Stories from the Hart: Buyer Blues, Part 1

Buyer Blues by Shannon Hart
Part 1

I was panting, cursing and swearing at myself as I walked up twelve flights of stairs, dragging along my heavy suitcase and a ton of fabric samples, thanks to the stupid elevators that decided to break down today. I huffed and puffed, lamely regretting not having worked out in an extremely long time. Six months without visiting the gym was clearly too long. It wasn't that I didn't want to go to the gym, it was just that I simply did not have the time. Between my crazy traveling schedule for work and the amount of work that piled up after each trip, I found myself having hardly any time to even eat, let alone exercise. Come to think of it, I really didn't have a life. I used to though. Have a life, I mean. Before I got this job, I had fun-filled Friday nights and partied until Saturday mornings. Before I was promoted as a Senior Buyer for Reed's Department Store - the fastest growing luxury retail store chain in the country - I even had a serious boyfriend. Oh, how the times used to be good.

I reached my office after nearly half an hour, which felt like two hours.

"Janie, you have twelve messages," Lana, my secretary, said as she followed me into my office.

"This early in the morning? Gosh, what time do all these people start?" I complained, dropping my fabric samples on to the floor and collapsing on to my leather chair. "I'm so exhausted!"

"Two are from your mother. She wants you to call your sister about the wedding. And one is from your insurance company. You need to sign some sort of document. The rest are... Well, work related," Lana answered, as she placed twelve pieces of pink paper on my desk.

I stared at my neatly handwritten messages. Just looking at them made me want to pack up my stuff and head back to the emergency staircase and head home, especially the ones from my mother. Those just made me want to curl up in bed and hide under the blankets.

"Do you need me to put you through to anyone?" Lana asked, as she opened my insanely heavy suitcase and started to help me unload all the buying books.

"No. I don't want to talk to anyone right now. I just want to go through my orders one more time so you can key them into the system and send over our final orders before the midnight deadline."

Lana shrugged. She placed the four ready-to-wear books and four leather accessories books on my desk. "Coffee?"

"Maybe later. Do you have my mail?"

"On your incoming tray."

She left my office and let me do my thing, but instead of diving straight into my work, I made the mistake of checking my cell phone.

I had three new messages – three new messages that weren't there this morning. All of them, sadly, were from my mother because aside from my work friends, I didn't really have other friends anymore.

I had a deadline to meet. Noon was when I was due to submit the final changes on the orders I had placed in Paris. I checked my watch and frowned when I noticed I had around two hours left to meet the deadline, but I picked up the phone anyway.

"Hi, Mom," I greeted her as soon as she answered. After two messages left with Lana and three texts, I couldn't imagine the wrath I'd be facing if I didn't call her back.

"Jane Penelope Garrett! Where have you been?"

"Trying to get to my office. The elevators broke down and I had to take the stairs... I'm exhausted and I don't have a lot of time. What's so urgent?" I hated it when she used my middle name. It made me feel like I was a child again, getting grounded for something I didn’t even do.

"It's Amanda, she's getting cold feet."

"But the wedding is in two days!" I exclaimed, slightly louder than I would have preferred.

"Which is exactly why I am in such a panic! Janie, you have to talk to her. You know she only listens to you..."

That wasn't necessarily true actually. In fact, if that was true, she wouldn't have started dating her soon-to-be-husband Vin, and would not be getting married, and obviously would not be getting cold feet at all.

"What am I supposed to tell her? It's not like I'm an expert at this whole getting married thing." I started twirling the phone cord around my finger, anxious to end the conversation with my mother before it turned ugly - the way it normally did.

"But you're an expert on being lonely and you can tell her how much she doesn't want that."

Ah. There it was. The turning point I was waiting for.

From this moment on, the initially civil conversation I had with my mother would turn into bitter resentment-based justifications from me on why I chose this life, and my mother would continue to bombard me with questions of why I would rather drown in work than have an actual life.

"Mom, I really have a lot of work today. I can't talk about this with you right now," I replied, deciding to take a different route today. I had already gone down that road too many times. I just wanted to spare myself from all of the extra angst.

"Look, just call Amanda. Go have a girl's night out or something. Talk to her, please. This is something I can't fix, so you have to fix it for me."

I could hear my mother's tone change. When it came to Amanda, she was always like that, always such the worrywart and always trying to fix everything. It was like she thought she was the designated hero or something. She didn't know that sometimes all we needed was just for her to listen. We didn't need all the comments, opinions (or what she referred to as solutions). We just needed her to listen.

"Fine, as soon as I'm done here, I'll call her. I have to go, Mom." I heard the phone click on the other end, and I slammed the phone down onto its dock. Ugh. She really got on my nerves sometimes.

I tried to dive into work, but I couldn't concentrate. I kept thinking about this whole thing with Amanda. Why would she be getting cold feet now? All her life, all she wanted to do was finish school, meet her prince charming and get married so she could have a ton of babies. She wanted to be one of those Upper East Side housewives who went to charities and planned cotillions for their daughters. She never once thought of anything less or more. She had her mind made up and her heart set since she was thirteen.

I, on the other hand, wanted nothing of the sort. For me, life was more exciting when you had challenges that made you think. I wanted a job, a career that could take me places and keep me busy, which was why this job was perfect for me. As a department store buyer, I had to attend all of the fashion weeks around the world. It keeps me too busy to even think of having a boyfriend so I never even tried - especially since the last one didn't turn out so great. Okay, that's probably an understatement. It didn't just turn out "not so great." It turned out to be disastrous.

Wouldn't you call it disastrous if your boyfriend felt like he had more in common with your sister and asked permission to date her instead?

To be continued... 
What do you think of Buyer Blues so far? What do you think will happen? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks!