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Amateur

One year left. That’s it and then I will have my MBA. I cannot wait. I am so tired of being poor. I am not stupid enough to think that immediately following graduation I will be rolling in the dough, but compared to living off savings from my parents and what I make cater waiter, er, waitressing. I can’t complain, though. The waitressing gigs are on-call with a couple of different catering companies in New Haven and a couple in Greenwich. If I need to study or have a project due, I can simply say no. That’s the deal. However, I am conscientious and thorough, so I am always at the top of the list when they have gigs. And, with summer rolling around, I knew I would have enough gigs to make ends meet and have my days to actually catch up on a little rest.

Today is my first gig of the summer. It’s at some posh home in Greenwich and is some Memorial Day Weekend celebration to honor some garden club award recipient or other such nonsense. I honestly did not care what it was for. I just knew that I would make a couple of hundred bucks for the afternoon. The uniform for the afternoon was a simple white shift for the females and white shirts with khaki trousers for the guys. We often wore this for daytime and I had to admit: I had worn worse. I was 5 feet 7 inches, thin, with naturally blond should length hair. I was tan enough that the white dress would look fine on me.

When I arrived at the estate, the guard buzzed me in at the gate and told me the staff was parking in the rear. My Camry, though a few years old, was not a total embarrassment. I went in through the back entrance as instructed and saw my boss talking with a very thin woman wearing a very elegant purple silk dress with an emerald green sash. She accessorized with large emerald and diamond earrings. She appeared to be in her late fifties or early sixties, but the plastic surgery, botox, and fillers had given her an almost artificial look.

“Oh good, you are here Laura,” Margo exclaimed summoning me over. “Mrs. Jorgenson, this is one of my head waitresses, Laura. I will make sure she hangs close to you during the party so that any of your wants can be addressed immediately. If you want more of a particular dish circulating, let Laura know.” Mrs. Jorgenson literally shooed me away with her hands and went back to barking orders at Margo.

Mrs. Jorgenson left the kitchen and Margo showed me the first tray to circulate. I picked it up and proceeded out to the very manicured and very formal garden. I spotted Mrs. Jorgenson standing with a distinguished looking man who I presumed to be Mr. Jorgenson. He was a big man. There was no way around it. He was at least 6’2″ and had the body of a man who had once been the linebacker of the football team. Now, though, he had a round belly and had probably not seen the inside of a gym in a while. He was bald on top with grey remnants around the side and wore round tortoise glasses. He was not technically handsome, but there was a charm that seemed to ooze from him that somehow made him attractive. They were talking to another couple. I approached, “Canape?”

“Oh Lori, good you are here. Will you please go get Mr. Jorgenson a glass of red wine? He prefers the Malbec or Zinfindel. I smiled and immediately went to retrieve the wine. As I was approaching the foursome with the wine, Mrs. Jorgenson moved her arm with a sweeping gesture to illustrate a point in her story, hit the tray and knocked the red wine all down the front of my white dress. “Oh dear Lord, do you not know how to stay out of the way?” Not an apology in any form. Looking at the other couple she then said, “I swear it is impossible to find decent waitstaff.” She then looked at me, “Well, you cannot wait on my guests looking like that. See if there is something you can do in the kitchen or your services are no longer needed.” She then once again made her “shooing” gesture with her hands and I was dismissed.

Frustrated, I went to the kitchen. There was no salvaging it. I was not trained for that work. Margo apologized, but I was dismissed for the afternoon. As I was gathering my things to go home, Mr. Jorgenson appeared. “Lori, is it?”

“Actually, it is Laura.”

He appeared flummoxed. “Figures. My wife is the worst.” I smiled. “Look, I feel really bad about what happened. Here is my card, at least call me with the dry cleaning bill or if it won’t come out, I will buy you a new dress.”

I smiled. “Mr. Jorgenson, that is not necessary. These things happen. I would have had to have the dress cleaned after today, anyway.”

“I insist. It was my glass of wine. I did not want it anyway. It is 85 degrees today. The last thing I want is a room temperature beverage.” I smiled again. He really was sweet. “I just hate the idea that you have gone through this. I will make it clear to the caterer this was not your fault. I am sure you need the job.”

“That, I do. But, I am sure Margo understands. I appreciate your offer, though. It is very kind of you to make the effort on my behalf.”

“Behalf? I guess it canlı bahis is my own prejudice talking, but I did not expect to hear that from one of the catering staff.” He smiled. It could have come across as an insult, yet somehow it did not coming from him.

“Well, don’t assume that we are all in this for the rest of our lives. I am merely doing this to make ends meet this summer before I finish up my MBA at Yale in the fall. I can do much more than spill wine down the front of my dress.” We both laughed. “I could probably drop a tray of canapes while calculating the net present value of your investment.” Our laughter continued.

Mr. Jorgenson finally interjected, “I tell you what. I own a private equity firm here in Greenwich. I have to be out of town Tuesday to Thursday, but why don’t you let me take you to lunch on Friday and we can discuss career opportunities for you. At the very least, I am sure we could come up with an internship for you this summer that would not involve carrying canapes.”

“That is very generous, Mr. Jorgenson.” Before I could continue he interjected that I should call him “William.” I smiled at him. “Okay, William. That is really unnecessary. I am fine with my summer plans.” Suddenly, it appeared that something clicked for him.

“Oh dear, I just realized how this must look. I look like some lecherous old man trying to lure you on a date with the promise of a ‘job.’ Let me assure you that is not my intention. The truth is, I was planning to be out of the office Friday afternoon and thought a nice lunch would be the treat after a hellish week in New York with our legal team hammering out a new deal.”

“I did not think that.” We both smiled.

“Well, then it’s a date. Say 12:00 at Chez Louis? Shit. It’s not a date. You know what I mean.” Again, we laughed. He was being really sweet.

“Fine. I could do a lot worse. I will bring my resume.” Honestly, I could never afford Chez Louis—even for lunch. It was by far the most expensive restaurant in Greenwich. And, if he were trying to put some sort of move on me, that would not be the place to do it. I think reporters from the gossip pages are permanently stationed there—most likely in an attempt to expense a Michelin-starred meal or two.

“Great Laura. What is your last name, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Healy.”

“Fine. If you don’t mind, email me your contact information and I will have my secretary confirm our appointment on Thursday.”

“That, I will do. Now, if you don’t mind, I am going to get out of here before you wife shows up to dress me down again.”

He laughed. “Sorry about that. But, you are safe in here. Bitsy hardly ever steps foot in the kitchen. It’s not her thing. Work happens in this room.” I smiled. “Okay, I should get back to the soiree from hell. I will see you on Friday.”

“See you then.” With that, I headed to my car and went home to get out of my wine-soaked dress.

**

I sent my contact information and attached my resume when I got home. I wanted him to have ample opportunity to back out. However, his admin confirmed on Thursday so I had to then figure out what to wear on Friday. I knew a suit was a bit much. It was not a formal interview. I settled on a simple black sleeveless dress I had gotten at a Saks outlet the year before. I wore simple pearl earrings and a diamond and pearl brooch that had been my grandmother’s (for luck), black sheer stockings, and black pumps. It was professional. I arrived at the restaurant 5 minutes early. Mr. Jorgenson was waiting.

The hostess lead me to his table. He was wearing grey trousers, a white shirt, and a beautiful cable knit sweater that could only be described as French blue in color. You could tell that his clothes were made to fit his body. He wore them well. And, I could see that he paid attention to detail. His shirt cuffs peeked out just the right amount from his sweater. His navy loafers looked butter soft and were polished to perfection. He looked like a man who knew how to take care of things.

“Laura, it is so nice to see you. Please have a seat. You look lovely.” He stood and shook my hand. He reached over with his other hand to cover mine to show a sense of familiarity. I smiled. He certainly knew how to put a girl at ease. I took the seat opposite him. He began, “Well, young lady, I have looked over your resume and it is very impressive. You are wasting your time as a cater waitress.”

“It serves its purpose. I can make more in one party than I could working retail for 20 hours a week. I simply view it as time management.” He nodded.

“When you put it like that, I am sure it makes sense. Still, I think you could make more working for me. I am sure you would learn a lot this summer, we could be flexible with your hours in the school year, and then I think you would be a great fit when you graduate. ” I could not believe it. Was he simply offering me the job? There is no way it was this simple. I had done my research. This was a privately-held company with bahis siteleri over $5 billion of holdings. People killed for opportunities like this and it was being handed to me.

“William, are you saying what I think you are? It cannot be this simple.”

“I have done my checking. I have contacts at Yale. By all accounts, I would be lucky to have you. I don’t believe in beating around the bush. I can assure you that you will be well-compensated. The last time we hired an intern was ten years ago. He is now an executive vice-president with our company. I believe in treating people well and they in turn treat me well. It’s why I went to business casual a few years ago. I know it is not standard in our industry, but life is too short. And, my associates appreciate not having to be so formal in their appearance. I am sure they would prefer in this restaurant that I be in a coat and tie. I know my wife hates that I don’t wear one every day. She views it as a form of success. I view it as a form of torture. I have no pretenses. I know the restaurant wants the money I provide. They are my go-to. Hell, I know my wife wants the money I provide. After 30 years of mostly misery, I understand exactly what she wants.” He grimaced. “I am sorry, Laura. That is what I have been told is over-sharing. It is unlike me. I usually keep my cards closer to the proverbial vest.”

“Do not worry, William. You can trust me. Your secret is safe with me.” Although, I had to admit, I was shocked he said it.

“I certainly hope so. I don’t offer an intern a six-figure salary for less than trust and discretion.” Six figures? When did that happen?

I could not help myself. “I’m sorry. Did you say six figures?”

“I did.” I was aghast. “The way I view it, you are part of the team. We are a relatively small group. I run a lean ship. Everyone—including the admins—are well compensated. Everyone has equity in our investments. You are part of the team. I don’t want to set you up where you feel it is a struggle to fit in for the first year until you finish your MBA. Hell, I don’t have an MBA. Over half of the staff doesn’t. Why should you be penalized financially for finishing an education that will potentially benefit all of us? Now, I assume we can work out the other details next week. I would like to get to know Laura the person.”

“I don’t know where to begin. I am from a small town in the Berkshires. I do love it there. My parents died in a car accident my freshman year of college. It sounds horrible. It was horrible. It is horrible. However, I was able to settle their estate and provide myself with funds for a good education as long as I am careful. I decided that was the best education I could make.” He seemed shocked. I guess his checking me out had not included that story, although I don’t know why it would have.

“Laura, I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure that has been very difficult for you. However, I must say, from my investigation, I am not surprised that you have handled it so well. My contacts both mentioned that you seem to have a wisdom and practicality that belie your years.”

“Well, let’s move on to something lighter. Tell me about you. How long have you been with Mrs. Jorgenson?”

He almost did a spit take with his water. “That’s the lighter conversation? My wife is in no way the lighter conversation. But to answer your question, Bitsy and I have been together 33 years. I am not even sure how to describe our relationship at this point. You’ve seen The War of the Roses, right?” I laughed and nodded that I was familiar. “We coexist. I show up to her functions when she tells me to unless I can arrange to be out of town. We had a son who died when he was ten of leukemia. That was kind of the end for both of us. I focused on work. She focused on her social ‘obligations.’

“I am so sorry to hear about your son.” I reached over and touched his hand. He had teared up a bit telling me that.

He took a minute to compose himself. I did not really know what to say. Finally, he interjected, “I’m sorry. I usually don’t talk about that. Most people at the office do not even know it happened so long ago. It’s funny though. You learn a lot about someone when their mettle is tested. You had an unspeakable tragedy, and you have put one foot in front of the other and used it as an impetus to better yourself. When we lost Christopher—that was his name—Bitsy showed her true colors. We had met when we were both at Brown. She was known as the campus catch. Her beauty was practically other-worldly. And she was an heiress. Her father owned every Exxon station from Rhode Island to Nova Scotia. She still likes to lorde that over me. She grew up with money. The irony is six months after we married, her father was revealed to be overextended with every creditor and lost everything. I have worked my ass off for forty years to keep her team of plastic surgeon’s kids in private school.” I could not help myself I laughed out loud.

“I know. She looks ridiculous. I tried to tell her years bahis şirketleri ago. She informed me that someone at my weight had no room to criticize anyone else’s appearance. That was the day I moved to the guest room. Damn. Why can I not stop telling you too much. I guess you will have plenty to blackmail me with.”

“William, I think you just recognized a kindred spirit. You lost your son and his future. I lost my parents and in many ways my own. I still cannot imagine that I will not be able to share things with them. Just a few minutes ago, I caught myself wanting to tell my dad about your offer. We both work hard. You have built an amazing company. I plan to seize every opportunity you give me.” He smiled.

“I hope you will.” He paused. “Oh my goodness, we have been here for almost two hours. I tell you what, do you have plans this afternoon?” I told him did not have anything important. “Well, I was leaving here to fly to Cape Cod to look at a piece of land in Wellfleet we might want to redevelop. Would you have any interest in joining me? It could provide you with an interesting look at how we determine if a property is worth the effort.”

“I would love to, but I am sure it would be a hassle to get another ticket for me.”

“Laura, my dear, I am taking my own jet. There is no such thing as another ticket. Frankly, I enjoy your company. We can use the short flight to work out the rest of your agreement to join the company.” How could I say no?

“Well, William, I see no reason why I can’t. I took the train in this morning, so if you can give me a ride to the plane, I don’t even have my car here to deal with.”

“In that case, let’s get the check.”

**

The afternoon seemed to fly by. We worked out my agreement to join the company. What? I was going to turn down his offer and continue cater waitressing? We shared more about our lives and noted the similarities of our upbringings and both acknowledged that we seemed to be a person who had the tendency to keep others at arm’s length. We flew into Provincetown and it was a beautiful view to see the little strip of land that was the tip of the Cape in the middle of the ocean. His jet was small but comfortable. He explained that he actually had a larger one, but this one was used for a lot of afternoon trips. He said I would be spoiled and never want to fly commercial again. I laughed and told him it was my first time on any plane. He just shook his head and lamented, “Oh dear, I am creating a monster. Just like my wife.” We laughed and then realized it was a bit uncomfortable.

We toured the property. I offered a couple of suggestions. He seemed impressed that I had used the Cape as a model for a paper in a real estate class and how they keep the integrity of the structure to incorporate modern conveniences to meet modern needs. My suggestions certainly did not fall on deaf ears. He suggested we head to a little lobster spot he knew about before going back to the plane. It was delicious but completely casual. I looked only slightly out of place in my dress and hose. As we were leaving the restaurant, the sky opened and we were in the middle of a thunderstorm that seemed to materialize out of nowhere.

When we got to the airport, the pilot told us they were refusing to let any plane take off and that the airport (if you could call it that) closed at 6:00 so we had no other option than to spend the night. I quickly googled it and found a small inn in Provincetown that seemed like it would be charming. I called and managed to book two single rooms (one for me, one for the pilot) and a suite for William.

The pilot needed to stay behind to secure the plane. We had released our town car, so we called a cab to take us to the Inn. When we got there, William discovered the difference in the rooms. He tried to insist I take the suite. I would not. They had toiletry kits for both of us so we could freshen up a bit. I at least had lipstick and powder in my purse. “I know we have spent the entire afternoon together, but the night is very young. Would you be interested in meeting me for a drink in the bar downstairs in about 30 minutes?” I really did not want to stop talking to him. Plus, how often would I really get the CEO’s undivided attention after today?

“That sounds great.” We walked to our rooms. They were both open to a small courtyard, but were only about 20 steps apart. He looked at me, “I have a couple of calls I need to make. Why don’t we meet here and walk back to the bar in 30 minutes?”

“Perfect.”

**

We met at the designated spot. “Are you ready?” I smiled at him.

“Well, my dear, I definitely need a drink. I made the mistake of calling my wife to tell her that a storm had blown in and I would not be home tonight—which I thought was the polite and reasonable thing to do. She told me that I was missing her benefit and to not bother coming home. I pointed out that I could not if I wanted to. She does this all the time, but this time might be different. I mean it when I say it, I think I am done. We have enough money that she can have whatever she wants. There is enough money that arguments over a settlement should not matter. She can have 60 percent. The remainder is more than enough for me.”

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