“Dammit!” Eric exclaimed as his television service went out just as the big game was about to come on. He had been waiting all week for this game. In fact, football was one of the few things that kept him going anymore. Eric lived a somewhat hermetic life. He had no close friends and rarely saw his family. He worked at the photo center of the local Walmart. He spent most of his days helping old ladies decipher the various menus on their touch screen picture kiosk.
His favorite part of his job however, was developing pictures. Each new memory card that came in was a tiny window into a person’s life. What had they taken pictures of? Why did they do it? What was so important about this moment that it had to be preserved digitally for all of time?
Eric looked at the pictures longingly. There were photos of big family vacations, fun nights out with friends, a child’s birthday, a romantic evening. He had no friends. His parents lived a 1000 miles away in Kansas, and even if they were closer, he would have no desire to see them. He had a brother, Alexander, whom he rarely saw. Alexander had moved to London after he had met his beautiful wife Lydia there on his senior study abroad trip when he was in college. They had twin daughters who would be almost seven now. They last time he saw them was when they had flown him to London for their 1st birthday. If it was up to Eric he wouldn’t have gone. He wasn’t much for flying but his brother insisted that he be there, so much so that he bought Eric’s ticket in order to entice him to stay.
It was a very nice trip. Eric had never been out of the country before. He didn’t really care for his brother. He found him to be a bit of a showboat, always talking about his accomplishments. However, Lydia was very kind and grounded. Their daughters, Mary and Isabella, were beautiful, happy, healthy babies. Eric so desperately wanted to have a family of his own, but seeing as he was in his mid thirties, he knew that window was quickly closing.
The TV static hiss blared in his ears. He was pulled out of his thoughts and returned to the problem at hand. He jingled a few wires around and hit his cable box for good measure, but nothing worked. Eric realized he must do the thing he dreaded doing. Calling the cable company and start the long, arduous process of getting his television fixed. He picked up his cell phone and searched for the number. He found it and dialed the number. A robotic voice answered on the other line. “Hello, please press one for English, two for Spanish.” Eric pressed one. He proceed to press his way through the various automated responses until he finally reached “Please wait while we transfer your call to one of our representatives.”
“Level 1 complete,” joked Eric. “Only 10 more to go…” The hold music began to play in the background. Eric swayed to the soft Jazz music. Then the music cut off and a pleasant voice said “Hello, how may I help you today?” “Uh, yeah, my cable is out” stumbled Eric. He was slightly taken aback by the calm, relaxed voice on the other end of the phone. “Well, let’s see what we can do about that” replied the woman. She began to ask Eric a series of standard questions about his television and cable box. During their conversation, Eric began to lose himself in this woman’s voice. It was so alluring and mysterious. How she made “Is your HDMI cord plugged in?” sound sexy he wasn’t sure.
Visions of a new life began to appear in his head. The life he always wanted. The big house, the kids, a wife. He wasn’t sure how it was going to happen but he knew this woman was who he was destined to be with. Her voice gave him all kinds of signals. It was like a sign from above.
After a few more questions and some button pressing, Eric’s cable was in perfect working order. “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” the woman asked. “No, I think that takes care of everything. Thank you again.” Eric replied. “No problem sir. If you would, please take this short survey at the end of this phone call I would be very appreciative!” “I will! Thank you again for your help today. May I have your name…for the survey! I’d like to give you a good recommendation.” said Eric. “Sure. It’s Miranda. Have a nice day sir.” said Miranda. “You too!” replied Eric. The phone beeped a few times and Eric proceeded to take the survey.
“Miranda” he said after finishing the survey. Eric unmuted his TV and started watching the game. They were only a little into the 2nd quarter but Eric found himself unable to focus on the TV. His thoughts drifted to Miranda. Is it possible to fall in love with someone whom you have never met? “I’m not in love with Miranda. I don’t even know her.” he told himself. He pushed her out of his mind and forced himself to focus on the game.
The game came to a close and his team lost horrifically. Eric turned off the TV and began preparing for bed. He finished brushing his teeth and climbed into his bed. He turned off the lights and tried to fall asleep. Suddenly thoughts of Miranda began to creep into his head. Her silky voice tantalized Eric’s imagination. He began to picture what she looked like in his mind. She had long brown hair he thought and beautiful hazel eyes. She wore glasses and dressed like a stylish Librarian. She couldn’t be more than in her late twenties. She enjoyed reading and playing the piano. She had a beautiful singing voice but rarely sang in front of people because she could be quite shy. Did she have any pets? May a cat or… “No! Stop” Eric blurted out. “This is insane.” He pulled his covers up and tried desperately to fall asleep.
He only half slept that night. Miranda continued to haunt his dreams.
Over the next few weeks, Eric began to grow more and more obsessive over his thoughts of Miranda. He woke up thinking about her and throughout the day and found himself wondering what she was doing at that exact moment. Was she getting coffee too? Did she like coffee? Was she more of a tea person?
As his thoughts became more intrusive, his job began to suffer. He was less attentive and quite careless. He barely listened as customers tried to ask him questions. At home he couldn’t focus on anything either. He had completely lost all his interest in Football. He would spend his evening pacing throughout his small apartment thinking of Miranda. As he lay in his bed, tossing and turning he had an idea. What if I call the cable company and try to talk to her? Would that be too weird? No, I’ll just tell her that I very much enjoyed our conversation and perhaps I’ll ask her to get dinner with me? One step at a time. Content, for the first time in weeks, Eric fell into a deep sleep.
Eric woke the next morning feeling extremely well rested. He made himself a cup of coffee and sat down on his couch and began to map out what he wanted to say to Miranda. Since Eric had the day off today, he didn’t have to rush his thoughts. He could take his time and carefully craft his conversation with Miranda.
After about an hour of thought, he picked up his cell phone, and easily found the phone number in his saved calls since he hadn’t made another call since first speaking with Miranda. He dialed. The same robotic voice greeted him. “Hello, please press one for English, two for Spanish.” Eric pressed one and continued to press buttons as the made his way to “Please wait while we transfer your call to one of our representatives.”
The hold music only played for a few moments and then a deep voice spoke. “Hello, how may I help you today?” “Yes, I was just on a call with one of your colleagues and my cell phone dropped the call. I was wondering if you could possibly reconnect us?” Eric lied. “Oh, I’m very sorry about that sir. I’ll see what I can do for you. What was the name of the representative you were speaking to?” the deep voice asked. “I believe she said her name was Miranda.” Eric said, trying his best to sound casual. Eric’s parents had sent him to a drama camp one summer and he hopped this performance was much better than his role as “Third Spear Holder from the Left” in the camp’s production of “Julius Caesar.” “Hmmm…Ah yes. I see her in the system. One moment while I transfer your call. Have a nice day sir.” said the deep voice. “Thank you. You too.” replied Eric.
The hold music began to play. It was a soft Jazz piece. He imagined himself dancing with Miranda after a candle lit dinner. They swayed effortlessly to the music. Eric dipped Miranda and then pulled her close to him. Their eyes locked. They leaned in. Her lips looked so beautiful. They would inch closer and closer together and then “Hello, how may I help you today?” said Miranda. Eric was quickly pulled out of his fantasy. “Um,” he stumbled “Yes, my cable is out.” “Oh, I’m very sorry to hear that” her angelic voice replied.” “Let’s see if we can find out exactly what the problem is.
She began to ask Eric the standard set of questions. When he gave her his account number there was a slight pause. “Oh, I believe we spoke the other day Mr. Lee. Are you have the same problem as last time?” Miranda asked. Eric took a deep breath and summoned all his courage. “Well Miranda, in the interest of full disclosure, my cable is actually working just fine. I called because I wanted to speak to you.” said Eric. “I’m sorry Mr. Lee.” said Miranda “I must admit that I’m a bit confused.” “Miranda. I believe I may be in love with you.” There was silence on the other end of the phone. Eric continued “I know it sounds completely crazy. But there was something about our last conversation. I know you don’t know me but I think if we could just meet up with each other sometime for dinner maybe we would really hit it off!”
Miranda tried to process at that was happening. “Mr. Lee, I don’t feel comfortable with this conversation. I’m not sure what I could have possibly said that would have made you think you were attracted to me but I assure you both of these calls are strictly professional. Eric had planned for this as a possible reaction. “I know I sound like a total creep. This is weird. All of it. I can’t explain it. I don’t mean you any harm. I just want to meet you.”
“I’m sorry Mr. Lee,” said Miranda trying to stay professional. “But I’m afraid that’s just not possible. Have a nice day.”
The line beeped and then went dead.
It was over. He couldn’t believe it. Everything he had planned had just been flushed down the drain. Why didn’t she just give me a chance. I know she would like me! I just know it. Eric stared at his television for what seemed like hours.
He finally roused himself to eat something. He spent the rest of the moped about the house, unsure what to do. Eric turned the television on and found an old football game. When it was time for bed he made his way upstairs, brushed his teeth, and climbed into bed. Sleep did not come.
Eric walked into to work the next day feeling as though he had a void in his life. He had spent so much time obsessing over Miranda that he didn’t know what to do without her in his life. He slowly made his way to the photo counter and saw that his coworker Kyle was standing at the photo printer. “Hey Eric, I just put this order into the printer but it’s time for me to clock out. Can you finish it up for me?” asked Kyle. “Sure.” replied Eric. “No problem.” “Thanks man!” I’ll see ya later!” Kyle said as he quickly walked away.
Eric moved over to the printer. Kyle had already made the label and put in on the envelope so all Eric had to do was put the pictures in once they had finished printing and seal the envelope. He began to clean some on the display cameras while he waited for the order to finish. The printer beeped, signaling that the order was ready. Eric scooped up the pictures. He looked at the photo on the top of the stack. It was a beautiful woman. She looked like a movie star. She had one of those effortless smiles. The kind that makes everyone else smile in the room too.
He looked through several more of the pictures. She must have just gotten back from a vacation with some of her girlfriends. There were pictures of her on the Vegas strip, at the Hoover Dam, and at the Grand Canyon. Eric wished he had friends he could go on trips with. He stared at the pictures enviously. Eric stuffed the pictures into the envelope and glanced at the name. “Williams”. He set the envelope down and went back to cleaning.
A few moments later a woman appeared at the counter. Eric immediately recognized the woman from her pictures. She was even more beautiful than she was in her photos. He looked at her “Ms. Williams?” The woman nodded. Eric picked up the envelope and scanned the label. “If that’s everything, it’ll be $4.50.” The woman paid with a debit card. Eric pulled out the receipt and said “Please sign this copy and then the bottom copy is yours.” The woman signed the receipt and handed it back to Eric. “Have a nice day.” said Eric. “You too.” said the woman as she walked away.
Eric went to pick up the receipt but he stopped midway. He looked at the woman’s first name. “Miranda.”