Hardly noticed by any of the buildings inhabitants, a tiny yellow cab pulled up next to the Wilson Advertising Company. Undaunted by the fifteen story building, black and reflective, a young woman, dressed smartly, stepped out and surveyed her surroundings. “Yes,” she hissed to no one in particular. This was the first day of the rest of her life.
Inside one of the offices of the building, a phone rang. The agitated woman, whose office it was, picked up the phone. “Now?” she asked, “I am in the middle of something, Sarah!”
She sighed. “Yeah, yeah. Okay, okay. I’ll be right over.” She stood up and headed her way to the unforeseen appointment.
She stopped at the door, which read “James R. Wilson. CEO” This is going to be pleasant, she sardonically thought to herself. Noticing the secretary guarding the door she asked, “So, what mood is he in today?”
Sarah smiled, understanding. “All considered, he’s in a pretty good mood. He’s waiting for you.” Sarah opened the door and showed her in.
James Wilson, who had been engaged in active conversation before the door opened, suddenly looked up and gave a poisonous smile. “Well, Nicole. It’s wonderful you could find the time to spare to grace us with your presence.”
So much for the good mood, she thought.
James gestured with an open arm to the seat in front of him. “I would like you to meet your new personal assistant.”
Personal assistant? That was certainly news to her. She looked over at the young smiling woman who occupied the chair. Nicole thought she was probably 23 or at the most 24. She had blonde shoulder length hair, and was very sharply dressed in a white blouse, skirt, and jacket.
James continued, enjoying the skeptical look on Nicole’s face. “Brook Davies, meet Nicole, she is…”
“I prefer “Nikki”,” she interrupted.
“Oh right,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Anyway, Nikki is responsible for securing new business ventures for the company. In other words she networks, meeting with and promoting our company to potential clients.”
Brooke stood and extended her hand, which Nikki shook firmly. Brooke’s nervous impression of the woman in front of her was that she was in her early thirties, with a solid build that was carried well by her height. Nikki had short curly dark hair.
“James, I don’t remember requesting an assistant,” Nikki droned, barely acknowledging the young lady.
The CEO ignored her. “Brooke comes highly qualified. She has a Masters Degree in Business and Administration from Harvard University, your old alma mater. In fact, she graduated Magna cum Laude.” He stroked her ego. “She will be a valuable asset, especially in project design and presentations, isn’t that right dear?”
Brooke nodded enthusiastically.
“Good, let’s see if we can get you settled,” he continued. “Nicole, get her inducted and networking with our clients immediately, I’m sure they will be just as impressed as I was,” he cooed.
Nicole showed no signs of acknowledgement or acceptance, so Brooke turned to James. “Thank you so much for this opportunity, Mr. Wilson. I promise I won’t let you down.”
“I know dear,” he replied.
Nikki left the office in large strides, Brooke rushed to catch up and make some conversation, any conversation.
“Ummm,” Brooke stammered, “it’s great to be working here. I heard a lot about this company at Harvard Business School. It’s making definite waves in the Fortune 500. I know you don’t normally accept graduates straight out, but it’s a privilege.”
Nikki turned around without warning to face Brooke. “Let’s get one thing straight. I don’t care for your sucking up techniques. You can lay that on James all you want. He likes that from pretty young women,” she growled.
Brooke smiled on the inside, intrigued that she was considered attractive.
Nikki continued. “But I don’t care for it anymore than I care to have a personal assistant.” Nikki resumed walking.
Brooke’s smile turned upside down and she continued after her new boss. “If you would just look over my CV you would know that I am more than prepared for the job.” Brooke handed over the CV.
Nikki barely glanced over it and then tossed it in the inbox.
Brooke could tell this was going to be a challenge. But, it was a challenge she was more then ready to face, since she had been preparing for it all her life. She was going to get to the top of the corporate ladder no matter what it took, and if her first conquest had to be Nikki, then so be it.
Nikki looked over the dozen messages on her desk and groaned.
Brooke chimed in, “As your new assistant, if you want I could…” but she shut up when she got a flash of a look from Nikki. She started over. “Where would you like me to start?” she asked in as professional a tone as she could manage.
Nikki, without looking up, reached into her desk and handed Brooke a black mug. “Coffee, lots of milk no sugar,” she ordered.
Brooke stared in disbelief. “Excuse me?”
Nikki looked up. “I’m sorry. Too fast for you? I’ll speak slower. Coffee, lots of milk, noooooo sugar.”
“I am not the coffee girl,” Brooke bit back.
“You are my personal assistant. Your duties are exactly what I tell you to do, no more no less.”
Brooke unenthusiastically took the mug. “Where is the coffee machine?”
Brooke left the room, shutting the door as she was instructed.
Brooke found the machine, and was beginning to make the coffee when the secretary from James’ office entered the room. Sarah was only too happy to catch Brooke up on the company gossip. Brooke’s ambition to move up the ladder by taking Nikki’s job disappeared when she learnt that Nikki was in fact James’ daughter, also a Harvard Graduate, 28 years old.
Sarah informed her that Nikki was straight up; call it like you see it. It was a bad idea to second guess her. But, Sarah added, she is fair and definitely gives credit where credit is due. Brooke nodded at this. Sarah continued, stating that it was in fact Nikki who kept the company going, since her father had lost his business edge and began treating everyone like crap, especially his own daughter.
“Any other advice?” Brooke asked.
“Yeah,” Sarah added with a wry smile. “Like Mr. Wilson, Ms. Wilson doesn’t like waiting for her coffee.” Brooke rushed back to the office and walked in.
Nikki immediately looked up and growled. “In the future you knock! Understood? I could be meeting with clients. What would they think if my staff just burst in and interrupted?”
“Sorry,” she mumbled, handing over the coffee.
The rest of Brooke’s day went by without any incidents. She spent the time fetching coffee, reading over the company’s goals and projections, looking up the company VIPs and clients, domestic and international. She got a small desk in a small office. No windows, walls bare, and an ancient computer. Not what she had expected from this top advertising company
She gathered her things and was ready to leave at 5 p.m. She took the time to look in on Nikki, who had an ear piece and was talking away on it while looking out her large bay window. Brooke waved goodbye, but Nikki motioned for her to stay.
Brooke stepped in. “I was just saying “I’m off.”
“Wait, I have something for you.”
Brooke was elated. Finally! “Great,” she said, smiling.
“Find out everything on a company called Dawson Electrical. They want us to help them get noticed. I want it on my desk by 9 a.m. tomorrow.”
Her smile turned down. “Really…? I was just heading off…”
Nikki looked up in disgust. “Look, if you want a 9-5 job making nine dollars an hour, there are plenty of secretarial positions open, Brooke.”
Brooke grimaced. “What do you want to know?”
Nikki became frustrated, running a hand through her hair. “See this pile here?” she asked, pointing to an unbelievably high stack of papers. “I have to read through all of this before I go home. Your CV, if I am not mistaken, states that you are ambitious, hard working, and have marked initiative. I suggest you use that statement as a guide for handling this assignment. Now go.”
“Can I do it at home?” Brooke asked, hopefully.
“Do you think I care?” Nikki retorted. “Just have it on my desk tomorrow. 9 a.m. sharp.”
Brooke was headed out when she noticed Sarah was still at her desk.
“Hey Brooke,” she said, giving off a warm, comforting smile. “How was your first day at Wilson’s?”
Brooke shook her head. “I’ve never met such an arrogant, cold hearted tyrant. I don’t think she talked to me like a human being once today; she just ordered or demanded something. I copped nothing but shit. I’m a personal assistant; I’m supposed to be helping her with her tasks. She treats me like a glorified coffee girl.”
Sarah shook her head. “That’s the way it is here honey. Just stay in it. You’ll do fine. See you tomorrow.”
Brooke got home and was greeted by her very hungry and attention starved white cat. She picked her up and cuddled her. “Hey Maggie, I hope your day was better than mine sweetheart.”
Brooke had some cold chicken as she worked on her laptop. She gathered her business newspapers, opened her journals, and started researching. She staggered to bed at 2 a.m.