It was a dark and stormy morning. Despite the gloom and drizzle, there were people swarming Swank Street in Seattle. Ellen peered out from behind her crossword to take in the Fit for Life building entrance. It was now or never. She slipped on the rhinestone speckled spectacles and crossed the puddly street. She nonchalantly walked in the front door, flashing the ID badge the Mayor had given her at the disinterested security guard. Scuttling around the corner, she stopped to let her pulse return to normal.
In any other business, the hallway by the elevators would be packed at 9:30 a.m., but this was the Fit for Life Association...all it's employees were expected to neglect the elevators in favor of the stairwells. Everyone, of course, except for the Mayor. He was lucky enough to have an office on the ground floor, for reasons obvious to everyone who had ever seen him. Ellen pressed the upward arrow and waited, cautiously peering from side to side. She tenderly folded and inserted her crossword puzzle into her fanny pack, ingeniously concealed beneath her green frog rain jacket. Ellen was a master of disguise. The elevator door opened, and she stepped on, pressing floor nine. She fished the somewhat crumpled resume from under the rain jacket. The elevator door opened, dinging conspicuously. The jealous eyes of thirteen underemployees stared as she made her entrance...they were still glistening with sweat from the jog upstairs.
Ellen slowly stepped toward the reception area. The wet dog smell of the carpet confronted her immediately. At least she wouldn't have to worry about her rain jacket dripping on the floor. There was a hungry looking receptionist directly in front of her.
"Welcome to the Fit for Life Human Resources Department. What can I do for you today?" she mechanically said.
Ellen held out her resume. "Oh, yes, actually, um, I'm here for an interview for the opening in accounting."
The receptionist was obviously unimpressed. After a brief phone inquiry, she rose to show Ellen into the office of her contact.
"Follow me, please." she said. She was painfully thin. Ellen was surprised she had the strength to be so surly. After a neat rap on the office door, she was gone, and Ellen took another sip of her mochaccino.
"Come in!" came the shout from the office. Ellen entered, closed the door, and smiled at the man behind the desk. Frank was a stout man with a passion for tweed and peanuts. There was a halo of shells littered around his desk. His reckless snacking habits didn't matter, however, because Frank was exceptional at his job and everyone knew it. He smiled back at Ellen, then hugged her roughly around the shoulders. It was great luck to have an old friend of her father's already incorporated in the politics of the place.
"Sit down, Ellen, and have a peanut." He clanked a small nutty bucket near the chair before continuing. "I'm really glad you were able to come in today, but I've got some bad news for you."
"What's that, Frank?" Ellen sounded as confident as one can with three peanuts in her mouth.
"Well," he began with a sigh, "I wasn't able to find an opening in accounting without raising questions, but I did find you a job across the hall."
Hmmm..."What floor is it on?" Ellen queried, worried about what the upper teen levels would do to her heart rate.
"Oh, it's on the third floor...no problem there...The only reason I was concerned is because the position is in the Nutrition Center, as assistant editor."
Ellen smiled...editing she could do. "Why should that be a problem as long as it's next to Accounting? It should work out fine, Frank...". She reached for the file he handed over.
"You don't know what you're getting yourself into, Ellen. You can't so much as bite your fingernail without logging the calories onto your food journal. You're going to have to stop with the chocolate, and the lattes, and the hot dogs while you're working there. Do you think you can do it?".
The thought of carrot sticks and hummus flashed through her miserable brain. For a moment, she wavered. She rallied after a swig of mochaccino. She had a job to do, and no matter how much tofu it took, she would pass herself off as a nutritional guru to crack this case. Besides, she could eat whatever she wanted once she got home.