One afternoon, Bailey and I were at the cafeteria eating lunch.
“Hey Ren, what do you have there?”
I looked down.
“Oh, it is a chicken and chow mein dish…”
“From Valerie’s, right? Yeah, I can tell…”
I nodded. She was right, this was from Alente Bistro. Valerie enjoys preparing dishes from a variety of places in the world. And therefore, different special dishes are put on the Alente menu daily, and the selection changes. Yesterday was when Alente Bistro was serving Asian food. This dish was not bought at the end of the day, so Camryn took the leftovers and I am eating them for lunch.
“Man, if I weren’t so busy, I’d also buy something from Alente. Ah, you’re so lucky…”
“Oh. Would you like some?”
She shook her head.
“Nah… I know that if I got a taste, I’d want to eat it all… You won't have anything left and I won't be able to finish my lunch… Geez Valerie, why must your food turn us into borderline addicts?”
I shrugged and took a bite of my food. Borderline addicts, huh? Personally, I do not think her food has that kind of effect. Sure, her food tastes better than ones sold at other restaurants, but I have not tasted anything warranting such high praise. But what can I say? Am I just not savouring the flavours enough? I don’t know, but regardless, I am not a food connoisseur.
I looked up.
“Speaking of Valerie, have you been acquainted with her recently? During phone conversations, she mentions you. And recently, you have been bringing dishes from Alente. What’s up? You know she’s married to Connie, right?”
“Oh, really? Well… Yeah, I guess I’ve been having interactions with her recently.”
Through Camryn… I have no reason to hide Camryn from Bailey, so I should tell her about Camryn.
“Hey, guys! How are you?”
I turned around to face the person who interrupted me. A man in his sixties was approaching us. He was shorter than Bailey and me, maybe about the same height as Camryn. He was mostly bald with patches of grey hair on the sides of his head. He was wearing thick round glasses and was wearing a white button-up shirt with a yellow tie.
I nodded while Bailey quickly shot up from her seat and bowed.
“Good afternoon, Boss.”
“Um, g-good afternoon, B-Boss!”
“Woah, calm down Bailey. Um, at ease, soldier.”
Bailey slowly sank into her seat. She has always been weary around the Boss. She always tries acting really formal and professional around him even though he does not think it is necessary.
“Anyways, are you two doing well? Enjoying lunch? Ooh, Ren, that looks good…”
“Y-Yes… Thank you.”
Honestly, I did not know how to respond to that.
Bailey straightened her back as she spoke formally to the Boss.
“B-Boss, is there anything we can help you with?”
“Well, no… You know, just saying hey to my employees!”
Boss is really friendly to everyone he meets.
“Oh, actually, I do have something. I sent an email to both of you just now, but since you’re both together, I might as well tell.”
I raised an eyebrow and Bailey leaned forward.
“Ren, Bailey, the higher-ups have requested your help with something.”
“See, an incident caused another Comeffecient office to fall behind on a major project. The higher-ups want our office to lend employees to them to help out. So, you two are going on a business trip! Well, I make it sound grand, but you two are just going over a few cities…”
Bailey stroked her chin.
“Okay… I am not declining, but may I ask why specifically the two of us were picked?”
“Why? Well, it wasn’t them who chose, but rather, it was me!”
“I figured that the best course of action was to ask you two — the two best employees we have!”
I raised an eyebrow again.
“You two are no doubt the best employees we have here. Based on statistics and your supervisors’ comments, you two are the smartest, most efficient, and most hard-working people here. To cut costs and reduce the number of employees sent, I decided on you two.”
Bailey blushed under her interlocked fingers.
“Oh, really Boss? T-Thank you, Ren and I are flattered.”
“Ah, no need for thanks when I’m just stating the truth…”
Bailey smiled frivolously and adjusted her seating position.
“Okay, so when do we have to go?”
“Oh yeah, then we can- Wait, hold on! Tomorrow?”
Boss was scratching the back of his head in embarrassment.
“That’s so sudden… Why is it so sudden! Uh, Boss…”
Boss clapped his hands together and bowed.
“Sorry guys, but it’s not really my fault. See, the other office has been behind for a couple of days now. They thought they could make up for being behind, but they couldn't —their rushing even made it worse. So, they sent the request at a late date. See, their project is due in three days…”
I tilted my head.
“And there is quite a lot they have to do to finish. With the amount… you’ll probably need those three days… I’m really sorry guys.”
I decided to cut in.
“Boss, it is not your fault. Really, it is the other office’s fault for sending the request late and making our schedules tight.”
“Yeah Boss, do not worry.”
Boss rose from bowing, looking guilty.
“Yeah, I know… But I’m sorry for having to put you two through this…”
“No, it is fine. I accept the task. Bailey, do you accept as well?”
“Yeah, I also accept!”
Boss stared at the both of us. He seemed proud. He seemed relieved. It looked like he was going to cry tears of joy.
“You guys… Thank you so much!”
“Um, really, t-that is not necessary…”
He raised himself again.
“Ah, Ren… Gah, you’re just so nice. Man, if only my own son were like you…”
Right… I do not know how to respond to that… I looked over at Bailey and she was angrily glaring at me — was she jealous?
“But yeah, anyway, back to work. So, the deadline is in three days, and that is about the amount of time you’ll need. Tomorrow, you will depart and can use the remaining time to work. The next day, you will probably work through the entire day. And on the last day, your work will be less. So, if you two work your hardest, or at least at the pace that the superiors outlined, then I’m sure you guys can get back by the evening. The company will be covering your gas, hotel, and meal expenses, so don’t worry.”
Bailey and I nodded.
“Sorry guy, we’re really pushing you two, aren’t we. However, I took breaks into consideration while formulating your schedule.”
“I see… Yeah, that is reasonable. Right, Bailey?
“Yeah, we can totally do it!”
Boss nodded again in excitement.
“Ah, thank you so much today. You know, you two are done for the day.”
“Sure! Since you guys will be on the road tomorrow, go ahead and prepare. Don’t worry, I’ll inform your superiors and teams of your absence.”
We nodded again.
“Right! We will not let you down, Boss!”
He turned and got ready to leave.
“Yeah, I knew I could count on you two… I know you two won’t disappoint tomorrow… Okay, see ya.”
“Um, g-goodbye, Boss!”
And with that, we watched as our Boss trotted away from us, also making stops to greet other employees.
Shortly after he completely left, Bailey stood up.
“Um, Ren, we’re s-sharing a ride, right?”
She seemed to slightly stutter.
“Yeah. We can take my car.”
“Oh, y-your car, huh? Well, it’s more spacious, so sure!”
Bailey quickly packed her lunch and moved from the table and turned around. She seemed excited.
“See you, Ren. I’m going to prepare for our trip tomorrow… I’ll call later to set up a meeting time, okay?”
“Great! See ya.”
Once we said our farewells, I watched Bailey run towards the elevators to get her things from the office. When she was fully gone, I also decided to pack up my remaining lunch.
Thinking back, I said that I can join in helping, but that may not be true. After all, Camryn may need me — she does not have work at Alente Bistro during that time. Hm… Well, she is fourteen years old, so she is old enough to be by herself — she even did so while she was homeless, so it should be fine. Also, why didn’t consider her? She’s a factor in my availability, so I think it would have been necessary. Am I growing ignorant? Or do I just not care as much about Camryn? Oh… I hope it is not the former...