How Much I Feel - Marie Force



It took only one day for my dream job to turn into a nightmare. Actually, that’s being generous. In reality, it took one fifteen-minute meeting with the hospital president to throw years of studying, planning and dreaming straight out the window into the blistering South Florida sunshine.

Nowhere in the elaborate job description I was given at my interview to be Miami-Dade General Hospital’s assistant director of public relations did the word babysitter appear. Let’s face it, if I’d known what they really wanted me to do, I wouldn’t be wilting in the scorching early-morning heat waiting for Dr. Jason Northrup to arrive for his first day.

“Anything he wants or needs, get it for him,” Mr. Augustino instructed. “Just keep him away from the executive offices.”

“But today’s my first day, too. Wouldn’t it be better to have someone who knows the facility meet and escort him?”

“I want you to do it,” he said, leaving no room for further argument.

“Should I bring him up here to speak with you?”

“I’m with the board of directors all day. Don’t bring him anywhere near the conference room.”

Something stinks to high heaven about this whole thing. Why isn’t the hospital rolling out the red carpet to welcome Dr. Northrup? Mr. Augustino referred to Northrup as a world-class, board-certified pediatric neurosurgeon. If he doesn’t warrant the red carpet, who does? Most puzzling of all is why Mr. Augustino would let the newest person on his staff handle such an important task and not want to be there himself.

My boss’s late directive gave me no time to research my first “assignment,” which has me unprepared and out of sorts as I wait for him. Mr. Augustino gave me a photo of a sinfully handsome man with dirty-blond hair, golden-brown eyes and the perfect amount of scruff on his chiseled jaw. I can only imagine Northrup’s type: privileged, pampered and pardoned for his sins. Now it’s my job to kiss up to him and make him feel “welcome.”

After years of waitressing and taking care of actual children to put myself through college and graduate school, being told to babysit him infuriates me. All the carefully cultivated marketing and publicity plans I put together in anticipation of wowing the bosses on my first day are still stashed inside the leather-bound portfolio I clutch to my chest, useless in light of the task I’ve been given for the day as I roast in dense late-June humidity.

One thing I’ll say for Miami-Dade General Hospital is the grounds are gorgeous, with lush landscaping, colorful flower beds and grass kept green in the summer heat thanks to artfully hidden sprinklers.

Naturally, the good doctor is late, which gives me far too much time to consider my limited options as I try not to completely wilt in heat that makes my armpits feel swampy and has my ruthlessly straightened hair starting to curl. I could go to HR and tell them the position isn’t a good fit after all. With less than a day on the job, it won’t show up on my permanent record, especially since I only just completed the paperwork needed to enroll in the hospital’s payroll system and health insurance program. I could still put a stop to it.

But then I recall how proud my parents and grandmothers were when I landed my first big job following years of school. After moving back home when Tony died, I’m finally on my own again in a new apartment I recently rented near the hospital in Kendall. And there’s the wardrobe of power suits I purchased on credit so I could present a professional appearance at work. Paying for all of that is dependent upon my new cushy salary, which will be lost if I quit.

Quitting isn’t an option.

Not when I haven’t even given the job a chance. Besides, I’m not a quitter. My beloved Abuela would be so disappointed. She and my equally beloved Nona were happier about me landing this job than I was. Not to mention my top goal has always been to make Tony proud of me. I’m convinced he’s close to me, and I want him to see me surviving and thriving, not walking away from a challenge the first time it gets tough. I can’t disappoint everyone in my life by walking away from this opportunity. I’ve restored a bit of steel to my spine by the time the roar of a sports car draws my attention to the hospital’s long driveway.

I watch in disbelief as a sleek