Jim Dandy woke with a start. He looked at the clock.
“Ten minutes early,” he muttered, and rolled over.
When the alarm buzzed he found his routine. He expressed his biological functions, and showered, and brushed his teeth, and dressed, and ate his breakfast in very much the same way he had many times before.
The short drive to his first job, as an accountant’s assistant, was uneventful, as was the work itself. It was tax season and there was a steady stream of clients. He documented the information that he could, and passed on the file to Mr. Rockford who conducted a thorough interview.
He ate lunch at one o’clock, an hour after Mr. Rockford, as usual, a sandwich and chips. As he returned to his desk, Mr. Rockford called Jim into his office. “I have a new project starting next week. Are you up for it?” Jim said he was. “Great! I’ll fill you in on the details Monday.”
The rest of the work day was quiet. An occasional phone call punctuated the monotony, and he walked out the door a few minutes after four.
On the way to his second job at the Research Institute for the Social Sciences, he stopped at a small, family owned Italian restaurant for dinner. He ordered and ate his second favorite meal, ravioli and meatballs, and watched as the dark room filled with diners. By the time he left at five-thirty, there was a dozen or so patrons lined up outside.
The twelve-to-fifteen minute drive to the old department store where RISS was located was unusually short. The traffic was heavy and predictable, but every light was green. Jim parked in the lot that was most convenient, in one of the most accessible spots. Ten minutes early, he sat on a bench outside the front door, and watched the flow of people and bikes and cars and trucks, a cranky ballet.
After clocking in and greeting the seven or eight coworkers he crossed, Jim dialed the first phone number on the list at four minutes after six o’clock. The survey was a familiar one on behalf of the state department of transportation. Of the six seat buckle PSAs, “Click it or ticket!” was clearly most recognized.
After a little less than two hours, he had administered twenty five surveys, an especially efficient night so far, and Jim needed a break. He exchanged three quarters for an RC Cola from one of the vending machines in the snack room, and though he no longer smoked tobacco, found his way to the Smoking Zone near the building’s entrance. There were no smokers.
It wasn’t the autumnal chill in a gentle breeze that made his skin and hair tingle. She had just arrived, looked confused, and when she saw him, walked to him. Her poetic countenance could not distract Jim from the pendant she wore on a silver necklace.
“Hi. I’m looking for the Research Institution for Social Sciences. Is this it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Do you work there?”
“Well, I have an interview tonight. I think I might be late.”
“Oh, right. Just go straight back to the elevator, and up to the second floor.”
“Okay, thanks!” She turned toward the door, but quickly looked back after Jim offered good luck, and replied with a quick wave. “Thanks! Hope I see you again soon!”
Next: Friday Night