Trying to Throw my Arms Around the World Part 1

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When it started

It all started nine years ago when I did something really stupid, but in my defence, I did think I was doing the right thing at the time. I was fresh out of school and had just gotten this job doing admin at a paper factory. Of course, I wanted to be a journalist, just like everyone else in my year, but it was either really small town journalism for no bucks, or making some money and getting out of there as quickly as possible. I chose the latter, because, well, I had a very firm belief that my chance at romance would increase dramatically once I had some money to move to the city. I was wrong. I’ve been wrong many times in my life. But who expects to find love, or at least something similar to it, during the first week of the first job of their life? Really?

So, there I was, trying to perfect my two-finger typing method on some letter, when I got a call from Mrs Stevens, PA to The Biggest Boss of all. She asked me to meet her in her office straight away. This made me a little nervous because I had no idea what she wanted, maybe it was customary for her to meet every new employee, or maybe I had done something wrong, but surely I couldn’t get sacked already? I knocked on her door while butterflies shook up my tummy, and I only got rid of those butterflies when it was way too late. You see, Mrs Stevens turned out to be Nathalie Daniels, my old youth club leader whom I had the crushest of crushes on when I was fifteen. And she wanted me to work alongside her that week, all week, from nine to five, as they say.

Now, when I say I had a crush on her, I actually meant that I as good as stalked her for about six months. You don’t know this about me yet, but I have a pretty obsessive personality. It scares me sometimes, but my sense of humour helps me cope with it. I don’t cut myself any slack when it comes to ridiculing myself. I don’t deserve it. Either way, the scene at that point looked to me as if Nathalie Daniels was about to get her own back almost ten years later. But you know what? I was wrong. As I said, this happens often.

Of course she already knew who I was, who forgets a name like Lee Harriet Robinson, especially when you’ve associated it with lusty teen poetry and crank calls for several months in your teenage years. I changed my name to Lee Harlem Robinson when I turned eighteen, but I honestly don’t know exactly why. It must have been some subconscious sex thing, but I still have to go and see a shrink about that.

Nathalie was only a couple of years older than me, three years, five months and seventeen days to be exact, and she already was the PA of PA’s, and I just started working at the bottom of the admin shelve. The scene was not working on my behalf. Especially because Mrs Stevens, as she was now called, due to a heterosexual marriage to Peter Stevens, pretended in a very non-pretending way not to recognise me. I was wise beyond my years in knowing that bad memories are memories too. So I knew and she knew, but we both started pretending.

That night at the bar

“Oh hello, Miss Robinson, right? Do sit down. I’m Mrs Stevens, but you can call me Nathalie. How have your first couple of days been?”

“Nice to meet you, Nathalie. It’s going great so far. What can I do for you?”

“Well, we have a bit of an emergency here. I usually have two colleagues working with me, Linda and Sue. Linda had to start her maternity leave earlier than planned and Sue has fallen ill this week. We’re getting a replacement for Linda next Monday, but with Sue out of the picture, I need someone extra this week. Of course, I have cleared this with your immediate superior, Mrs Clarks. So as of this afternoon, you’ll be working with me.”

“Sure, if it’s fine with everyone else it’s OK with me.”

“Wonderful, are you ready for a crash course then? Things can get really busy here, but it will give me a chance to show you the ropes.”

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