Chapter 7: Closure

The two women rode up in the elevator and walked to Mr. Bergen's office. As they walked past the secretary Daria noticed that the door was open. Hattie went with her as far as the open door. As Daria walked in Hattie closed the door. Daria continued to walk toward Mr. Bergen's desk.

"Hello Ms. Morgendorffer," Mr. Bergen said. "Please have a seat."

Daria said, "Hi Mr. Bergen," and sat down.

Leaning back in his chair Mr. Bergen asked, "So, give me your observations about writing here at Lucky 12. I am interested in your thoughts."

Daria thought for a moment and responded, "Well, clearly there is a fast pace to the operation. Bluntly, no one would mistake the writing for Sick Sad World for Emily Bronte! But, that is not its purpose. I think that with the workflow process you have in place you can reasonably assure that the quality of the writing will meet the expectations of both management and the audience. The writers are clearly challenged by the clock. However, I think that the people you employ are up to the task. If not, then you clearly have no problem letting them go."

"Do you think that you are up for this challenge, Daria?" Mr. Bergen asked.

"Yes I do. I believe that I have demonstrated in the tasks you assigned to the interviewees that I can produce material of acceptable quality within the time constraints. I will be honest and say that I have found it very challenging to race against the clock. Nothing at Raft really prepared me for such short deadlines. I can tell I will have much to learn in my first six months here, should you hire me."

"Those are very mature statements for a 22 year old. Where did that come from?"

"Maybe it comes from my mother the lawyer and my boyfriend the accountant. I've learned a great deal from both of them." Daria didn't add that it might also come from social skills and knowledge gained dealing with her boyfriend's mother and sister who both seemed to detest her.

Mr. Bergen replied, "That is interesting. I am impressed with your abilities. I have been reading the material you submitted. At this point I would like to make you a job offer." He pulled out a piece of paper, wrote on it and then handed it to Daria. "How does this look for your salary?"

Daria examined the number written on the paper. One thing that Tom had insisted on – to the point that he had really irritated her – was researching starting salaries for people in her field. He had also had her read articles on salary negotiation. As a new college graduate she didn't have much leverage for negotiations, but that didn't mean that she couldn't try. The salary Mr. Bergen had offered to her was a good median salary on a national scale. However, this was New York and the cost of living was through the roof.

Daria replied, "First I want to thank you for the offer. It is certainly fair on the national scale of starting salaries. But this being New York, I was hoping to do better than just national average. I think I have shown coming through the contest and the interview process that my abilities are above the national median."

"What would it take to get you to accept the job right now?" Mr. Bergen asked.

Things were moving a bit too fast for Daria. She had to think quickly and not leave anything out. The question was open ended and provided her an opportunity to get what she wanted and needed. The only issue was not to get too greedy. That could kill the whole deal.

After thinking a moment and remembering conversations she had with Tom, Daria replied, "I need 20% more salary, a 20% signing bonus, a relocation package, and a written agreement that my personal intellectual property – characters, settings, and writings – are mine and are not assigned to the company. I believe that being a published author and my literary journalism background make me more than the average starting writer – even if I just graduated from college. Also, I will need a few days so that my attorney can review the terms and conditions of employment."

"Goodness," Mr. Bergen said as his eyes got quite wide. "I guess that I am glad you don't have an agent. I would be left scrambling! OK, here is what I can do. I will give you the 20% higher salary, but we do not do signing bonuses here. I will give you a moving package, but it will not exceed 10% of your annual salary. Your intellectual property request seems fair. I will have HR provide you with the paperwork for your attorney's review. You can have up to 5 business days for the review. I will need a definitive answer a week from today. Do we have a deal?"

"Yes. Would you please write our terms down on a piece of your personal stationary and give it to me?" Daria said with confidence. The two shook hands, Mr. Bergen wrote the terms down and gave them to her on a page of his personal stationary. Then he walked her to the door.

"One favor I would ask," Mr. Bergen said. "Would you stay and complete the assignments you were given? I will pay you for half of the day. I will have payroll cut a check for you today. Also, keep this offer under your hat. I don't want the other two interviewees knowing that you have an offer. I still need to make a decision on one of them. Have Hattie take you to HR before you leave. Everything will be there."

"Sure," Daria responded. Then she headed back to the writers' suite. Today was one of the few times in her life that she felt a real rush of energy. The rest of the afternoon went quickly. Despite the time spent in the meeting with Mr. Bergen, Daria got her pieces in before the deadline. There was even time to go to the vending machine and get an Ultra-Cola to take to the afternoon production meeting.

In the production meeting the head writer looked over the group. The first thing out of his mouth was, "You people realize that two thirds of this is crap. I can't use it. Which one of you interviewees is Morgendorffer?"

"I am," Daria replied. Her heart was racing. Was she going to get a dressing down in front of everyone?

"Good writing on that flesh eating bacteria story. I like the headline – 'Swimming and Sloughing - Flesh Eating Bacteria in your Community Pool. Tonight on Sick Sad World.' We are going with the story. Congratulations. Too bad the rest of you can't do that well."

"Thank you," Daria replied. She could hear the writers grumbling in the background.

The meeting ground on until all of the remaining pieces were chosen for the evening's production. Eventually it came to an end. While everyone was milling around Hattie came in and the three interviewees followed her. They all went to human resources and were given fat envelopes. Then Hattie led them to the lobby, they turned in their badges and all but Daria left the building.

Daria sat down on a bench in the lobby of the building. She flipped open her phone and placed a call to her mother at the office.

A woman answered the phone. "Helen Morgendorffer's office. This is Mary Ann. May I help you?" Mary Ann had been Helen's administrative assistant for the past 8 years.

"Hi Mary Ann. This is Daria."

"Well hi Daria! Your mom tells me that you are in New York right now. Is everything OK? I'm sure that she would love to talk to you, but she is in a big meeting right now. They have a lawsuit that will be going to trial next week and they are prepping."

"That's fine. Look, I have something very important that I need to send to her. I have a job offer and it includes a contract that needs to be reviewed. I have to tell them yes or no in three days. Can I fax the stuff to the office? It may be after hours when it arrives."

"Certainly you can, Daria. I will tell your mother when she is out of the meeting. She will probably be here late tonight anyway. Just fax it as soon as you can. If I am still here, then I will make certain she gets it. In any event she will have it no later than tomorrow morning."

"Thanks Mary Ann. I really appreciate it."

"No problem Daria. I hope you get home safe and sound. Bye."

"Bye," Daria said and flipped her phone shut ending the call. Then she left the building and headed toward the subway.

….

Back at the hotel Tom was waiting for Daria. He sat and flipped through the channels on the TV. What was really going through his mind was not the mindless offerings of the tube, but rather all that had transpired over the last two days. He now had a job. How long would it take to find out about Daria's situation? Tom had not kept Doodle, Bottom, and Potts waiting for too long. At 4:00 pm he had called and verbally accepted the offer. Then he went to the hotel's business center and sent them an email confirming his acceptance. Well, if nothing else the blather on the financial channel would keep his mind occupied until Daria returned. The wait seemed endless.

The door opening snapped Tom out of his television induced stupor. Daria walked in. The expression on her face was totally neutral. "Hey Tom," she said.

Tom got up, walked over to Daria and kissed her. He noticed the package under her arm. Looking at her face he asked, "So how did things go?"

Looking up at him Daria replied in total deadpan, "I got the job. You would be proud of me. I even negotiated for more money and got it! There is an offer letter in that package. I need to fax it and the contract to my mother to review. I have to give them an answer no later than close of business one week from today."

"The front desk can send a fax for you," Tom said.

Daria replied, "And charge through the nose for it I'm sure!"

Both laughed as Daria pulled the paperwork out of the envelope. There were ten pages that would need to be sent to Helen. Daria changed into more comfortable clothes. Then it was off to fax the materials and then a celebratory dinner. Tom had in mind ordering some champagne. Having two jobs in hand bode well for their future together!

Daria is the property of MTV and the characters from Daria are used here without permission. This is a work of fan fiction and is meant solely for the enjoyment of those who choose to read it. The material is not for sale and no profit is to be derived from it.