A Vantage Point of Asses, chapter 6
Disclaimer: all characters are fictional. So are their e-mail addresses. Don’t e-mail the OHCHR!
Jenna doesn’t call Alex on Tuesday, or on Wednesday, because Lemon says it’s better to let him wait. She insists it’s not playing hard to get, but rather a way of self protection. This way you can’t do anything rash and it ensures that you’re not just fooling yourself into thinking you like someone. So Jenna waits until Thursday, but she’s punched his number into her phone without calling at least four times in the last two days.
Lemon is ok with Thursday because the expiration date for the eggs and milk that Jenna didn’t buy at Al’s is on Sunday and she’s agreed that making chocolate chip – and cinnamon – cookies is a pretty good idea for a date, given the context of how they met, even if it does break the ‘don’t date at home’ rule. It’s a stupid rule in Jenna’s opinion, one that should really only apply for people under 21. After that they can be taken with a grain of salt. Besides, if he’d been a creep, he had plenty opportunity to be creepy on the night of the almost-robbery.
So now it’s Thursday and Jenna is on her lunch break and she’s staring at her phone display with the post-it note with Alex’s number in her hand. She has been looking forward to calling him so much and yet, now that the moment is here, she feels nervous. Sometimes she wonders if she’s not actually still 16. She ends up not calling him during lunch break. It is in that moment that she realises that it never gets easier. When she was younger she used to feel comforted by the prospect that her insecurity would vanish with age. Now that she’s older, she realises the only thing that has really changed is that there are more things to be insecure about. Things adults tell insecure teenagers are all so very untrue. LIES.
Things in the office have gotten no less tense. Jenna has tried ignoring it all week, but it’s easy to see that between her, Astrid and Peter, there is plenty of stress to go around. Bob constantly makes the rounds now, looking over their shoulders and checking their word count like it’s the Holy Grail. Jenna wants to tell him that it’s quality and not quantity that should be considered important, but maybe speaking up as such is not in her own best interest. The one who seems to be handling it best is Peter. So it’s really between Jenna and Astrid. Jenna doesn’t like the odds, but she’s just going to keep doing what she’s doing and see how that goes. And maybe in the mean time, she can look for another place to work. Maybe Lemon can help.
The day crawls by. It’s nearing four o’clock when Peter approaches Jenna’s desk.
"Hey, Jen," he begins – seriously, why does everyone call her Jen in the office? – "A bunch of us are going out for drinks, it’s happy hour at The Bar. Wanna come?"
Jenna smiles sadly up at him over her laptop screen. “Sorry, Pete, I can’t. I haven’t finished my piece,” she gestures vaguely at her screen.
"Oh, I see. Next time then?" he asks, then, hesitantly adds, "Don’t work too hard, Jen, you look a little tired."
Jenna purses her lips, but then smiles and shrugs a little, because it’s really not his fault and he’s nice enough. “Yeah. Well, have fun…”
Peter half smiles. Jenna wonders if he knows about the company’s struggles. Well, of course he does, they all do and it’s never really been a secret, but Jenna wonders if he knows how directly it’s affecting them. He probably does, because he can do the math. Jenna sighs. He’s probably seen it coming and he has probably been ready for it since the day he was born. Jenna hates being such a junior and so naive about things. It’s disappointing.
She goes back to her article, as most of the office empties out to go to the bar. It isn’t long before she’s alone in the office. Monica from administration is still there, but they don’t speak much besides the mandatory good mornings and good nights at the beginning and end of the day. Still, there’s an upside to being in the office by herself. It’s quiet and there aren’t any distractions to keep her from writing. It only takes her fifteen minutes to finish the rest of her story and she e-mails it to Bob. He isn’t in the office today, though, so he probably won’t see it until the next morning, but at least the timestamp will say it was sent on Thursday. With some luck, the piece won’t require that much of a rewrite and she can send it to her client before lunch tomorrow.
There’s really not all that much more to do after that – Jenna hasn’t gotten the briefing for the next client yet – so Jenna looks through her inbox for anything to kill the time, but her inbox is as uneventful as ever.
Since nobody is here to check on her anyway, she opens up her personal e-mail and hits Compose.
Subject: It’s not in the recipe.
It’s Jenna. You know, from Al’s. I’m sorry it took me a couple of days to get in touch, but I
guess I just needed to take a moment, because what happened at Al’s was pretty crazy.
I’m writing because you told me to call if I needed help with anything and I realised that cinnamon is not included in my chocolate chip cookie recipe. So I could use your help. And most of the ingredients expire on Sunday so we should probably make sure we figure it out before that.
She hits send. It’s kind exhilarating in an incredibly silly way. After all, it’s only an e-mail and it’s about cookies. It’s not like that’s anything special and she has only seen this guy once. Trying to rationalise it doesn’t take away the little flutter in her stomach at the thought of seeing him again. Don’t get your hopes up, Jenna reminds herself as she has to consciously stop herself from hitting the refresh button every three seconds. To keep her mind otherwise occupied, she opens up a new browser window and types www.ohchr.org in the address bar. It takes less than a second to load. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, it says in the header. Oh that’s right, he said something about working for the UN. Ok, she’s going to have a hard time not getting her hopes up now, because not only was he pretty heroic in the store, standing up to that robber like that, but he also fights for human rights? Wow.
That’s so out of my league, Jenna thinks, noticing a sinking feeling setting in, when there’s a tiny ping from her laptop, indicating she has new e-mail. Jenna clicks on the notification on the bottom right of her screen.
From: Alexander Young <Alexander.Young@ohchr.org>
Subject: re: It’s not in the recipe.
We best get to it then, how’s tomorrow?
Jenna stares at the e-mail for a second or two. The only thing she can type is asdfghjkl;.