2007-03-16: Help Wanted

Starring:

Cass_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: Niki is drawn to Cass's store by the sign in the window.

Date It Happened: March 16, 2007

Help Wanted (or What Are Your Feelings on Alien Abductions?)


Enlightenment Books

Right after the lunch rush, Enlightenment starts to slow down, leaving Cass able to actually eat /her/ lunch. It's a sandwich with one of those mini-bags of chips and a mug of tea all lain out in front of her. She's got a half of a sandwich poised ready to have a bite taken out of it, however she's distracted by a cut out of her daily suduko. The damn things are totally entrancing and she's been caught in it's web.

As her - and D.L.'s - car rolls through the East Village, Niki isn't planning on stopping at any bookstores. She's alone today, and on the hunt for jobs; even if Monica's generous offer to try to land her a job at her work pans out, Niki needs all the opportunities she can get. Her heightened sense of unemployment leads to her catch sight of a Help Wanted sign; she doesn't even know what it's for as she starts to slow down outside of the store. Shielding her eyes from the painful sunlight that glints sharply through her windshield, she looks: Enlightenment Books. Well, it's something. Turning about to park the car across the street, soon Niki is gently opening the door to the bookstore. Dressed in a pair of black dress pants and white blouse, sans jacket despite the late spring chill, she'd look professional if it weren't for the circles under her eyes and tired look about her.

When the door opens, Cass scribbles in a number in one of the boxes and lets her sandwich fall back down onto the paper it was wrapped in. Lunch will have to wait when there are new customers. "Welcome to Enlightenment, can I…Niki?" She remembers the woman. First from the bank, then in the subway car. "Hi! Can I help you with anything?" Though she notices the tired look the woman has, she smiles a little more kindly. "Need some relaxation books or something?"

"Cass…?" The question is wary, at first, as if she doesn't quite believe the coincidence, but a pleasantly surprised smile soon spreads across Niki's face. "Haha, maybe," she says as she steps further inside, letting the door close behind her. She gives the shop a glance around, taking in the subject matter with no real judgment one way or the other. "But actually, I didn't come for the books." Even though it's, you know, a book store! "I just… I saw the sign," she gestures over her shoulder to the window, almost sheepish. "Are you the owner or…?"

"Hi! Yup!" Cass reassures Niki that it is indeed her and not a figment of the woman's imagination. Hopping off her chair, she smacks her hands together to get any stray crumbs off of them so that she's ready to help. Glancing over at the sign in the window, she smiles. "Oh! That! Yeah, I'm the owner. You want to work here?" She doesn't sound dismissive, only curious. So far most of the people who've applied have been customers or people who have actually been inside the bookstore before.

"You tell me," Niki replies good-naturedly, smiling. She wanders closer to the counter, blue eyes roving over the various objects on it, then over at some bookshelves. Wow. Those are… some crazy titles. She's pretty sure she just saw 'Alien Abduction: Are You a Victim?'. An eyebrow lifts mildly, but her smile is nonetheless slightly hopeful when she focuses on the store owner. "What kinda people are you looking for?"

Oh yes, 'Alien Abduction' is quite popular. Cass keeps the smile going for Niki. "Well, someone who's familiar with what we sell, or can learn it quickly. Friendly, helpful, I'm sure you know the normal spiel." She pauses and tilts her head a bit at Niki. "I only really have part time work available right now. But if you're still interested, we can have a talk about it. Whenever you're free."

Niki glances down at the floor, but with a bright smile, she shines away the self-deprecating look that threatens. "I gotta admit, this is all new to me," she can't help but confess, biting her lip for a split second. "But I'm a fast learner," she pipes up. "Part time is fine. Whatever's available." She'll leave out the 'because I'm desperate'. "I, um. I left my resume in the car," Such as it is, "I can get it…?"

Cass gives Niki an appraising look. Well, she does still need some help and if the whole disappearing for a day or two to talk to her father or other members of their posse is going to keep happening, she'll need it. "I believe it. I've got about half an hour before the next rush comes in. That should be enough time to talk. As long as you don't mind me eating through it. I'm kind of about to start gnawing on the pages of one of my books."

"Okay," Niki says politely, trying not to sound too hopeful. She's already been through a handful of meetings like this, and none of them amounted to anything yet. That and, well, let's be honest - the prospect of working in a kooky little bookstore doesn't exactly bring promises of serious cashflow. "Sure, I don't mind at all. I'll just be right back." And true to her word, she retrieves her purse from the car, which can be glimpsed outside - it's a very different vehicle from the Cadillac she used to have, that's for sure. Sneaking back into Enlightment, smiling affably for Cass all the while, she slips an envelope, her resume, onto the counter, and waits for the inevitable questions.

By the time that Niki has gone to her car to get her resume, Cass has seated herself down and started to scarf down her sandwich. She really doesn't want to be rude and eat during their talk over her resume. Chewing and swallowing, she opens up the envelope and starts looking over the resume. And, of course, there will be questions. "So, what are your feelings on alien abductions, the apocalypse of 2012, and government conspiracies?" Because, these are all subjects that people may ask about in this store. Yes, this is an actual interview question.

Niki, standing in front of the counter - off to the side, as not to loom over Cass while she eats - stares in mild shock for a few seconds before a light laugh rings out. "Uuhm… well," she begins, taking on a calmer, more matter-of-fact tone. "I lived in Nevada most of my life, around the desert, so I've heard just about everything story you can think of when it comes to alien abductions. I know that Area 51's ninety miles north of Vegas 'cause my son was obsessed with Roswell when he was nine, but I don't really believe any of it. If there's some sorta apocalypse coming, I wouldn't be surprised," she says the last words with a tired sort of seriousness, but there's an unwavering grin in place despite it. "I know a thing or two about government conspiracies."

Cass's own laugh joins Niki's after she answers the interview question. "Good answers. I like honesty and I don't want my employees to lie about something they don't believe. And being able to joke with them is also a key factor." Grinning, Cass doesn't take notes during this meeting. It's mostly about feeling the person out and how they interact. She puts the resume down, since that portion is over. She's read it and knows what it says so there's no need to keep staring at it. "There are a lot of people who come in here who are not exactly all there. So you've got to be able to handle them gently. Also, there's been a huge influx of customers wanting Chandra Suresh's book, Activating Evolution. Have you read it?"

"I'm good with people," Niki offers. She's not selling herself up - just being honest. "I had to deal with all sorts when I worked at the casino," she says with a roll of her eyes. The mention of Activating Evolution doesn't seem to garner any recognition, just a blank look. The woman shakes her head, apologetic for her cluelessness. "Sorry, I haven't." Finally, someone who has no idea what that book is about. But if she stays here for much longer, that's bound to change.

Cass smiles. "I'm sure drunk gambling people are roughly the same as New Yorkers trying to sort out their New Age life." She's not being sarcastic here, she's being truthful. Not knowing about the book doesn't seem to surprise or put Cass off, though. "Alright, that's no problem. We've got a million copies in the back. You should borrow one as it's something a lot of people will probably want to talk to you about." She pauses and takes a chip from her bag, munching it thoughtfully. Then, she holds it out for Niki to see if she may want one. "Now, the pay isn't all that much and the work is only part time, but I think you'd do well here."

Cass's observations on the strange parallel garners another laugh from Niki. "Then I guess I'm prepared." She's starting to like the atmosphere of the bookstore already, quirks aside. "Sure," she says to the prospect of potential reading homework. She shakes her head politely at the chips. "I'd really appreciate it right now," she says, sincere as can be, and already thankful to the woman. "If you'd give me a chance, even if it's not much, it— it would just really help."

Popping another chip into her mouth, Cass pulls open a small calendar with people's schedule's on it. "Well, if you're good for a morning shift this coming Thursday, I think that'd be a good day to start. I'll show you around the store and give you a rundown on what a lot of customers are into. Also, you can pick up a copy of Activating Evolution to read. I've pulled one for employees just so they know what they're selling." Though, really, her employees are two younger ladies and now Niki. "Morning shifts are good for training. Fewer people coming in and all."

Niki watches Cass go over the calendar, eventually clasping her hands together in front of her. They fidget, just a little, but she's otherwise nice and calm. "Thursday. Okay. I can do that. Definitely," the blonde beams. "Just tell me what time and I'll be there. Oh, uhm— " The woman hesitates over what's she's about to say next; the words come reluctantly. "Every couple mornings I have an appointment I can't miss. But— as long as we can work around that. And Thursday's fine."

"Thursday, then." Cass grins and writes down Niki's name on the calendar. "We can work around that. Make your days off on those mornings or schedule you for the afternoon. It's a bookstore. We're pretty flexible." As far as employers go, she's pretty laid back and pretty understanding. "We open up at 11, so be here about 10? It's a little earlier than normal, but it'll give us some time before opening so we can go over a few things. Also, get the paperwork out of the way."

It's true - most employers aren't as accommodating and, well, as nice as Cass, as far as Niki's concerned. "Sure. That sounds great. Thanks Cass," she gives the woman yet another bright smile, at odds with her tired eyes - but there's a positive little glint in them that wasn't there when she decided to step foot in Enlightenment. Holding onto her purse strap where it meets her shoulder. "So I guess this counts as the dinner you wanted to buy me that time, after the… bank," she observes, remembering the night Cass came across her on this very street. "I'll see you Thursday!"

Cass laughs. "I'd forgotten about that dinner." There's been a lot of things that happened to her after the bank robbery. "That's pretty bad of me. But, I'm glad that you'll take this in lieu of it." She's not just hiring Niki on charity, either. "I'll see you bright and early on Thursday, then!"

With a wave, Niki steps out of the bookstore to head for her car, and the sun reminds her of the pounding headache she's put on the backburner.

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