Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature — Summer Soap. Now in its sixth year, Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial run over 12 parts, which started on Monday and runs till Saturday week. Called Annie May And The Hit Brigade, this story follows a young woman from the USA to Cork, and was written by Mahito Indi Henderson, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. Catch up with previous episodes at echolive.ie, where you can also hear a podcast of the story. In the fourth episode, an unusual interview...
We all know the feeling: warm and bubbly. You’ve put back a few, and you’re just about ready to grab a bite of something greasy and settle in for the night. Annie May will have to forgo the chips this afternoon. She’s in for an interview on the sauce.
After rushing home to change, she catches a bus to the radio station. There’s a kid crying in the seat next to her. When the kid’s mother looks away, Annie May holds a finger to her lips to shush it. The kid wails louder.
“You must be Miss Miller,” a particularly pungent assistant at the radio station says.
“That’s... would be me,” says Annie May. Am I blinking too much?
“You can take a seat over there while you wait. Mr O’Connor will be with you shortly.”
“Do you have a bathroom, perchance?” asks Annie May. Perchance?
The assistant smiles and points to a very clear bathroom sign.
“Off I go,” says Annie May.
Pull yourself together, she tells her reflection. You’re a capable, capable adult. You’re a Sagittarius. You’re better than other people.
A cold paper towel on her forehead and neck make her feel a bit more centred. She’s practicing what she’ll say in her best interview voice: “My experience in radio has been, in a word, rewarding…”
This is going to be a disaster.
The office was probably lovely. Annie May can’t see a thing besides the floor-to-ceiling windows that make her head throb. The sunlight reflecting through the glass is so bright it turns Mr O’Connor into a talking silhouette. Jesus, she thinks. It’s like speaking directly into headlights.
“Welcome, Miss Miller,” says Mr O’Connor.
“You’re lucky to have reached out. As I’m sure you’ve heard, a position has just opened up. Do you have your CV on hand?”
“I do, thank you,” she says, a little too loudly. She pulls the creased sheet of paper out of her purse and tries to smooth it on her stomach.
“No bother, you can just hand it to me,” says Mr O’Connor.
Mr O’Connor reaches a hand over the desk. “Here...”
“But it’s creased.”
“That’s okay... Just-“
Annie May is still trying to fold it back into position. Mr O’Connor sits back in uncomfortable silence and fiddles with his tie.
“Nice weather we’re having,” he says.
Annie May finally hands him her CV. Full marks for unprofessionalism.
“It’s what’s written on it that counts, right?” she says. Mr O’Connor chuckles kindly.
Much to her surprise, she manages to answer his questions coherently. She describes her experience at Chicago’s 87.7, deftly avoiding the topic of her firing. After all, she wasn’t a horrible employee, it’s just that no one should have to wake up at 3am to give out prizes on the radio. Truth is, she’s qualified. She had graduated with honours, well, not honours per se, but with some distinction. She’d finished a BA in broadcasting from a respectable university, started her own podcast collective, and even hosted an interview chat show on a local access channel where she spoke with the characters behind some of Chicago’s more unconventional businesses.
She tells Mr O’Connor that her interview with the greasy, turtleneck-wearing owner of the Hair and Fingernail Museum was a particular fan-favourite.
“Did you say hair and fingernail museum?” asks Mr O’Connor.
“Did I ever,” she says.
The interview is brought to an end with a firm, friendly handshake. Smiles all around. He tells her that he will be in touch.
“And one more thing,” he says. “Are you allowed to work here?”
Annie May’s heart sinks. “Yes?”
“Ah, good. You have your PPS number then?”
“PPS — for work.”
“Uh-huh,” says Annie May, hoping she’ll remember to look it up later. For now, she bluffs: “I sure do. And boy, it’s a good one!”
She stumbles out into the golden evening sunlight. She may not be able to remember a thing she just said in there, but life’s looking up.
She crosses the Lee with her head held high, before dry-heaving on a passing jogger.