Despite my reservations about Jim Halpert, I can't help but feel excited as I pull the Trans Am into my usual space in the Dunder Mifflin parking lot. Our visit to the Pittston office park is over, and we were even more successful than I had anticipated. New contacts, several potential clients, and an actual sale! Most of this was due to my own talent, of course, but Jim showed real potential. He actually helped seal the deal on the sale we made to the chiropractor's clinic. My father always told me that back problems were just misunderstood back opportunities, but apparently chiropractors run a lucrative business if the amount of reams he bought from us was any indicator.
"You showed promise today, Halpert," I tell him as we get out of my ca, feeling unusually complimentary. The warehouse loading dock is open, and it's a little faster to get to the offices through there, so I walk in that direction as Jim follows me. "If you stay close beneath me, you could learn a lot."
"So you're saying you want to be on top?"
"I am on top, Jim. I'm Assistant Regional Manager."
"I thought Michael said it was Assistant to the Regional Manager."
"No, he – that – they're very close. Look, my point is, we could make a great sales team. I have some ideas about future sales calls I'd like to run by you in the future. Different strategies for cornering and subduing our clients into purchasing. We could even use code words – I have a list prepared on my computer already."
Although there is not much higher to go in the corporate world when you're top Dunder Mifflin salesman, I still can't help but feel excited as I think about the future. Jim could be a powerful sidekick indeed; with his help, maybe I could even break Michael's sales record. I look up to Michael, but I feel confident that I could outsell him if I put my mind to it. I'm glad that Jim is the new employee – Stanley and Phyllis are disappointing, lackluster salespeople, with no interest in taking my advice or forming alliances with me. With Jim, maybe things could be different in the future.
Before I can continue my thoughts on future sales strategies with Jim, I notice that the warehouse workers are no longer on break. It's getting close to closing time, and it looks like they're wrapping up a last shipment. I motion to Roy, who notices the two of us as we pass through the warehouse.
"You there – Pam's fiancé. Over here."
"Uh, what's up?"
"Jim, this is Pam's fiancé, Roy."
"Oh, hey," says Roy, dropping a box he was holding and shaking Jim's hand. "I heard about you already, actually. New sales guy up in the office, right? And you went to lunch with Pam today?"
Jim nods, a little hesitantly. It's understandable; Roy is larger than he is, and in the lawless jungle of the warehouse, Jim must feel physically intimidated. I do not, however, as I am in prime physical shape.
"Yup," he says. "She mentioned you."
"Cool. You're not stealing my girl from me, are you?" Roy laughs at Jim's blank reaction. "Don't worry, I'm just kidding man. Hey, you met Darryl yet?"
Jim nods as Darryl walks up to us and says hello, eating another cup of green jello. It's the second one I've seen him eat in a day. Maybe he has some kind of stash in his office. Disgusting.
"Alright Jim, we need to go up and report to Michael."
"Actually Dwight," says Jim as he looks at his watch, "it's about time to go. I think I'm just gonna stay here a couple of minutes and head out. You can talk to Michael for me, alright?"
For a moment, I am displeased that Jim would leave a minute early instead of coming up and talking to Michael, and it's surprising that he doesn't want to say goodbye to Pam, as they seem to have bonded quickly. But I realize this gives me the opportunity to have Michael's full attention and make sure Jim doesn't steal too much of the glory for our successful sales call. It's probably best if I explain how things went down, anyway. Jim begins to talk to Darryl, pointing at his jello cup as I leave the warehouse and walk up the stairs to the office.
"Back from the sales trip?" asks Pam as I arrive upstairs.
"Yes, I am. And it went incredibly well, thank you for asking."
"Downstairs, with Roy."
Pam seems to hesitate for a moment at this information. "Really?" she asks.
"Is Michael in his office?"
"Yes, waiting for you. He's angry that you're late."
"I'm not late – I'm right on time. We should be closing just about now."
"He wanted to leave an hour early."
Pam looks at her own watch, reminded by my mention of closing time, and gets up to leave. I enter Michael's office, where he is playing with what looks like a Mr. Potato Head toy. I never understood why potatoes were chosen for that toy; beets would be a much more exciting and entertaining choice for children. They should be hiring me to design those things.
Michael jerks back at the sound of my voice, apparently not having heard my entrance. He loses his grip on the toy, and the potato doll upends itself on the table, sending body parts flying.
"God, Dwight. What is it? You're back from the trip? Where's Jim?"
"He left already."
"Well no wonder," Michael says. "You took so long it must be dark outside already."
I look out the window at the sun shining brightly through the blinds, but decide that it's best not to say anything about that. "The sales trip went well," I tell him. "I got the contact information for several new clients, and one of them already made an order for six reams."
"Well well," says Michael. "Very good, Dwight! Did Jim help out?"
"He may have helped a tiny bit."
"We'll make a salesman of him yet. Fantastic!"
Michael gets up, murmuring a few other unintelligible things to himself as he puts on his jacket and scoots his chair back into his desk. I place the new clients' contact information on his desk, but he isn't paying any attention. The fact that he's in such a hurry to leave reminds me of what I will be doing tonight, and while I've heard offhand remarks from Michael about my taste in vegetables, I decide it's worth a try to bring it up.
"Michael," I ask him, "would you like to help me harvest some beets tonight?"
"Um, what?" says Michael, his question turning into a laugh almost before it's out.
"Beets. Mose and I will be harvesting many of them tonight. We could use an extra hand. And after we're done, we could play midnight paintball in the woods."
"I will not be doing that," Michael tells me as he tries to approach the door. I stand close by him, but I know that eventually he will get past me.
"Why? Got some plans tonight?"
"Yeah, plans. I, uh – I have to call up my stock guy, do some portfolio management."
"Your stock guy? You've never mentioned him before."
"My stock guy, Dwight. My investment guy, Michael – Mi – Micas. Micas Crod."
"Okay, well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
Michael is out the door before I even finish saying goodbye; he's a busy man, and it's clear that he must have a lot of stocks to manage tonight if he's in such a hurry. I close his office door and look around. Pam is already gone, and the rest of my coworkers look like they've left as well. Angela must have stayed a few minutes late for some reason, as she gets up from her desk over in accounting and walks past me on her way out, greeting me with a brief nod. I return the nod.
Phyllis should have already made my sales calls for me earlier, and it looks like I have no remaining work on my desk, so I decide it's time for me to leave as well. I lock the door behind me, using the copy of the office keys I have in my possession. Instead of taking the back way, I go back down through the warehouse just to make sure that they closed it up as well; everything looks to be in order, and the warehouse workers have also left. I hear the faint sound of giggling through the closed warehouse doors, and a moment later, a car pulls out of the parking lot outside.
Once I get out into the parking lot, my car is the only one remaining. Another day of work is finished, and an evening of beet harvesting awaits. I am about to get into the car when I noticed something laying on the hood. I pick up the object, cautiously. It's a bag. There's a note attached to it.
"Dear Dwight," I say, reading the note, "just wanted to give you something to celebrate our first sale together. Looking forward to a fruitful relationship. Jim."
I scoff at the note as I remove it from the bag, throwing it to the ground. The note is pandering, a clear indication of weakness, although I can't help but admit that I am looking forward to a fruitful relationship with Jim as well. But it's not the kind of thing you tell somebody, unless you're some kind of girl. The bag is made of plastic, but I can't see through it. It feels strangely malleable; the top is twisted shut, sealed with a piece of string. I untie the string.
The bag falls open as loose green jello pours out over my hands. I take a step back, feeling myself convulse briefly. I shake my hands wildly in order to get the jello off, and it falls onto the parking lot's asphalt ground, jiggling wildly in little chunks. I stare at the empty bag in horror, which has floated down to the ground along with the jello and the discarded note.
As I stare at the green mess in the parking lot - as I wipe the remaining bits from my hands - images flash in my mind. Jim, staring at Darryl's jello cups. Jim, asking me if I dislike jello. Jim, telling me he was going to wait in the warehouse for a few minutes before leaving, while I went upstairs alone. I come to a horrifying realization; I was letting myself get too comfortable, hoping Jim might end up an ally. But no. He is not. And I have been duped.
Jim is a wolf in Jim's clothing.
The sun draws low in the sky, and its light flickers through the branches and leaves as I walk through my land. Down the dirt road that approaches my barn, onto smaller paths that wind their way through my property. The smells of the forest tickle my nostrils, along with the fragrance of some kind of dead animal in the nearby forest. I've walked these paths many a time in the past – often to enjoy a little time alone, or sometimes to mentally map out a new weapon I'm designing. But as the afternoon wears on, I'm not thinking about those things. I'm thinking about my day at work. I'm thinking about Jim.
Mose is in the beet fields working on the harvest, and I will join him later, but I told him I wanted to take a walk around the farm and check everything out – make sure everything looks okay, and make sure one's interloping or waiting to steal our beet harvest. All of which I am doing, but I can't get the bitter taste of Jim's jello surprise attack out of my mouth. Was it a declaration of war? Is he my enemy now, or was it just a joke? I can't see how it could possibly be funny, but thanks to years of experience in interacting with others, I have learned that some people have strange and deficient senses of humor.
As I arrive at the field where I grow hemp, all thoughts of Jim disappear from my mind: I have an intruder.
The kid looks up from the middle of the field, an armful of hemp tucked under his armpit.
"That's my hemp!"
The kid runs into the nearby forest, and while I try to follow him, I'm caught up by the undergrowth and run out of breath. Normally I'm an incredibly fast runner, but in this case, I must not have given myself enough time to recuperate after that productive day at work. Five minutes later and that kid would have been in serious trouble. I hear him laugh as he disappears through the trees, and I curse myself for forgetting to bring a weapon on my farm patrol. This is not a good start to an evening of harvesting.
I continue on my way, and before long, I reach the family graveyard. This is sometimes a place where I go to meditate – and, of course, it is the place where the Schrute family hosts both their weddings and their funerals. The gravestones stare blankly at me, their silent faces engraved with the names of my ancestors. At least no one is tainting my family graveyard by fornicating in it, which I've caught them doing before. Unfortunately, even as I tell myself this, I noticed signs of sexual activity that must have occurred recently. A butt print is clearly visible on the bare earth in front of one gravestone. It can't be more than a couple of days old.
"Sorry, great-aunt Traudl," I tell the gravestone. "I've tried to build a fence before, but they just tear it down."
Looking at the gravestones begins to put me in a contemplative mood, and I start feeling a little morose. Maybe it's just the unexpected turn of events at the end of my work day, or maybe it's the butt print staring up at me from the parched dust of the grave. I wonder if I will one day be buried in this cemetery. Will my grave be somewhere in this tiny lot, soiled by teen lust?
"Dwight," says Mose, who suddenly appears from the darkening forest like a bearded ghost. "Beth is here to help out."
"Thank you Mose. I'll be at the fields in a moment."
I take another moment to look at the graves of my ancestors as Mose walks backwards, disappearing again into the gloomy forest. The sky is moving from an intense orange to a deepening blue as the evening draws on. I decide it's time to attend to be the beets, and walk a dirt path on the way to the field.
After having such a disconcerting episode with the jello when I was about to leave for work, I decided that Mose and I might like a little company when we harvested the beets. So as soon as I returned to the farmhouse I called Beth, my old babysitter, and asked her to come over. I'm glad she's here; I have some fond memories of her nursing me as a child, and she played a large part in teaching me the value of discipline and authority. Beth is a quiet woman, older than myself of course, but she's very strong for a woman. She's like a female ox. She'll pull many beets tonight.
I emerge from the wooded path and reach the beet field adjoining the barn and farmhouse itself. Mose is standing beside a wheelbarrow with a lantern in the middle of the field, and Beth is waiting with her hands clasped at her waist.
"I'm glad you took my invitation," I tell her.
Beth nods at me, and after a moment, her normally passive expression changes into a strange smile. I notice a glint in her eye as she stares at me.
"So why did you call me and ask me to come over here... should we go inside?"
I look over at the farmhouse, several windows lit up in the deepening night.
"What? The beets aren't inside, they're out here."
"I don't understand."
"I called you here to help Mose and I with the beat harvest."
"Oh," says Beth, her smile changing into a frown.
"What did you think I called you for?"
"Uh, I'm not sure. Nothing. How long do you think the harvest will take?"
"We'll work well after midnight, after which you will leave and I will rest myself for another day of work tomorrow. There's a new employee and it looks like he'll be trouble. Now let's get to work!"
Mose and Beth begin to pick the beets nearest to the wheelbarrow. I am about to join them, but first, I look out over the beet field and notice that almost nothing has been picked.
"Mose, didn't you start while I was at work?"
"I was chasing a rabbit into the woods and got lost for a little while. Sorry Dwight."
It's not surprising, but I can't help but sigh as I lean down and get to work. Getting Mose to focus on anything besides whittling and ping-pong is like trying to turn excess beet leaves into gold through alchemy. And believe me, I've tried.
My cousin and former babysitter toil beside me as the lantern lights our way through the field. I don't mind working at night, as I have excellent night vision and a soft touch with my beets. Not only that, but the Schrute family has passed down a long-running belief that beets harvested at night are hardier and more delectable than beets harvested during the day. My internet research hasn't confirmed that, but who am I to question the traditions of my ancestors? I find my bad mood melting away as I pull the beets from the earth, fondling them lovingly in my hands.
Jim took me by surprise today, but he won't get the upper hand again. If he decides to be an ally, or if he truly is an enemy, I will deal with him either way. For now, however, I put Jim out of my mind. I will deal with him tomorrow. Tonight – well, tonight is a special night. A night to enjoy myself. The beet harvest is upon us. Soon we will enjoy borsch, beet juice, beet leaf salad, and earn a good profit from selling our crop to neighbors, local stores, and roadside stands.
All of it begins tonight. Tonight, I will enjoy the beets of my labor.
Notes - That's it! I do like hearing from my readers, so reviews are always appreciated. And thanks to StarStrewn, Angelic Gaurdian, and epicpickleninja for their kind reviews.
I have a future Office fic planned called "The Lie" (with more Jim/Pam involvement, which I know seems to be most popular among fans), so put me on author alerts if you want to catch that one when I start it. I am writing a Valentine's Day story for the show "Angel" right now, but after that, my next story will probably be the Office one. In the meantime, I have a story for Glee and Angel up right now, and a number of stories for the cartoons Kim Possible and Hey Arnold - feel free to look at those if you wish.
As for this story, I don't normally write first-person narrative - usually I prefer third-person with focus on multiple characters, even if there is a lead - but I thought it would be fun to try writing from Dwight's perspective. At first I was actually planning to pick a random day Dunder-Mifflin, but I thought it would be more interesting if I picked a significant day. Jim's first day at the office seemed like it would be fun since the show actually references it a few times and provides some details I was able to use. It also let me play with Dwight's uncertainties, and it let me include just a teensy bit of Jim and Pam back story as was mentioned in the show. Just thought I'd ramble a bit about my motivation for writing this. Thanks!