I flipped through the various keys on my keyring until I found the one I needed, to let me into the innards of the office. I was finally at my "big girl" job. I had gotten the job at Child Protective Services and was going through their extensive training program, but I was actually in the office this week.
I trudged back through the cubicle farm until I found my own special plot, tucked in the back corner, with no windows in sight. All that was in my cubicle was a monitor, docking station which I'd be plugging my laptop onto shortly, a mouse, keyboard, and a large sheet of paper with "Welcome Aleah" printed on it in sterile permanent marker, with the names of my unit members autographed onto it.
All of my new coworkers had been nice enough, if not friendly. A lady who had been there the longest, named Shirley, when I was introduced to her on my first day in the office said, "I'll bother remembering your name once you've been here more than a year."
I threw my purse on a corner of my L-shaped desk and sat down hard in my chair. I put my laptop on the docking station and turned it on, and waited for it to purr to life. I leaned back and started scrolling through Facebook on my phone. I wouldn't start carrying my own caseload for another 2 months while I went through the training process, so I didn't have a lot to do except see if I received any new emails and waited for my mentor to arrive and decide what I was doing for the day.
"Knock, Knock!" a voice called out over my cubicle wall.
I grinned, despite myself. My mentor, William, sat in the cubicle next to me. He was tall (6'4"ish), with brown shaggy hair, built like a football player. Very solid. He was super goofy, and didn't take life too seriously. He was a really good looking guy, but you could tell he didn't see it, so he didn't have the arrogance that a lot of times comes with good looks. He wore a lot of Hawaiian print shirts (yes, even in December) that were too big for him.
He poked his head over the cubicle wall that separates us. "Hey kiddo."
I rolled my eyes at him. William was 5 years older than me, but you'd think he was 30 since he called me kiddo every time he saw me. "Hey!"
"We're heading out into the field in about a half hour. I have a bunch of investigations to initiate. You ready?"
And with that his face disappeared behind his cubicle wall again.
I got up to use the bathroom before heading out. On my way I passed two girls who work in my office- Stephanie and Mercedes- who didn't like me. It's not that they had ever said they didn't, but I could tell by the way they looked at me and stopped whispering when I approached. I was learning that being in an office was much like high school all over again.
After I was a couple cubicles past them, Mercedes called after me, "Hey, Aleah!"
I turned, hoping maybe they were actually being social. "Hey, girls!"
Stephanie rolled her eyes.
"I like your shoes," Mercedes began, dryly, "what brand are they?"
I looked down at my shoes. "Um, Diesel."
Mercedes crossed her arms over her chest. "Let me guess, Nordstrom rack?"
I frowned, having a feeling where this was going. "Actually, yes."
"Awww," Mercedes cooed, cocking her head to the side and smiling condescendingly at me. "That's so sweet. Your first big girl job, and you splurged on a pair of sale shoes?"
I fully turned my body to face the both of them at this point, and quickly looked them both up and down. Fashion was something I was actually knowledgeable about, and they may have been used to being mean girls and getting away with it, but that wasn't going to happen with me. I took a few steps towards them, so I was within arms' length of them. I reached out and lightly touched Stephanie's purse she had looped over her forearm. "Oh, Stephanie, where'd you get your purse?"
She puffed up her chest and spat, "Coach. You don't even know what Coach is?"
I quickly put my fingers up to my mouth and fake gasped. "Oh! Well, next time you want to walk around flaunting your Coach bag, you should make sure it isn't a fake." I was savvy enough to know the difference. And, even though I didn't even own one, I still had been around them a lot. Coach was actually my mom's bag of choice.
She opened her mouth to rebut, but I had already turned my attention to Mercedes. "And Mercedes... I really like your dress. Kate Spade, right?"
"Yeah, it was really popular. Two years ago."
She narrowed her eyes at me.
"Well, good chat. If you ever need some fashion tips, let me know!" I then turned on my heel and kept walking to the bathroom.
Once I was safe in the bathroom, I checked and made sure the stalls were all empty, and I took a few deep breaths. I leaned on the counter, studying myself in the mirror. My legs were shaking slightly. I hated being bitchy.
But I also hated being walked all over.
I scooped some water up and into my mouth, went to the bathroom, and took my time washing my hands. Once I felt I could walk without trembling, I left the bathroom, and noted the Bitch Squad was no where in sight.
Once I got home, I collapsed onto my couch.
My phone started ringing and I saw it was my dad calling. I hit ignore. I didn't feel like talking. I felt tired.
He called back again, immediately. I sighed. "Hello?"
"Aleah..." my dad's voice was shaky. "I just found out grandpa was given only a day or two to live."
I'm posting this a little early, as a thank you for your patience. The comments left about your excitement for my return were so sweet, and much needed. I was honestly considering, as of today, to postpone my return until January. I've had 3 of the most discouraging and saddening weeks of my life. The next few posts may reflect that, as I'm healing and my writing will help me do that, I believe. The day after I posted my last update post, I received a call from my uncle that my grandpa (dad's dad) had a day or two to live. All of my family resides about 10 hours away from where I live, plus I was 2 hours away from home out of town for a training for work. I left and drove there that night and got to see him before he passed, early morning the Sunday after. While there, I got to visit all of my extended family. Last week on Wednesday my grandma passed away (mom's mom). And last Friday (on my birthday!), I was in a car accident that totaled my car. It's been a rough, unbelievable, few weeks. So, this is just to reiterate how much the sweet comments meant to me. I'm excited to return and have missed you all! I can't promise a consistent schedule right now, but I will attempt to post again, soon.
I also promise everything that was left off will be addressed. I am picking up in current time, though, and needed to transition and put a few new characters into the story, so this was the ideal way to do it.