Writing Prompt: Chance Encounters

In college, I had a job as a telemarketer. I know, I was one of those evil people who called your house while you were eating supper to tell you about our $14.95 portrait special . I didn’t know your name. I had to ask for “the lady of the house.” But don’t worry. I always took no for an answer. That was why I was a terrible salesperson.

I started working at this call center right before I left for my sophomore year of college. My boss was reluctant to hire me because I’d be leaving soon, but she was desperate — not exactly the most flattering way to get a job, but oh well.

I was lucky — or unlucky depending on how you view telemarketing — enough to go back there over Christmas break and that following summer break. I didn’t mind the job because my boss was a great person to work for — probably one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. She was close to retiring, though, I knew when she retired, I wouldn’t be back.

Winter break during my junior year turned out to be the last time I would work there, but those four weeks were monumental. On my first night back, I went in early so I could chat and catch up with my boss. As time came closer for the shift to begin, she mentioned that the only person missing was K, a guy. Of the other times I had worked in the call center, only one of those times had a guy also been working there. His name had been Dean, and he was a middle-aged guy working two jobs. For some reason, I had that image of another middle-aged guy when my boss mentioned K.

Mistaken was an understatement. When K arrived, I noticed he was about my age and two inches taller than me with curly brown hair and the most beautiful dark blue eyes I’d ever seen. I’d never really experienced the whole “my heart skipped a beat when I saw him” moment until that night, but it wasn’t like seeing a cute stranger and thinking, “Wow he’s/she’s hot.” The gaze felt deeper, more meaningful to me.

At first, I was scheduled to work in the call center for two weeks, filling in for a woman who was traveling for the holidays. During those two weeks K and I talked every chance we could when not calling. He was 22 and taking classes in the university transfer program at the local community college. At the time, he wanted to be a lawyer. He loved Pink Floyd and The Doors. He played guitar and wrote poetry.

He thought I looked like one of those porcelain dolls. “Someone should make a Carla Doll,” he said one night. “Here, I’ll draw you a picture.” Drawing wasn’t a strength of his. The “doll” was just a stick figure, but he asked me to keep the picture. So I tucked it away in my pocketbook. A couple of nights before my two weeks ended, he said, “It’s too bad you’re not going to be here the whole time. I’d bring in my guitar and play some Zepplin for you.”
“I’m still in town for two more weeks,” I told him.
He paused and I saw the wheels turning in his mind. He was dating someone. Should he ask for my number? “Well… give me your number,” he said.

Then the woman I was filling in for quit (a frequent occurence in telemarketing), so I worked the other two weeks. During my last week at home, K called and so began the most complicated relationship I’d ever been in.

He kept me at a distance, telling me he was no good for me. He’d done drugs — was still doing drugs on occasion, I believe — and terrible things in his past. But then he’d tell me that I was the last person he wanted to talk to at night.

We’d talk on the phone for hours, reading our writing to each other. He played “Wish You Were Here” on his guitar. He was full of words and feelings for me, and I soaked it all up like a sponge. When I couldn’t handle anymore, I’d cry it all out, and then call to talk some more.

Was he just feeding me lines? Possibly, but I think if he didn’t feel something he could have just used me like he did so many other girls. I was willing to throw myself at him physically, but he always stepped back. It’s an act that’s kept him in my mind all these years and brought up questions such as “What did we really have together?” And I know if it had not been for that last stint in telemarketing, I would have never met him.
There’s a song by the Indigo Girls, “Mystery,” that I heard several years after he and I lost touch and it bowled me over.

Each time you’d pull down the driveway
I wasn’t sure when I would see you again
Yours was a twisted blindsided highway
No matter which road you took then
Oh you set up your place in my thoughts
Moved in and made my thinking crowded
Now we’re out in the back with the barking dogs
My heart the red sun
Your heart the moon clouded

I could go crazy on a night like tonight
When summer’s beginning to give up her fight
And every thought’s a possibility
And the voices are heard but nothing is seen
Why do you spend this time with me
Maybe an equal mystery

So what is love then is it dictated or chosen
Does it sing like the hymns of 1000 years
Or is it just pop emotion
And if it ever was there and it left
Does it mean it was never true
And to exist it must elude
Is that why I think these things of you

I could go crazy on a night like tonight
When summer’s beginning to give up her fight
And every thought’s a possibility
And the voices are heard but nothing is seen
Why do you spend this time with me
May be an equal mystery

But you like the taste of danger
It shines like sugar on your lips
And you like to stand in the line of fire
Just to show you can shoot straight from you hip
There must be a 1000 things you would die for
I can hardly think of two
But not everything is better spoken aloud
Not when I’m talking to you

Oh the pirate gets the ship and the girl tonight
Breaks a bottle to christen her
Basking in the exploits of her thief
She’s a very good listener
Maybe that’s all that we need
Is to meet in the middle of impossibility
We’re standing at opposite poles
Equal partners in a mystery

We’re standing at opposite poles
Equal partners in a mystery

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