My home phone was ringing as I walked through the door. My heart skipped a beat. Was the school calling to rat me out for skipping my last class that day.. and every other day this week?
“Hello?” I asked, waiting to see if I’d hear the click before the automated truancy message from the school would begin playing.
“Hey Lex. It’s Livvy. I tried calling your cell phone, but I couldn’t get through.” Olivia Pagliacci was one of my best friends from elementary school.
“Oh yeah. It’s water damaged from when I tried to text in the shower. I left it in rice all night.” I didn’t need to mention it was the third time I had had to do that this year. I wasn’t good with phones. Or iPods. Or laptops.
Olivia continued, “listen… I have something to tell you.”
My heart sank as my brain went into full on panic mode within seconds. That sure was a loaded phrase. I didn’t know what was coming, but I knew it was bad. Olivia’s tone was serious, like the time she told me her parents had caught her in a pretty huge lie. I tried to sound calm. I paced around my kitchen island as I spoke, “sure Livvy, what’s up?”
“I just quit Alpson’s.”
My worst fears were instantly realized and in the back of my mind, I actually wished it had been the school calling instead. I could hang up on them. Pretend it never happened. I couldn’t do that about Olivia quitting Alpson’s.
Alpson’s was a family restaurant chain specializing in rotisserie chicken. Olivia and I had applied to one of the two Bridgewood locations on a whim in 10th grade. We had had a joint interview with the general manager, and we had both been hired on the spot. We had all of our training together and worked almost every shift together. We spent most of grade 11 skipping class to go hang out at Alpson’s. We made new friends, love interests and memories.
Then one day, it all ended. It just stopped being a fun place to work. There had been rumours, hurt feelings and plenty of heart ache for both of us. A bunch of our friends had recently left, and now Olivia and I talked about quitting all the time. Having a job that didn’t leave your clothes reeking of chicken after your shift was our highest fantasy. Olivia’s news shouldn’t have been so surprising to me, except I’d always expected us to quit together. In the middle of the dinner rush. On a Saturday night. That had always been the dream.
“Oh?” I hoped Olivia didn’t hear the disappointment in my voice. Cradling the cordless on my shoulder, I opened the Tupperware container filled with rice and started digging through for my cell phone. “How come?”
“Well, a few weeks ago I applied for a job at Premium Purchase. It was all done online, I never really expected anything to come of it. But then last Wednesday they called me in for an interview, and I ended up getting the job.” Olivia paused for a response.
“You definitely won’t go home smelling like chicken after a shift at Premium Purchase,” I thought miserably. Premium Purchase was a chain electronics store. She was trading takeout boxes for blue-ray players. Her orange Alpson’s t-shirt and brown baseball cap would be replaced by a bright blue golf shirt and khakis. I silently reveled in the fact that the uniform at Premium Purchase was equally tacky. But she wouldn’t have to wear a hairnet. I knew I shouldn’t be upset, but I couldn’t help it. I was being left behind.
“Premium Purchase? Oh wow, that’s great!” Well, I wanted to believe it was great. I should have thought it was great. I should have been happy for Olivia, but I couldn’t shake the fact that she hadn’t bothered to tell me about applying there in the first place. I was hurt that she hadn’t suggested that I apply for a job there too. I was sad that my best friend was leaving me at that horrible restaurant all alone. It felt like Olivia’s quitting Alpson’s was in a way an attempt to quit our friendship. I tried to focus on the fact that I had to be happy for my best friend. That’s the rule.
I held the side power button for my cellphone but it didn’t turn on. I shook it in frustration, yielding no results, but sprinkling rice all over the counter.
“Yeah, I’m really excited! I just marched up to Lee and Josephine, and I quit! I didn’t give them two weeks’ notice or anything. I don’t need them as a reference anyway.” As Olivia spoke, I realized that she sounded really happy. Happier than she had sounded in quite some time. She sounded exactly how I wanted to feel. But this wasn’t about me. She was proud of herself. Ready for her new beginning. She’d gotten her dramatic walk out, and she deserved it.
“That’s awesome, Livvy.” I said, and I really did mean it.
Now, I just had to find a new job and a new phone too.