With my head buried in my hands, my slumped back, and impatient demeanor I wasn't the picture of a model worker. I hadn't felt like coming into work that morning, but nonetheless I'd dragged my sorry ass out of bed with the ringing of my alarm and drove to work. It felt as if there were someone drilling into my head and it took blocking out the light to keep my head from exploding. Whether it had been the 1.5 beers I'd had, the loud music, the five-and-a-half hours of sleep, or a combination of all three, I had what was undoubtable my worst headache ever. And that was saying something.
The events of last night replayed in my head over and over, almost to the point of insanity: the good parts including Lana, and the not-so good parts including Stephen driving and a drunk Monja. After, somewhat unwillingly, leaving the dance floor, Stephen and I had been burdened with the task of getting Monja into the car. She'd protested at first with "but I'm not tired" and "screw work" , and then had proceeded to tell us off with language that would put any sailor to shame. When Monja was safely lying in the back and strapped in twice, Stephen proceeded to get into the driver's seat and I into shotgun. His driving had been sporadic and unconfident to say the least, but I'd expected as much; on the way out of the party he'd decided to drive through the field rather than the trampled path that already existed. I was just glad he didn't hit an animal or person on the way home, and doubly grateful that when Monja proclaimed she had to throw up, she did so out the window. It was much easier whipping up what was left on the door than it would have been to clean the inside of the car.
Though there had been repercussions, I didn't regret last night (at least not all of it). When I was a kid I used to love blowing out candles, it was like a little act of rebellion in which I could relish; that's how I viewed last night. A little act of rebellion. A little taste of my new found freedom.
"Est-tu correcte? Are you okay?" My coworkers, who was convinced I wasn't a day over 16, had been fussing over me all morning. Her name was Claudine and she had the whitest hair I'd ever seen, and that included my grandparents. Claudine, unlike my manager, seemed far more concerned with my general well-being than with my lack of work. "You should ask Mathieu for the day off," she said once more.
"No, no. I'm fine, just a headache," I brushed her off with a wave of my hand. I gave a slight groan, despite myself, and started massaging my temples.
At that precise moment Mathieu decided to walk in. "Amelia, you have been like that for the past two hours. Not getting any work done. Classes will be starting soon. What do you think I'm paying you for?" Behind Mathieu's fake smile and patience, annoyance was thinly veiled.
The placement had put me working in an art studio/ art school. It was a tiny studio that had incorporated the tiny cleaner's business next door when it had gone under. One half of it was dedicated to selling random crap and art supplies and then the other half was dedicated to teaching basic art tricks. There were classes for kids starting at five all the way up to people basically on their death bed. At first I had been excited, I loved art of any kind, but I soon found out that I was more of a housekeeper, or when needed, a cashier: I rung up clients, cleaned the floors, cleared off the tables after classes, and made sure that the place looked somewhat presentable. Not that I had done anything as of yet.
My favourite thing by far was the mural on the outside garage: ici pour les arts.
"You have a pottery class, Claudine," Mathieu informed her. She gave me a smile and nodded to her boss before walking off to prepare for her class. He turned to me. "I am not paying money to have you sit behind the counter and groan all day. Go clean up the store and ring up any customers that may come in. Alles!"
Grudgingly I got up from my somewhat comfortable spot behind the counter and took the broom up to the store. I stole a glance at the clock and was sorely disappointed: 11:03. Another five hours to work, and I probably shouldn't risk too much of a lunch break. Letting out a sigh I began working for the day. I was being payed 10.75$ per hour for the job, just slightly over the minimum wage. Still, a job was a job:
8 weeks x 35 hours per week x 10.75$ per hour = 3 010$
3 010$ was nothing to turn your nose up to. This summer's work, coupled with my modest college fund, should be enough to get me through my first year.
After an hour-and-a-half of sweeping and dusting dutifully, rearranging knocked over art supplies, and cleaning the windows, some customers finally came in. The two art enthused teenagers bought out most of the coloured pencil stock, some shaders and erasers, and a couple HB pencils. It was the most fun I'd had all day, which is as depressing as it sounds.
I was about to return to my cleaning when I felt the phone in my pant pocket begin to vibrate. Great, it would be just like Mom to call me in the middle of the work day and then freak out when I didn't answer. So I snuck off to the bathroom as quickly as possible and took out my iPhone. The number was long and unknown, usually that meant it was just a scam, but then I remembered that Lana had promised to call. I answered the call, "Hello?" I whispered.
There was a pause and then, "Good day, this is an automated voice message. You have been chosen from our randomly selected..." I hung up. Of course it was just a scam.
Leaving the stall in which I'd been hiding I went up to the bathroom mirror. The unflattering orange light flickered and the mirror was slightly dirty—I'd have to clean that as well. I ran a finger under my eye to catch loose makeup and finger-combed my hair. Sleek, shiny, and thin were words I liked to think described my hair, not to mention a heat magnet. I'd put on my favourite professional outfit, done my hair and makeup with care, and then had come to work only to find out excessive makeup was forbidden and there was a uniformed shirt. What kind of art place denied employees the right to wear makeup?
As I was about to leave my phone went off again, and believing it was Mom, I checked it once more. The number was another unknown one but not nearly as long as the previous. It was likely someone's actual phone number, "Hello?" I answered.
"Amelia Chen?" the familiar voice asked, a mix between curious and playful.
"Oui?" Then I recalled something I hadn't thought of before: I'd never given Lana my number, she had only given me hers. Usually that meant I was the one who had to call her, not the other way around. "Wait, how did you get my number? I never gave it to you..."
"Details, details. That's not important. What is important is that I'm taking you out on a date like none other." My breath caught in my throat. It was happening. My first time being asked out by anybody: in the rundown bathroom of my somewhat-sucky new job.
"Uh... Oh?... I mean, oui... Yes, that's a yes!" I replied finally, decisively.
Lana laughed again. "Alright, you seem enthusiastic, that's good. I'll see you tonight at five." Beep. I let the beeping in my ears continue for a moment while I processed what had just happened. And then, unlike my usually well put-together self, I gave a little jump and fist squeeze. I caught a look of myself in the mirror, smiling like a middle-schooler asked to the school dance. But it didn't matter. A date with Lana. That warranted this reaction.
My headache suddenly forgotten and the phone tucked safely into my pocket again, I went out to finish my shift.