It was a completely normal day.
I had just settled into my desk after my morning trip around the office. First stop, coffee maker to refill my travel mug (already one cup in and buzzing at this point). Second stop, labelled mailbox to see if there was anything new for me since I checked last night. There was. A flyer about an office Christmas party that I knew I would RSVP “yes” to and then cancel on at the last moment, claiming a sudden and violent stomach bug. Last stop, the pencil sharpener. Three pencils, perfect tips, Ticonderoga only. No one knows how to make a #2 like Ticonderoga. But I digress.
I arrived at my cubicle at exactly 9 am, ready to face my shift with the courage that spending eight hours a day cold-calling unsuspecting American citizens takes. I was lucky. On my shift I mostly encountered bored senior citizens and harried housewives. The night crew had it really tough. They faced the overworked, underpaid, in-the-middle-of-dinner, “do you think I have time for this?” types who made you feel like the lowest form of human life during their hours. I switched shifts with a night shift girl once, years ago, and I still wake up in a cold sweat now and then, the memories of October 5th, 2014 flashing through my dreams. Yep, I remember the date.
Anyway, I was settling in for my usual day, already starting the countdown to my lunch break, when it happened. He walked in.
He was perfect.
Like, Brad-Pitt-when-he-was-still-with-Jen, early-season-Jim-Halpert, Denzel-young-old-or-in-between perfect.
I knew we were expecting a new hire named Pete, but no one had prepared me for this...for HIM. He was gorgeous, with a super manly voice (I heard him introducing himself and talking Giants football with one of the guys), and clothes that could have been straight off of a J. Crew mannequin. Slap me in the face and bring me back to reality, that boy was cute.
And then. No seriously. Then it happened.
He walked up to me, leaned in a little, and in that perfect voice, asked:
“Can I borrow a pencil?”
Borrow a pencil? He didn’t need a pencil. This guy was prepared. He was sharp. He carried a man bag. He DID NOT need to borrow a writing utensil from me. This was a clear cut message. I don’t know what the kids call it these days, but we thirty-somethings would say he was hitting on me. And that’s all there was to it.
I somehow managed to hand him a pencil, tossing a casual smile his way as a bonus. The minute he was out of sight, I did a little spin in my chair and started the celebration.
This was the beginning of a beautiful love story. Leo and Kate could play us in the movie. No, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Yes. Perfect. For our first date, I would suggest something casual but he would surprise me with a night in the city. Our engagement story would be the stuff of legends, a story to tell the kids someday. I pictured him in his wedding suit, our special day a beautiful but modest event for our closest friends and family. We would give out pencils as favors and giggle at the reference to the moment we met. We would have five kids. I would blog about our lives, a publisher would notice, then would come the book, and the previously mentioned film.
This job had been pretty lousy for years. But now every single second was worth it. Because he was here. And he liked me. He really, really liked me.
Pete sat down in his cubicle and searched his bag for a pencil. Nothing. Sitting back in his chair, he wondered how anyone could forget a pencil on their first day at a new job. Oh well. That girl...the goofy one who had stared at him until he disappeared into his cubicle, she was the type who probably kept a whole handful of pencils sharpened and ready to go on her desk.
He strolled over to her and immediately zeroed in on the little cup perched next to her computer monitor. Bingo.
“Can I borrow a pencil?” he asked. She nodded and nearly knocked over her coffee getting it. He thanked her, and she nodded and muttered something that sounded like the combination of a “you’re welcome” and a giggle, and he escaped.
Back at his desk, he settled into his seat and scribbled a note to remind himself to call his girlfriend on his lunch break. It was only then that he realized he didn’t even know the pencil girl’s name.