Angela’s excitement at starting her new job was tinged with nervousness. This was, after all, as radical a career change as anyone could ever make. Her years as an exotic dancer had furnished her with a lot of skills: the ability, with a look, or a single, softly spoken word, to de-fuse the passions of a man who had entirely the wrong idea of the relationship between dancer and client; the confidence to face down the mountainous bouncers, who believed that the dancers were little better than whores and tried to treat them as such; and the firmness to protect the other girls from an over-zealous manager who would have them work additional long hours for no more pay. These skills would always be useful to her, but now, after only six short weeks’ training, she was to take her place as a crime scene investigator alongside time-served professionals.
To prepare, she had power-dressed. She wore a mid-grey business suit: conservatively cut jacket with matching knee-length pencil skirt over a crisp white blouse and patent pumps; an outfit she had spent hours concocting at Hugo Boss the previous day. She carried a small handbag that matched her shoes.
She had done her homework, and knew the layout of the part of the complex where her new boss had his office. She marched confidently to the reception area and asked the security guard, in a well-rehearsed clear, commanding tone that was doing a sterling job of masking her real feelings: “I’m Angela. I have to report to the Chief CSI. Will he see me?”
“Take a seat over there,” the man replied, pointing to a row of uncomfortable-looking chairs, “I’ll see if he’s available.”
The guard keyed the intercom and told the chief that the new girl, Angela, was here. Angela fumed to herself. She was a qualified forensic Scenes of Crime specialist, not the new girl!
“You can go through.”
Angela tapped on the door and walked in. Her new boss stood as she entered. The man she should call Sir was not a short man, but he seemed surprised at having to look up at her, even though she was sporting only 5cm heels.
“Welcome, Angela,” he said. “Take a seat, please.”
Angela sat demurely, legs together and leaning slightly to one side. She sat upright in the chair, her hands loosely folded on the handbag rested on her lap.
“I’ve just been looking through your academy report, Angela. The Principal seems convinced you are just the person we need. But tell me why you have chosen such a major career change, and why now.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Angela replied. “As my CV shows, I graduated from Northumbria with a first in Criminology and Forensic Science, followed by a Masters in Forensic Criminology from Sheffield Hallam. After Hallam, I took an extended gap year. I have spent the last ten years in entertainment; the pay has been superb, as have the opportunities for travel. I have been to every continent, met many cultures, and learnt something from them all. As well as broadening the mind, some of my trips were physically very demanding. As a result, I am now, at 36, in as good a physical shape as I have ever been, but I think it’s time for me to get back to my chosen career. I have always kept on top of the latest literature and thinking in forensics and criminology and now, with the course at the academy, I believe I am ready to take my place alongside the elite.”
The boss clapped his hands, slowly and, Angela felt, sarcastically. Her nerves disappeared at that point.
“Very good,” he said, “A well-rehearsed and well-delivered spiel. Now tell me who you really are.”
Angela calmly placed her bag on the floor beside her, leaned forward and gripped the arms of the chair.
“I’ll tell you who I really am, Sir,” she said, her voice both controlled and controlling, bearing just a hint of menace, “I am a woman who spent eight years getting the best qualifications available in the field, better qualified probably than anyone else here, yourself included. Sir. I am one hell of a forensic scientist. I am a woman who has spent ten years dealing with men who thought they could buy, own, control or intimidate me, and found they could do none of these. I am a woman who can, with a look or a tone of voice, persuade a man to tell me anything I want to hear. I can build them up and I can knock them down again. I am… ”
“Okay, okay, okay. I get it. Welcome aboard, Angela; although I should probably warn you that you may have your work cut out with some of our own people. Your … physical attributes may get in the way of their cool judgement.”
“Don’t worry, Chief. I can handle them.”
Angela left the office and braced herself to face the first day of the rest of her life.