I leave the mail room, heading for the lobby, when I pass a comfy-looking sofa. I dive onto it and lay my suitcase on the floor. My carry-on bag is acting as my pillow, and I fall asleep almost instantly. All of a sudden, a vacuum cleaner from the next door room goes off. Soon, the maid passes and I drift back to sleep, but just when I begin to lose consciousness, I snap back to reality as my phone chirps out a peppy, pre-programmed, ringtone. I glance at my phone to see that it's Amber's reply.
WAY TO GO! NOW FIND A JOB AT A CAFE. THERE ARE MILLIONS. THERE SHOULD BE ONE WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE AS LONG AS YOU'RE DOWNTOWN. IF YOU ARE NOT NEAR ANY CAFES AT ALL, FIND ONE YOU CAN WALK OR TAKE THE METRO TO. DO THIS IMMEDIATELY.
I get up of the sofa and glance at the time at the top of my phone. It is now half past noon and I can check-in. I go to the front desk and get my key. While there, I ask where the nearest cafe is. The receptionist gives me directions. I drop of my luggage in my room and walk a few doors down to the shop. Surprisingly, there is a "Now Hiring" sign in the window. I grab an application, fill it out on the spot, and hand it to the barista behind the counter. The lady is slightly older than me, maybe late twenties, early thirties. She smiles and asks me if I would like to start now. I graciously accept and she calls out her manager. From the back room steps out Jeff, the man from the airplane.
I stare at him, and he stares back. The girl is helping a new customer, unaware of the fact that we have obviously met before. She hands the coffee to the customer and turns back to her boss. "Jeff, this is Lauren. She actually wants to work here. We're desperate for employees, so I told her she could start now. I hope you don't mind."
"Yes, Nina," says Jeff, "I actually do mind. I am the owner, I approve the applications. Lauren cannot work here. Good bye Lauren."
"Jeff," Nina exclaimed, "We're desperate!"
"Not that desperate," with that, he turns to walk out of the shop.
"Jeff," Nina calls, exasperation all over her voice, "We need help. Seriously! We have to take turns taking breaks, just to have somebody at the counter."
"Yeah, well we don't need liars working here."
I look at Nina, who is shaking her head. "Unbelievable, my brother," she mutters under her breath as the door slams behind Jeff. Now, comparing the two of them, I can see the resemblance. Both of them have the same dirty blonde hair and they are both tall. Seeing the two of them together, I realize that, living in New York, they are both tan. Wait, they aren't both living in New York. Jeff was just on a plane a few hours ago. He's staying at a hotel. Or, more likely, he was lying about the hotel. Then, I realize what else he lied about. He had said he had only been to New York once before. I watch him outside as he lights a cigarette and starts smoking, right there, in front of the shop. I think about asking Nina, but I don't want to set off on the wrong foot with the one person who is taking my side. He walks away, cigarette in hand. I look back at Nina who is rolling her eyes dramatically. "Well, he won't be back for four hours. Listen, I don't want him to come back for something and see you, but I do want you to start working today. You can work the front while I do some paper work in the back. Tell ya what, why don't you come back in an hour? It's noon now, so I'll see you at one-ish?"
A smile spreads across my face. "Alright, I'll see you in an hour, then. Thanks!"
"No problem, hun. I'm not sure what his problem was, he's probably just in a bad mood. Have any plans for today?"
"No plans besides finding a job." Well, even if her brother gets mad for no reason, that doesn't mean she is a bad person. What was his big deal anyway? So I lied about my name after he read my personal letter, I had just met him! That doesn't give him a reason not to hire me! I should report him. But, really, I know I won't because really, it's not a big deal. There are plenty of cafes around.
"Well, you have no more plans for today then. I'll see you later from 1:00 until 3:45."
Outside, I decide to spend my extra time in the bookstore across the street. I love to read, so I quickly grab a few books from the mystery section and settle down on a pile of bean bags to read the first story. The time flies by, and before I know it it's ten 'till one. Quickly counting how much money I have, I decide I have enough to bye two of the books, then walk back to the cafe. Nina motions for me to come behind the counter as she finishes up with the last customer. I place my bag on the ground, behind her purse. She hands the costumer a mocha, then removes her apron, handing it to me. She quickly runs through the basics with me, then goes into the office. The place is not very busy, so I read the magazine Nina has left beside the cash register. After finishing that, I wipe down the tables and sweep the floors. Eventually, Nina comes back out.
"Well, I guess you should leave soon. Jeff is going to be back in about fifteen minutes. You see, every morning we open together. Usually, he takes his break first and we switch every four hours. We open at eight, first shift starts at noon, second shift starts at four, then last shift starts at eight. We close at midnight. Usually, I end up working most of the day. I'm ok with that, because he usually does the bills and cashes the checks while he's on break. This morning, he got here a little late because he was at a business conference in Detroit. I had to open on my own because our foreign exchange student who has been helping through the school year went back to Spain over night. He got here at ten, conveniently right after the morning rush. I thought when you came in, it was a miracle. The day after we lose our help, a willing employee comes in. Apparently, Jeff didn't think so. I'm not sure what his problem was. He must be tired. His plane took off at six o'clock this morning!"
"Oh, did it really! Wow, he must be dead tired," I exclaimed. Yeah, tell me about it. So tired, he reads other people's letters while they are sleeping.
"Oh, wow, sorry to ramble on like this. I'm sure you don't want to have another run-in with him today. You can leave, hun, but I want you to go see him tonight, during my evening shift. He's staying in a hotel because while he was in Detroit his land lord rented out his condo to somebody else," she says, handing me a piece of paper, "This has his hotel and room number on it. Try talking to him and work something out. I'm sure he has slept by now, so he should be in a better mood."
I force a smile, "Ok thanks Nina."
She smiles back, "Sure thing. You know, I like you. I don't get why Jeff doesn't want you working here. I could never picture you lying. He has nothing to base his accusations on." She pauses for a moment, then snaps straight up, "Now shoo, shoo, before he sees you!"
I rush out and walk back to my hotel. I dive right onto the bed and take out my new phone, setting the alarm to go off at nine. I have my first deep sleep in 30 hours. The little beeping alarm goes off and I unwillingly get up. I change out of my wrinkled clothes and throw on cut-off shorts with a tank-top. I pull my hair up in a pony tail, wipe off any smeared make-up, and touch it up a bit. Sliding my hotel key in my back pocket, I head out for Jeff's hotel. I knock on the door and he opens it without looking through the peephole.
"What do you want," he sneers.
"A job," I say, not sinking down to his level of insults.
"Don't we all," he says, shrugging.
"Well, then I want honesty." I try to hide the exasperation in my voice.
"Look, I lied about my name. You lied about being to New York before."
"No, I didn't. Also, you signed your name on your letter."
"What?" I asked, "You knew my name the entire time? Anyway, it doesn't matter. What do you mean you didn't lie to me?"
"I mean that I didn't lie. I told you I have stayed in your hotel before."
"Yeah, but you let me believe this was only your second time to New York."
"Yeah and you let me believe your name was Ayla."
"The difference being that you knew the truth the entire time!"
"What are you getting at? You lied to me, so I didn't exactly tell you the entire truth." Alright, I admit, he has a point there.
"This is my proposal to you. Nina has more shifts than you do. I could work with her during her shifts. You and I would never have to see each other."
"I would still be paying you."
"Not much. I'm not exactly sure how much money I have, but I know I have enough for now. I'll work for minimum wage."
"Fine, tomorrow you can start working the same shifts as Nina. I'll pay you on Friday."
"Okay. Thank you. I'm sorry for lying to you about my name."
"You're good. It's not your fault. I'm sorry for overreacting. Anyway, I shouldn't have been so nosy, reading your letter like that. After all, we were just strangers on a plane."
I grin and thank him for the job. We shake hands and I go to the hotel. I set the alarm for eight in the morning, then pass out on the soft bed.