Let’s catch up with Jaime, our Tattoo Girl. She’s still thinking about a different job.
This post is standalone, but if you’d like to read earlier installments, please see links at the end of this post.
When Jaime got home that night, the light on her answering machine was blinking. No one she knew had an answering machine these days. Everyone had gone to voicemail on their cell phones. No one had a land line anymore, let alone an old-style answering machine. Jamie liked it. She got it from her parents’ house after they converted to machine-readable voicemail on their home phone line. The little red light indicating a message felt comforting, and she enjoyed the physical sensation of pressing a button to play the message. Plus, it was fun to hear the sound of a friend’s voice reverberating through the rooms of her apartment as the message played back.
She put off listening just yet. First, she always patted Mr. Mittens, as his reward for waiting all day for her to come home. He was in his usual place on the carpeted cat perch beside the window. He stretched out his neck as she scratched him under the chin.
The message was from Tamara. “Call me,” she said. Mysteriously.
It was like Tamara to be so dramatic. No indication of what she might have to say, though undoubtedly it was about Jaime’s job search. Possibly a job lead. Jaime decided to put off the call back. She had a feeling it wouldn’t be good news, though she wasn’t sure why. She padded into the kitchen and started making a taco salad for dinner. The summer evening was warm.
She was halfway through her meal, doing the New York Times crossword puzzle (Tuesday, fairly easy) at the small kitchen table when the phone rang. Beep! went her message machine at the end of the recorded greeting. She waited.
“Jaime? Did you get my message? Call me! They’ll want to know tomorrow and, well, just call me.”
Jaime sighed. She should be more grateful for Tamara’s help. She should be checking the want ads on Craigslist, or somewhere, wherever it was that people posted jobs these days. She’d found her Office Depot job on a fluke, walking in and asking if they were taking applications. Nathan had been at the counter and he had said, “Sure – we take them on-line, though. There’s a computer over there-” he pointed to a small desk by the copying department – “just fill out and application and you can submit it right away.”
Finding employment was always a perplexing experience for Jaime. She felt like she should have had a course in it in high school. But of course, now all that information would be out of date, anyway.
After she put her dishes in the sink, Jaime went over to pat Mr. Mittens again. He appreciated the attention, as he always did, and she felt better. Mr. Mittens brought out her better self, she thought. She would call Tamara.
“There’s this receptionist position at a law firm downtown,” Tamara said, when she answered Jaime’s call. “It’s got great hours – 9-4 Monday through Thursday – and after six months you can get benefits.”
“Oh?” Jaime pictured the kind of apparel she’d have to wear to work in a law office. It didn’t seem like anything in her closet.
“Now. They want to see you tomorrow, 10:00 sharp. Bring your resume – I’m emailing it over-”
“Tamara, I have work tomorrow. The early shift.”
“Skip it! Call in sick. This job has steady hours, no more of that shift work. Plus you’ll get Fridays to do your art. If you want.”
“I don’t know -” Jaime didn’t want to think of letting Nathan down. She had never lied about missing work before.
“This is a good job,” Tamara said. “You want to work at Office Depot the rest of your life?”
“You say it’s for a receptionist? I don’t have any experience.” Jaime took the phone over to the couch and sat down. Mr. Mittens hopped off his perch and plopped up on the cushion beside her, purring even before his paws hit the plush upholstery.
“You don’t need experience to be a receptionist,” Tamara insisted. “It’s just greeting clients, asking them to wait and buzzing the attorney they’re there for. Easy.”
“What about the phone system?” Jaime had seen the 2- and 4-line phones in the telephone aisle at work. They looked complicated.
“Oh, you’ll pick that up in no time, I’m sure. Now. The name of the Office Manager is Corrie – C-O-R-R-I-E . . .”
Jaime said, “No.” In spite of herself, she had shuddered at the familiar name. A coincidence. But that wasn’t what made her turn down Tamara’s offer.
“. . . and you should arrive a few minutes before ten . . .”
“I’m not going,” Jaime said.
Mr. Mittens laid his head on Jaime’s lap. She patted his silky ears absently.
“What? Why not?” Tamara asked.
“Look,” Jaime said, “I’m working in retail now. I don’t think a job as a receptionist will pay much better. I’d rather stay where I am until I find something I really want to do.” Adding, “Does that make sense?”
“Yeah. Sure. – I thought you’d like this better. That’s all.”
“I really appreciate it,” Jaime said, soothing Tamara’s feelings. “I just don’t think it would be a good fit.”
“Oh. Okay. Do you have a lead on anything else?” Tamara asked.
“Not yet. But I’m looking into a couple of things.” There was that art collective thing, even though it was only volunteer. She wouldn’t mind volunteering for a while, and she might even learn more about her interests that way. She could make Office Depot work for a bit longer, if needed.
Mr. Mittens rolled over onto his back, still purring, stretching his long front paws out over his head. Doing his “kitty yoga,” as Jaime like to call it.
“Well, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,” Tamara said.
After she hung up, Jaime thought about the odd coincidence of the law firm interviewer’s name being the same as Corey from work, who Mr. Mittens had warned her against. She wondered if Mr. Mittens was the kind of cat who might change his mind about a person after he got to know them. She wondered if it was Corey’s drug past that had made Mr. Mittens antagonistic that time Corey came up to her apartment. Or if it was something else. Something he hadn’t yet told her.
She got up and went out to the kitchen. It was time to put dishes in the sink and then, mercifully, go to bed. It had been a long day – not busy, but slow – and those days were the longest. Her feet were tired.
And she had the early shift in the morning.
I hope you’re enjoying our journey with Jaime, the Tattoo Girl!