Remember to be proud of yourself, you have worked so hard to get here. You’ve conquered everything that was in your way of this dream. Mom would be so proud of you; everyone is so damn proud of you. I am constantly thinking this as I walk into the building of Maxim Healthcare Staffing; the boss wants to meet with me and offer me a job to fix their advertisements. I walk up to the elevator and push the button to go up, I’m anxious and excited at the same time. It smells weird in here almost like a hospital, I just keep reminding myself “I am that damn writer, who writes amazing articles.” So many people are walking in and walking out how can you keep track of who works here and who doesn’t?
I pull out my notebook and look over the notes I wrote down while on the phone with the boss Mr. Lanling. The bell dings and thinking I’m going to be the only one in here, but then a guy stops the door and comes in. I don’t even look up, just staying focused on my notes. The cologne the guys wearing certainly smells nice like a musky manly smell.
“Holy shit,” a voice says.
I look up, my eyes just go wide, its Justin Goodwin. Your typical popular big ego jerk. His family is pretty much the whole town I grew up in. I should have asked for a list of the staff here. He’s gotten taller over the past eight years and now he wears nice dress attire. That’s certainly a new look for him.
“How’s it going Al?” Smirking at me. He knows I hated that name the whole four years I went to school with him and he made the name stick.
Still looking forward letting out a sigh I say, “Justin, it’s a shame you still can’t count. You know my name has four letters to it. A-L-E-X,” hoping he would get the memo I don’t want to talk.
“You looking for a job?” he asks with a giant grin plastered on his face. I’m just glaring at his now thinking “why can’t this elevator move faster?”
“No, I have a job. Your boss called me in.” His giant grin on his face drops.
“Apparently your team sucks at advertising.” I look over and now he looks pissed.
The elevator suddenly comes to a halt, both of us nearly fall to the floor.
“What the hell?” Justin says with concern in his voice. He starts to push all the buttons trying to get the elevator going again. With each button he presses there’s a ding behind it, now it’s become annoying.
I stand there shaking my head, “You really think that’s going to fix it? Stop it or you’ll make it worse.”
“Shut up Al, it’s not like you’re helping.” Justin snaps back at me.
I look at him and say in a mocking tone, “oh look there’s an emergency button, how about we try that?”
“You really haven’t changed, have you? Just completely stubborn like you were in high school.” His voice was not only deeper, but he really sounded pissed when he said that.
As he turns away, I say, “you always bullied me in high school and you’re still doing it now, so who hasn’t really changed Justin?”
A mans voice comes over the speaker in the elevator, “Hey guys, this is the fire department were going to try and get you out as fast as possible.”
“Make it quick please, I have better things to do with my time than to be stuck in a small space with this witch.” He smirks at me.
“Screw you!” I yell at him.
A half an hour goes by and still nothing, now we’re just sitting on the floor. Justin is banging the back of his head against the elevator wall.
I’m so annoyed right now I yell at him, “Justin, just STOP!”
“Haha still can’t handle it can you Al? Always up tight and OCD,” He just sitting there with a giant smile on his face.
“That’s way no one wanted you at parties Al, you’re a party pooper.”
“I’ve changed A LOT Justin, you don’t even know me,” I start giving him attitude.
“Remember Justin I am here fixing your advertisements; your boss called me.”
His jaw clenches and now he’s staring at me, “like you know how to advertise anything?”
I smile at him, “Why do you think I’m here? I’m actually on vacation and decided to pick this up for fun, I showed your boss my work and he loved it.”
“Wow I didn’t realize how desperate he was?” saying it to me trying to get under my skin. Unfortunately, he is. I take pride in my work; I can actually feel my face start to turn red from how mad he is making me.
I stand up and shout, “are you guys almost finished? I have very important things I need to get done.”
“Ma’am we are trying to get this done as quickly as possible in the safest way. So please be patient.” One of the firefighters replies.
Justin starts to stand up, “you have no idea how to let go, no idea how to have a good time, everything has to be scheduled. My gosh I forgot how annoying you are.” Now he’s yelling and his face is red.
I turn to face him and sturdy my stance, “You knew nothing about me then and know nothing about now. So shut up!”
“Oh trust me I know you, I know all about you. You’re a damn know it all who can’t let ANYTHING go!” he shouts back at me.
Suddenly, the elevator starts to move again, all I’m thinking is “Thank the lord.”
Finally, I am at the floor where I need to be at.
I walk out and turn around and look at Justin, “At least my boss knows my worth and from what Mr. Lanling said I’m damn good.”
The elevator door closes, and I feel so satisfied. I finally make it up to Mr. Lanling’s office, with a big smile on his face he says, “Alex, nice to finally get you out of that elevator and working on this. My ad’s really need your help.”
“Of course, I’m happy to help!” Being as professional and polite as I can be.
He pulls out a chair for me. “Now we just need to wait on Justin.”
“Justin? You mean Justin Goodwin?” My eyes go big again from shock. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Why are we waiting on him?” I am now starting to get concerned. Am I going to have to work with the jerk that nearly ruined my chances of me getting my full ride scholarship to Colombia?
“Justin nice of you to finally join us!” Mr. Lanling says with sarcasm. “Even though we aren’t the best at advertisements, Justin simply has a way with words. He’s got the most success on my team.”
My eyes go even wider, “the most success. You said nobody was biting or even applying here.”
“Ahhh yes, I did, but Justin has helped a little bit. I just want to see numbers even higher.” Mr. Lanling says to me. Justin is just sitting there smiling at me looking me up and down.
“Can you excuse me a minute? I just need to use the restroom.” I start to get up when Justin makes a stupid comment.
“Don’t get stuck Al, we need you remember?” He’s definitely mocking me.
“Al, now that’s a great nickname.” Hearing Mr. Lanling agree just makes me cringe.
I walk out and make it to the bathroom; I look underneath all the bathroom stalls.
I start pacing, my hands start sweating, “Why? Why? Why? Is Justin Goodwin here?”
I take a deep breath look in the mirror and tell myself, “Remember you are that writer that writes amazing articles, you are respected by so many people, and Justin Goodwin is the past.” I compose myself and walk out. As I come up to the door, I see them both laughing at what I have no idea.
When I walk in the first thing I hear is “Al, Justin just informed me that you and him used to go to school together.”
“Oh yeah, it was such a blast. It’s such a shame I don’t remember EVERYTHING.” I say loudly enough to make it obvious that I don’t want to talk about that.
“Al gets a little bit upset when high school gets brought up, no one wanted to be her friend or even a lab partner. She was too much of a know it all.” Justin says smiling at me, making complete eye contact with me.
My blood starts to boil, I try and keep my composure until I finally say, “Well, I can’t help it if I was born with a brain that works and is continuing to work.”
Both just have a complete blank stare on their faces. Way to go Alex, you let Justin get under your skin way too easily.
“I’m sorry, I just thought we were here to work, not joke around.” I smile and say hopefully Mr. Lanling will dismiss my last comment.
Justin looks at me and can tell I’m done with the games, “Yeah, let’s get down to business. We shouldn’t waste anymore time.”
Mr. Lanling just stares at us both, noticing that something had happened in the past that wasn’t cleared up.
“You know I have some ideas I left back in conference room two, I’ll be right back.” He sounded suspicious with the way he said that. He leaves the room and now it’s just me and Justin.
“Are you going to stay mad at me forever?” Justin says, now he sounds worried.
I look at him and say, “You nearly cost me my full ride scholarship to COLUMBIA! I worked so hard to get it and then I get a letter in the mail that I had to resubmit another essay because of plagiarism, I can’t believe you.”
“I’m sorry Al…” before he even finishes, I cut him off.
“And that, that of all things. You have no respect for anyone. You saw me as a target and thought it was funny. I had to work so hard to get to where I am today.” My face is turning red I can feel it heating up, but I’m not stopping now, I’ve tried to be the “bigger” person for too long.
I keep going my voice is starting to get shaky, “Your family might be a huge part of the town, but that doesn’t mean the world revolves around you.”
Justin stands up and his face turns completely red, “DO NOT talk about MY family like you know them, you have no idea what my family has been through or how hard they have worked to get to where we are today.”
Mr. Lanling walks in, “okay I got the ideas I was talking about right here.” He looks up at both of us. “I sense some tension between you two. Everything okay?”
I grab my stuff and storm out, “yup just damn peachy.” I say as I leave. Next thing I know Justin is behind me trying to catch up. I start running now towards the elevator and as I put my hand up to push the button Justin’s hand covers it.
“I want to fix this.” He says in a sincere tone. I just look straight ahead.
“Alex, please.” He’s starting to sound more serious this time. I look up at him, maybe he has changed I start thinking.
“Fine,” I say.
Justin sighs in relief, he guides me back to what looks like his office. I walk in and start looking around and notice all the college logos he’s got hanging up and his framed college diploma. I look at it and it says, “Bachelor of Arts in Teacher Education.” He’s a teacher. Wow I really don’t know Justin.
“Are you okay?” Justin asks.
“Yeah, I’m fine. You’re a teacher?” I say confused. I’m completely shocked, I never thought Justin cared about kids let alone wanted to teach them.
“Umm, yeah. I used to teach T-ball back home and really enjoyed it.” Justin replies.
I looked at him, he looked very uncomfortable. He started scratching the back of his head and messing with his tie.
“You wanna sit?” he asked.
“You look worried, are you?” asking him, I’m more curious now. I look down at his desk and see one of my articles I wrote from six months ago. He noticed me looking too, he quickly covers it and tries to change the subject.
Justin says in a soft-spoken tone, “Alex, I know I did a really bad thing to you, and I can tell you I’m sorry until I am blue in the face, but it doesn’t seem like you want to forgive me.”
Part of that was true, I hold grudges bad for way too long. My therapist told me I “needed” to work on that. Maybe I can try forgiving Justin.
“Justin, I’m not going to lie. I was really mad; you almost did destroy everything I worked really hard for. I know I can be over the top sometimes with my emotions as well, but I really did put it all in my past after I finished and graduated.” I say to him.
He puts his hand out, “Truce?” I look at him knowing he’s trying to make amends which is something I want as well.
“Yes, truce.” Shaking his hand giving him the satisfaction that it’s fine now.