I’m really sorry I haven’t written you in a while. I’ve been out of town and I never travel with my computer ever since it, along with my stash of British Kit Kats, was stolen somewhere between UK and US customs. I’m thinking about getting a tablet so I can write to you from the road. Do you recommend the iPad or Microsoft Surface?
I had my first day on the (kind of) job today, and I finally put my graduate education from the London School of Economics to good use! The temp agency asked for me to help around the office in the morning because they usually have projects that only a Master in Social and Cultural Psychology can complete. Here’s what I accomplished:
8am to 8:15 - I figured out how to work the Keurig.
8:15 to 8:30 - I drank coffee while making small talk with the receptionist about suburban flooding.
8:30 to 8:40 - I thumbed through Vanity Fair’s 2013 Hollywood issue quick enough to make myself look busy, but slowly enough to notice the guy from Les Miserables looking like a total dingleberry in a top hat and scarf.
8:40 to 9:30 - I read the first few chapters of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest from the office’s personal library. My other choices were Who Moved My Cheese? and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
9:30 to 10:30 - I highlighted and paperclipped W-4 and I-9 forms together, but this task was interrupted when a nearby office requested a temp for their receptionist who was stranded in the aforementioned flooding.
10:30 to 10:45 - I panicked in the bathroom about having to potentially use a phone as a receptionist.
11am to 5pm - I trained under fellow receptionist Miss Vera Jean Virgil, a pleasant middle-aged woman of color who reminded me a lot of you actually. I wasn’t allowed to read a book, use the computer, or my phone. As a result, Vera and I got real cozy behind that desk and divulged our every secret to one another.
Vera had been at the company for 35 years - 36 years next Tuesday to be exact. She was the goddamn belle of ball. People walking by waved or shouted “Hey, Miss Vera!” She’d always smile back, but confessed “Miss Meredith, I don’t even know who half of these people are. Shoot!” Everyone loved her, and they all loved me because she told them to.
Throughout the course of the day, I found out Vera was one of 10 children, a devoted wife, and the type of grandmother I always dreamed about. But the real shell-shocker was that she identified herself as a Seventh-day Adventist. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I did know that they have longer average lifespans than other Christians. I read this in People magazine when I was 12 years old.
Miss Vera asked if I believed in God. When I hesitated, she shouted “You don’t! I knew you didn’t! God told me!” I told her that, as a former Lutheran, I didn’t know what I believed, but I wanted to hear what Seventh-day Adventists thought. She paused dramatically, shook her head from side to side, and said “Mmm, mmm, mmm!” She launched into a gospel from her excessively dog-eared and highlighted bible about the 4th commandment. Do you remember what it says, O?
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11, KJV)
Yeah, she lost me too. In short, God, Miss Vera, and her Seventh-day comrades take relaxing on Saturdays, or Sabbath as they call it, very seriously. She can’t even get her hair done at the shop that day. “But it’s all in the name of God!” I have to be honest with you, O. I got pretty swept up in her logic. Miss Vera was so charismatic that she could have convinced me to eat a meatball sub in my [non-existent] wedding dress.
She is counting down the days until she is laid off or able to retire. I told her she could co-author my letters to you should either of those happen. She said she’d do it, but reminded me “not on Saturday because that’s the Sabbath, Miss Meredith.”
I’m not a Seventh-day Adventist (yet), so still count on those Saturday letters from me, O. As Miss Vera says, “This isn’t goodbye forever, this is see you later. God bless you!”
Destined for greatness,