CH 22 THE DOORS OF DURIN
Hanako’s high heels click against the gleaming floor tiles. Each click, click, click affirming her importance, her place in life. Even if she only passed through, she’d leave this building feeling like she’d become a better person.
Her eyes dance across the vast capsule shaped space sheeted in glass, bounce around like the morning light does, skyscraper to skyscraper. If she walks to the edge of the room and looks down, she might see a tree reduced to a shrub.
The clean lines, the hard edges, the polished surfaces. I’ve walked into the future, she thinks.
And maybe this future would be hers.
She sighs, frustrated. That is if she could find it.
On either side of the capsule are elevators so tall, Hanako has to point her chin north just to read what the softly illuminated light says. Suits 24-34. No further instruction in Kanji or English. This building supposedly had fifty floors. Where was the 40th?
Hanako takes a deep breath, tells herself not to sweat her nerves through her new shirt. It was a $19 shirt masquerading as a silk Chanel blouse worth over 200 times that. Jiro had scrambled to help her shop for something suitable to wear to her first corporate interview in over six years with a budget of spend-as-little-as-humanly-possible. Between model castings, band rehearsals and music video shoots, it hadn’t been easy, but he’d taken the time to make it happen. The result was that she’d felt confident walking out of the house this morning.
But now, as a gaggle of Japanese men in tailored suits and polished shoes stride by (smelling expensive), Hanako feels like a fraud. She notices a few give her the once-over as the doors slide closed. They were the type who could smell fear and polyester.
As the elevator lifts off, she notices a few others have appeared in the glass purgatory with her. This time, she follows because she doesn’t know what else to do. Once inside the carriage, she glances furtively at the panel near the door. She bites her lip in distress. The only buttons to push are “open” and “close.”
You have GOT to be kidding me!
Hanako swallows, consults her email from the internal recruiter one more time, knowing she had missed no instructions, but hoping she had. She feels as though this entire building is rigged like one of those fancy electronic keypads--numbers appearing only for those who know what to touch.
She contemplates running her hands around the whole doorframe of the elevator--images of Gandalf and the gang standing baffled at the Doors of Durin come to mind. She grins at the thought of sharing this observation with Jiro later. “Did you say ‘friend’ and enter?” he’d say, unabashedly geeky when it came to The Lord of the Rings.
Hanako glances furtively at the woman standing next to her as the elevator climbs noiselessly to wherever they are headed. Nope. Not the person to ask for directions. Everything about the woman says, “back up. I am not your mommy or your tour guide or your friend.”
Hanako follows the woman meekly off the elevator, panic gripping her insides. Everything here looks exactly the same as the level she had left. But then, mercifully, she sees a hallway just past the second set of elevators and the woman is walking toward it. Yessss! She yelps internally. No company name plaque to speak of, but the floor number she needs glimmers with promise.
As the elevator finally deposits her on the 40th floor, Hanako takes a deep breath and turns her wrist to check-out the time. She has two minutes to calm down and get centered before she walks into her interview. She sends a silent reminder heavenward, which from her current elevation didn’t seem quite so far away.
You told me I would know when I entered if this was the place for me. You told me I could close the doors, that you wouldn’t close a single one, that I could do that. That no matter what, I would not fail.
The last reminder sweeps away the rest of the chaos swirling around her brain.
I will not fail.
She adjusts her blazer, tucks her hair neatly behind her ear and walks through the double glass doors. As Hanako takes a seat at reception and looks around, she tries to deny the unwelcome feelings welling up inside.