Phil sat in the waiting room with several other people. All seemed to be answering the want-ad in the student paper.
'Needed: 2 Models for Figure Drawing Class. Must be at least 18 and in good shape as classes may exceed 2 hours. Proof of age required. Payment: $50.00 per hour. Overtime for sessions over 2 hours. Classes meet Wed. and Fri., 3:00-5:00PM Apply in person at the Art Department main office Monday morning, 7:00AM. Swimwear or equivalent required.'
An extra pair of C-notes a week Not too shabby. Phil did not really need the money. His scholarship covered everything school related and his job at the dojo covered "incidentals" more or less. And then there was the little trust fund set up by his great grandfather. But a little extra fun money never hurt. Maybe now he could get away for a weekend or two.
Fortunately, his schedule was such that the two afternoons were free. Keeping the scholarship was a push-over. Comp-Sci came to him like breathing. Most any subject involving logic and planning fell into the same category. Even English Lit had rules, of a sort!
He looked around at the twenty-or-so assembled applicants. All kinds of body types, genders evenly mixed: muscled jocks, overdeveloped cheerleaders, hippies, Goths, and "normal" folks. A few textbooks, several smart phones, some chatted with friends, and some preened as if attempting to intimidate the competition. Those people may have posed before and thought they 'knew the ropes'. Some were simply vain. Others avoided eye contact. Perhaps shy, perhaps too hopeful, perhaps nervous. Who knows?
Phil was a shade under 6 feet tall, slender, Irish/Swedish heritage, strawberry blonde, green eyes and built like a martial arts instructor. Muscle definition without bulk, he was able to move easily with grace and deliberation, yet not appear threatening or on alert. Not body-shy (he had been a swimmer in high school) and not an exhibitionist show-off either, Phil didn't really think about it. Except for today, when he was to be compared to others using physical traits alone, he never gave it much thought.
A woman entered the room and handed out application forms and clipboards. "Fill in the information and hand the sheets to the lady in the next room." With that she left through the door into the Art Department.
"Phil Swenson. 201 University Drive. Junior. 19. Comp-Sci. 5'11". 170 lbs. Available at times listed. Tel#, SS#, Student ID, etc." He completed the form and went through the door as directed.
The next room contained a desk, staffed by an Art Student. The paint spattered smock, flyaway hair and cute, wire-framed glasses, while not really a uniform, were pretty definite clues to her major. Smiling, she took the offered paper and motioned him to a chair. Phil was fourth in line behind a 'roided up jock who could be a linebacker for the Packers, a nondescript redheaded girl and a guy acting like a drag queen. He thought the little guy was funny as hell. The football player acted offended and aggressive.
Phil tensed for trouble in case the jock made a move, but a stream of others broke the tension, turning in their applications. Art Girl, at the desk, called the jock's name and pointed him to the changing room. "Change into your swimwear and exit the back door into the interview area."
He scowled at the room, puffed up a bit and left. The relief was palpable. Art Girl rolled her eyes, carried his info sheet through the other door, and returned shortly.
There must have been changing facilities and an exit deeper in the building because the football player did not reappear before the desk phone buzzed and another candidate was sent back.
Art Girl chose the audition order in some manner known only to her since Phil was fourth in and next-to-last to be called. He picked up his gym bag and went to change.
The interview area was a large, well lit, figure drawing classroom. A padded, 10x12 foot platform, 4 feet tall dominated the center. Stools and easels surrounded the platform, with a cabinet along one wall and huge windows filling the opposite wall. A desk was near the fourth wall facing the windowless door.
The woman who passed out the applications was seated at an easel facing the platform along with three other women and a man.
"Welcome to the interview, Phil. I am Professor Marian Martin and these folks are instructors. If you are chosen, their names will become familiar. Please mount the platform and take a seat on the bench."
Phil leapt up and took a seat. A woman, who introduced herself as Amy, commented. "Normally, we have steps you could use but today we wanted to see how agile the interviewees are. You did that with uncommon ease. Are you a gymnast?"
"No, ma'am. I swim and instruct Tai Chi classes."
They had him pose while he answered questions about his past, his school life and general chit-chat, all the while whispering among themselves. Phil suspected they were trying to get him to break the pose as he responded, or to trip him up. They seemed to keep him longer than the others, but that could have been his imagination.
Finally, Professor Martin thanked him and asked him to take a seat at the last row of easels. Phil was the only one there.
The last applicant arrived in a blue two-piece suit and modestly climbed up onto the platform as directed. Marcie Patterson was just 18 and a sophomore English major. The interviewers treated her the same as they treated Phil. Posing Marcie, questioning, talking among themselves.
Eventually, Prof. Martin sent Marcie to sit with Phil and clustered with the four instructors around the desk at the far end. "How do you think you did?" Phil asked.
"We are the only ones here. Maybe that's a good sign. I really need this job. Our rent went up and neither my parents nor my housemate's can afford to give us more money." Marcie wondered briefly why she opened up so easily.
"Ever done anything like this? I used to swim in school so being nearly naked in public doesn't scare me, but being among a group of people fully dressed, staring at me is another thing altogether."
"I'm almost terrified." Marcie admitted. "I went to an all-girl Catholic High School. This bikini would have gotten me spanked and sent to detention for the rest of my life. I wore a one piece when my family went to the beach but was embarrassed to death then. Even my volleyball uniform at school was a sweat suit."
Phil was intrigued. "So, what's up with today? You're here and seem to want the job despite being almost terrified."
"My housemate made me wear this suit. Said that if we could not make the rent, we would be homeless. Her scholarship requires her to take a low pay TA position and the hours amount to legalized slavery. Mine is just a little better and lets me work a normal job, except that the minimum GPA is very high. I need the study time to keep up with the reading. We moved out of the dorms because of the noise and used the housing portion for rent. Now, the rent is up and it's too late to apply for a dorm room."
"This is the only job we could find that would let us have a roof and afford to eat." Marcie finished and slumped in her seat.
Phil was touched. It dawned on him that Marcie was one of the shy girls in the waiting room. "I'll help you get through it if we are both hired. Just pick a spot on the wall and tune everything else out. Maybe that will work." he suggested.
By then, the staff announced their decisions from the desk. "We have concluded that you two, Phil and Marcie, are the best candidates for this semester. If all parties are pleased, we are prepared to offer you the positions in the future." Prof. Martin said. "Sign these employment contracts and model releases and take them to the Administration offices with this note so they can do the paperwork to get you on the University payroll."
"Thank you for applying. I may need you in the sculpture department if we can work out a way to schedule additional hours. Will that be OK?" The sole man, named Rolf, asked. Amy, with Rachael and Lanie (the other two interviewers) chimed in with similar requests, but did not mention their respective disciplines.
Marcie agreed quickly to try to work something out and Phil said that his schedule was quite flexible. He knew that Marcie would have the more difficult task finding the time but felt sure he could work around her. After handshakes all around, the Art people went back to their routines for the day
Marcie and Phil dressed and hurried to the Admin Building to get the paperwork done. It was after 11:00 and the worker bees would be breaking for lunch soon. Getting the job, with a promise of extra time, took a load off Marcie's shoulders. "Even if the University holds back a week, we will be able to pay the increase at the end of next month. Karen is gonna be sooo glad."
"You want to have lunch together later? My next class is not until 1:30 and I'm several chapters ahead already." Phil asked after interacting with the Mandarins.
"Not today. Sorry. I'm starved, but I need to get to the library and study Scandinavian mythology. Not so much the myth itself, but how the story progression relates to Celtic and Germanic storytelling styles. I have to study the oldest translations written before later generations had a chance to dumb it down."
"If it helps, my mom taught me Swedish and Dad insisted that I be able to read Gaelic before I could walk. I listened to the old legends while the other kids heard Board of Ed. approved kiddie lit. Can't help you with the Old Norse and German though, you're on your own there."
.... There is more of this story ...