No one wants to die alone
They don't want to miss the show
It's funny, time missed us both
We all got times when we can't go on
It seems to be over.
Jim Halpert remembered a lot of things.
He remembered working at Dunder Mifflin Scranton as a Junior level paper salesman. He remembered his promotion, his big break, when he snagged the VP job at corporate. He remembered the wonderful marriage ceremony to the woman he had loved. He remembered those great years he spent with her in New York- Central Park in the fall, ice skating in the winter, cuddling on their overstuffed recliner to watch the news each morning. He also remembered the bitter divorce seven years later. He remembers the cheating, the fights, the dick lawyer who had bled him dry in the proceedings. After their marriage was officially over and Karen left him, Jim could recall the agony of the long nights spent alone in bed, hoping for something better. Someone better. It wasn’t much different than the months he had spent in Stamford, longing for that one person who would make everything right.
But he doesn't remember the exchange right before his interview in the Dunder Mifflin corporate office, all those years ago. The pushy corporate receptionist- Janelle, maybe?- requesting to look through his portfolio. 'Company policy', she had said. He doesn't remember her remarking 'ew, there's some trash in your folder'. He hadn't even looked up, instead mumbling a brief acknowledgement as she chucked a blue yogurt lid and slip of paper into the garbage. Then David Wallace had come in, offered Jim Halpert a firm handshake, a job, a career in New York and the rest was history.
Jim lost his cushy corporate job after 10 years of working alongside his mentor and friend, David Wallace. Dunder Mifflin filed for bankruptcy after seventeen straight fiscal quarters in the red. One investor had told David and Jim, right before selling his sizable share in the company for pennies on the dollar, 'Technology is the future, kid. It’s limitless. We live in a paperless world.' It certainly wasn't a laughing matter, but Jim had chuckled to himself. It reminded him of something an old boss once said. And, in turn, it had reminded him of Scranton.
Jim remembered moving to Seattle, jobless, hopeless, basically penniless. He remembers signing on as a bouncer on the weekends. Then as a substitute teacher, but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These days, Jim works full time as a Psychology teacher at Winchester High School in the Eastside of Seattle's Olympia suburb. He deals with the study of why people do things. It was something that may have interested Jim in the past, back when he analyzed every move made by a certain mousy receptionist, but now it's just boring information that he has regurgitated rinse and repeat for the past five years.
He had gone to great lengths to change his appearance after leaving the show- The Office, that is. The three-year period in which the most intimate moments of Jim's life were filmed relentlessly by a dedicated camera crew and scrutinized weekly by TV audiences in the millions. Gone now was the floppy brown mess of hair, replaced by a bleached blonde buzz cut which Jim himself thought was hideous but worth the anonymity. Gone, too, was the cheerful, pranking attitude. Jim hardly smiled or joked around. In fact, he never joked around- Jim had a reputation among his students and colleagues as being the 'hard ass' who everyone barely tolerated. He didn't mind, really. He was there to work from seven a.m. to three p.m. and then go home to his ramshackle one bedroom apartment, which Jim privately thought of as a perfect metaphor for his life. Empty and falling apart. Ironic.
Tonight was a Friday. Friday nights for the old, Scranton Jim consisted of hanging out with his friends or taking a girl out to dinner (and more). New York Jim had spent his Friday evenings at cocktail parties, or with some other social event with Karen. They'd arrive at their 'stylish' pad (Jim hated the decor, and more accurately, everything about it) around midnight and collapse into bed immediately, both of them too exhausted to do anything.
He missed those times. Friday nights for the new Seattle Jim consisted of watching sports on television, and if nothing was on, browsing the internet mindlessly for hours. Of course, there would be the occasional 'get blackout drunk to numb the pain’ night and he would wake up at 3 PM the next day wondering what the hell had happened and feeling very, very hungover. It was these kinds of days, as Jim lay on the ground disheveled, a beer in his hand, that he lets his mind wander. Absentmindedly, at first. He'll think about his sports teams, or his car. He'll think about that 'stupid bitch' (Karen) and wonder how many different guys she's been with that week.
Irrational anger seemed to be a side effect of binge drinking for Jim Halpert.
Sometimes, if he's really drunk, he'll think about Pam. He'd wonder what could have been. He had made his move- twice, for god's sake. He had made it so easy for her to say yes. He wanted to hear that word come out of her mouth so bad- ‘Yes’ - instead of the subtle, gentle no's she'd been giving him all those years. When he'd got the corporate job, Jim expected Pam to be upset. Upset that he was leaving Scranton, for good. Upset that he was leaving her life. Maybe not visibly, but just something, anything, to let him know that there was a glimmer of hope.
Instead, she had seemed nonchalant, almost unresponsive to him in the days following his job interview in New York. Jim remembers standing by her desk, bag slung around his shoulder and Karen by his side on his last day as a junior salesman at the Scranton branch. He had planned on leaving without telling anyone, especially not Pam. Just walking out and never coming back.
But she had just made that gutsy speech at the beach... and as weird as it had been between them for the last few months, hell, he just wanted to talk with her. To joke with her. Laugh with her. Like they used to.
As the clock ticked down towards 5 PM, Karen squeezed his arm and flashed one of those brilliant Fillipelli smiles. "Michael's asleep, babe." She mouthed, throwing a thumb in the direction of Michael's office, where he was slumped unconsciously over his desk. "Let's get out of here and pack."
Jim got up, following her towards the door. He went to grab his coat before hesitating, just for a second. This was the last time he was ever going to see her. Pam. He owed it to her to say goodbye.
Karen was all over him as they gravitated towards the exit, as if she knew exactly what he was thinking. She had her arm locked in his and tugged him towards the door with a playful giggle. "Karen, can I just have a minute? I wanna say goodbye to some people." Jim spewed out, a little more quickly than he usually talked. Karen rolled her eyes and let out a groan, but complied and exited Dunder Mifflin stage left, en route to a successful career and socialite life in New York.
Jim finally turned to look at Pam. Really look at her. For the thousandth time, he wished things were different between them.
"So, Pam.. I.. guess I'll catch you around?"
She met his eyes with a coldness that he had never seen from her.
He had been a bit taken aback by that answer, to be totally honest.
"Um... yeah" Jim had continued, at a loss for words.
They were both perfectly aware that everyone left in the office was watching their interaction.
The whirlwind of emotion and nostalgia hit Pam as hard and as suddenly as it had hit Jim. She let her guard down for a split second, just long enough to mumble "imgonnamissyou" so quietly that she almost wondered if she had actually said it out loud. She couldn’t bring herself to meet Jim's eyes after breaking the palpable silence with her outburst and instead stared fixedly down at her desk.
"What?" Jim's gave a confused half-smile, genuinely missing what Pam had said.
Pam's eyes stayed glued to her keyboard, fervently avoiding Jim's gentle gaze. She cleared her throat and plunged another dagger into Jim's heart.
"I said, good luck in New York."
For a split second he could have sworn he saw a flash of emotion, of hurt, cross her face. It was gone in an instant, replaced by this new cool and unfeeling Pam.
"Yeah. Yeah, I guess I'll need it, Beesly" he had said then, with a chuckle and a cocky grin plastered on his face.
For the thousandth and first time, he wished things were different between them.
His gaze fell away from Pam, and he slowly took in reception for the last time. The jellybeans. The beat up, shitty computer that they all had. Some paper clips. It wasn't anything special, Jim concluded inwardly. Other than she receptionist. She was special.
Fuck, dude, get it together.
He did a sad little wave, swiveling around to find that she was already looking away, done with him. With a depressing final snapshot of Pam burned into his brain, Jim Halpert turned his back on reception and was out of the office forever.