I am your savior from a life of monotony. I am the provider, the one who gives you a reason to go to work on Fridays.
I am the insurance of your hard work, the one there for you during your momentous occasions, your family reunions, your honeymoons, your birthdays and retirement celebrations.
Relax. Because I am the gateway, the doorman to the building of happiness.
I am, undeniably, all these things.
And across the room, Colin’s been better at it than me for the past four years. He jumps up from his desk now as he disconnects from a call and removes his headset, staring at me with a sly grin on his face. He grabs a piece of paper and winks at me.
“Five-grand, Cayman Islands,” he says, balling the paper up and cocking back in his three-point stance. “Just hit a mil, my friend. My shit is smooth as butter.” He tosses the paper in my trash can. “Boo-yah.”
I hate it when he does that, and I want to point out to him how dumb and gross that “smooth shit” comment was, wipe that smug grin of his face. But instead I just grumble “Nice, Colin. Real nice.”
“I’m a nice type of mofo,” he quips, strutting towards the break room.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes again.
I supply your escape, grant you a safe return when it’s all over. I deliver you back to your real life smiling and refreshed, direct to your front door if necessary. I send you follow-up emails to ensure you feel cared for even after you’re out of my hands.
I am a travel agent, and this is my office.
Rose sits to my far right, and she watches Colin as he walks past her and hesitates for just a moment to rub her shoulder, dangerously close to her right breast. She moves her arm away and glances at me, raising an eyebrow. I shrug and turn to the computer in front of me, my station, my tool to construct your destiny. It’s nearly nine-thirty and I’ve yet to log in. I stare at the arrow on the monitor, hovering over the username tab. I click, type my name and password. The TropLocale company website logo pops up—a sliced open pineapple with a shadowy surfing silhouette pouring out of it—and I’m welcomed by the server. I sigh.
“What’s up with Colin?” Rose asks. I glance over and see that she’s rolled her chair next to mine. Her skirt is classy, professional, tight. I can just barely see the curve of her thigh through the thin fabric and I imagine taking her down to the Bahamas resort location, or maybe Turks and Cacos for a weekend. Maybe forever.
“Same as always,” I say, glancing at the break room to see Colin grinning at another employee and throwing jabs at the air. “Starts his mornings with a Red Bull and Viagra. He’ll masturbate in the coffee pot later, no doubt.”
“He does have that spread the seed vibe, doesn’t he?” she asks, looking at Colin with disgust in her beautiful eyes. “Probably thinks it’d boost everybody’s sales.”
I chuckle and she smiles. I want to kiss her.
“How was your weekend?” I ask, too quickly.
She continues to smile, but her eyes fade, just a little.
“Nice,” she says, pausing and staring at me sheepishly. “Spent Saturday at the beach with Matt.”
I glance at the computer so she won’t see my face drop. She does anyways.
“How’d that go?” I ask.
“It was… nice.”
I nod, as if nice explains it all. And it does. Nice is the mask for the all-encompassing uncomfortable reality of any situation, every hand-holding, sweaty-roll-in-the-hay moment of it.
The summary for it’s better you didn’t know the details.
Rose pats my shoulder.
“And yours?” she asks, her tone suggesting the question’s a simple courtesy.
“Mine?” I say, and then whistle slightly. “Mine was…”
Nice, I think.
“Mine was… you know.”
Rose smiles again, and I still want to kiss her though the thought makes me sick to my stomach now.
“I’m glad you’re doing okay, Lance,” she says. “I really am.”
She turns and rolls her chair away. I focus on the computer monitor, and stare at the blinking cursor, waiting impatiently. I am the director without a script. I am the politician, run by his constituents.
I glance over and Rose is beside me again. My throat rises. I am the symbol of anticipation.
“You should come by the house sometime.”
My eyes grow wide.
“Matt and I would love to have you over. And Trixie would love to see you again.” She pauses. “She barks whenever I mention you.”
I stare at Rose and she looks away nervously. I finally turn back to my screen.
“Yeah,” I say. “I’d love to.”
“Good,” she says. “Give us a call sometime.”
Rose rolls her chair away and I’m left with the pissed-off blinking cursor on the screen.
I am the sacrifice, the bank for your negative emotions.
I pick up my headset and answer the first call, an elderly woman planning a trip to Jamaica for her and her husband’s thirtieth anniversary in a few months.
“Before I go any further, sir,” she says brusquely, after I’ve taken down her basic information. “Will it be raining when we go down there? I don’t want our trip to be ruined. And I trust you realize it will be ruined if it rains.”
I glance at the calendar on my desk as she speaks. It’s November, and I’m scheduling this lady’s trip for next June. She’d like me to forecast the summer weather on a tropical island seven months in advance.
“No ma’am,” I say, without hesitation. “Clear skies all summer long.”
“Well, that’s nice to know,” she says, and I hear glass break far off in the background. “Very nice.”