"I don't know why I even got a Christmas tree," I sighed as I wrapped up the last ornament to pack away.
"You were trying to be in the holiday spirit," Shelby replied as she picked up her wine glass. "It was well intended." She finished her glass and I saw her pouring herself a hefty second glass out of the corner of my eye.
I shrugged. "Yeah, it's a bummer packing it up, though."
"It might have something to do with you packing it up on December 23rd."
She had a point, but what else was I supposed to do? I was going home in the morning and wasn't going to be back until after New Years. I didn't need a tree rotting away while I was gone.
"Enough about me throwing away my time and money on this stupid thing," I replied. "How're things with you? How's the job search going?"
Shelby took a long sip before answering, though I felt the amount of wine she was drinking was an indication of the answer. "Okay," she finally replied with a sigh. "I have an second interview with a place this week and I could start right after New Years if things go well."
"That's awesome!" I responded with a smile. I was genuinely happy for her. Mr. Larson, the jerk face executive who I first encountered as a rude airplane traveler, had been at our branch of WebMatch in Santa Monica for months now and none of the employees had any idea when he was going to leave. There were apparently a lot of internal adjustments going on in the company that were out of my lower level awareness, but what I did know was that they laid off about half of my department the Friday after Thanksgiving. Shelby was one of the employees to be let go and I felt so awful, while also being thankful that I still had my job. But for how much longer?
"Yeah," Shelby replied with an unenthusiastic nod. "I don't know, though. I've been thinking about going back to school." She began telling me about how she had always wanted to be a lawyer, but couldn't stand the thought of three years of law school. "There's a program for paralegals and I applied this morning."
"I loved school, so I'm always a big supporter of anybody going back." We talked about that a bit more before I began telling her what had recently been going on at WebMatch.
"So, Larson has been having a lot of meetings with me and Pete. The other day he brought up one of our less than great customer feedback forms." I paused to pick up my own glass of wine. The thought of the meeting already had my blood boiling.
"Why is he saying that he feels like you didn't take his preferences into account?" Mr. Larson asked me as we sat at the long conference table. Pete was sitting in between me and Mr. Larson, but he might as well have been invisible, because Mr. Larson wasn't berating him about anything.
"Well," I began as I pursed my lips. "Most of the traits he asked for were purely based on appearance and I tried to take those into account, but there were also personality characteristics based on the most recent research that I had to consider." I passed him some of the papers I had with me, but he waved them away without giving them even a mere glance. "He's been with us three years and while some of those relationships have worked, him and I have discussed that we need to try something different if he wants to find a serious, long-term relationship."
Everything I had presented to him was true and it's not even like the customer feedback was that bad. He just didn't give us perfect scores and that was something the customer had written in his comments at the end of the survey, along with excellent reviews about me.
"I don't need excuses, Caroline," Mr. Larson replied without considering any of my perfectly valid points. "We just can't keep losing clients like this. The personal matchmaking takes a lot of resources to keep running and if we lose clients we won't be able to maintain the department. Does that make sense to you?"
I was ready to quit right there and after hearing the story, Shelby didn't understand how I didn't blow up at him.
"It's not easy," I insisted. "But I've decided to channel all that energy into kickboxing. Plus, I've started doing deep breathing exercises at my desk."
Shelby and I finished up the process of taking down my Christmas tree. Then I forced myself to go to sleep so I could wake up super early for my flight.
It was really nice to see my family for the week. I missed being home, but I did not miss that cold. I spent a lot of the time inside with my sister, who was also off for the week.
Then New Year's Eve rolled around. I went with my friends to a catering hall, like we had done a few times already. It was fun to get dressed up and see them. Not to mention that I killed in my crop top and skirt combination. Thanks were due to kickboxing, yet again.
Moose was there, though. He didn't try to talk to me and I was thankful he didn't. I was so busy catching up with everyone that I don't think anybody noticed, but I did. He was giving me weird looks all night, but he was also glued to his cell phone. Anna told me him and Jacky had broken up, but he was already back on Tinder. "He's talking to a lot of girls," she informed me, without any prodding. "He's kind of being sleazy with it."
Moose? Sleazy? No way! I was so glad that things hadn't gone further with us. He wasn't worth it.