A new story. Do let me know if you like it. I'm afraid it contains nudity and scenes of a sexual nature. Oh dear!
"You can go in, Miss Prendergast will see you now."
I stood up from the rather hard seat I'd been kept waiting on for twenty minutes as the smartly dressed young lady pronounced these words. She was, I presumed, Miss Prendergast's current personal assistant. She was called Monica according to her name badge and she looked the sort who would be an efficient personal assistant: dark suit, back hair, well made up with penetrating blue eyes.
"Yes Miss," I said, "straight through this door?"
"Of course. She's expecting you. And don't be too nervous."
"Too nervous!" The statement had a slight warning tone to it.
"Well she can be a bit hard on men. Sends them home in their underpants as often as not!"
It was an expression I hadn't heard before, but I could imagine what it meant. She liked to thoroughly humiliate men. I knew the sort, and I reckoned I knew how to handle them.
"Me," she went on, "I'd send you home stark naked with six stripes across your bum. Men shouldn't be taking jobs from hard working girls. Men should know their place."
"Which is where?"
"Under my heel," she said, and showed me a pair of very high, very pointy stilettos.
I had had a few jobs before, and you might think applying to be a PA to a female executive a strange choice, but I could type, and was computer literate, good at organising things, and could even do shorthand at a pinch. It was just the job for me. Simple, straightforward and well paid. Jobs like that weren't easy to come by. I had been looking for one for three months since being made redundant from my post as time and motion expert at Higginbottom's Paper Clips. Old Higginbottom had outsourced production to Uzbekistan and it appeared that they didn't need time and motion studies in Uzbekistan. It also appeared that my degree in Economic Geography (third class) wasn't much in demand either. So when I had received the request to attend for interview from one of the many internet sites I had signed up to, I had jumped at the chance,
Miss Prendergast was younger than I'd expected. Early thirties perhaps. She was also power dressed, but with blonde hair and a handsome face with well chiselled cheekbones.
"Good Morning Mr Er.. Um... Er... We'll never mind. I see you think you can be my PA."
"Yes Miss," I said.
"Well, I normally only employ girls for this job. I'm not quite sure a man would be capable... Girls are so much more efficient."
"I can type," I said.
"And that is supposed to be impressive? You'll be telling me you can read and write next."
"I have all keyboard skills...."
"How many languages do you speak?"
"Oh... Well.. English... And er... I've got GCSE French."
"D," I muttered.
"What was that?"
"D, I got a D."
She shook her head, "Monica speaks French, German and Spanish fluently. I myself have competent Japanese and Mandarin, in addition to the usual European languages that is."
"Oh... I er... Could learn..."
She shook her head again, "Normally I wouldn't even consider you she said, but apparently we have to show diversity and that means I have to employ a man to do something. In this case it could be Monica's assistant. She could handle all the difficult stuff I suppose."
"Well you didn't think you'd be my assistant did you? You can make coffee can't you?"
"Never mind. Monica can show you. I suppose you can learn to do things?"
"And what sort things are you willing to do?"
Well that one was easy. Easier than being asked how many languages I spoke at any rate.
"Anything of course."
"Yes, provided it's legal course."
"You're not implying that I would ask you to do anything illegal are you?"
"Er... No... Of course not Miss."
It was tricky being asked questions by Miss Prendergast.
"You'd do anything legal that I asked you?"
"Er... Um... Of course..." I wasn't going to be trapped by putting in exceptions again.
"Stop ummimg and erring man. Can't you be positive.
"Yes of course Miss."
She smiled for the first time as if she'd thought of a little joke.
"Even give me all your clothes if I asked you."
"Of course," I answered without hesitation. She wouldn't catch me hesitating again.
"Go on then."
"Go on what? Er... Miss..."
"Take your clothes off and give them to me."
"But... I... Er..."
"Come on man. We haven't got all day. Take off your clothes and give them to me."
"But I can't..."
"What do you mean you can't? Didn't you just specifically tell me you would if I asked you to? Well I'm asking you to."
"Are you a liar? I can't employ liars you know."
"Well I distinctly remember asking you if you would give me all your clothes, and you replying 'of course'. Were you lying?"
"Well in that case get your clothes off and give them to me, or get out. It's as simple as that."
I suddenly realised this was a test. I knew the Miss Prendergast type.. Miss Prendergast was the type to set difficult tasks just to test the candidate out. Once I had shown my willingness to obey her instruction she would tell me to stop. How had I been so stupid as not to have realised this? I mean it wasn't as if I would take all my clothes off even if she didn't tell me to stop. I'd maybe go as far as taking my shirt off. No further though. Still, it wouldn't come to that. I took off my shoes and socks waiting for her to tell me to stop.
"What are you waiting for?"
"Well I need staff who can do things a bit quicker than that."
"Sorry Miss," she obviously needed me to go further. I took off my shirt and vest and waited for her to tell me to stop.
"Did I tell you to stop or anything?"
"Well I'm waiting."
She was expecting me to take my trousers off. This was a real test, but I found that despite my original idea, once I'd gone this far I couldn't back out now. I took off my trousers and stood in front of her in my underpants.
"Good. Excellent. You seem to be the sort of person who I can trust to work for me. Now put your clothes in that filing cabinet drawer."
I'd been right. It had been a test. Embarrassing as it had been to strip down to my underpants it looked like I would really get the job. I gathered up my clothes and put them in the filing cabinet drawer and closed it.
"Excellent. Now take off your underpants and give them to me."
"But... What... I didn't think..."
"Didn't think what? That I'd really ask you to give me all of your clothes off. What sort of a person do you think I am then? One who says one thing and means another?"
"No indeed! Take you underpants off and give them to me."
"Sorry I can't," I said. This was going to far. It would be just too embarrassing. "I can't. I'm too embarrassed." I could feel my face flushing red.
"Look at you man. You're as red as a beetroot. Well if you can't you can't. I don't know that I can employ anyone who gets embarrassed that easily. It looks like you've failed the test. You can go."
"Yes Miss," I pulled at the drawer of the filing cabinet to get my clothes back and it wouldn't budge. "It won't open Miss," I said.
"No, it's locked."
"But I need my clothes back Miss."
"Well you can't have them."
"But you have to give them to me. They're mine."
"No they're not."
"No buts. I asked you to give them to me and you agreed and have given them to me. So they're mine. Goodbye."
"Bit you can't send me home in my underpants...!" Send me home in my underpants. That was what Monica had said. It hasn't just been an expression - she literally sent men home in their underpants. And now it was my turn.
"Why not?" She said, "you came hear lying about your capabilities, lying about being willing to do anything I asked, and refusing to fulfil a simple request. I think being sent home in your underpants is a suitable response myself."
I stood there blushing bright red. I couldn't walk back through Monica's office. She'd smirk at the sight, at being shown to be right. I could walk through the main office with all the girls laughing at me, or out into the foyer, into the street, home on the bus. I couldn't. There seemed only one way out.
"What if I gave you my underpants," I blurted out.
"Well, then I might think you were somebody who could follow a simple instruction. Somebody who could indeed just about cope with being Monica's assistant. Somebody who could get through simple interviews. Somebody whom I could trust to get their clothes back."
It seemed like I had no option.