He struck the matchbook and held the flame close to his mouth. He took a long drag and exhaled, watching the cloud of smoke dissipate toward the open window. He leaned back against the wooden slats in his chair and drank in his surroundings. The smell of fresh paint mingled with the smoke from his Chesterfield. This was his office, his building, his staff. He found himself with more at twenty-eight than many men had at fifty. But, somehow, it didn't feel quite right.
There was a small knock on his large oak door. He kicked his feet off the desk and sat up in his chair in the most professional way he knew how. "Come in," he called, pretending to be interested in the blank paper that sat in his typewriter.
The door opened slowly and a small woman walked in. She wore a printed dress, pink and yellow roses. Her waist was small, and the swing skirt fell beautifully past her knees. She held two white leather gloves and a small pink clutch purse in her right hand. She looked shyly at him, averting her eyes from his, toward the front of his desk.
"I'm here to interview for the operator job," she admitted quietly. Her voice was soft, soothing almost.
He quickly put out his cigarette into the green ceramic ashtray that had been a present from his mother. "Of course, of course, come in," he motioned for her to come closer. She closed the door and came toward the desk, where stood holding his hand out to her. "Jim Halpert" he said with a smile.
She lightly shook his hand, his warm smile easing her nerves, "Pamela Beesly."
He gestured toward the chair that sat in front of his desk. "Take a seat, Pamela."
She slipped into the chair and straightened her skirt, "well, 'Pam' is alright. Only my mother calls me 'Pamela'." She folded her gloves on top of her purse and laid them gracefully in her lap
He folded his hands in front of him, "So, Pam" he said, "What experience do you have in the field of switchboard operation? Or any office skills, for that matter?"
"Well," she began, "I worked at the telephone company when I first got out of high school. And in school I was the best typist in my class. I type ninety words per minute." she bragged with a smile on her face.
"Wow." His eyebrows were raised and he looked genuinely impressed. He looked at her a moment, she was now wearing a smile that she hadn't walked in with. Like her smooth voice, her smile was comforting. Her eyes were bright as he stared at him with anticipation. "Can you start on Monday?" he asked.
Her smile grew wider and she felt herself getting giddy. But her mother's voice was in her ear and she quickly composed herself, even pressing her lips together for good measure. "I think that would be fine," she told him.
"We'll see you then Miss. Beesly." He leapt up to get the door for her. His mother had always told him to be a gentleman. She began walking out the door, delicately placing her gloves back on her hands.
She looked up from her fingers to nod at him, "Good afternoon, Mr.Halpert."
The door closed and she was gone, and Jim noticed that the empty feeling he was contemplating earlier seemed to have slipped away. He was looking forward to Monday.
Outside the building, Pam clutched her bag in both hands, nodding politely to the men in grey suits who passed her. The white pickup pulled in front of the building, she walked gracefully to the truck and slid in, careful to keep her ankles together.
"So?" Roy asked, excitement in his voice and spread across his face.
"I start on Monday," she proudly announced.
He leaned over and quickly kissed her cheek, and threw the truck into gear. "Let's go celebrate."
Roy peeled out of the parking lot, while Jim Halpert began his afternoon daydreaming about the new switchboard girl.
He'd been too focused on her leather gloves to notice the ring on her left hand.