Keep your eye on the prize. That’s what they say, right? The thought had repeated itself in Aaron’s mind so many times that it had become a mantra. Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t give up. Stay focused. You can do this, whatever it takes.
He stared at the clock mounted high on the wall, worry etching lines into his too young face. That is what they say, right? … …What if something goes wrong? What if… NO! Keep your eye on the prize. Focus, it’s the only way. He rubbed at one arm. It didn’t help though, he itched everywhere. It has to be the suit. New suits are never comfortable. He smoothed down the jacket of the double-breasted suit and tried to clam himself. Keep your eye on the prize. Focus, that’s what they say.
Aaron took a deep breath, and then another. His hands kept clenching into fists. Across the aisle another suited man noticed his distress and chuckled. “First time is always hard, isn’t it kid? Are your palms sweating yet?”
“I’ll be fine.” Aaron snapped, then took another deep breath and sighed. “Sorry, and yeah, I’m a little nervous… or a lot nervous. Is it always this hard?”
The man laughed heartily. “Nah, you get used to it, but the first time at anything can be pretty nerve-wracking. Heck, I remember my first interview at a place like this. I was up for a job as an account manager… wasn’t even that important and I still just about shat a brick.”
Aaron smiled. “Account manager, huh? That sounds… boring.”
“Wouldn’t know. I threw up in the interview and they never called me back. And thus began my sordid career.” The man paused for a moment, then added, “You’ll be fine though. Just keep your cool and remember why we’re here.”
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.” It was Aaron’s turn to laugh now. “I actually have this mantra running through my head right now: ‘keep your eye on the prize. Focus. Don’t give up, just stay focused.’ … …Pretty ridiculous, huh?”
“Not at all, kid. Heck, my first time the only three words running through my head were ‘WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!’ on a repeated loop. I promise you, that didn’t help any. It sounds to me like you’re doing pretty well.” The man looked at his watch and grinned, “Hey, it’s almost eleven. You ready for this?”
Aaron took a deep breath and then looked at his own watch. He nodded as he counted down the seconds, and then stood, pulled a shotgun out of his gym bag, and yelled, “Everyone get on the floor, this is a robbery!”