Author's note: I'm thinking about just re-naming my blog Libby Discusses Boys.
As time dragged on and to-do lists were diminishing, she set about the task she hated the most. Her excuses for avoiding it were growing weak and you can only stare off into the distance for so long so she bit the proverbial bullet. Sooner or later it would have to get done and sooner is better. These are the things that she actively thinking, anyway—the encouragements she dolled out like candy to herself. Calling a list of people and reciting, for the most part, the same script is in no way difficult but it can be uncomfortable at times.
A few days prior she was describing it to a friend, “No matter how much you enjoy your work, there's always that one task that is terrible like eggshells in your breakfast.” When she worked at the deli, she hated pickles—the cursed, damn things. Transferring pickle spears from a big bucket into a series of smaller buckets doesn't sound like a tedious task but to accomplish this task, she'd have to go into the refrigerator, stand on her head and try to pull the lid off of the five-gallon bucket all while keeping her skin intact. Cut your fingers. Consider quitting your job. Consider the rent and then go in for it again. This time you will finally pry the lid off only to find that this bucket is an empty bucket. You give up, for now, and move on to something much less irritating—something like the slicing and dividing up of a dozen pounds of pastrami. This is, perhaps, a loosely translated version of how it was explained during her training.
This present task is her pickle bucket. Though probably not as extreme. She would rather call strangers for an hour than wrestle that bucket into submission one more time—even if it promised to give up easy. It's simple enough, call a list of people and remind them all of the same thing. No one ever sounds annoyed or irritated when she calls but she feels like, if she was on the receiving end of that phone call, she would be bugged. Not to mention, she's always afraid that she won't know how to pronounce someone's name, she'll forget her script, the person for whom she is calling has died. So far, none of these things have come to pass but they will and it might be today.
Today's call list was just like any other, though much longer—not insurmountable.
“Good afternoon, I'm calling for Mr. Soandso.”
“Hello, Mr. Soandso, my name is Libby and I'm calling from a place to tell you a thing.”
“Oh, thanks for telling me that thing!”
“You're welcome. Have a great day—stop in and see us soon.”
“Oh, I will.”
He seemed nice. One down, a dozen to go.
As she prepared to dial the next number, a man approached. He was about her age, it's hard to tell. She's a horrible judge of things like age, height, distance, temperature, temperament. All she knew was that while there was an absence of a wedding ring (which is nearly impossible to come by in this town), there was the presence of neatly groomed facial hair and those are two pluses. She also felt embarrassed to have noticed the left hand. She almost never notices it and it shamed her. She stood up and walked toward him—not because she was attracted to him, but because she was suddenly, actively pursuing her customer service skills.
“Can I help you?”
“Hello. What can I do for you?” She clapped on “do” like she does when the old folks come in. Why did I clap just now? Who claps?
“Did you just call me?”
“Perhaps, what's your name?”
“I'm Soandso,” extends hand. Handshake?
“Oh, yes. I did. I was just calling to tell you [the script, verbatim that I'd shared with him less than two minutes prior]. But you know that.”
“Yeah, I just thought that the girl on the phone sounded really cute and I wanted to come over here and see if she was. I was just over there when you called.”
“Oh. [nervous, unspellable, incomprehensible, Liz Lemon sounds] Oh. Okay.” She could feel the heat rushing up her neck, over her cheeks and through her ears. Oh, God. Blushing. I'm blushing. What is this? The day of doing stuff you almost never, ever do?
He smiled really, really wide. Obviously he was proud of his ability to garner a physical reaction. “Well, see you later.” And he left.
“Thanks.” She squeaked. Smooth. So fucking smooth.
Later, on her break, she sat over-analyzing the conversation because how else should she be expected to fill her free time? It was a brief, flattering encounter. What should she have said or done? Mostly, though, she just thought of things that would probably be bad for business. Wait! She sat up straight and gripped her Diet Coke. He didn't say I was cute.