|A Change in Direction
Author: Jayeliwood PM
I had been out of work for so long and I had no idea what I was going to do next. Things aren't going the way I thought they would when I finished college. Sometimes you just have to go in the direction life takes you, and pray for the best...Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 34 - Words: 177,869 - Reviews: 4,317 - Favs: 1,355 - Follows: 1,041 - Updated: 05-23-12 - Published: 12-12-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7631766
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Um, yeah, hi. It's me. I know it's been a long time since you've heard from me, almost a year. I've been itching to write again, though I'd prefer it for something other than fan fic but I think this story would be best for that.
Gosh, I hope you guys haven't forgotten about me completely come to think of it...
I'm going to say this from the very beginning... This story is completely self serving and going to be filled with smut, probably. I'm writing it for me and I know there will be things in there that people won't like but I don't care. It's my story and I'm going to write it for me. I've written stories for other people in the past and they were crap, at least in my eyes. I won't do that again.
Also, about my grammar... It's been a year since I've written and I know it's not perfect but I'll try to do my best with it. I don't want a beta because I'm honestly not going to work that hard or worry that much about this story. It is, as they say, what it is.
I had been out of work for nearly two years and my unemployment benefits were about to run out. And I wasn't sure how much more stress I could take. I felt as if I was going to pull out my hair by the roots in fistfuls. It was horrible. There was no other way to describe it. I'm not sure how people were getting by these days. Times were grim, to say the least.
My hot water heater had been out in my run down trailer for nearly two months and taking cold showers sucked but I'd be damned if I asked my father for the cash to fix it. He was barely making it on his retirement as it was. It would be my first present to myself when I finally got a job. Besides, the cold water made my hair look great and it saved on the electric and water bill. And the cold water woke you up more than three cups of coffee on a chilly October morning.
I hated using food stamps but there was no other way I was going to be able to make it. The one hundred and twenty dollars was just enough, if I cut coupons and watched sales, to make it through the month. I was eating a lot of the same stuff over and over again, though I did try not to buy any sodas or candy with the stamps. So, in the last couple years I had lost about thirty pounds without even trying, between walking and riding my bike everywhere when possible and not eating any sweets. I guess it was a plus.
I wasn't a very positive person, but I did occasionally try to see the good in things.
I think I would have preferred to be a bit more overweight and had my ice cream though. I missed ice cream but I wasn't going to waste the governments money on empty calories. Honestly I could have afforded to lose another thirty pounds anyway. I was a pretty curvy girl. Not huge, obese if you will, or anything. I just had some meat on my bones. My mother liked to say that I was a "healthy" girl. I think that was just to make me feel better about myself.
It worked sometimes, sometimes it didn't. These days it was getting harder and harder to look at myself in a positive light.
At one point in my life I felt pretty good about myself and life. I felt secure. I had a degree from Louisiana Tech in Computer Integrated Science. They said that it would be nearly guaranteed that I'd get a job right out of school with a BS in computers. BS is right. The only job I could find was working on slot machines at the Casinos in Shreveport where I had lived in my teenage years with my father. Shreveport had five casinos all together and a racetrack. It was amazing that a city it's size, less than half a million with all the surrounding towns and areas, could support that many slot machines but they did.
So I worked there for a few years. It wasn't so bad. I mean, cigarette smoke filled rooms were nearly poisonous and most of the 'guests' were idiots, but the benefits were good, the work was easy, and the pay was good enough that I was able to pay off my student loans and save a little. It wasn't really work in my field, but I hoped that one day that I could be in their IT department. It was a small department with only five or so guys for the entire boat, but it would be a step up. Or, better said, a step in the right direction.
My hopes were dashed though.
The recession hit and things began to change. Gas prices went up, as did the cost of renting. So to save money I got a cheaper car and got a single wide trailer for just a few thousand. I figured it was a good way to go until I saved enough money to put a good down payment on a real house. I had no plans to leave the area for a while since my dad was here. The trailer was just suppose to be temporary. Now I was glad that I had bought it out right when I did and I didn't have to worry about having a place to live.
And honestly, you would have thought that people would start going to the casinos less, spending less, but the Shreveport area wasn't really hit that hard at first because of something called the Haynesville shale, a huge pocket of natural gas. The people who owned land, and more importantly their mineral rights, were making millions. And it showed at the boats.
So, with the boom in profits, especially in the slots area, the casinos started to upgrade their systems. They no longer used coins, instead using these paper slips that you printed out with your winnings. Everything became simpler and everything broke down less. They needed far less people to operate the machines and give out jackpots.
So, they went from having twenty people a shift working the slots to five. And though I had been there for a few years, I was still pretty low on the totem pole. Some of the people found positions in other departments, like security and the restaurants but I had no such luck.
Honestly, at the time, I wasn't that bothered. I mean, it kind of pissed me off, but I had about eight months worth of savings put back and a college degree. I figured I'd have another job before my unemployment benefits were even approved.
Boy, was I wrong.
At first I only applied to computer positions but almost all of them required at least five years experience. I hadn't even been out of college that long. I really had hopes that I'd get a job working for the government after I got a 98 out 99 on my civil test, but they wanted you to work other positions before you could move into a IT position. Like prison guard. I'm not shitting you. They wanted me, a computer geek, to be a prison guard at Angola, a maximum security prison in south Louisiana for at least a year before they would even consider moving me into the office part of the prison.
I thought Charlie, my father, was going to pop a blood vein when he heard that one. I had to drive six hours to New Orleans just for that interview. It was almost a mini vacation of sorts. I at least got to walk around the French Quarter for a couple hours before the interview and sample pralines. It could have been worse. Dad went on a twenty minute tirade on wasting people's money and time and how the Louisiana Government was corrupt anyways. I just let him have it because I knew he was frustrated for me and my lack of job luck.
After about six months it went from just computer positions to any office positions. Then at a year it was any business position. Salespersons and things like that. Now, after eighteen months, I was applying to any and everything, including McDonald's and Taco Bell. I put in applications for six hours a day, five days a week.
I hated feeling desperate, but that's what I was. I had no money and it seemed like I had no future. I thought that was what college was for. To ensure your future. Apparently I was wrong.
"Bella," my good friend Alice called cheerfully as she came into my tiny trailer without even bothering to knock. She knew she was always welcomed anyway. I knew she really didn't like my place but she didn't say a word about it. It was the best I could do. Though she had told me many times before if I needed a place to live, or if I needed help, for me to call on her and her husband Jasper.
"I brought you some tea," she sang, plopping the cup down on the only free space on my coffee table. Most everything was covered in papers.
"Thanks," I smiled just slightly as I pushed my glasses onto the top of my head. I picked up the hot paper cup and popped off the top, blowing the steam away. "You didn't have to do that."
"Ah, I would have felt like an asshat if I got myself some coffee from Starbucks and didn't bring you anything. Trust me, this is more about my feelings than yours," she smirked as she sat down beside me. Her clothes were perfectly match and in season. She made a lot of her own clothing, but it was usually a better quality than what you could get at the stores. It was actually how she made extra money, she made kids clothes and sold them on the internet. Jasper, her husband, had a great job in the oil industry and they didn't really need the money but I think she needed a hobby. Plus, her closets were full. She had to do something other than make herself sundresses and aprons. Oh, and purses.
Thoughtfully I took a sip of the tea. It was green, the relaxing scent wafting up my nose. It was lovely. It honestly made my day a lot more pleasant. There weren't that many happy things in my life anymore. Alice knew that but neither of us were going to point that out.
"How goes the hunting?" Alice asked, pulling me out of my musings. "Any luck?"
"Not really," I shrugged, taking a sip of tea and swallowing before talking again. "If I were a nurse this wouldn't be a problem."
"If you didn't pass out at the sight of blood..." Alice trailed off with a smirk, tilting her head slightly in amusement. "I could just imagine it. The first time you had to draw blood or something-"
"They'd have to put me in the bed with patient," I laughed, laying my head back against the couch cushion.
"Well," Alice laughed before clearing her throat. "I might have something for you. Jasper says that the new main office for Eagle Gas needs a secretary for the lobby. You'd direct calls and tell people were to go. It's not in your field..."
"But it's something," I sighed. "Do you know how much it pays?" I asked. I mean, it didn't really matter but I was curious.
"Like eleven dollars an hour. They have free basic benefits and a 401k that they match up to twenty five percent. It would be from eight to five, five days a week," Alice shrugged, taking another sip of her milk colored coffee. She always put way too much creamer in it. "They have a pretty big IT department and maybe one day you could move up."
"Maybe," I answered doubtfully. "How do I apply?"
"Just take your resume up there tomorrow. They're off Clyde Fant Parkway. You know where that golf course use to be by the river. Ask them to give it to Mr Mason, make sure to put Jasper as a personal reference."
"Not a problem," I replied, thinking over my resume. Jasper had been on it for ages. It had been one of the few things that hadn't changed when I wrote it and rewrote it, several times, trying to get the best results. "Business casual?" I asked, looking down at my clothes.
"Wear that nice brown suit I made you. You know the one with the vest and the flared pants. Or the black one with the skirt," she said, her voice getting higher pitched like she did every time she spoke about clothes. Alice had made me several different "interview outfits" over the past couple of years. I would have refused them if I hadn't known how much she enjoyed making them. Besides, they fit better than anything I could buy at the store since they were tailored to my body.
"So, who is this Mr. Mason?"
"Jasper's boss's boss. I'm not sure. I've never met him," Alice shrugged, swirling her nearly empty coffee cup. "He's like the big boss's son or something. I don't know. I just know he takes care of all the hiring. Director of Operations is his title. Jasper says he knows what he's doing. If he's not an idiot, he's sure to hire you."
"Yeah," I scoffed at her sort of compliment. She knew I didn't like them so she found little ways to sneak them in there as much as possible.
We were silent for a long while after that, the only sounds that could be heard were the random passing of cars and truck on the highway not too far from my place.
"What if I don't find anything?" I asked as I broke the silence. "What if I'm not even good enough for fast food?"
"It's not about being good enough," Alice sighed, setting her cup down. "It's just that everyone is hard up. Everyone is looking for a job. I know it's hard, but you can't think like that."
"Was my degree a complete waste?" I whispered, beginning to choke up at the words. "Did I honestly waste four years of my life on a pointless degree? All the jobs I'm applying to these days don't even need a GED. I could have dropped out of high school and worked at Burger King or something. I could be a general manager by now and making fifty thousand a year if I had done that."
"Times are different from when we were in high school. Bella, you're only twenty seven. This is just the beginning. The world isn't always going to be like this. Computers aren't going anywhere. You will be needed. You will find a job."
Roughly I ran my the palm of my hand over the side of my face and through my hair before sniffling quietly. "Yeah."
"How about this? You take the rest of the day off and come over my place for dinner? Jasper and I are grilling out. I can give you a facial and do your nails. I think you need a little spa treatment."
I hated being fussed over but I did need a break. More so, I needed a distraction. "Sure," I shrugged, "why not..."
The next day was dismal and gray, raining for the first time in forever. Louisiana had been suffering from a drought and it was just making things worse all around for the farmers. I had missed the rain but it was the last thing I wanted. The humidity made my hair puff out like a poodle and I'm not sure where I had put my umbrella so I had to go without it.
I ran to the glass door of the brand new building, having to splash through enough puddles to soak my pants up to my knees. At least the brown suit hid most of the mud. I clutched my faux leather case to my chest, praying that it wouldn't get wet and ruin my resumes. It's the last thing I needed. The paper was pricy and I didn't want to waste it.
Drowned rat didn't cover how I looked when I finally made it inside. I stopped just outside the door, trying to shake off some of the extra water like a dog. The girl at the front desk frowned at me, adjusting her headset and looking away as she rolled her eyes. I wanted to growl at her, but I decided not to. It didn't seem like a wise idea. I was going to have to deal with her in a few moments and I needed her to be at least somewhat helpful.
When I was at least partially satisfied in my efforts at water reduction, I made my way towards the desk. I pulled out my resume and cleared my throat, "hi, my name is Isabella Swan. I'm here to drop my resume with Mr Mason's office. Jasper Whitlock said that there was a position open."
The girl pursed her overly lipsticked mouth and blinked at me for a moment. "Okay," she drew out, blinking her spider lashes at me. I was surprised her eyes didn't stick close with the amount of mascara she was wearing. I hated it when already pretty women wore too much make up. It just screamed lack of confidence. And it looked cheap, a look this bottle blond certainly achieved.
I was just going to drop the resume off at the front desk and hope for the best but with the looks of the witless wonder in front of me, I needed to give it to his personal secretary for the best results. This was the best thing I had come across in months and I wasn't going to let her laziness or stupidity ruin it for me.
"Can you direct me towards his office, please?"
"Look, I know that Mr. Whitlock said that there was a position open but there isn't, so run along now. Have a good day," she smiled at me with fake sincerity. It dawned on me then. The temp wanted the position permanently. Or, maybe she wasn't the temp but she knew she was going to be replaced. Either way, it was a cut throat business and I wasn't going to let the little blond scare me. I didn't care if she was five years younger than me, five sizes smaller and had breasts as big as my head in a top that was so tight that if she sneezed they would have fallen out.
"Well, EITHER WAY," I said a bit more loudly, "I think I'll give my resume to Mr. Mason, just in case a position comes open soon."
With that I raised my head high and walked over to the elevators. I would try every floor if I had to until I found his office. But then I heard her speak in a nasally voice. All politeness was gone.
"Like someone would hire your fat ass."
It was the bitch that broke the cranky white girl's back.
"Alright, you listen and you listen good little girl," I said as I pointed directly at her plastic surgery reject nose. "Just because I eat without throwing it back up afterward doesn't mean I'm fat. And for your information I graduated in the top five percent of my class in both high school and college. I was dean's list and I graduated with top honors. And if you can do this job, apparently any dumb ass ho can."
"Dumb ass ho? You're calling me a dumb ass ho?" She said as she stood, knocking the chair back a few feet. We took a few steps towards each other, like we were about to break into a West side story style rumble. It was a little ridiculous.
Admittedly, it was going a little too far, but I wasn't about to back down. In for a penny, in for a pound."Do you need me to define it for you or are you smart enough to look it up on Wikipedia? Your job is to direct people to wherever they need to go. It doesn't matter if you like them or not. You do your job. Your opinion doesn't matter. You should be grateful that you have a job right now at all. If your attitude is any indication, you won't have one for long."
"Look, you stupid fat cun-" The girl began but was cut off by a deep voice behind us.
"That will be enough out of you," he said. I whipped around to see a very nice looking, very well put together, man in a black business suit. He had a slight smirk on his face, his deep green eyes practically dancing with mischief. If I were a better judge of moods, I would have said he looked amused. He cleared his throat and without turning his gaze away from me he said, "Lauren, go up to my office so we can have a few words."
"Yes, Mr. Mason."
Lauren, the blond bitch as she would always be dubbed in my head, took off her headset and scampered off to the elevators. She pressed the button several times, jabbing it like being rough would make the thing come down faster. I sighed and swallowed, trying to get the taste of my payless pumps out of my mouth.
"Yeah, sorry about that. I'll just be going now before you call security."
He chuckled and took a step towards me, bringing one of his hands up. "I thought you had a resume to turn into me. I assume for her position," he nodded his head towards the elevator. "I can assure you that it is completely open no matter what she says."
"How did you-" I stuttered out, pointing to myself then looking down at the paper that was now crumpled in my hands.
"I actually saw you come in. I was just in the copy room over there," he pointed towards a door on the other side of the room. "I heard the whole thing. I'm sorry about that, by the way. What she said to you was awful. I'm glad someone finally told that bitch off. I wouldn't have put her down here if she wasn't a friend's daughter."
"Oh," I swallowed, not sure what to say to him. I still felt like an idiot.
"So," he nodded his head towards my hands and the pearl colored paper. "May I?"
With a shaking fist, I brought the resume up. I was totally speechless, and more than a little embarrassed. He took it from me and smirked in a way that made my cheeks hot. Or maybe it was the fact that he was so good looking. I always got a little stupid around good looking men. I never felt comfortable because I knew they weren't even in the same ball game as me. Me and Mr Mason were certainly leagues apart.
He was older than me, maybe by ten years at the most. There were a few faint wrinkles around the edges of his eyes but they made him seem more... businesslike. I don't know if that was the right way to describe it, but it was attractive. His nose was long and straight, coming to a sharp but pleasant point. If I had to guess, I would have said he was part English, part French, or something along those lines. His hair was a deep brown with wisps of red, hinting at a bit of Irish. His skin was near ivory except for the natural blush across both of his cheeks.
Suddenly I felt really hot so I slipped off my wet jacket and put it over my arm. Mr. Mason's eyes darted down for a moment, looking over my tattered and wet clothing before glancing down at my resume. At least he was polite enough to stare at my awful appearance and I hoped it wouldn't influence his decision.
"So, Jasper said he was sending someone my direction for the secretary position, I can only assume that's you. I see you have some reception experience, though it's been a few years."
"Yeah," I cleared my throat nervously. "Soil Stabilizers Construction and Northwest developmental school, each for about two years."
"I see they were during the same time period," he commented, still reading.
"I tried my best to pay off as much as my schooling while I was in college as possible so I wouldn't have to worry about as many student loans. I worked during the day at Soil Stabilizers and I worked nights at the school."
"How do you work nights as a receptionist at a school?" He asked with a slightly raised eyebrow.
"Well, it's not really a school. That's just what they call it. It's a sort of home for the physically and mentally challenged. Almost like a nursing home, but with a bit more freedom. They had a receptionist at all times to direct calls and visitors. There wasn't a lot going on at night, but it gave me a chance to earn money and still get to study," I explained hastily.
"And I see you still managed to maintain a near perfect GPA. When did you sleep?"
"I can sleep when I'm dead," I sighed, thinking how grateful I'd be for one job right now, let alone two. I'd work my ass off for anything at that point.
"So, a degree in Computer Science. That's not a field with very many women. It's refreshing to see a female in that role."
"Yes, but you're kind of pointing out the problem as well. It's a field nearly completely dominated by men and men who have been doing it for a very long time. It's hard to edge your way in there," I explained to him, suddenly feeling very awkward. "Especially in this area where gender roles seem to be..." I trailed off, not entirely how to finish the sentence without being offensive.
He frowned for a moment, his eyes never leaving my resume. I wondered what he was getting from the simple sheet. The man was hard to read.
"It's been a couple years since you last had a job."
And that's all he said. The phrase was rather crushing, honestly. Now it seemed like I couldn't get a job because I hadn't had a job in such a long time. It was a vicious cycle.
"Yeah," I said as I took a deep breath. "Look, here's the deal. I'm desperate and I don't know what to do. I would do any job you'd throw at me and I'd work harder than any other person up here. I'd work nights, I'd work weekend. I'd work eighty hours a week if you asked me. If you told me to scrub toilets, I would. I can type, I can file, I can fix your hard drive, and I can make coffee. I just need a chance."
You could hear a pen drop after my little monologue. I could have kicked myself. I should have just left when the bitch called me fat.
Mr. Mason bit his lip for a moment before sighing. He folded the paper and placed it in his pant's pocket before pulling something out of his suit jacket. It was a little white square of paper. "I'll tell you what. I'll give you my card and I want you to come by tomorrow for a proper interview. I'm here from eight in the morning until eight at night most of the time, so anytime in there. I believe I may have a position I want to discuss with you."
"Seriously?" I nearly squealed before I regained control of myself. Taking the card from his fingertips, I beamed. "Sure. I'll be here bright and early, if that works for you."
"Anytime, Ms. Swan. Just come straight to my office, don't worry about the front desk. Oh, and here," he handed me sometime compact and made of nylon out of another pocket. I looked at it with confusion and curiosity. "My umbrella. It's coming down pretty hard outside and you seem wet enough as it is. I'd hate for you to catch cold."
I took it from his hands without saying a word. I wasn't sure what to say. "Thanks," I finally muttered. "I'll see you in the morning."
"Of course," he replied with a chuckle. "I should be thanking you. You telling her off was probably the funniest thing I've seen all week."
With that the businessman turned and walked away, but I stayed rooted there in my spot. I was nearly too shocked to move. I gazed at the umbrella for several moments, my feet unsure what to do next. It was a loud clamp of thunder that finally knocked me out of my stupor.
It was only getting darker outside and I needed to get home before it got worse. I had a lot to think about anyway, and maybe just a little bit to celebrate. On the drive home I picked up a pint of generic ice cream for a dollar and ate the whole thing while watching cheesy daytime television.
And it was delicious.
Shreveport is a real place, as is Louisiana Tech. A lot of this story is based in fact. It's easier to write what you know. I've written another story based in Shreveport, Blind. Check it out. It's one of the first things I seriously wrote and I'm sure you'll be able to tell the difference in my current writing style.
So, this story isn't going in the direction you think it is. The major plot of this story will be revealed in the next chapter which I hope to have up sooner rather than later so you can decide if you want to keep reading or not. It may be delicious to some, shocking to others.
By the way, one of my favorite things I've ever written is in this. The bitch that broke the cranky white girl's back. I've got a line for a future chapter that is up there with this one, but seriously, this one is hilarious in my opinion. Ha, maybe it's just me.
Well, I've got to go work now. I've got to make a large batch of my Orange Julius lollipops. If you've never had an orange Julius, they taste like orange push up pops or orange creams. They're amazing and some of my favorites. I'd let you all have a sample if I could.
Man, can I just say that I'm really nervous putting this up here? I'm probably more nervous now than I was my first time... you know, the first time I published something. :)
This is usually the part where I'll ask a question to get you guys to review, so here it is: What do YOU think is going to happen next?