Well, it’s time to hear from The Tattoo Girl again! Let’s see what she’s been up to since being rescued from bad date Corey by her cat, Mr. Mittens . . .
This post is standalone, but if you’d like to read earlier installments, please see links at the end of this post.
It was time for a new job.
Jaime had avoided Corey at work after their aborted date (thank you, Mr. Mittens!). But she had only taken the OfficeCo job out of convenience – it was down the street from her apartment. You’d think a job at OfficeCo, a chain office supply store, would have benefits, like health insurance and a 401(K). But it turned out to be a bit complicated, especially for part-time workers like Jaime. If she went full-time, she could also be up for the manager position, which earned a better salary, but Jaime had no inclination to be a manager. Nathan, the manager she liked best, had offered to train her.
She trusted Nathan. Mr. Mittens hadn’t had a chance at Nathan yet, but something told her Nathan was trustable. In the same conversation when Nathan offered to train Jaime as a manager, he had also told her, “In my opinion it would be a mistake to take a manager job here. I’m doing it only because I play my music and the hours work out, and I need the bene’s,” – short for benefits – “but you – you have more to offer, and it’d be a mistake to tie yourself down to Corporate America, in the person of Office Depot. – No offense.”
That was probably why she trusted Nathan. Not that that the “more to offer” bit, but that he was honest even when it didn’t benefit him.
You have more to offer. But what?
She still did bodybuilding in her days off. Jaime briefly flirted with the notion of teaching for the place she went to. But – no. She sensed it would be sporadic work at best, and where that might have appealed to her some months before, when she’d just left her marriage, that wasn’t the direction she wanted now.
Her real dream was . . . hmmm. Other than the bodybuilding and enjoying time with her cat, Mr. Mittens, Jaime had no idea of what her real dream might be.
When you have been in a marriage with a lawyer nothing seems like a good job. There are lawyers who are kind and incisive, but her former husband was neither of these. Well, incisive, perhaps. But not kind. Oh, the words he had used to disparage her interests, one after the other. One after the other. After the other.
The idea came from Nathan, actually. In the break room one Thursday when Jaime made her mid-shift pot of Darjeeling tea and Nathan poured a cup of coffee he said, “What do you do, Jaime?”
She’d been telling Nathan that she’d decided to take his advice, and look for another job – not the manager job.
“What do I do?”
“Yeah. Like, plums ripen, dogs bark, chairs sit. . . .”
He was a poet. Great.
“Chairs sit?” she repeated.
“What do you do – I mean, without trying?”
“Well, there’s the bodybuilding,” she started.
“With no effort. Without even trying,” he said.
She had no answer. No one had ever asked the question before, not even her parents. She supposed that her mother, a high school chemistry teacher, and her father, an expert in radio telemetry, had assumed she’d be a science nerd, like they were. But they had never discussed it. Not even when she’d decided on college, at free-thinking Evergreen in Olympia, Washington. She always thought something more in The Arts was her preference.
But that didn’t matter when she’d dropped out – taken a break – after a couple of years. Then she met Anton, the lawyer, and before she knew it, she was Mrs. Anton, living in a downtown condo and waiting for her life to start.
She’d have to think about Nathan’s question. What did she do?
That night when she got home she sat down to Mr. Mittens, who was waiting for her in his little faux-fur cat bed on the window sill. He’d gazed at her as she came out the kitchen with a bowl of reheated tortilla soup and an IPA. She set the beer down on the coffee table, called out to Alexa to play Jazz 24, and then started eating her soup.
“Well, Mr. Mittens?” she asked. “What have you been up to all day?”
Mr. Mittens just looked at her, eyes full of daytime longing, and when she reached out to scratch him under his chin, he started purring instantly.
“Oh, if only I were a cat,” Jaime said, “and all I needed to think about was purring for my owner and making sure I got fed. Hmm.”
She ate her soup to the sound of Herbie Hancock, and then John Coltrane. Some Wes Montgomery guitar came on after that. She thought about Nathan’s question.
What do I do?
Then it hit her. There was something. Something she hadn’t thought about in a long time. Since before Anton.
Tomorrow she’d call Tamara. Tamara might know how to get started.