Jordan saw her early that morning in the car park outside the local convenience store he passed as he walked to work. She was sitting in her car, maybe waiting for someone, and he wouldn’t have noticed her were it not for the rain making her move her head closer to the windscreen to peer through the droplets. He recognised her straight away. It was Pamela. He knew her from work, but she didn’t know him.
Her bobbed dark hair, smooth skin and prominent cheekbones dominated the twenty-three-year-old Jordan’s thoughts since he first saw her a year ago at the factory where they both worked. But Pamela was out of his league. For one thing, she was ten years older. Then there was the status thing. She was on a higher salary, he earned the basic. She drove a car, he didn’t even have one. Did celebrities date “normal” people? Mum earned more than Dad. Dad wished he had a better paid job. All relationships were dictated by status.
As he passed her car, his gaze fixed on her for a few seconds and the look was returned. It was brief, but nonetheless, a perfect start to his day.
In the factory later that morning, time was ticking away quicker than usual. Jordan had suggested an idea for improvements in the department which could result in smoother operation and higher quality output. His supervisor recognised the potential and encouraged Jordan’s initiative. A meeting was quickly arranged for that afternoon so he could outline his plan to the person at the top – the managing director. A one-on-one meeting with the managing director was big news. Jordan’s throat was drying up as meeting time drew nearer.
He nearly didn’t knock on the office door. His inner voice said to just do it. You’re here now, why not? Lay out your plan and then get out. You don’t need this pressure. He knocked and her voice called to him to come in. Pamela, the managing director, sat at her desk, conservative, striking, with that her business-like, yet warm smile.
“Hi Jordan.” She used his name. Female husky, professional; it made him feel sick, but a good sick. “Come on in, have a seat.”
His shy eyes avoided hers at first.
“How are you today?” I recognise him.
“Not bad,” he stammered. Standard answer – doing fine so far.
“Your supervisor told me you’ve got an idea for some improvements?” I’m sure that’s that guy I saw this morning, the one me and Audrey think is hot. I can’t believe he works here.
“Yeah, it’s nothing great.” Don’t say that – too negative.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll listen to any ideas. It’s good to know that staff are work-conscious.”
Jordan quickly outlined his proposal, the odd word losing its way before finding the road out, blue-collar dampening as he spoke.
“That’s a really good suggestion, and it’s actually something I’ve been thinking about too.” Good looking and on my wavelength.
“I think it would definitely increase production,” he added. We’re thinking the same. This is good. Now leave the room.
“Absolutely, I totally agree.”
Pamela thanked him promising she’d get back to him whether or not his suggestion was to be taken further. He returned the thanks and stood up to leave when she spoke again, taking him by surprise.
“Jordan, do you happen to live on Westwood Street?” I need to know if it was him.
“Yeah I do,” he replied. She saw you. Big deal. Don’t look too much into it, but out of curiosity… “ Was that you this morning in the car park?”
“Yeah it was,” she smiled. “I was picking up a friend who works here. That’s weird.”
“Yeah that is really weird.” It should have been just a smirk, but he inadvertently flashed a full beam grin her way. She was picking up a friend. That means she could be single. So what? Why are you even thinking that?
“So what’s your plans for tonight Jordan?” Keep it formal but find out if he’s got a girlfriend.
“Not much. Quiet one.” Standard answer again. What ARE you doing anyway? I don’t think you’re doing anything.
“Well enjoy, whatever you’re up to.”
Ask her the same thing. It’s only manners. “Up to much yourself?”
“Tonight’s TV night. Catch up on Game of Thrones. Do you ever watch it?” I’d watch it with him.
“Yeah I like it.” I’d watch it with her.
They exchanged pleasantry goodbyes and he left.
For the remainder of the shift, Jordan’s workstation was cloud nine. Now that she was out of his sight, that distance brought a new, restrained bravado. His relationship with Pamela could metaphorically move up a notch. She had spoken to him, referred to him by name. They had even talked about what they were doing that night, the female husky, professional voice maybe not so intimidating now. He could talk to her again, find out if she’s seeing anybody, ask her out.
That evening at home in his room, Jordan kicked himself back to reality. He could never seriously contemplate a relationship with Pamela, and surely she could never reciprocate. The woman he wanted would remain a dream until he found love in second best. It all came back to the status thing.
The same evening, Pamela logged onto Facebook. Let’s see if he’s on here.
Andrew Newall lives near Falkirk in Scotland. His short fiction has been published online and in print. His work has most recently appeared in the pages of Flash Fiction North, Razur Cuts and Dark Dossier.