Jim whistled to himself as he walked up the steps of the Scranton Business Park heading to Dunder Mifflin. The chill of late November doing nothing to quell his good spirits. His morning of sales calls had gone remarkably well. He’d landed new contracts or expanded old ones at each of the clients he’d visited. Knowing that the contracts in his messenger bag would be more than adequate to show he was hitting his monthly sales goals, he was keen to turn them in and have the lunch hour and afternoon to plot new pranks. With each step up the stairs he envisioned the scene in his mind. He’d walk through the door. Pam would look up and smile at him. He’d grab a few jellybeans on his way past her desk to accounting to drop off the contracts. Their eyes would meet once more as he returned to his desk. The IM program on his computer would light up with her asking what he was so happy about. He’d reply with something simple that would cause her to invite him back to her desk for further explanation. Without hesitation he would saunter over for a few more jellybeans and tell her of his morning until he realized it was time for lunch and suggest she join him in the breakroom for the full story. They’d chat easily while grabbing their food from the fridge and sit at their normal spots in the breakroom against the wall. Over lunch he’d tell her that morning he’d made a sale with the company that restocked their vending machine and their delivery guy seemed cool. It was a vision that came crashing down as soon as he opened the Dunder Mifflin door and saw another man standing in his spot at Pam’s desk.
“Really Pammy? A cooking class? Why would I want to do that?”
Schooling his expression, Jim walked past where Roy was standing at the reception desk looking at a pamphlet. He couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation.
“Because Roy when was the last time we went out and did something together that wasn’t just going to the bar with Kenny?” Pam replied. “They’ve got a whole bunch of classes where you learn how to put lots of different stuff. Classic comfort foods, one pot meals, even a couple of international nights. Just in time for the holidays too!”
Jim tried to catch Pam’s eye as he walked back to his desk, but her attention was solely focused on Roy. However, to his trained eye that had long cataloged the numerous expressions of one Pam Beesly, he easily saw the hints of frustration starting to cloud her eyes. The way she was starting to hunch in on herself. How her voice didn’t have the same light confidence he reveled in when they planned a prank together. No, she was in full on Roy-mode now. Smaller, guarded, and looking unsure of herself.
“Yeah, sorry babe, but it’s going to be a no for me,” Roy went on. “Looks like all these classes are on poker nights.”
“Roy, please,” Pam pleaded. “I’ve already paid for them.”
“Sorry Pammy, make sure you get the money back.” Roy told her without any hint of contriteness. “Besides why go through all the work of learning to cook? You can just get one of those freezer things that come pre-made and pop it in the microwave. I gotta get back downstairs. See ya later.”
“Bye,” Pam said softly as Roy clomped his way back down to the warehouse.
Jim kept his eyes glued to his vacant computer monitor until he heard the door close behind Roy. It was only then that he risked a glance to his right. He could only see the top of her head since it appeared she was looking down at something on her desk. It was only the phone ringing that caused her to look up.
“Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam,” she answered forlornly. “Please hold I’ll transfer you.”
Ignoring the phone now ringing at Stanley’s desk, Jim pulled up their ongoing IM conversation on his computer. He hesitated a moment while he tried to think of something to write.
JIM9334: Here a prize for you!
He quickly hit the enter button and turned to pretend to look at his discount code binder. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her head move to her computer screen as his message popped up.
Receptionitis15: What prize? There’s just a blank spot.
JIM9334: Ah shoot! The emoji thing must not be working again. It was supposed to be a little trophy.
Receptionitis15: A trophy? For what?
JIM9334: For the quietest replacement of a phone handset onto its cradle. It’ll be the newest event for next year’s Office Olympics.
Glancing at the yogurt medal still hanging from his desk lamp, Jim took another glance towards Pam. The tension was starting to ease off her shoulders and a smile was beginning to curl up her cheeks.
Receptionitis15: Next year’s games? Guess I had better get to work on getting more medals ready. Interested in helping?
JIM9334: I wouldn’t be a very effective Olympic Co-Chair if I said no. Shall we say we start in ten minutes in the break room?
Receptionitis15: Sounds like a plan. Thanks Jim.
JIM9334: Anytime Beesly.
After exactly nine minutes of playing minesweeper, Jim closed the game and walked over to Pam’s desk. Reaching for a jellybean he mentally reclaimed his spot and smiled at her.
“Hey! Ready to get the pre-planning underway?”
The sparkle of mischief flared to life in Pam’s eyes when she looked up at him. “You bet! Let me just set the phone to voicemail quick.”
Pushing the one button on her phone that would mute the ring tone, she stood up. As she walked around her desk, Jim reached down and picked up a pamphlet with the words “Cooking for Two” emblazoned on it.
“What’s this?” he asked, though he knew exactly what it was from his previous eavesdropping.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” she tried to reach for it.
Jim though held it out of her reach and started walking towards the kitchen while reading snippets aloud. “Hmmm let’s see. ‘Learn to make delicious meals designed for the busy couple. No experience required. Aprons and utensils provided.’ Hey! That looks really good!”
“Can you give it back please?” Pam asked as she followed him through the doors into the kitchen. “It’s for a cooking class that I’ve already paid for, and I need their info to try and get my money back.”
“I don’t know why you’d want your money back,” Jim said as he opened the fridge and handed Pam her lunch. He reached for his and continued. “This picture of Dutch oven mac and cheese looks great! I call dibs when you bring in leftovers for lunch!”
“There’s not going to be any leftovers, because I’m not taking the class.” Pam told him while they walked through the Annex to their normal chairs in the breakroom. “It’s all set up for two people, but Roy doesn’t want to go. I’d be too embarrassed to go by myself, so I'll just cancel it.”
If Jim had been a cartoon character a lightbulb would have winked on above his head at that particular moment. As it was his eyebrows just shot up.
“I’ll go with you.”
Pam gave him a comforting smile. “Thanks, that’s sweet of you, but Roy will be expecting the money back in the bank.”
Jim looked at the pamphlet again. “How about I give you the cash you paid for it? That way you can still get the money back?”
She still seemed hesitant. “I don’t know.”
“C’mon Beesly,” Jim slightly pushed. “I’ll bet when you saw these classes you got all sorts of excited. You probably started thinking of kitchen gadgets you’d want to get and cookbooks to try out.”
A small grin peaked up the corner of Pam’s mouth. “Maybe.”
“So? What do you have to lose? The way I see it this works two ways. Call it an early Christmas gift and also a way for me to pay you back for those stick shift driving lessons.”
“You mean the lessons from like two years ago?” She looked at him in shock though he could tell she was thrilled he’d remembered.
“I told you then I’d pay you back for your help,” he grinned. “About time I make good on that promise.”
“Okay! Deal!” Pam grinned back at Jim. “Get ready for cooking lessons!”
Jim walked over to the soda machine and bought a grape soda for him and a Coke for Pam. Handing her the red and white can, he held up his own can for a toast.
“To new adventures in the culinary arts!”
“Cheers!” Pam smiled as she replied with the tip of her tongue peeking out between her teeth.
Privately, Jim basked in the glow of his favorite of her many expressions, and one he was confident she had only directed at him in all the time he’d known her.