Jim isn’t sure how Michael got corporate to approve mini golf as a team building activity, but here they are. It’s unusually hot for early May, he can feel the sweat slowly soaking the back of his shirt, and they’re only on the fifth hole. Pam is a step ahead of him, waiting for Kevin to take his turn. She had abandoned her cardigan on the bus, but he would still see her wiping her forehead with the back of her hand every couple of minutes. Everyone was growing miserable, and he wants to get out before Michael makes another “put it in the hole” joke.
He nudges Pam’s shoulder with his own before leaning down near her ear, “Believe it or not, this place has the best hot dogs.”
She looks at him with a raised eyebrow, “How often do you come here?”
“This was the go-to birthday spot, Pam. The lady who gave us our clubs was the attendant at my eighth birthday party, I had a huge crush on her.”
She gives him his favorite smile, her tongue poking out between her teeth, eyes sparkling. He’s only known her for less than two weeks at this point, but he’s come to love this smile more than anything. “That’s so cute. You know, you should ask her out.”
“I am really into the gray hair.” He looks up when he hears Michael make a ball joke, then turns back to Pam. “How’s that hot dog sounding?”
“Perfect, let’s go.”
They sit at a table near the arcade after getting two hot dogs, two cokes, and an order of fries to share. He rips open his packet of ketchup and watches as she does the same, spreading it on top of her food. It’s not until she takes her first bite that he glances down to see her ketchup packet is actually hot sauce, but it’s too late. When he looks at her again, her eyes are wide, her cheeks flushed, and even though he feels bad, honestly, he can’t help but start to laugh.
She reaches for the napkins to spit out the bite and then takes a few gulps of her soda, which doesn’t actually seem to help any. In fact, it seems to just make it worse as she starts mumbling, “Oh my God,” repeatedly, which just makes him laugh more. She glares at him as she practically pants, but he can see the smile she’s trying to hide.
He quickly gets up and grabs an ice cream cup from the freezer, handing it to her before going to the counter to pay for it. By the time he gets back, her cheeks are only tinted pink and she’s pushing the now empty ice cream cup away from her.
He sits back down, popping a fry into his mouth, “You okay?”
“Yeah, I think. They should really not put the ketchup and hot sauce so close together.”
He chuckles, “You’re right, it’s not like they’re labeled or anything.”
“They’re both red! This is not my fault, no one reads the labels.”
“Of course.” He nudges his hot dog towards her, “You want mine?”
She’s about to answer when the door behind her swings open and they see Dwight standing in the doorway. “What are you two doing in here?”
Jim gestures towards the food in front of them, “Making sure they’re up to code.”
Dwight glares, trying to decide if Jim is bluffing or not, ultimately finding the argument not worth it. “Michael needs Pam to take notes.”
“Notes about what? We’re playing minigolf.”
“This is a team building activity, Newbie. Michael always has Pam take notes so he can review them later.”
Pam rolls her eyes and stands up, tossing her hot dog and soda in the trash, “C’mon, before Michael makes me sit through another meeting about listening.”
He grabs his untouched hot dog and soda and throws them out as well as Pam starts to follow Dwight back out the door. He turns to catch up with her when he spots the two hot sauce packets she left behind and, after checking to make sure her and Dwight didn’t see him, quickly stuffs them into his pocket.
He tells himself he’ll use them to somehow prank Dwight, but instead they end up on his desk, next to the mini pencil Pam had thrown at him at the end of the game, beginning the collection of things that remind him that she’s worth waiting for.