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Laugh in this Life With Me
The Timeline of an Every-Day Love Story
How do we know when it begins? That moment when life suddenly changes? Is it an explosion? A simple indrawn breath? Does it steal into our lives slowly like the night? Does in pounce and roar and let itself be known? How do we know that this is the moment? Or is this just another in a series of forgettable moments that litter our lives? The answer lies unfairly at the end. And the journey is often too long. How do we know that this is the worthwhile path? How do we know to take it? To let this moment move us? To let this moment shape us? We cannot know. Not now. The only chance we have is to close our eyes. Scream as loudly as possible and leap as far as we can. Into the unknown.
Part I: Close Your Eyes
"I have measured out my life in coffee spoons." -- T.S. Elliot (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
March 14, 2002, 10:29 am
Jim Halpert was a clock-watcher. Had been since he was a boy and his father bought him his first real watch.
It fascinated him, the way time speeds up and slows down. Like when you’re waiting for something and time suddenly slams to a halt, creeping along only at an unendurable pace…the last few weeks of school before summer break… the entire month of December leading up to Christmas…
Or the way time can speed up and throw everything into hyper drive. Entire years can fly by in a matter or moments. And as everyone knows, this usually only happens during the best moments of life.
Blink… and it’s over.
Unfortunately for Jim, his days at Dunder-Mifflin were never “blink and you miss them” kind of days.
In fact, they were pretty much the slowest days of his life.
Sure, a watched pot never boils. Time only slows down when you watch the clock….
He did it anyway.
Every few minutes or so he would glance up at that tiny little screen on the bottom of his computer. Watching those eight hours tick by at an exhaustingly slow rate.
On that day he had already looked at the clock fifty-seven times.
It was 10:29 am.
Two years, four months, sixteen days, two hours and twenty-nine minutes since he first started.
An entire lifetime.
Two hours and twenty-five minutes since he had walked in that morning.
All of it slipping by and leaving him exhausted and bored.
Bored to death.
It didn’t help that the office was even more quiet than normal. Kevin was out “sick,” Dwight was back in HR with Toby and Michael was out of the office, meeting with a potential client.
Jim could feel his eyes starting to drift closed. His finger taped the mouse aimlessly and his eyelids were getting heavier…heavier…heavier…
With a loud thump his head hit the desk. There was a soft giggle behind him and he turned his head to the side.
A petite brunette was standing next to reception, her lips pursed together, her eyes sparkling with amusement, “That looked like it hurt.”
Jim eased his head off the desk and rubbed the back of his neck, “You know nothing of pain until you’ve worked here for two years.”
She nodded, “Ah. That thrilling huh?”
He frowned, “Yeah. Shocking I know, because you would think paper would be exciting.”
“Hmm. Right. That’s too bad.”
She looked at him seriously, “I always dreamed of being a paper salesman. Even when I was a little girl. I never imagined that it would actually be boring.”
Jim smiled at the way this stranger seemed to be mocking him. “Sorry to crush your dreams.”
“Well, I might be exaggerating. But come on. What’s more exciting than office supplies? I love it all.”
“Oh I know. Staplers and paper clips….”
“Don’t forget post-it notes.”
Her eyes lit up as she laughed, “Oh, I love post- it notes. There’s just something about them...” She bit her lip in embarrassment and looked around the quiet office, “Umm, I’m actually here for an interview.”
“Ah, so you are pursuing your dreams.”
She smiled, “Right. Because what little girl doesn’t dream of being a receptionist?”
“Well, it’s good to know you’ll be dedicated.”
Jim unfolded himself from his chair and stepped forward with his hand outstretched, “Jim Halpert.”
She smiled and took his hand, “Pam Beesly.”
“Nice to meet you Pam. Now, I must warn you beforehand. You interview for this job at your own risk.”
“I didn’t realize it was hazardous.”
Jim raised an eyebrow, “Have you actually met Michael? Better yet, have you met Dwight?”
Pam opened her mouth to reply but was interrupted as Michael raced in through the door. “I’m late. I’m late for a very important date…Jimmy! My man! How’s it hanging? Short, shriveled and….” He stopped short as he caught sight of Pam with a slightly disturbed look on her face. He laughed, “Oh-oh. Chick alert.” He stopped and held his hand up, “Sorry. Woman. That’s what you ladies like these days right? Don’t worry. I’m about as politically correct as you can get.”
Pam just stared at him. Jim held back a smile and nodded at her with a knowing glance.
“Michael, this is Pam. She’s here to interview for the job.”
Michael coughed and stared at Jim for a second.
Jim rolled his eyes, “Mr. Scott, this is Pam. She’s here to interview for the job.”
Michael nodded, his face taking on a hint of seriousness. “Wonderful. Pam. If you’ll just give me a moment.” He held his head up and walked into his office with an air of superiority.
Pam bit her lip and looked over at Jim, “So that’s a Michael, huh?”
“That’s a Michael. And later, if you haven’t run out of here screaming yet I’ll introduce you to a Dwight.”
“Do I want to know?”
“No Pam you don’t. You really don’t. Actually, I’d run away right now if I were you. You really want to be stuck answering phones and dealing with... that?” Jim nodded his head towards Michael’s door, “Not to mention the fact that it will be your job to revive me when I die of boredom.”
Pam just smiled and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, “I think I can handle it.”
“Pam, you may enter now.”
Jim waved her into the room and crossed his fingers, “Good luck.”
She smiled at him again and disappeared into the office.
With a shake of his head Jim returned to his seat and glanced at the clock on the bottom of the computer screen.
Another hour and twenty-five minutes before he could go and eat his ham and cheese sandwich in the silence of the break room. He opened up a new game of Spider Solitaire and played until Dwight came back from his meeting in HR and yelled at him about productivity and customer service.
He didn’t mind so much. It was just another way to pass the time.