Since my arrival, I trained with Valerie for the first hour. Now, it was 8:00, when the shift officially started. The restaurant opens at 9:00, so we set up the place for that. Mr Li and Elyssa arrived shortly after 8:00 and were working on things within the store, and Alan and I were currently setting up the outdoor dining area.
Alan Date… He is my co-worker, and apparently in charge of me. Yesterday, I learned that he is indeed the same age as me. Since the legal age to work in this country is 14, that is when he started working here — this is his second year of working here. He lives in an apartment building here in Tronito with his mom while his dad is mostly out busy with work.
“U-Um… Mr Date?”
While carrying a small outdoor table, Alan turned and flashed a small smile at me. The general vibe that Alan gives off is a nice one — he is very polite and respectful, but he can also joke around and humour others. I don’t mean any offense, but that is all I can really say about him. He leaves positive impressions of himself on people he first meets and he is casual with the people he befriended, but he is… dull? Of course, that is not a bad thing, but that is what I’ve observed.
“‘Mr’? It’s kinda weird to be called that by someone that’s the same age as me. Just Alan is fine.”
“But, um, you’ve been working here for longer… You’re my superior, so shouldn’t I show more respect to you?”
While putting the metal table down, Alan shrugged.
“Respect, huh? No, it’s fine. I don’t really mind it, so it’s fine.”
“I see… B-But…”
Even though Alan told me this — that he doesn’t mind formalities — I was still a little bothered. In fact, it still bothers me that I call Connie and Valerie by their first names… It’s because I’m far from being familiar with them. The only exception is with Ren, but I think it’s fine because I’m living with him — right? I think I’m being bothered because I just met Alan yesterday and we’re already on a first-name basis.
“Camryn? What’s up?”
“Oh, I just… Um… I… Um, I’m not really sure…”
“Yeah… I’m just a bit bothered by this… I guess it’s because we only met yesterday and we barely know each other…”
“Is that so?”
I was silently thinking while looking down with a chair in my hands. As I did, I noticed the chair move away from me. I looked up and saw that Alan was taking it from me.
“So we aren’t familiar with each other, right? Then…”
Alan put the chair behind the table he placed down and smiled widely.
“Then let’s get familiar with each other!”
“You’re troubled because we aren’t close, right? Well, I think the only way to solve this issue is to become close!”
Alan walked up to me and grabbed both of my hands with his. He looked me in the eyes and smiled widely.
“Let’s be friends!”
Alan tilted his head.
“Yeah, friends. Anything wrong?”
Friends, huh? I… I don’t know if I can do it. Becoming close to someone… I don’t know if I can… It just… felt awkward. This is different from the relationship I have with Ren, right? I think Ren is more of a guardian figure, but Alan? He’s a co-worker, but that isn’t really a strong basis — our relationship should stay professional.
“Friends, huh? I… I don’t know…”
“Hm? Oh, I know — instead of suggesting we become friends, I’ll ask ‘why shouldn’t we be friends?’”
Why shouldn’t we be friends? Um… Other than the fact that we just met yesterday… there's… um… uh… I don’t know…
After a few seconds of deep thinking, Alan spoke up.
“Are you having a hard time thinking of a reason? Maybe because there isn’t!”
“As it is right now, I don’t think there’s a good reason why we shouldn’t be friends. Sure, I think certain conditions have to be met to develop a friendship, but there are barely any to start one. Oh, and, if any issues arise, it’ll be resolved on its own.”
“W-What do you mean?”
“Well, as our bond grows deeper, I’m sure we’ll feel inclined to help each other. And not just tangible reasons, but help with each other's doubts and issues — I think it’s a win-win situation where neither of us has much to lose!”
But I was still hesitant.
“B-But, um… See, I don’t think I’ll be a good friend…”
Being in a friendship means trusting and caring for each other, right? I… I’m scared that I can’t do it… I haven’t felt like I’ve developed a proper bond in a long time, but other than that, I don’t think I have the capabilities — it’s what I’ve been taught over and over.
“You won't be a good friend? Don’t be ridiculous!”
I felt Alan getting excited.
“Friendships aren’t something with concrete answers like math problems. It’s between two humans, and humans can change. Even if you turn out to be a crummy friend, either one of us can change so that it’s tolerable!”
I took a step back when Alan stepped forward in passion.
“And I highly doubt you’ll be a bad friend. When we first met yesterday, I got the impression that you’re a respectful and pleasant girl. There’s more, and I want to learn more about you! In fact, let's learn about each other together!”
He’s… He’s really tenacious. But I guess I understand what he’s saying. I can form a friendship, right? With all of his reassurances, I don’t think there was a reason to decline. Can I concede? No, I want to concede!
I was still hesitant, but I think I was feeling a bit more confident.
Alan raised an eyebrow.
“I guess there’s no reason to disagree, right? Ah, okay…”
A raised my head in aplomb and smiled widely at Alan. I don’t know why, but this smile felt different from my other smiles — it felt wider… and effortless.
“Sure! Let’s be friends, Alan! Please take care of me.”
Alan returned the smile and shook his head.
“Yeah, of course. But we’ll be taking care of each other, Camryn!”
My first friend… I wonder how things will go…