Anni receives word from the prestigious, pride of Atlantic City s American beauty pageant institution, the Miss Patriotic Organization that they are in need of her talent. She s selected to take over as Tour Manager, traveling across the nation with the country s darling who is crowned to represent style, sophistication, and leadership initiative through scholarship and promoting wholesome ideals. Anni Seller is overjoyed by the new career path handed to her an opportunity of a lifetime the travel, prestige and diversity. The next few months are filled with a plethora of adventure, historically significant happenings, learning experiences and an immersion into the greater good of people; additionally uncovering the underbelly of a few ego-centric control freaks.
Watch the book trailer.
Listen to the Talk Zone radio interview with author Ami Feller (scroll down to 4th episode)
The little red light flashes from the answering machine after the phone rang a few times. The unexpected caller is Ann Jo Serberus from the: Miss Patriotic Organization, a renowned American institution, situated in the historical boardwalk town of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Her message states, â€śI want to discuss an opportunity with you Anni that you are not familiar with. I personally held your credentials on file for a number of months here at the company.â€ť
After the dramatic pause, Serberus continues, â€śThe Miss Patriotic Organization has undergone some administrative changes,â€ť so Serberus opted to hold Anni Sellerâ€™s information until the appropriate moment. She wanted to explore a different career path, unlike any Anni was aware of. Suddenly, Ann Jo Serberusâ€™ voicemail comment triggers a whirlwind recollection for Anni. She remembered sending her resumeâ€™ to the organization nearly a year ago in response to their need for a public relations coordinator working at their prestigious headquarters.
As Anni hears the voicemail, she instantly gets a chill down her spine. She thinks, this could be my big break! She replays the message to make sure she understood the point of Ann Jo Serberusâ€™ call.
Instead of the traditional office position Anni recalled applying for nearly a year ago, Serberus contacted Anni to consider taking over her previous touring responsibilities with Miss Patriotic. Serberus schedules a meeting with Anni at headquarters to discuss the details.
Anni is intrigued by the possibilityâ€¦she thinks about how this could be a life-altering proposition. She calls Ann Jo Serberus back to confirm the meeting to learn more about this unusual opportunity, not advertised in any newspaper or website. This may be the rewarding professional challenge Anni was hoping to be involved with. Anni is fascinated that she was hand-selected to explore this avenue.
Anni arrives at headquarters for the initial meeting, and introduces herself to the receptionist and asks her, â€śWhat is your name?â€ťÂ â€śMarissa,â€ť the young lady lights-up and is so pleased Anni took the time to meet her. Marissa responded very upbeat and conversationally and tells Anni she will show her to Ann Joâ€™s office immediately.
Since this is the first meeting at the organization, Anni strives to make a refined impression. The thirty-five year old Anni wears a nice silver-gray business suit to this meeting and adds a scarf for a splash of color. She chose this outfit to complement her auburn hair and sparkling green eyes in an effort to make a great impact. Anni prides herself on keeping in fit shape and tries to take good care of herself. Her regiment includes using regular moisturizer with sunscreen to keep her face looking radiant.
Ann Jo Serberus and Anni shake hands and they exchange smiles. As the introduction concludes, Anni looks around her office which is rather plain. She notices one life-sized image of a Miss Patriotic from years gone by, but the rest of her office consists of nondescript file cabinets, cheap looking shelving holding a few binders on the institutional-beige walls in this office. Anni had been in many other offices of companies with lesser known reputations and some of those looked more impressive.
Serberus tells Anni, â€śI have been with the company for a number of years beginning as a volunteer, then gained employment and started going â€śon-the- roadâ€ť for the past six or so years after I became a widow. My husband lived on the West coast for years, so we did not have issues with my travel schedule.â€ť
Upon the summary of Ann Joâ€™s past, Anni notices Serberus appearance; she is hard-looking. Anni considers if being a widow caused the tool-chiseling crevices surrounding her features as if they were stone. Serberus mentions her husband died a dozen years ago. The sadness of life reflects on her stoic face. She wears her black-dyed hair in a tightly swept, low ponytail. Her hair is drawn back calling attention to the weathered skin of her forehead. Along, with her dramatic dark ponytail, she appears before Anni wearing an all neutral palate and pointy shoes. Anni observes there is no vividness in her conversation or her wardrobe. Her dental work seems to protrude from her face, making her look frail and sunken in. Serberusâ€™ skin looks like it had not been moisturized in years and she is in great need of hydration and air.
Anni contemplates, perhaps too much travel dries you out and her looks were the result of that.
Serberus tells Anni, â€śI received my doctorâ€™s medical orders not to fly, as I sustained two collapsed lungs in the past couple of years.â€ť While away during the tour, Serberus had to be rushed to a hospital in an unfamiliar state and then had to be cautiously transported back home to recover. The pressurized cabins infused with recycled air on airplanes, made breathing for Serberus exhaustingâ€” by this time in her life, it was not an optimal situation for her.
Serberus proclaims, â€śI know the tour manager job inside and out!â€ť She affirms she knows it so well, since she was on the road for a number of years. Serberus proclaims how she loved the job, all the glory and distinction. Anni reads between her words to detect, her time has past. Itâ€™s time to move on and let goâ€¦
Serberus briefly attests that the person who knows most about managing the tour, is Sonny Burgone, the one Serberus learned the ropes from. Sonny Burgone; the true knowledge holder of this position, had traveled along side 18 Miss Patriotics and worked first, as an volunteer, and than, as an employee for thirty years cumulatively. Sonny taught Serberus how to operate as a Manager out â€śin the field.â€ť
Additionally, Serberus mentions her own current responsibility for the organization transitioned, she now handes the internal planning and travel arranging of the tour. She confirms the event details with sponsors in her slow paper-centric way. Anni watches Serberus use her desktop computer, and sees how it puts her in a tailspin. While Serberus was looking-up something on her PC, she had trouble carrying-on the conversation simultaneously. â€śThere is too much happening at once,â€ť Serberus chides.Â
In an attempt to keep the meeting progressing, Anni asks, â€śWhat about my credentials caused you to hold on to my information and call me nearly a year later?â€ť
Serberus responds, â€śOver the past year, our needs here were changing. I used to report to a woman who made my life really difficult. Her name was Tina and she was a â€śpower-monger.â€ť After some of the executives were gone and she was asked to leave, I was considered to take over her spot as the travel and event contact. I knew it was a matter of timing. So, your experiences working with people and your previous travel history make you a good choice for us.â€ť
Strangely, during this first face-to-face meeting with Serberus, Anni considers many of the questions Serberus poses are inappropriate as far as interview protocol:
Much of this interview focuses on Anniâ€™s personal life.
â€śAre you married?â€ť
â€śAny kids?â€ť Serberus pressed on.
As this line of questioning progresses, even an unethical as it was; Anni replies. She knows these are not standard questions for the interview, but this profession entails a lifestyle change; not a standard nine to five job.Â
Once Serberus makes the connection that Anni is newly wed, she persists on grilling her even harder; to the point of trying to talk her out of considering the opportunity. Serberus seems to talk Anni away from considering the job, since she anticipates the effects the job may have; to potentially ruin family and personal relationships due to the prolonged separation. Ultimately, she attempts to â€śunsellâ€ť Anni from considering the job proposition.Â Anni thinks, perhaps this thought process was a red flare Serberus fires-off to mean something more; yet Anni is willing to move forward and find out what lies ahead with this intriguing position.Â Anni considers, how often do companies call and seek out an individual these days? This is a career launch in the direction I was seeking.
Impetuously, Serberus comments to Anni, â€śOur meeting is progressing well.â€ť She likes her overall presentation; in terms of professional attire, articulate conversation and her smiling countenance.
Serberus indicates in her day everything was done manually. â€śThere were no cell phones or computers.â€ť Slowly, she turns around toward the simple, bracketed shelf behind her to show Anni a report. Serberus grabs a three ring binder opening it to display the wording and style. These reports are rather rudimentary, Anni concludes to herself.
Serberus said she would show Anni another report and it was essentially the same content, just written about other events in different city. As it turns out these manually, templated-reports would become one of Anniâ€™s responsibilities, and Serberus preferred it be continued in this same lackluster format.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Anni reaffirms, â€śI am committed to making this opportunity work out well and am pleased you held on to my information for nearly a year to be considered for this unique endeavor!â€ť
As Anni departs, she analyzes the discussion. She hopes the personality conflicts that Serberus referred to with her former colleague Tina, do not have similar implications with her potential alliance. She finds it strange that Serberus would talk about former colleagues in the organization at their first meeting. Anni trusts this will not taint her interaction with Serberus, since she tends to think the best of people and give them the benefit of the doubt, unless she has reason to believe other thingsâ€¦