Built into a medium-sized apartment building was Alente Bistro. It was in the outskirts of downtown Tronito, a few minutes from the downtown area, so the area was a bit more suburban — large skyscrapers could be seen in nearby skies and I thought that was cool. Its exterior included a peaceful outdoor area with a couple of dining tables. The walls had large windows that gave sight to the exterior. The door and outer walls had brown and light-beige colour schemes, releasing a relaxing vibe.
Outside of the entrance, I took a deep breath.
“Camryn, are you ready?”
“Y-Yeah… Let’s go!”
Ren opened the door and we entered.
And like how the exterior did, the interior also emitted a cosy vibe. The wall sported a similar brown and light-beige colour scheme and had cool wavy patterns. The floors were made out of hardwood and were of a similar colour to the walls. The place was lit by hanging lights and there was a small clock with a pendulum on the wall. Along the wall on the left of the entrance were booth seats with green cushions. In front of those seats was a long table lined with stools, and behind that table was access to a kitchen. The cash register was on the very right of the long table, and above the register was the menu printed on four large boards.
A comfortable atmosphere… It felt homey — like a childhood home that felt welcoming… No, I’m not entirely certain… But even though I wasn’t entirely certain, it felt that way. Like… Like I could just stay here — stay here, relax, and not think about anything — peaceful… But, it confused me. I mean, people’s views are dependent on their experiences, right? If so, then why? This is my first time being here, but why did this place feel so familiar and nostalgic? Hm…
As I stood at the entrance gawking at the interior, Ren walked up to the front counter. Standing behind it was a boy that seemed to be about my age. He was taller than me, but to an extent where the top of my head reached his mouth. His eyes were a light brown colour. His hair was a black colour and was short. He was wearing a white collared shirt, black pants, and a green apron. The boy gave Ren a friendly smile as he spoke to him.
“Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to Alente Bistro.”
“Ah, you’re Mr Ren Morales, right? You’re the one Valerie calls to help occasionally, correct?”
“Ah, I see. How may I help you?”
Wow, this guy is insanely polite. Well, I guess you need this level of extrapersonal skill if you’re working in retail. I can probably pull something like this off — I’ve done it a ton of times in the past, I think I need to just tone it down a bit.
The boy shifted his eyes to the side and quickly glanced at me. He greeted me with a small smile and nod, and I returned it with a small wave.
“Yes, we actually have an appointment with-”
“Yo, yo! Is that the familiar and dead-pan voice of Ren I hear!?”
A woman’s voice shot from a door behind the counter. She appeared and started walking towards us.
I stared at the lady and quietly asked Ren.
“I-Is this her?”
Black eyes… Brown skin… Beautiful straight and long brown hair… She was taller than me, maybe just a bit shorter than the boy behind the counter. Her walk towards us was graceful, but the intimidation that accompanied that aura was missing — in fact, she felt welcoming. She was wearing the same outfit as the boy behind the counter, so this was probably this restaurant’s uniform. Except, her apron had a yellow stripe running through it — maybe that denoted that she had a different position.
When the lady reached us, she grabbed Ren’s hand and held it in both of hers. She smiled widely.
“Ah, Ren, it’s so good to see you again. I would have seen you again the last time I asked for help, but of course, I had a business meeting on that day…”
She briefly frowned, but quickly regained her smile.
“So, how have you been doing? What exciting escapades have you been on?”
Ren shook his head.
“I am good, thanks. Nothing extraordinary happened recently.”
“I see, I see. No, that's good…”
So she’s my employer, eh? She seems a little too young to be someone responsible for hiring. How old is she? Um… If I had to guess, I’d say she is maybe about the same age as Ren. But 24 or 25? It’s acceptable, but it’s still a bit young in my opinion.
When they finished their conversation, the lady fixed her glance on me.
“Oh? Hey Ren, who’s this? Or should I assume you should be arrested?”
Again with that assumption? Honestly, it’s a bit too extreme.
“Right, this is Camryn. She is the girl that I told you about over the phone yesterday.”
“Yeah, I figured.”
The lady turned from Ren and walked towards me. She extended her arm, asking for a handshake.
“Nice to meet you Camryn, my name is Valerie Capperman.”
My eyes widened. Capperman? Oh, is she related to Connie Capperman? I think that’s why I felt a similar vibe radiating off of her — like Connie, she seemed like an energetic and amiable people-person. But related? They look nothing alike. I guess cousins would be more believable.
I shook my head.
“O-Oh, no, it’s nothing. N-Nice to meet you too, Ms Capperman.”
I quickly stopped myself from asking that question and returned her handshake. I felt that it wasn’t appropriate for me to ask about her personal life. Since she is my employer I should keep my disposition professional.
“I see, I see… Anyways, please take a seat at one of the booths and we will begin the interview. You too, Ren. I’ll prepare something.”
My first job interview… It doesn’t feel like a job interview…
I sat at the window seat at one of the booths, and Ren sat beside me. At one of the booths? Considering that there don’t seem to be a lot of customers, this is fine. But why in the public dining area? Wouldn’t we go to a separate room… Overall, this seems very different from a typical job interview.
As I waited, I watched Ms Capperman run behind the counter and tinker with some of the machines.
“Alan, help me. Please prepare some refreshments for our esteemed guests.”
“And I told you to stop calling me “Ma’am!” It makes me feel old…”
The boy behind the counter whose name is apparently Alan chuckled.
These two seem rather relaxed with each other. I guess that would make sense since they are both co-workers — they formed a friendly bond with each other.
After a couple of minutes of Ren and my waiting, Ms Capperman came to our table and placed dishes in front of us. A cup with a brown liquid was given to Ren — I became an expert and could tell that it wasn’t chocolate milk! And in front of us… was a plate with three pastries that I recognized — donuts… Indeed, they were the flavours that I tried a week ago. They… looked delicious. Their sight alone was enough to trigger nostalgia… I reminisced on how I felt when I ate them — they were delicious and the texture was satisfying…
Sitting in front of me, Ms Capperman spoke.
“First off, allow me to formally introduce myself. Good afternoon, I am Valerie Capperman — the owner of Alente Bistro.”
O-Owner? That’s entirely different from what I assumed her role was. Owner… I can’t afford to screw up. But shoot…
I clenched my fist beneath the table.
“H-Hello, n-nice to m-m-meet you Ms Capperman, I am Camryn.”
I was already screwing up. I was nervous — I was talking with the head of this place… I was stuttering. I wasn’t maintaining eye contact with Ms Capperman and was instead staring at the table in front of her. I felt my heart beat quicker and harder. I felt my hands become drenched in sweat. And I couldn’t lift my head to look at Ms Capperman.
Out of the corners of my eye, I saw Ms Capperman cross her legs and sit in a relaxed position. I saw the corners of her lips rise.
Ms Capperman laughed. Huh?
“Hey Alan, get the others out here.”
My confusion made me raise my head up to look directly at Ms Capperman.
“O-Others? Ms Capperman?”
“Nah, the “Ms” part isn’t needed — just “Valerie” is fine. You’re nervous, right? I mean, I can see the sweat on your forehead.”
I put my hand on my forehead and wiped upon feeling the moistness.
Valerie gave a teasing and reassuring smile — it was almost motherly… I think.
“Please don’t be nervous. This really isn’t the type of interview you’re thinking of.”
“I’m not really that type of person. I’m not someone that’s so serious and objective — leave that to Ren!”
That was a bit… harsh. Speaking of which, Valerie was informal with Ren, right? So are they friends? But like Connie, in terms of personality, Valerie did not seem to be compatible with Ren.
I turned my head to Ren, expecting him to be annoyed. And he… wasn’t? Instead, he was showing the same expressionless face while drinking his drink. Like with Connie’s, I knew Valerie’s comment was a diss. Maybe she was also joking and Ren knows it.
“Anyway Camryn, please take a few deep breaths and calm down — this really isn’t formal or anything.”
Okay… I did as Valerie suggested, and after a moment, I felt fully calm. I now knew that nothing terrible would occur if I made a bad impression on Valerie… But this is still an interview, right? Since she is looking for whether I’ll be a good addition, I should still act respectfully.
“Okay Camryn, let me introduce myself for the third time.”
Valerie smiled widely at me.
“Hi there, I’m Valerie Capperman, the owner of this eating establishment.”
I nodded, feeling a lot more relaxed.
“Hello, I’m Camryn. Nice to meet you!