Karen was going to kill Jim Halpert.
Seriously. His mother was going to cry when she saw the body.
He had insisted, over and over and over again, that he hadn’t left Scranton because of Michael Scott. That Michael was a great salesman she could learn a lot from. That the things everyone said about Scranton… weren’t unfair, exactly, but made him seem worse than he was. That Michael always meant well, that he really had a lot going for him (“look, a bunch of people we used to work with are scrambling to make rent because Josh didn’t care if they got hurt if he could benefit. You’ll never see Michael do that.”). That Jim actually missed him some days.
She guesses she should count herself lucky he didn’t sell her on a time-share in Boise while he was at it.
It’s been the absolute craziest day of work she could possibly imagine. Between Michael Scott asking if her father was a G.I. to the lady with the formaldehyde perfume who got weirdly offended about the refrigerator company to Michael humiliating Tony into quitting to the crazed beet farmer ‘welcoming’ her by informing her he would crush her if she attempted to unseat him as the office’s top salesman to Michael pulling out her desktop’s power cord doing an overenthusiastic version of The Hustle (“because that’s how you move paper! You HUSTLE!”) to the tiny blonde making passive-aggressive comments about her leaving her top button undone to Michael losing her a sale when one of her Stamford clients couldn’t hear her over his Dunder Mifflin-themed version of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart speech, she was seriously regretting not making more calls to her contacts before taking this transfer.
But no. She listened to Jim freakin’ Halpert. And he said everything was going to be all right. “Come on, Filippelli. If you can survive six months, Jan’ll promote you. And you’ll have fun! I promise, you’ll be getting free drinks off Michael Scott stories for the rest of your life.”
At least she’s finding some common ground with this pack of weirdos over Michael’s lunacy. Turns out nothing brings people together like their boss purposefully letting the air out of their tires. Maybe that’s what Halpert was talking about.
(She shouldn’t beat up on him too bad. He at least was nice enough to arrange for her to stay with his parents. If she doesn’t follow Tony out of town, apartment hunting is going to be a lot more pleasant from their house in West Scranton than it would be from the Days Inn. Above and beyond for a drinking buddy.
Although she’d take some standard-issue motel art over that creepy-ass clown any day.)
Apparently she’s not the only one with Jim on the brain. Funeral-Home-Perfume-Refrigerator-Lady is trying to ask about him.
“Sorry? I’m having some trouble processing everything.”
She smiles at that. “It’s fine. The first day with him is a lot to take in.”
Karen appreciates that. Bizarre fixation on kitchen appliances aside, she seems nice enough – after all, she had only gotten mad after Karen told her she smelled, like that was going to make a good first impression. She decides that if she doesn’t flee Scranton before dawn, she’s going to be the first one Karen gets to know. Starting with her name. Since Michael’s Integration Celebration sciocchezza hadn’t included a name game. Because that would have been a good use of time.
“I was just asking, do you know when Jim’s starting here? We were all looking forward to having him back, we thought he’d be with the rest of you.”
Nope. Never mind. Halpert is a tool. Thanks for letting me break the news, Jim. Oh, and thank you for convincing me that I’d be okay working in this INSANE ASYLUM.
“Yeah… he’s not coming.”
The “what”s come from Refrigerator Lady and the receptionist with the nice sweater, who she realizes has been hovering behind them. She turns to include her in the conversation. After all, her slow-moving freakout over the course of the day probably makes her one of the normal ones. (She’d started off so sweet and hopeful, and just gotten more and more anxious as Michael got more and more out of control. She looks worse than ever now, like she’s gone from panic attack to “my last friend just died unsuccessfully swerving to avoid running over my dog.”)
“Pretty much my reaction.” Not fair, really, she thinks. He’d been upfront with her about his plans. Whatever. This is what he gets for avoiding a hard conversation. “He accepted the transfer and then started putting his resume out there anyways, and he landed something yesterday. I don’t know if he’s even given notice yet. I mean, I know, he did just leave here, and after today I get why he wasn’t too thrilled about coming back, but…”
Karen trails off, because she might have a few things to get off her chest, but she’s not going to ignore the fact that the receptionist is starting to cry.
“Oh, fuck,” she says, in about the smallest voice Karen has ever heard.
Refrigerator Lady gathers her in her arms, starts murmuring to her in a soft, maternal tone, leaving Karen to awkwardly stand around the parking lot and watch. She’s not sure what she could do or say to help… but maybe the receptionist has questions, and she isn’t going to just drop a bomb and leave her to cry it out.
She thinks about the look in her eyes, and the look Jim had on his face all summer. How quiet she’d gotten, and how Jim always seemed to go silent and distant after too many beers. And she realizes that he was telling the truth.
His leaving Scranton didn’t have a damn thing to do with Michael Scott.