The Moment of Triumph
The next day I found out that Calvin had been dating his annoyingly perfect secretary, Rebecca, for the past week. But then, they had broken up – until Calvin wrote her a letter and then they got back together.
In other words: my pen had been useful. For Calvin and Rebecca. For me, this meant a whole new level of depression which, not even my usual remedy of watching Pride & Prejudice while eating chocolate and crying until I was literally dehydrated, could fix.
What more did Rebecca have that me? Answer: everything. Perfectly straight hair, for example.
And, most importantly, she had Calvin. My Calvin.
Grrr! I was sure that they were unbelievably happy together. They would go on long walks holding hands, and they would talk about what they should name their kids. She’d definitely choose sophisticated names like Nicole or Oliver. Poor Calvin, he wouldn’t know what hit him.
And if that weren’t bad enough, Sarah was not being supportive at all.
We went out for lunch at a cafe. (There was no way I could stand seeing Calvin and Rebecca feeding each other that day’s special in the caf!).
“Don’t worry Jess, everything will be ok” Sarah said. “Hakuna matata!”
Ok, my world was coming to an end and she was quoting Lion King?
“Nothing’s gonna be ok,” I snarled. “Unless I get my hands on some arsenic.”
“Hmm, a little extreme, and also quite impossible.”
“I mean so that I can give it to Rebecca.”
“That’s also extreme. Not that it’s not a good idea. But a little extreme. Besides, no offense, but I don’t think a striped suit would suit you.”
“I’m pretty sure that nothing suits me. I might as well wear a potato sack.”
“Hmm, it wouldn’t work.”
“What? The potato sack?” I asked.
“No, I mean between Calvin and Rebecca. Think about it. They’ve been together for a week and they’ve already broken up twice. I give them two more weeks... three tops.”
“Do you believe that?” I asked excited. “Like, for real?”
“Uh huh,” Sarah replied. “In other words, you can stop obsessing and focus on more serious things.”
She was right. After lunch, we had a test on income statements and, even thought I was really good at accounting, I couldn’t remember if revenue or expenses were first when writing an income statement.
“I’m referring to the mystery of John’s extracurricular activities,” Sarah said.
Oh! And I thought she actually meant important matter when she said “important things”. She, Derek and James has been talking about that all morning long. I was actually at the point where I felt sorry for John (not to mention myself, for having to listen to all their plans even thought I wasn’t in a good mood). Why couldn’t they just leave the guy alone? Did it really matter if he and Amanda were getting it on at the office?
“Why don’t you ask someone from the evening cleaning crew?” I asked bored. “I’m pretty sure about half of them are in love with John anyways, so I’m sure they’d know.”
“We already tried that,” S said. “James stayed till 5:30 last night and went around asking all the women. In fact, they were all flattered that he was talking to them. As for the secret affair, however, they didn’t know anything. They told James to ask Amanda or John.”
“What if they were lying?” I asked.
“Oh my God, you’re right! What if they were covering up for them? Do you think John has paid them to keep them quiet? Or maybe...”
I zoned out and started thinking about the test. At that point, that test – and I wish this were true for other tests – seemed like paradise. I looked down at my watch, and was relieved that lunch was over.
On the way to Kingston, Sarah realized that she forgot her notebook and went to her desk to get it.
I just kept walking down the hall with my head in my book, trying to memorize the rules for the test. It wouldn’t hurt to read over my notes right before the test to make sure I knew everything. Plus, I’d be busy in case I happened to run into Calvin and Rebecca.
Evidently I was really concentrating on my notes because, a minute later, I tripped and almost fell on someone. When I looked up from my book, I realized that my bad luck never stopped. Standing right in front of me was the guy from The Food Emporium.
Up until now, I had managed to successfully avoid him at all costs. Whenever he’d walk in a room, I’d leave, and if we were ever in the same room for a meeting, I’d look in every direction except his.
But, sadly, in this case, I couldn’t ignore him.
“Whoa,” he said when he found his balance. “That was a close one.”
Idiot, watch where you’re going, I thought, but didn’t say anything. I only gave him a cold look. And he laughed.
“Are you always this clumsy?”
I knew very well what he was referring to. He clearly hadn’t forgotten the whole wine incident and thought he’d keep bringing it up. But I was gonna show him that I wouldn't allow him to mention it again.
“It’s not my fault you’re standing in the way,” I said.
I wanted to leave it at that; superior and dignified. But what I actually sounded like was a spoiled brat. Damn it! What was it about this guy that brought out the five year old in me? Me, a person who under normal circumstances, is very mature!
“Uhh... Jessica, that’s your name right?” he said. “I just wanted to...”
“I don’t want you hurt your feelings, but I really don’t care what you want,” I interrupted him.
He was stunned. Yay! I finally did it! That definitely sounded superior, and not a bit childish.
At that moment Paris and London appeared along with a bunch of marketing and accounting employees for the test. Paris greeted him casually (and with flair), but he didn’t seem to notice. He had continued to look at me, and when everyone was standing within hearing distance, he said:
“The sure thing is that you act like a little kid. Like a spoiled little brat. I haven’t met many people who are like you.”
Of course everyone heard him and burst out laughing. Evidently, they thought it was hilarious. But I wasn’t going to let him come on top.
“Yea, see?” I said. “We have something in common.”
And with my head held high, I walked right past him into the room.
When in the room, I could hear him laughing like an idiot. He asked someone if I was always this immature. Probably Paris or London, or someone who hated me and would confirm that I was, but I couldn’t hear anything.
I sat towards the back of the room, and started sharpening my pencil pissed. From now on, I would go back to ignoring him.
S showed up at the last minute, out of breath, with the lecturer right behind her. The lecturer (David) shut the door, and placed the tests on the table.
“Hello, everyone,” he said. “Ready?”
Despite my anger, I was happy we were writing an accounting test. I was confident that I’d do a good job, and I definitely needed an ego boost.
David started passing the tests out (there were only 24 of us, so it wouldn’t take him too long).
When he got to where – in my opinion – no one was sitting, he paused and looked concerned.
“You must be Ben,” he said. “What are we going to do with you? John didn’t tell me anything. I’m assuming you haven’t prepared since you’re new here. You can sit this one out if you’d like.”
“No, it’s okay,” he said. “I can, at least, just try.”
“As you wish,” David said. “But I won’t mark you differently than I will everyone else. Just so you know.”
The idiot just smiled. And so did David, and then gave him a test.
Look at that, I thought. What a smartass. Look at him all relaxed and confident. Grrr! He was just like Paris and London.
“Well, Miss Brown,” David said as he gave me my test. “Are you prepared?”
“Uhh, yea, I think so,” I answered.
“Good luck,” he said and winked at me. He returned at the head of the table and announced that we were allowed 30 minutes to complete the test.
Technically, he wished everyone good luck, but I had the feeling that he said it especially for me, which I thought was really nice of him. Too bad he was fifty years old and twenty five years my senior, and happily married, because he was what I imaged Calvin would be when he’d be David’s age. A well spoken man who could see through artificial beauty and appreciate smart, real people.
My studying had paid off. I finished the exercises quite quickly, and I was almost certain that I had done them right. There were only a few minor things that I wasn’t sure about. I looked over the test once more and then handed mine up at the front.
The good thing about David is that he marked the tests in the order he got them. This meant that we’d know our test results at the end of the half hour. I was actually excited to see what I got.
“Okay, everyone, come get your tests,” I heard David say.
“What!?” Paris yelled. “Only fourteen right? That’s impossible. There must be some mistake. I was sick the one day. I don’t understand anything!”
You got that right, I thought. Anyone can see that you’re stupid. Oh, and you spend too much time brushing your hair.
“On average, you had twenty one out of thirty two questions right,” David announced. “I can’t imagine you guys being too happy with that. Do you people never study? This isn’t high school you know. In two weeks, you have the final exam so you better start studying for these tests if you want to pass.”
After that speech, I was reluctant to get my test, but I managed to put aside my insecurities, and with a slight tremor, took my test.
I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer, and then opened them and looked at the top right corner. Thirty out of thirty two right! Thank you God and whoever discovered accounting.
“Only two of you had a mark of thirty or higher,” David said while I was making my way back to my seat, holding my test paper with confidence.
“And those people are Jessica and... Ben. Jessica had thirty right and Ben had thirty one. Congratulations!”
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait a second. What!? Was it true that that idiot had come unprepared and managed to get almost perfect? How was this possible?
“I have to admit that I am impressed,” I heard David say. “Did you do a lot of accounting at your previous job?”
“No, can’t say I did. I think I was just lucky. But thanks.”
Grrr! He was being modest. At least that’s what it sounded like. It was impossible. It was disgusting.
Why, why couldn’t I have even a little bit of happiness? Why could I celebrate something for more than ten seconds?
He could have..., let’s say, have gotten fifteen right. Or even twenty five. Even twenty nine would have been ok. But thirty one – one more than me? UHH!!!
“Why do you look pissed?” Sarah asked me. “You should be grateful! I only got twenty two, and I’m not complaining!”
“I’m not pissed,” I hissed.
“Of course you are,” Sarah complained out loud. “It’s so obvious. You look like you’re gonna kill someone!”
“Can you shut up?” I said panicking. “There’s no need to yell.”
I didn’t want to give the new guy the satisfaction that I was upset. At least, not for a stupid reason, like the fact that he got one more question right than me. Why did I care, anyways?
Sadly, however, my wish did not come true. He had, of course, heard everything. He walked past Sarah and I, relaxed and with confidence and paused in front of S.
“Let her be upset,” he said. “She can’t control it. Surely, it’s the little kid in her.”
God, I hated him so much! I hated everything his cocky, confident, snob existence. Now my patience had run out. No more pretending he didn’t exist. This meant war!