Saturday, November 29, 2008

6. A new career

Cath thought about ringing Milly. She had been disappointed to miss out on the job at Milly's work. She hadn't even known if she was going to take it but she sure as hell thought she was talented enough to get it.
It was the backpacker holding a saucer with a slice of carrot cake on it out to her. She nodded and reached out for the plate, dropping her phone into her lap. No more worrying about what could have been, She would take the opportunities in front of her and cake seemed just fine. In fact... Her eyes followed the backpacker guy as he walked back to grab a beer. He was looking pretty nice from this position.
Cath had given up on men after the slow sinking of her last relationship with Nathan. Nothing amazing had gone wrong, just a gentle slipping apart like two boats on the sea and before she knew it, they had anchored too far apart to come back. She knew it had partly been her fault - working long hours, but that was her and if he couldn't accept that then...
Past opportunities - Cath pulled herself back to the present. Then it was the past; a flight, another lounge, a flight, another airport.
Finally she was there in North Carolina, watching the luggage go round and round the carousel and waiting for hers to appear. Hearing new accents and smells all around her. Her brain sluggishly trying to keep up. The bags were thinning out. She kept watching - expecting, willing it to appear. Her brain was ready just to grab any and make the best of it.
It didn't come. Everyone had moved away and only two of them remained staring at the empty carousel squeaking its way around. Then it stopped. There was no ignoring it. Her luggage was not coming.
"It's over here." The stranger, also missing luggage, guided her towards the lost luggage counter. Then they were taken to the lost luggage. That woke her up and fast. An area the size of a tennis court was roped off and patiently waiting inside was row after row of bags. None of them looked like hers, but the stranger's was there. Cath felt glad. Weird how you could barely meet someone and still feel emotionally attached. She waved him goodbye as she filled out the paperwork, got given $50 for some clothes and a wee blue bag of mystery toiletries. The lady at the counter looked as tired and she felt. It seemed her lost luggage was just another in a long day. How could so many bags get lost? Surely it wasn't that hard but it didn't seem a good time to ask. Then Cath went to find hotel shuttle, hoping it hadn't gone while she was busy sorting out her bags. It was pulling away. With, what felt like the final scrap of energy she had, Cath ran waving her arms, not caring about first impressions, just hoping that damn shuttle would stop. She'd seen the distance to the hotel on google earth and she didn't want to walk. The shuttle and her were closing on each other - would he stop and then she saw the man looking like a policeman with a gun.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

5. Turning Back?

Cath stood in the queue to the check-in. Her suitcase, her silent partner. Her heart sank as she read the flickering chart. "Flight cancelled." Was it a sign? Was it fate warning her not to throw away her career on this crazy venture? She could feel a knot pulling inside her. But she tried to relax it away. Theoretically she was on holiday. She was paying for this and maybe if she did a good job, Jacob Macy would pay her expenses, for the story and keep her on his project. She took a deep breath. If it didn't go to plan she could just have a holiday. She went over and over these ideas in mind - an endless loop, the thoughts stuck to one another.
"Next please!"
Cath was jolted out of her thoughts and quickly pulled her suitcase over to the checkin.
"It is alright you will make your connection, you will just have less of a wait."
Cath nodded and waved away the snack coupons. As her suitcase bumped and jiggled onto the conveyor and disappeared, she felt a release. She was in charge, no one was telling her what to do. She turned away from the checkin - smiling. She felt better than she had in ages. Maybe this trip was just what she needed.
"Excuse me - where is the food place for these coupons?" He was young, tattered backpack on his back, ipod headphones hanging around his neck.
"Come with me I got lounge membership, been awhile since I had a guest."
"Obrigado, thank you."
"No worries." Cath grinned. "Follow me." She walked past a group of suits and frowns. She smiled again. The slave is free she thought.
Her phone sang for attention. She reached for it still grinning. It was Milly. She flicked open the text message expecting well wishes and comments of envy.
"Know why you didn't get job. Jim has it in for you!"
Cath read it again. What on earth? Jim had always appeared to think she was great. She thought he would be an excellent reference. She shivered. All thoughts of freedom running for dark recesses in her mind. A little seed of a thought dropped - one she would later harvest.

Friday, November 21, 2008

4. A new start

"Oh that's just some card this guy gave me on the way home from Oz."
Milly unfolded it. "What have you decided to do about work?"
Cath lent on the bench. "I don't think I am going to go to Sydney."
"There's a job at my work you could do. I'll put in a good word for you." Milly said still looking at the card.
"What does this man do?"
Cath took the card off her, flipping it onto the windowsill. "Some travel thing." She went to the fridge to retrieve some more wine.
"What's holding you here? You could call him if you wanted." Milly held out her glass for a refill.
Cath untwisted the cap, secretly pleased by the lack of cork. Twist top wine bottles, were a girl's best friend. She filled Milly's and her own. "But then I should take Jim's offer and go to Sydney." She said.
Milly's bracelets chinked against the glass. "You always moan about the Sydney office. You said yourself just earlier this year, you thought you would be married and thinking of children by now. So why not ditch it all and try something new? Give the man a call." She raised her glass in a toast.
Cath's finger ran through the condensation on her glass. A new path appearing between the bubbles. Maybe she had done the corporate thing for long enough. Maybe it was time to take a chance. She was hardly a fairground of happiness. Success yes but there was always another step to climb, so happy - no. She picked up the phone and lifted the card back off the window sill.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

3. What to do next

"Hey you again."
Cath looked up. She was waiting for the boarding call of her flight, staring at her shoes and still thinking about that meeting.
It was the guy from her flight over this morning. Jack was it? She tried to recall his name.
He flopped down beside her. "Hope your day was better than mine. Just missed getting run over by a corporate banana on his cell phone and the bloke I was suppose to meet, never showed up!"
Cath sighed, not sure if she wanted to get dragged into this conversation.
"My day was crap too. If I want to keep my job I have to move to Sydney."
Jack looked at her.
"Can they do that? I thought they had to offer you other stuff if they changed your job compared to your contract? But could be the best thing to happen to you. What do you want to do? Why not ditch them and travel or something?"
Cath looked at the floor again. Did she really want to take advice from a guy she only met on a plane?
"I don't know I'm that kind of person. I like things ordered and organised." She said.
Jack didn't appear to be listening. "While I was waiting for the guy I was suppose to be meeting, I met this other guy."
He went on, while he peered and poked into his bag.
"Anyway he is setting up some internet thing and he wants people to travel and then write up stuff or do videos or something. Something about peace and bringing people of the world together. He sounded like he was a freekin' rich go getter type who now wanted to do something nice with his millions. It sounded kind of lame to me but if he is willing to pay, I thought I might do it once. Aah here is his card I got a couple."
Jack handed the card to Cath. She took it. "I don't think that sounds like me at all."
Jack stood up."Better get a drink before we board," and he was gone.
Cath looked at card, turning it upside down. It didn't look any better. What a dumb idea she thought. Nice he waited until he was really rich before deciding to help out the world. She wondered how many people he had made move offices. She folded the card in half and poked into her laptop bag's side pocket
Two weeks later, her best friend Milly was over. The bag fell off the bench where it had been teetering. The card fell out and Milly bent to pick it up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

2. The meeting

Cath sat down.
Jim walked behind his desk. His eyes flicking at the emails arriving on screen. He pulled his eyes away and smiled at Cath.
"Great quarter you guys have had in New Zealand. The best you have ever had." He sat down.
Cath smiled and was about to reply when Jim's phone rang.
"Hang on a minute." He looked away, the phone to his ear.
Cath glanced at the papers all over his desk. Attempting to the read the contents upside down. The ones on the top were to do with New Zealand. She could see one of her own reports. She began to feel uneasy.
Jim put his phone down and smiled again. "Look this is going to take awhile. Go have some lunch, I'll call you back when I'm free."
Cath got up, nodded and walked out. She was only here for one day. She went off to find her main friend in the office, Helen. She wondered if she knew anything.
The two them went across the road to the sandwich place. Cath fiddling with her coins, she still wasn't used to the opposite sizes in Australia. She thought two countries so close could have at least have standardised on which coin should be bigger the one or two dollar. She was forever wasting money.
Helen thought she had heard a rumour they were going to close the New Zealand office. Cath nearly choked on her salad roll. "That is crazy!" She said "We'll lose all our customers! No offence but you are a different time zone and...well Australian. We market ourselves on being local."
Helen shrugged. "I know we don't really want to deal with the extra work, we can't cope at the moment to be honest, but that is what I've heard."
Cath chewed silently. This is not what she had expected to hear today. Helen needed to get back to work and Jim still wasn't free. Cath hooked up her computer, cleared emails and waited. She was having a hard time concentrating. The afternoon was disappearing. Her early start was catching up with her as a fog began to settle in her brain. She would have to leave soon. She walked down the corridor past Jim's office again, in the pretence of an errand.
Thirty minutes before the taxi was due to pick her up, Jim finally opened his door and called her in apologetically.
"I have to go soon." Cath said without sitting down.
"Yes. I'm sorry about that. Emergency situation down in Adelaide, I had to placate the customer, he is one of our best. Now what I wanted to say was you have had a wonderful quarter but..." There was a tap at the door. It was Jenny, Jim's secretary.
"Taxi's here Cath."
"Thanks, tell him to wait." Cath turned to Jim.
"We are restructuring and basically it means we are pulling things back to the office here. We can provide much better service will all the people and back up here. I want you to transfer here to head it up. In fact if you continue to do a good job. I can see you being in charge of sales for both Australia and New Zealand in the future."
Cath's mind felt like was simultaneously running through a million different scenarios and not moving at all. All she could say was "But we have done the best we have ever done. We are a profitable organisation over there."
Jim nodded. "I know and this decision is nothing to do with how well you have run the business. It is a new approach worldwide."
"It's a stupid one" Cath blurted out before she could stop herself.
Jenny was back tapping on the door "Cath you really have to go."
"I am coming over next week. Keep it under your hat until then. We will discuss it with the team. I think you will find it enormously rewarding and challenging over here. It would be a great step in your career." Jim smiled.
Cath said nothing. She stood up and smoothed her skirt.
"I'll see you next week then. I'm not sure about the move over here. I need to think about it."
Jim waved his hand "Sure, sure. It is a lot to take in. Have a good flight and I think you will see it is big opportunity for you."
Cath marched down the corridor, gathered up her computer and checked she had her passport and flight details. She swung around Helen's office doorway. "You were right." She said.
As Cath went down in the lift she felt the pricks of tears forming. She was mad. It always made her cry. She was mad that Jim had made her wait all day - to tell her that. She was mad she had come over on an early flight, that always messed up her thinking and put her on the back foot, to be told her job as she knew it was gone. She was mad he seemed to think it was okay not to tell the others until next week. The lift binged. She marched out and flung the glass reception doors open. She freed herself from the building. Maybe she would come and work here but right now it was the last thing she wanted to do.
She was mad. She barely looked at the taxi driver as she got in the back. She stared out the window as they headed out onto the main road. Her fingers stroked the keypad on her phone. What to do. As the distance from the office grew and the simmering anger began to cool, plans started forming in her mind.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

1. My new plan

Well, I have been procrastinating for a few weeks. I want to/need to practice a creative writing story structure. You know, the old first do it by the rules before you break them thing. The problem is I am fairly rubbish at writing without a reason. The reason doesn't have to be great but I am VERY goal orientated so even it if it doesn't pan out, at least I am happy if I made the goal. Since I am just starting out in creative writing I am going through the rejection phase of my career. So far it is going very well - getting rejected all over the place. Admittedly I don't aim low and my rejections are the non surprising result. In fact I think if I wasn't rejected that might freak me out a bit at this point.
Anyway that long waffling paragraph is because I have decided to make myself do this, I will use my blog for it so I am going to attempt to write a longer story following my planned structure over the next wee while in this blog. I had planned to plan out the story to the structure a bit but I can see I will never start if I wait until I do that so I am just going to jump straight in. It maybe naff. It may only last a month or may develop into a groovey story who can tell. I tend to be a shorter story writer, despite my longer aspirations, so we will see what happens.
Cath couldn't believe how easily she could be envious. Right now sitting on the plane as it circled above Sydney, she was still envious of the guy beside her. Jack had only just made the flight. He had managed to convince the check-in staff to get him on even though he had been late. Cath had never managed to do that in her life. She was envious of his confidence, his charm and his complete lack of concern that he might have missed his flight. How could she be envious over such a trivial thing? She knew it was crazy. She never told anyone anymore about things like this. It just sounded so self pitying.
"What about your porsche in the garage? What about your gorgeous apartment. What about your great career?" She could hear their rebukes in her head but it didn't help. She had worked really hard to get those things and this was different. She could not control how she felt. It was just a fact, her envy, nothing more.
She sighed and looked out over the brown roofs dotted between the shaggy green tree tops. Soon she would be down there amongst the concrete and cars. It never felt as green on the ground as it looked from air.
Cath arrived at the office in time for morning tea. The smokers were out on the deck, the others were grabbing coffees and heading back to their desks but not without a bit gossip and back chat. There seemed to be something going on. People were looking at her in a weird way. They seemed happy to see her but almost too cheerful. It made her uneasy. It always seemed so mysterious over here. Back in New Zealand there was only four of them. They were like a family really.
Jim, the General Manager, and Cath's boss lent on the door.
"Cath, glad you made it. Come into my office. I have some news for you."
Cath followed him down the hall. She had thought from the emails organising this trip, that it would be good news, now she was not so sure.

5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.