The thigh-high stocking on my left leg had lost its elasticity and began rolling south as I walked down the stairs of the Ravenswood Metra stop. I don't go in for pantyhose, I don't even like writing the word, but I followed the advice of my upstairs neighbor who worked at RI for several years and submitted myself to their compressing imprisonment for the interview. The ubiquitous "nude" hue that instantly imparts professionalism to the legs of working women everywhere erased all signs of life from mine: gone were the hard earned tan lines on my feet from wearing sandals all summer; gone was the small mysterious bruise on my calf; and gone was the scab on the middle of my left foot where the strap from a pair of clogs had rubbed against my skin on a humid day and cut right into my flesh.
I drew the line at full coverage, buying a pair of thigh-high hose from the display at Walgreens instead. The elastic at the top dug into my skin and left a red mark around the diameter of my thighs as a souvenir of the day's activities.
With each step the stocking fell a bit more until it hung loosely around my calf like a nude parenthesis. I walked through the underpass and stopped at the western staircase to hike it back into place, catching the attention of a fellow commuter who had been walking in lock step behind me. I headed south for half a block and it started falling again, and I wondered why I was bothering with it. I pulled the stocking off my leg, then grabbed hold of the elastic band on its twin and removed that too. Instantly the leather of my left shoe began cutting into my naked foot - why is dressing professionally such a pain in the ass? I continued on, walking past the open back door of a first floor apartment, its inhabitant bathed in the light of an open refrigerator, and past a man leaning perfectly still and silent against a tree like a camouflaged moth.
It seemed that I should keep the discarded stockings for future use, they'd gotten me through the first and second interviews and had become a kind of talisman - something that had transported me back to the working world for a couple of hours and protected me from it's harsh ways. I rolled them up inside a copy of the September 21st issue of the New Yorker that I'd found on the seat next to mine that belonged to a Bryan Smolinsky of Wolcott Avenue. Could Bryan really be finished with his New Yorker so soon? It was only Wednesday; it takes me all week to read that thing. I decided to drop it into a blue mailbox on a street corner in the hopes that it would be re-delivered to the subscriber, I'm not sure if the post office will deliver it but I figured it couldn't hurt to try. I'd written a note in it explaining where and when it had been found, in case it makes a successful journey home.
I'd just returned from my second interview at RI. I was a bit dazed during the first interview; after my week in the wilds of Vermont I felt like a cave woman unaccustomed to the social and cultural norms associated with the twenty-first century workplace, and was a little surprised to hear back from them. The second interview went well, until it became clear that I'd been studying the wrong job description. They have a complex online application system, and I'd gotten confused between two postings that I'd applied for. Either they'll think its funny, and a sign that I can roll with the punches and quickly change my talking points, or they'll think I'm an idiot.
Time will tell.