Monday, April 11, 2011

Part Eight: She ditches the boss and tracks down the cute guy....

"Important message?" Don Juan asked. Katie jumped a little. She'd forgotten about him. "From the look on your face I'd say it's good news?"

"Oh." Katie felt like she was blushing. "It's .... " she couldn't get off the street car. She had this opportunity to schmooze with the boss. She knew how these things worked -- it wasn't what you knew, it was who you knew, and who knew you. She knew that if she wanted to get the sorts of opportunities to get ahead, (did she want those opportunities? truly?), to get her designs really seen, to get her art taken seriously by the company, she knew she had to get in tight with the boss. And this was the perfect chance.

Her phone beeped again. She glanced down. This time it was a text from Nick. Are you coming? M has already ordered yr latte....

"Katherine?" Katie looked up. Don Juan was looking at her expectantly. "Is everything alright?"

Katie knew that Katherine would stay on the streetcar and schmooze with her boss, but Katie wasn't ready for that. Katie had a breakfast to eat, a boy to flirt with, and an Improv seminar to be late for.

"Yes, fine, everything's fine. Those texts are just ... my mother. Reminding me that I have to pick up her dry cleaning, actually, and the shop is just up ahead here. So I'm afraid I'm going to have to squish past you...." Katie stood up and grimaced as her boss scrunched himself up into a tiny, awkward hunch to let her past. "Thank you, sir."

"Oh, no trouble, Katherine. I'm just sorry we won't have a chance to chat."

"Another day?" Katie smiled broadly. "I'll see you at the seminar," she added, and Don Juan laughed.

"Oh, no, I don't attend those things. I'm just headed into the office to get some paperwork done."

"Ah." Katie was a bit disappointed, actually. She would have liked to see the company's founding father attempting mime or doing trust falls, or something equally inane. "Well, here's my stop!"

She practically ran off the streetcar, texting madly as she went. I'm coming! Get me a brkfst muffin!

The breakfast place was where Katie and Melissa often met up before work. It was about two blocks from the office, and just sketchy enough that no upper management would ever show up there. It was run by some hippy-types, and everything smelled and tasted vaguely of patchouli and earnestness. And yet the coffee (fair trade, roasted on premises) was really tasty, and if you could get beyond the tie-dyed table cloths and the Gandhi slogans on the take out cups (instead of Please Recycle the paper cups read Action Expresses Priorities, with a cartoon of Gandhi next to a blue box), it wasn't a bad place. And the eggs were free run, which Katie approved of. Katie knew about the eggs, because beside the cash register was a donation box instead of a tip jar which read, "All proceeds go to purchasing chicken wire to expand the chickens' pen." Katie had laughed the first time she'd seen this, but the dread-locked girl behind the counter had crossed her silver-cuff-laden arms and declared, "There is nothing funny about freedom."

Katie found Melissa and Nick sitting at a small table at the back. They were both drinking from take-out cups, and there was a latte and muffin waiting for Katie. "Hey guys," she said, sliding into the vacant chair. She felt suddenly awkward. Nick and Melissa had worked at the agency for a couple of years, so knew one another fairly well. Katie was suddenly the odd one out. (Suddenly? Wasn't she always?)

"Hey Katie," Nick's voice was thick, deep. Dark. Oh, man. This crush, germinated in the odd greeting in the elevator and a few company-wide lunches, was certainly in full bloom this morning.

"Eat up. We've got about ten minutes until we have to get to that workshop," Melissa said.

"Is that all?" Katie sighed. She picked at her muffin. "I really do not want to do this. We could go to a gallery, or down to the waterfront, or anything but this."

"You're not looking forward to improv?" Nick asked.

Katie rolled her eyes. "Oh, of course I am. I think it'll be amazing. In fact, I want nothing more than to play theatre games with my coworkers."

"Me too!" Nick exclaimed, seemingly missing Katie's voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Really?" Melissa took a thoughtful bite of her muffin. "I never would have pegged you as a theatre nerd. Katie on the other hand...."

"I'm not a theatre nerd." Katie and Nick said it in unison, and he hit her playfully in the arm and said, looking out from under heavy dark lashes, "You owe me a beer," which nearly made her underwear fall off. Only nearly, however, because she was still a bit put off by his apparent enthusiasm for improvisational theatre as a business training aid. As far as Katie was concerned, theatre should stay where it was meant to be. Like in theatres, or on the sidewalk in Amsterdam. Or anywhere, for that matter, that didn't require shy, anxious girls to participate.

"I just like the idea of challenging ourselves in the workplace. You know, looking for new ways to engage with one another, and our clients, in meaningful ways." Nick's eyes were bright.

"You mean that?" Katie asked.

"Absolutely," Nick nodded his head vigorously. "In today's difficult market, it really only makes sense to try creative ways to approach the business model. Thinking outside the box, you know?"

Oh, no. Katie felt her underwear adhering firmly to her body. She couldn't be into a guy who talked about "thinking outside the box". She just couldn't.

"Yes, that is how I've asked my staff to look at today. It's certainly outside my comfort zone, as well, but I know that in order to make the most out of today I am challenging my staff to..."

Katie took a savage bite of her muffin while Melissa droned on. This was a side of her best friend that was at times both fascinating and repellent to Katie. Melissa loved to talk shop. And once she got started...Now both of them were off, talking about how improv comedy would save the company. Katie got up and went towards the bathroom, glancing over her shoulder at the beautiful man with the deep, strong voice, which was now waxing poetic about the value of Toastmasters.

Katie shut herself in the tiny bathroom of the coffee shop, and stared at herself in the mirror. Her hair was in a loose, messy pony tail, and her pale pink cardigan sweater (from the bargain rack at Club Monaco) had a coffee stain on the front. Her jeans were too loose. Her eyes were tired. When she'd left her house that morning, she hadn't thought she looked quite this bad.

Katie did not look like a professional. She looked like she didn't care.

Suddenly, the opening bars to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" was playing, only it was slightly muffled. "What the--?" Katie realized it was a ring tone. There was a phone in here.

Katie glanced around the small room, and deduced the sound was coming from the garbage can. She pushed up her sleeves and plunged her small hands into the debris. She remembered the fun the last time she found a phone, and Katie needed some fun in her life.

At last! She felt her fingers closing around a small hard thing she could only hope was the phone. She pulled it out, and gingerly held it to her ear. "Hello?"

"Hello! I believe you have my phone," said a familiar Irish voice, and Katie's heart did a little jump. Eoin. The art project! This was exactly what she needed.

Choose your own adventure time: Does Katie tell Eoin who she is, or does she keep her identity a secret?


  1. what if he recognizes her voice? she should create an alter ego/identity and make her own counter art project to eoin's. after that she should proudly tuck in her too loose jeans to her knee high boots. screw skinny jeans.

  2. I agree with Amber. She should create an alter ego. It's so boring if she tells him who she is. Where's the drama that way?

  3. Oh yeah, alter ego-bad accent and all!

  4. thank god for ms bambi er bamber. yes alter that ego and yuk on the eyelash artsy fartsy guy. go ireland!

  5. oh and wasn't Nancy and I so right about [yawwn] breakfast thing. Had to pull it out with the 'phone' convention, didn't yah.

  6. Do you want a challenge? Keep it honest.