open door policy on the fridge. The firm would pay for a Tesco delivery to feed its staff from Monday to Friday – a perk Jess took full advantage of between Tuesday and Thursday when she took home a can of Heinz tomato soup and a packet of malted milk biscuits. She didn’t feel too bad about procuring food for consumption outside office hours because they were a largely unfriendly bunch who spent a lot of time whispering to each other.
But this week was Car Week – a two day stint at the showroom on the outskirts of town and the only job confirmed in her diary for the foreseeable future. It was the one she liked agreeing to least, having worked a few days there a month ago and exchanged testy words with that snotty bloke from the antiques programme. Jess hadn’t expected to be asked back after that but she suspected it was because Ali fancied her a bit that she was back on reception.
Her train of thought was broken by the approach of the blow-up-blonde and her boss for the day.
“Jess, can you photocopy these for me?” Ali asked, handing her a sheaf of documents.
“Yes, of course,” she said, subconsciously pulling down her cheap pencil skirt as she stood up.
As the white bar of light scanned the blow-up blonde’s driving licence, Jess wilted for a second. How was it that this woman, with no obvious assets apart from her plastic boobs, was buying a £200,000 car, while Jess, with her perfectly reasonable 2:1 from a respectable university, couldn’t afford clothes from anywhere other than Primark?
Maybe she’d be better off trawling bars for a rich boyfriend on Friday, she mused. Except she couldn’t afford the train fare into the city.
A pinging noise from her pocket alerted her to the arrival of an email.
“Dear Jess. Thank you for your application. Unfortunately you have not been successful on this occasion,” she read silently. She filed it away and put her phone back in her pocket.
It was the waiting and not knowing that sucked the hope out of Jess. This was another rejection to add to the pile she was in danger of turning into a collection, but it was a response, and that was something, she told herself.
So, she decided, it was better than nothing.