“A job interview could change you life, your future. Nothing in that moment is more important — but what if something was. Would you abandon the interview and if so what for?“
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Pensitivity’s three things challenge – Precious – Softness – Sidelines
Ragtag Daily Word — Interview
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie – First Line Friday — The first sentence of this story.
Tamsin’s heart drummed frantically as she tore through her pack, her books, and the messy desk– where was it? Her interview was within an hour and she had no hope of securing her precious job without that recommendation letter.
“Tamsin, you’re going to be late!” called her mother.
“Yes, I know! Can’t find my bloody letter!” she replied with a groan in her voice.
“The one from Doctor Felix?”
“Yeah, that one.” Tamsin, threw everything back in her bag, resigning herself to having to take the interview without it.
“It’s here. You pinned it on the notice board for safekeeping, remember.” Mother brought it through. “Here, look. Take it and vamoose — and good luck!”
“Phew, thanks, Mum!” Tamsin kissed her on the cheek, put the letter in her folder and left at the run.
Outside she jumped in her lime-green Ford Ka and set off toward the hospital.
The Norfolk and Norwich Hospital bordered the leafy landscape of the University Park. Tamsin found the view of nature calming as she drove towards her interview. If successful she would promote herself from triage nurse to surgery nurse. She successfully completed all the training and now needed the job she’d work so hard for.
An ambulance turned right at the roundabout ahead. Tamsin indicated to follow. Somebody raced in front of her car waving frantically. She slammed on the brakes. Tyres shrieking as she brought her little car to a controlled stop an inch from disaster. “What on earth were you thinking!” she yelled out of the window.
“Please, help! He collapsed,” yelled the teenage indicating frantically.
“Who collapsed? Where?” Tamsin pulled the car off the road and got out. Now she could tell the boy was a football player going by his shorts and t-shirt.
“Rico, he’s on the sidelines of the football pitch.”
’Shit, Now I’ll really miss my interview!’ Tamsin thought. “Okay, lead me to him. Have you called an ambulance?”
“This way and my phone’s not working.” The boy set off running across the field.
Tamsin followed with her phone to her ear. “This is nurse Tamsin Wellesley. Requesting an ambulance to attend the University Park football pitch.” … “I’ll give you more details when I reached the patient…”
“Hurry up!” yelled the boy, his voice filled with panic.
Tamsin saw a prone figure ahead not far from the red corner flag on the pitch sidelines. Another footballer was leaning over him along with the girl wearing tiny shorts and a crop top. Reaching them, Tamsin knew the boy was not well. “What happened guys?” She asked while dropping to her knees beside him.
“He went to take a throw-in and collapsed,” said the girl tearfully.
“Despatcher, I’ve got a teenage boy. He’s not breathing. I have no pulse. Beginning CPR.”
‘Received, ambulance five minutes away,’ replied the dispatcher on the phone.
Tamsin dropped the device and set herself to the task. Having cleared his airway, she began chest compressions at a fast rhythm. “Come on, boyo. Come back to us!” she breathed while mentally counting each press on his sternum.
“Hey! You’ll break his ribs. Be gentle with him!” yelled one of the boys.
Tamsin gauged her compression at five to six centimetres. An adequate depth to keep blood flowing to all the vital organs. “Trust me, I’m a nurse. This is no time for softness. I know it looks brutal and I might hurt his ribs but this is the only way to keep him going until the paramedics arrive.”
“Okay, please don’t let him die. He is my brother,” said the girl tearfully.
“I’m doing my best. Boys, go to the road and gate bring the paramedics here, quickly. Girl, what’s your name?” Tamsin asked continuing her compressions.
“We’re on it,” said the boy’s dutifully running to find the ambulance.
“I’m Deanna, he’s Rico,”
“Nice to meet you, Deanna. Drop down by his side. I needed you to pinch his nose. Cup your mouth to his. Then give him a nice, deep breath and rescue air. Can you do that?”
Deanna nodded and followed her instructions.
Tamsin paused to allow her breath to inflate Rico’s lungs, then began compressions again. For five minutes she and Deanna repeated the process until the paramedics arrived and took over.
The two male paramedics made quick work wiring the young footballer up to the defibrillator. With fast, efficient professionalism they mobilised their patient and rushed him to the resuscitation department.
Tamsin took a deep breath as the ambulance left. She found herself surrounded by the other two boys and Deanna.
“Will Rico be okay?” asked the boy who had run for help.
“There are no promises at this stage. The defibrillator did get his heart beating again which is great. For now, we must trust in the cardiologist to help him.” Tamsin put her arms around Deanna. “You were her heroic helping me save your brother. You going to be okay getting home?”
She shook her head. “You’re the hero. I have to get to my mum and tell her what happened.”
Tamsin looked at her watch, she was already twenty minutes late for her interview. “Bugger it! Get in the car. I’ll drive you home.”
Almost an hour later, Tamsin returned to the hospital. Deanna and her mum were with her. With parting thanks, they rushed in to find Rico. “Well, here goes nothing,” Tamsin sighed as she went to see if she could save her interview.
“Tamsin Wellesley — you’re over an hour late. If a patient is waiting for surgery and you’re late you could kill them. You understand that?” said Mr Whitely the chief surgeon at the hospital. The man who would become her employer if he accepted her. Right now, he looked set to strip her of her medical license instead of employing her.
“I know and am sorry, Mr Whitely. Ironically, I would have been 15 minutes early, but I was flagged down by a boy. His footballer friend collapsed at the side of the University Park football pitch. Had I continued here to my interview instead of going to give him CPR, he’d be dead right now. I know as excuses go this is an extreme one, but if you call the emergency dispatch. Get them to check the logs. They will confirm I called the ambulance. My recommendation letter here proves I’m always punctual. I…”
“Thank you, Tamsin.” Whitely took the letter from her. “Please, wait outside. Have a cup of coffee. I must interview another nurse, make some calls and deliberate before I can decide whether to continue with your employment or not.”
Tamsin looked at her shoes, “I understand. Thank you for not dismissing me on the spot.”
“I won’t keep you long.” Whitely peered at her over his glasses as she left the office and closed the door behind her.
Tamsin felt her heart beat for every tick of the loud clock on the wall in the waiting room. Each tick seeming more ominous than the last. Every reason why she wouldn’t get the job leered in her brain. Minutes into her anxiety-inducing wait the other prospective nurse came and entered the office for an interview. She left very soon after in tears.
Just as Tamsin imagined leaving the same way, Whitely appeared and beckoned her into the office. “Thank you for waiting, Tamsin,” he said as he sat behind his spotless desk. “Young Rico Hernandez suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of a birth defect. He is undergoing corrective surgery as we speak and is expected to make a decent recovery.”
“Oh, that’s great news,” Tamsin smiled. It was a wonderful feeling knowing she’d saved a precious life. Knowing that young Rico would make it.
“He’s getting that lifesaving surgery because you put your life, your future on hold. You knew being late for your interview would likely cost you your job and career. Regardless, you selflessly went down to that pitch and gave Rico CPR until the paramedics arrived.” Whitely took off and began polishing his glasses. His eyes never wavering from the nurse sitting before him.
Tamsin felt squirmy beneath his gaze, her chest tightened leaving her dizzy, “I couldn’t leave him to die. I had to help him, the kids didn’t even have usable phones. I …”
“You did exactly what I would expect a heroic nurse to do every single time a patient needs her. I checked out your recommendation letter and your credentials. From those, I made phone calls to every single hospital in the country to ensure they will never hire you …”
“But why?” Tamsin felt like she’d been shot. Why on earth would he make sure she could never work again?
Whitely smiled. “I don’t want them to have you. You Tamsin, are the perfect nurse to join my team. Your first shift starts at 8 AM on Monday.”
“Unless somebody else requires CPR en route!”
“Quite right. Mind you, that’s the only reason why you’ll be allowed to be late.” Whitely extended a hand.
Tamsin took a deep breath and shook it, “Thank you so much, Mr Whitely. I’ll be here and ready.” Leaving the office, she gave a little fist pump. Saving a boy’s life and getting her job had made this the best Friday of her life.
Have a great day!