I had thought it was a stroke of luck that I called in sick to work on the very day the partner requested an interview.
It was a week before that she called me at my office. The trusts & estates group I had interned with during my third year of law school was losing their associate, and she tracked me down to ask if I was interested in returning to the firm. I had just started to consider changing jobs, so I was intrigued, and sent along the resume and writing sample that she requested. She told me that I would be a bit of a non-traditional hire, since I was coming from the world of private wealth management rather than a law firm, and it might take her a couple of days to get approval to bring me in for an interview.
When six days passed without word, I figured she had moved on to candidates with shinier pedigrees than I possessed, and I decided to move on to other things in my head, starting with a most delicious business lunch with some colleagues at the stately Four Seasons Hotel restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.
The seventh day after her call was a Friday. I had woken up at four in the morning with an upset stomach and a low fever, and decided not to go to work.
I got her e-mail at eight that morning telling me that she would like to interview me and since time was of the essence, could I please come in at four that very afternoon. I responded that of course I could, and mentally patted myself on the back for calling in sick, thereby avoiding the need for an awkward excuse to leave work early to go interview for another job. Maybe I was a tiny bit pale and nauseous from whatever virus was making its way through my system, but I could power through it.
Or maybe not.
I got sicker with every hour that passed. My fever crept higher, and my trips to the bathroom got more frequent. All the water that I drank first thing in the morning in an effort to flush out the virus came back up, unpleasantly, and I couldn't keep anything down. By two thirty I was curled in a fetal position on the bathroom floor thinking that I would rather be dead than move a single muscle.
But with one hour before I had to leave for the interview that I certainly couldn't cancel only six hours after I scheduled it, I didn't have much of a choice.
Sitting on the floor of the shower, I washed my hair and did my best to stay upright as I got out the blow dryer. I dug a suit out of my closet and put on a loose blouse that covered the back of the skirt that I only zipped up halfway to avoid further aggravating my increasingly unpredictable stomach. Against my better judgment, I dry swallowed two Tylenol in an attempt to bring my fever down, and crept out of my apartment and into a cab.
By the time I got to the firm a mere twenty blocks from my apartment I was exhausted from the effort it took to just keep my head up. I checked in at reception and headed straight to the bathroom to try and put myself back together. I mopped up the mascara that had pooled under my eyes, wiped the sweat off the back of my neck, rolled some gloss on my dry, cracked lips, and prayed to whatever god would listen to just help me through the next hour.
By the time the partner picked me up at reception and led me into a conference room, the Tylenol I had taken was threatening to come back up, and I realized that applying flavored lip gloss when I was in such a delicate state was a huge mistake. I did my best to answer her questions while staying as still as possible, and smiling through clenched teeth to keep from throwing up all over the table.
When the interview was over I ran straight to the bathroom and then home where I got into bed and didn't get out again for three days. When, by day three, my symptoms showed no signs of improvement I went to the doctor who did a whole battery of tests to figure out what was wrong with me.
A week later and still sick, I got two calls on the very same day.
I had Salmonella, courtesy of that lunch at the Four Seasons.
And I got the job.