This wasn’t the first time Cameron had been in a supermarket, thank goodness. Once he was out of the temporary housing, he needed to start buying his own food, and that meant going to the Citybasket a few blocks from his apartment.
It was very, very good that he’d had a dry run, because he’d all but had to pick his jaw up off the floor. Food, boxes, aisles, wall-to-wall products that he could just buy with a checkout kiosk, not even talking to anyone if he didn’t want to. It was overwhelming.
He tried to stifle that continued feeling as he walked into the Securemarket where he was hoping to be placed. It wouldn’t do to be visibly thrown by a place like that. He was wearing his nicest Washingtonian-style clothing: a pair of slacks and a button-up shirt.
Hopefully it’d do.
He looked down at the e-mail on his phone, to confirm. He was meeting with the store manager, Alan Morganstern, at the little cafe in the corner of the store in 10 minutes. Wait, what? He glanced up, startled, as he saw that there was literally a coffee shop inside the store. A restaurant in the store.
Wild. This place seemed so foreign to him, it was so very different than what he expected.
That said, it was cool. He could see himself growing much more accustomed to it, after he’d gotten over the initial shock and awe. He meandered toward the cafe, still peeking down aisles, at the sections.
People walked around, just… picking up products and putting them in carts or baskets or bags like it wasn’t weird to have a shop the size of six shops stacked against each other. There wasn’t anybody sitting at the cafe tables yet, but the employee working as a barista, a rainbow-haired, androgynous human, waved as Cam approached. “Let me know if I can get you anything!” They chirped.
He nodded, trying very hard not to stare at their hair. He peeked up at the menu, finding a empty table off to the side, thankfully empty. He wondered how he was supposed to know the manager, besides like, a nametag.
The answer came in the form of the manager recognizing him. A tall, relatively fit, middle-aged man in a similar outfit to Cameron’s (good call, cam) approached, already holding out a hand to shake.
“Hey, you must be Cameron Owens, right? I’m Alan Morganstern, I’m in charge of this little operation.”
Cam looked up to the stranger, getting up again from sitting down almost immediately, to offer his hand. “Hi. That’s me alright. Nice to meet you.” he said, making a small smile, the best he could manage.
“So, I hear you might be interested in placement here at the Securemarket through the new immigration initiative. Congratulations on getting into the program, by the way.”
Cam smiled a little bigger, nodded slightly. “Thanks, and yeah, this looks pretty great to work at, exactly my style.” he said, glancing around the store as he replied, then gesturing to the table. “Wanna sit to talk?” he offered, worrying he came across as if he was trying to take charge by doing so.
“Yeah, sorry! I sometimes just. Forget that sitting is a thing.” Alan took a seat across from Cameron. “So, you’re from one of the forest settlements, right?”
Cameron nodded. “More recently the tent village outside, but originally, yes. Been a while.” he said, his voice going quiet near the end. He kept eye contact, however, a nice plain face, as he tried to figure out what to say next.
“So, what career path do you think you’ll be pursuing? Do you have any goals?”
“I was aiming for a good day job, and maybe a bit of merc work on the side.” Cam said, moving to a resting position, sighing as he got comfortable. “I understand you carry weapons here, and I’m working towards certs for my sword and such, that sort of thing.”
“Yes, I saw that you’re already precertified for melee carry, which is pretty impressive given your timeline. What brought you to New Washington?”
He smiled slightly, nodding to acknowledge the praise as it came. “Honestly, I really dig certifications, the structure that exists here. I like the idea of a big city, this store even, very new, very cool.” he said, putting his hands together on the table, smiling warmly.
“I assume this is going to be your first time doing a customer-facing service job, right?” Alan asked. “It’s not a gotcha question, the program accounts for it. I’m just curious to know.”
Cameron nodded simply, keeping the smile on his face as best he could. “I’m pretty good at talking to people, and helping others out, though. I think it’s a pretty good fit for me, not to try to take your job, since that’s your decision in the end, and not mine.”
Alan laughed. “Well, if you wanted to take my job, it’d just say good things about your ambition. Whatever the case, the program and this conversation have me feeling pretty positive, and your placement is guaranteed barring a major problem, so… welcome aboard! When can you start?”
Cameron took a moment to think before answering. “Tomorrow? Day after? I don’t think i really have anything in the way, though I would appreciate like, study material, if you have it, it’s okay if not.” he said, tugging out his handshell to take down details.
“Well, here, give me a handshake and I’ll send you some links.” Alan fished out his own shell, sending it into handshake mode with a button press. “The company has lots of training materials, so why don’t we have you come in on Monday so you have a few days to look through it? We’ll start your training then. Oh, uh.”
He shot an apologetic look to Cameron. “One thing, though… is that the only shift we were able to free up for the program was the night shift: it’s eighteen to midnight. Is.. that gonna work all right for you?”
Cam took a breath, trying not to make it sound like a problem before speaking. “I can definitely give it a shot, I’m not against it inherently. I don’t think there’s anything tying me to a day shift at the moment.”
“Oh, good,” Alan gave a sigh of relief. “I really wanted our store to be the one that had the program, but in the interest of stability and employee rights, our shift assignments are pretty rigid. Glad we’re gonna get to have you on board. Anything else you’d like to know?”
“Not off the top of my head.” he said, getting to his feet. He typed himself a note, stuffing it back in his pocket. “Nice to get in so easy.”
“Well, the customs authority and the Securemarket are both counting on you not making them regret their choices to fast-track you,” Alan said, laughing as he stood, “but I have a good feeling about you. I think you’ll do fine here.”
Cam extended a hand, now standing beside Alan. “Thanks. I hope so too.”
Alan shook his hand. “See you soon, Cameron.” Then he turned and walked back toward his duties, leaving Cam to marvel at the store once again.