Ten o’clock in the morning, Mia is sitting at her desk at university. Luckily, she got a seat, standing right now would be hell. She had had just three hours sleep and in about half an hour, they have to give the presentation about a new interior design. The three of them have to present their latest ideas. They have worked it out on a computer. Mia has the final part. Actually, the first girl talks for over fifteen minutes; Chris presents the second part, but he doesn’t stick to his topic and takes over Mia’s part also. They are marked 50 % on presentation and now almost nothing is left for Mia to say about the project. Chris has already spread out all of the design ideas, including showing the plans, while Mia is just staring at Chris wondering why he takes her part, thinking, What should that be, doesn’t he get it? So far, everyone is impressed by the demonstration.
Now it’s Mia’s turn to fill fifteen minutes while the original presentation time is already over and everything has been said. She’s speechless and totally pissed with Chris. Taking a deep breath, she closes her eyes for a second, stumbling: “Please give me any idea to make this time up, what’s missing here, apart from covering the cost?” But the presentation is not about financial business plans. It’s about the design and bringing in innovations, and she starts: “So this is how it looks when you do the traditional planning, and everything is solidly constructed.” She points to the living room. “And the colors are chosen for a decent design, right? But don’t you think there is something missing, something called ‘life’? When I look at this, I guess I would get kind of depressed after half an hour with these walls, wouldn’t you? So, the idea is, bring some life in from the pictures to the walls, either with themes according to the seasons or you can choose to program your own. It goes like this: a lighting installation that allows you to beam pictures or videos including sound. The main beamer to the huge wall of the living room and one flexible where you can choose where to beam on to and you have the options of the timing of course. There will be a pre-set theme with fireplaces, so you can beam your fire on the wall, a nature walk, an ocean, or you can run skiing impressions for winter time and some Copacabana, or rooftop nights for summer themes.”
She takes another deep breath, spreading her installation ideas. The fifteen minutes are almost over, and this idea is new. No one has mentioned it yet. She finishes her presentation: “Of course, you will also be able to control the lighting, water, and heating system. So this gives you control. For example, you can run your bathwater by simply pressing a button. You can dim your lights with pre-set-themes—which of course is also beneficial when you are on holiday, you can create your “Kevin home alone” scenario from your holiday apartment or a café in the city, wherever you are and in addition keep your home protected from any intruders.”
Some of her classmates raise their eyebrows, but the tutor seems to find her idea appealing. Chris stared at Mia. Of course, this was nothing they had discussed before. The decent color scheme, to keep the interior in a natural balance, was her idea, so that’s why she did not hesitate to make it now look boring and rather pale and colourless and light it up with a new idea. Chris seemed unimpressed with Mia’s new ideas. He had been the first one not to play fair, so why should she bother about it now. Although they received high marks, she knew now to be more careful about who to choose to work with and be better prepared next time when it involved teamwork.
Mick actually liked the idea and asked for suggestions on how he could incorporate it into one of his projects. They went out for lunch to meet Mac and Versa who just laughed when Mia told the story about Chris who had taken advantage of the situation and how she had turned it. “He’s such a pussy.”
Mac was gossiping about him and he started telling weird stories about Chris—how he had made it through his exams and getting bonus points. The afternoon was just a boring lecture about legal stuff with loads of paragraphs no one wanted to know about, despite the fact that in certain situations it might be important.
A few weeks passed and the situation came up repeatedly. Mia wanted to work on her project or was ready for class but Bo had something else going on. Even when he suggested taking her to Uni by car, she couldn’t be sure she wouldn’t miss her class and end up somewhere else—in a garage to fix the car or whatever. Disappointed that she had already missed a few classes, she was ready to look for another room. She had had a viewing for one little room, which would be an option, but it was expensive.
The next day her dad called asking how things were going. Mia explained that it was like always, and that the relationship was more of a distraction than any kind of happiness. The study was good but it was so much trouble that she missed classes. “Well, Kay said you should leave him and do your study, this will never work.” Kay was her father’s new girlfriend. He suggested paying her some extra monthly. “I think that would be better,” Mia said. “I just had this viewing, but it is such a small room, they want like six hundred pounds for it and it’s the size of five square meters. This is insane! And I promised to share the rent, the flat is rented for a year, it’s not really fair if I say now that I’m moving out and leaving all the payments to him.”
Her father said: “Well, you need to know what to do, but yes, that’s you, if you say something, someone can rely on that. You’re loyal. But as long as you the two of you are together in the same city, that’s not going to work. What about the other place offered for next year? Why don’t you just take the time off now, enjoy it and start afresh with the other study place and your own room?”
“I can’t let go of this project now. It is amazing,” Mia continued: “They don’t often offer such projects with the subsidy. I’ll tell him that if he keeps distracting me, he’s got to take the whole flat on his own, maybe that will help.”
Just as Mia put down the phone, a message from Jason pops up thanking her for the money she had dropped off and he asked if she would like to pass by for a coffee. Oh, Jason! Somehow thinking about him put a smile on her face. His office wasn’t far from here so she wrote: “Hi, so the money got back to you? In the afternoon, I will be close to Angel station, and a coffee would be a great idea.”
Later that afternoon, Mia walked through the great hall of Jason’s estate building, passed by the reception, and up to the fifteenth floor. A stunning office over the whole floor with huge glass windows and an amazing view of the City. Jason welcomed her with a bright smile. Mia could not believe the change of scenery. From the small five square meter room she had seen minutes ago, now she stood in this office with such a breath-taking view—what a difference! Something she could never afford.
Jason asked her to sit down. “How is it going? Your first weeks at Uni are over, aren’t they?” Mia nodded: “Yes, but things are not going as I wished.” She started explaining her troubled relationship with Bo and the project they were working on. She stared with big eyes at Jason while telling him her story. Looking at him she thought: This guy is so amazing, he has such ease like nothing seems to be a problem for him and he is well trained, and so damn good looking, with tanned skin, which is hard to get in this London rain. Normally she would hesitate to talk, but she talks like a waterfall without hesitation, as if they have known each other for years. He starts talking about his time at Uni and his ex-girlfriend with whom he had a troubled relationship. He had had an on-off thing and wasn’t happy with either.
Just then, Jason received a call from her, and a few minutes later he put down the phone and looked at Mia. “I need a drink. It is already time for dinner. Have you eaten already?” Mia shakes her head: “No, not much just snacks and coffee.”
“So how about having dinner together, my invite, let’s go out?” Mia nods. Jason calls his assistant and asks her to make a reservation.
Half an hour later, the two arrive at ME London. Mia and Jason get a table at the side of the restaurant. A couple pass by and greet Jason; he stops at one of the tables to welcome Peter, a business friend and arranges an appointment with him for the next day. The two then take their seat at the back of the restaurant. Mia orders Risotto with Seafood and Mushrooms, Jason monkfish and a bottle champagne. Mia is surprised; she had imagined her evening anywhere else but sitting here at ME having dinner with Jason and sipping champagne.
“I’m often here, I like the ME; the food tastes great and I always meet people here that I couldn’t reach out to during the day,” Jason explains.
“Ah, well, so you can continue your business talks here? It’s a beautiful place,” Mia replies.
“So, which places have you been to so far. Have you been out yet?”
“Oh no, with all the struggles, I have only been to the Sunshine opposite the Uni.” Mia slightly frowns.
“Oh, but the Sunshine is a nice bar. Next door they have the Radio Bar, we should go there sometime, it’s a rooftop bar. I’ll let you know when they have a good party. Would you like to join me?”
“The Radio Bar?” Mia is stunned; it’s a posh place and you usually won’t get in except by invitation and of course Jason gets those invitations. “Well, yes, if I don’t meet any of your crazy girlfriends there, pushing their elbows into my ribs or anything like that.”
Jason smiles. “Oh, I see you are experienced with that kind of woman?”
“Kind of.” Mia smiles.
“No, I will make sure that won’t happen, don’t worry, they have bouncers at the door.”
Mia’s phone rings. It’s Bo: “Hey babe, where are you? Can you come down here, where you picked me up yesterday? I’m with Sasha and we are going to Sam’s, so can you come down?”
Mia is astonished. Sasha was the girl he said he wouldn’t see again; he had last seen her half a year ago.
“You are where? I thought you don’t see her. That’s what you were saying last time I asked you, didn’t you?”
Silence. “Hm, what? Yes, I said something, but you must have gotten that wrong, can you come down now?”
“Sorry, honey, I’m at dinner with Jason, you remember?”
“Ah, yes, that guy. Could you ask him if he has some space down South. I have a friend who is looking for a store space; you know the one I told you.”
“Yes, I will ask. But I can’t come down now, how did you get there? Can you take the same way home?”
“Yeah, I will ask someone else, but I will be home late, then.”
“Oh, well, that’s nothing new!” She’s looking over to Jason while rolling her eyes and shaking her head, then flashes a smile. She finishes the call. Looking at Jason, she says, “That’s how it’s always going; going here…there….and can you pick me up. And you wonder why the hell is he in South London when he is supposed to be up North. And some “friend” needs something, but you never know who the friend is but most likely he turns up with some female friend that means nothing and at the end of the day I was running around having done nothing. But I already told you this, didn’t I?”
Jason nods: “Yes, this seems a bit weird, he seems quite busy, your Bo, but probably not with the right focus.”
“Yeah, that was my kind of cold turkey the night I arrived here with his welcome that felt like winter in Siberia.”
“Oh, Siberia, I know how that feels; I had a Russian girlfriend with some kind of wrong focus, too, the one that called earlier.” Jason smiles. “But I won’t go further into that. This woman is kind of out of control sometimes and I won’t bring this up tonight.” He harrumphs, clearing his throat.
“Actually, Bo asked you if you have any options for a shop space down south for one of his “friends”. So instead of focusing on our project, where he really could work his part on the business side, he concentrates on his “friends” projects.”
“Well, Mike is doing houses and some industrial spaces around South London. I’ll give you his number so your boyfriend can ask him. I’m sure he will have something for him or his friend,” Jason replies.
“Oh, that’s great, thanks Jason.” Mia smiles.
“So, how is your project going. Is the concept ready?”
“Well, we have the basics; so far the plan is to create a flagship fashion store, not too big with a few collections and an online store. The idea is to make it more like a café, bar or kind of cool location, where people can sit, have drinks and flick online through the collections. So it is a mix of café and store. It also includes some events. People not only come in for shopping but also to a place they like to spend time and have an opportunity to shop when they want to. We plan different collections, each with a cultural background, a European, a Latin American, a North American, an African, an Asian and one collection inspired by Eastern countries. There will always be one collection that people can vote for online and in the store they can choose whether fifty percent goes to a charity of their choice.”
“That sounds great!” Jason is impressed.
“Yes, Bo should actually work on the business plan. He does business studies but he is busy with everything else but that.” Mia keeps complaining about Bo and continues, “Actually there are two fashion designers in the house I live in Lordship Road. The girl next to me, she’s from the Middle East. She studies at St. Martins and lives with her boyfriend Marc, who studies medicine. And the girls from the top-floor, Tonya and Versa, they study fashion design as well.” Mia smiles and her eyes are shining while she keeps talking about their project. “Well, Mick and I will do the interior design, our field of expertise. Versa and Mac are doing Marketing Communications as a major so they could also help out with the business plan, we will see.”
“This is really a serious project! It’s a great match. People come together with the right skills and I like that idea with the cultural background and the unique selling point of a campaign dedicated to a social project. You guys are making socialising the focus rather than sales. Sounds like a cool project. If there is any way I can help, let me know.” Jason sips his champagne.
“Well, when our project plan wins this year’s foundation prize, I will let you know, then we would need a space on a good location and I guess your help would be greatly appreciated.” Mia smiles.
“I know some people, I’m sure I can help with that. Let me know when you guys are ready.”
Mia replies, “Yes, I will let you know.” She takes a deep breath and looks at Jason who smiles at her with a deep look. Mia swallows, her throat tightens and she feels the heat rising in her body. She is dazzled by the look Jason throws at her.
“So, how is it going with your present living situation? If you need help with a room, I can do something for you, too.”
“Oh, you are so nice. I actually had a look at a room today and I was offered support from my Dad as well, but it’s just so ridiculously overpriced. Six hundred pounds for five square meters.”
Jason bursts out laughing: “Sounds like a real offer. Did you take the room?”
Mia, starring at Jason, said, “No, I did not take the room! I let it go, that special offer. It was missing gold taps.” She laughs and continues: “I just don’t think it would be fair to let Bo hang on now and leave him alone with the rent. We rented the flat for a year and we both agreed to it.”
“You want to be fair? Well, what he does, is that fair?
“I said I’ll give it another try,” Mia said. “But when he keeps distracting me, I will move out, so he should be aware of it, now, but my illusion has faded anyway. I think we can arrange something,” Mia replies thoughtfully while imagining how it must feel living in Siberia.
“Sounds like a bitter pill!” Jason adds. “Not all life is fair, but this is: if it distracts you too much let me know. I can help you find a solution. Don’t let all this love drama get in the way of your studies. That’s more important, you know that.”
Mia sighs deeply: “Yes, you are right, that’s what I’m trying to do. I would just like to have a win-win situation for both of us.” Mia refills her glass and sips her champagne. “Well, maybe the situation will be changed by one of our Russian girls from the upper floor. Maybe someday soon one of the girls will feel the desire to move into our flat for whole days not only for the nights I’m not in.” Mia jokes in a sarcastic tone and continues. “He leaves none out. I came back from Germany last weekend and you could see immediately that the one Russian girl, Slatka, must have had a good time in our apartment. But they both don’t say a word, neither Bo nor her.” Mia takes another sip from her glass: “And since my arrival in the cold, I couldn’t care less.” Mia says this in a little-frustrated tone.
“So how much is “care less” and how much is “you do care”? Jason asks and comes closer, leaning over the table. Mia bends over the table; both are head to head now. Mia closes her eyes, and their lips meet. She’s kissing him over the table, then, opening her eyes, she looks into Jason’s eyes with a smile. “That less or that much for something more.”
“Wow, then care more, please,” and Jason goes for another kiss while stroking Mia’s hair. A voice interrupts: “Excuse me but is there anything else I can do for you—dessert, coffee or anything?” Jason looks up “What would anything else be, do you have free rooms?”
“Well, I need to check but I think there are rooms available.”
Jason looks over to Mia: “Would you like any desert in the room?”
“Yes, that would be sweet. Some peach parfait and another glass of champagne, that’s exactly what I need right now.” The two get up and walk towards the hall. They take the lift to the top floor. The doors open to the sky suite and Mia is standing in the middle of a huge suite with an amazing view looking over the River Thames. She’s breathless and the night is full of breathless moments.
Mia had just left the shuttle at Folkestone after passing through the Euro-Channel from Calais and traveling the fifty-mile route through the world’s longest underwater channel by train with her car—thirty-seven miles undersea in just thirty minutes. She was excited. North London University had offered her a place, one of the rare limited places in her subject. The university offered only fifty places a year for her area of study. Mia planned to move in with her boyfriend who had found an apartment in an old North London villa and share with several students.
A further ninety-minute drive through Kent, making her way through South London and the Blackwall Tunnel, Mia had to take a break to refill her tank.
She stopped at a gas station, filled up and went to the cashier. For some reason, her card failed and, of course, she hadn’t enough cash.
Mia was a slender girl, standing five feet four in her sandals. She was simply dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and she blushed bright red when the Point of Sale rejected her credit card. This had happened to her once before when she had accidentally exceeded her limit, but this time the card was seriously creased, the result of her sitting on it during her long trip from Germany. Despite Mia’s general level-headedness, she could be careless at times.
Everything happens for a reason. “Do I need to wash cars now?” Mia asked with a smile. Turning towards the customer behind her, she said, “Does your car need some polish?”
The man, a handsome thirtysomething year old, athletically shaped with dark blond hair laughed. “No, love, it’s just coming out of the car wash now, but I imagine you would do a better job.”
“Well, is there an ATM machine close by?”
“No, not that close,” the cashier said. “The next cash machine is about fifteen minutes away.”
“So, what can I do? Would you accept me leaving a deposit like my ID card? I would come back later with the cash. I’ve just come from Germany and I’m moving to North London. I could leave my address and telephone number with you.”
The cashier shook her head, but the handsome guy behind Mia said, “I can take it on my card and you can come to my office next week and pay me.”
“That would be great; I don’t know what to say.”
“It’s okay,” he replied. “And I got the number of an attractive German, right?”
The two exchanged addresses, phone numbers, and the man paid using his card. Mia felt ashamed but surprised that someone was so generous.
“You made it all the way from Germany with one tank filling?” He smiled and continued, “Don’t worry; I had a similar situation lately, so I know how it feels and someone helped me out, too. My name is Jason. Anyway, I got your car license, so I will find you if I have to.”
Mia thanked him again. “I will pass by your office tomorrow and leave the fifty pounds for you at the reception.”
Jason nodded, “Any time. See You.”
On her way-out, walking over to her fully packed Ibiza, Mia noticed that only one other car had stopped at the gas station. It must be his—a shiny Porsche 911.
Mia had planned to pick up her boyfriend Bo at his old address and then drive over to the new flat. When she arrived, Bo was standing, as always, talking with his landlady, an attractive African woman from the same country as him. She was a little older. She had a little boy and always had her eyes on Bo. She looked at Mia with hardly the friendliest Hello.
Bo grabbed his one suitcase and he and Mia drove over to Lordship Road, to the old villa where they would move in. Mia parked the car and followed him inside.
They were standing in the dark entrance hall, trying to find the light. Mia, excited, finally found the switch. Wrapping her hands around Bo, wanting him to kiss her, and Bo standing there with his hands in his pockets, cold as ice. Mia would have expected a jumping heart, an intensive hug, and a long sweet kiss, anything but this. She had waited all summer for this moment. A cold shower was running down her back. All she felt was a moment of nothing, knowing this love had been an illusion, all this sweet talk on the phone, cards, presents and whatever. The moment she had waited for had turned into a moment of no emotion at all. All she felt was disappointment. The illusion of love she had held had just dropped down to the hall and into the basement!
Normally she would have turned around and be gone, but she had just left one life behind and she didn’t want to give up another—her dream study-place she had worked so hard for. She closed her eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath and thought, “Okay, this is better than no love at all, and at least I got my study place. This is what I came here for; I will manage; I won’t give up that, too.” Mia felt as if she had hit an iceberg while on board the Titanic and all her love was drowning. All she could do was let go and keep herself together.
Mia unwrapped her arms and with a fresh, friendly smile, said: “Alright, the light’s on, now you find the lock with the right key, it’s a really cool house.” Bo opened the apartment door, but the light switch inside didn’t work. The electricity in the house used a point system, which meant you had to purchase credit and charge on a meter in the corridor. With the help of her lighter, Mia made it to the bathroom. Bo, opening the bathroom door, said: “Ah, here you are.”
“Yes, here I am,” Mia replied with a grin.
“I got to go back to my apartment, I left something. I will be back later on,” Bo said. This was nothing new; Bo always had something to do. Every phone conversation had been like this—except that she had somewhere to go this time. It had happened so often that he would accompany her and for some reason managed to make her arrive late for her appointments or whatever she had to do, or miss them altogether.
“Yes, and buy some points for the electricity charge,” Mia shouted from the bathroom. She was alone now in the dark.
In the kitchen, Mia found some candles. The flat had a nice style, sliding doors separated the kitchen and the living room and bedroom were spacious. The house was an old villa; in better condition, it would make a beautiful apartment. Mia immediately thought of decoration ideas but she wasn’t sure if it was worth it. Despite the candlelight, the illusion of having found the love of her life, the picture she had created in her mind to study here in London for three or four years, and then her move to Berlin with Bo—all that had vanished and she thought it might be better to get her own room. Still, the way she had planned the move she knew they needed each other. Bo had signed a year’s contract and she did not want him carry it by himself.
Mia started unpacking, and made the bed. By eleven thirty, she was tired and ready to sleep. She had had a long day. She felt excited about her first day at university. She had to go to the administration office by nine before she would start her first class. She lay down and closed her eyes.
At one thirty a bright light and loud voice woke her up: “Hey, the light is on, look I bought the electricity points. It’s working.” Bo, putting his head through the open bedroom door, looked at Mia.
Mia, now fully awake, said, “Great, Bo, yes, it couldn’t shine any brighter, after midnight, could it?” She used her ironic voice.
“What? Oh, yes, you were sleeping already. Keep on sleeping. I got to make a call for university tomorrow; I need to ask a colleague something.” Bo, as usual, had something else to do. Mia couldn’t be bothered about that now. She turned over and fell asleep once more.
At six thirty, the alarm clock rang and Mia got up. Mia walked into the living room, which was an inlayed room, so there was no window. She opened the sliding doors to the kitchen and made it to the bathroom, where she looked through a huge window front onto the garden. Wildflowers grew between wild bushes—a stunning view, almost the whole front built with glass windows and on the side a beautiful old-fashioned bath. A view into the wild that delighted her.
Mia dressed and made some coffee. The sun was shining through the kitchen window. The kitchen had a door to the backyard. Mia opened the door and had her cup of coffee in the magnificent backyard that looked like a jungle. She took a deep breath and wrote a quick note to Bo, who was still asleep. The last thing she would do was wake him. All he would do was suggest he join her and make her miss her first class—for whatever reason.
Mia grabbed her bag and sneaked out, walking along Lordship Road, a beautiful avenue with huge old trees between Victorian houses, and passed a little lake. Turning onto Holloway Road, she grabbed a coffee at “Le Café”—her favourite coffee shop. Arriving at the university, she picked up her student card, timetable and did all the necessary paperwork. The secretary asked her to call the number of the design department head to confirm some details. Mia called immediately and the voice at the other end said: “Mia? Oh, you again, I know you, Mia. It’s Paul.” He laughed.
“Oh no, Paul? You are here now. You were at Reading College, weren’t you?” Mia giggled into the phone. She knew him from Reading College, where she had been two years before but had left because of some family situation when her Mom had cancer and Mia was asked to come back to help out. He had called her when she was already in the car driving towards the ferry. He had asked her at the time if this was what she wanted. It wasn’t, but she did it anyway and somehow was happy that she had spent the last years with her mother and was now ready for a new chance.
Mia had fifteen minutes to make it to class. Walking through crowded corridors, she was asked by several people for a particular room or department. She had no clue where to go herself but somehow made it to the other side of the building, taking the stairs to the top floor where, of course, there was a queue in front of the door. She entered the lecture room and even got a seat. Five minutes later the room was full; the door was still open and people were standing outside. Mia wasn’t impressed; she had not imagined this many students in the class.
The first ninety minutes were over and Mia went for a break. As she stood outside the building, one of the girls came over. She was from Ukraine. “I can’t believe, what was this! This guy telling me I can’t get in? I paid seven thousand pounds to attend this class and he tells me to stay outside! My whole family saved all they had to make this possible” and she started shouting, “If this guy thinks I will stay outside the classroom again I will kill him.” One of the English guys, a typical go-getter who originally came from North London said, “What, you paid what for the class? ”
“Yes, we are not subsidized as we are non-EU. That’s why we have such an insane high study fee.”
Mick, the English guy, said, “Wow, then we are really lucky, yeah, then I would shout like that, too.” He paused. “Oh, we have one hour more till the next lecture starts. Come on, let’s go over to Sunshine’s and have lunch!” One other girl, Mac, who was standing in the group, said: “Yes, that’s a great idea. Let’s go over there.” Everyone agreed and the four went over to the Sunshine Bar and sat down at one of the roundtables. Mick, grabbing an extra chair, made himself comfortable and immediately ordered a lager.
“A gin and tonic, please,” Mac said.
“A vodka orange,” the Russian girl called Versa said.
“And a Gin Fizz.” Mia ordered her drink at last. Surprisingly everyone is going for an alcoholic drink at this time of day, but they think, why not?
“Oh, something uncomplicated, light, fresh and timeless! Great choice!” Mick comments. It doesn’t take long for the drinks to arrive. “Cheers, everyone. Let’s start this season. I’m excited about the digital class tonight; we will work on a huge project at the end of term.” Again, everyone agrees and cheer their classes.
The afternoon passes quickly; they get their schedules, terms and organisational stuff done. At seven, the evening class starts which means two hours to go. The best class, the design class for which everyone waits, includes an extraordinary design project. Luckily, it is a small class with a maximum of twenty people. The tutor, a man who had previously worked for an international agency, introduces the project, including all the programs and tools they will be using and explains all the processes about how the system works and gives some insights from the industry to the newbies. Mia is excited; this will be a blast!
They have a short break and Mia turns on her mobile. A message from Bo: “Call me back, it is urgent.” Mia calls back. “Mia, can you pick me up, I’m down south, it is urgent, I have to meet someone. He leaves at ten so you have to come now.” Bo keeps talking into the phone. Mia, taking a deep breath, wonders why he’s down south when he should be at Uni or his part-time shop, which is here in North London. “Hey, Bo, sorry but I have my class to nine. I can come down after the class has finished but I also need to get to the car. This will take some time. I might be down by ten.”
“No, why can’t you leave, now? It is important; the guy might be gone by ten if you don’t make it.” Bo keeps pushing. Mia already knows the so important thing is probably a CD or some other bullshit to pick up and keeps persisting. “No, Bo, some people pay like seven thousand pounds to get a chance on taking this course, do you know that? I’m not leaving now, what for? You have to wait, honey, but I’m not leaving early on the first day. I got to go. I’ll call you when I leave the Uni.” Mia puts down the phone. This was so typical! Any plan she had was interrupted by something so important, but no, not this time.
The class continued and they set the team members for the projects and for brainstorming first ideas. It was a tough assignment with a short deadline. They had three months to finish, which was not much for working out the details, their ideas for a design, their business plans, concepts, and planning the opening. They were excited and wondered if their concept and idea would be approved and subsidized. This was a joint project by the university together with local companies. It was an amazing chance.
At ten o’clock Mia arrived at Bo’s friend’s house. She made it on time and whatever it was that was so important, now there was plenty of time for chatting, eating and watching movies. At twelve, Mia asked to leave; she had an early class in the morning—Bo had an early start, too, but obviously he did not mind how much sleep he would get.
A half hour later they were sitting in the car driving up the Tufnell Park Road, Mia angry that it was so late, talking about the night before, asking where he had been while she was driving and the London traffic still busy. Bo, fully relaxed and chilled, looked over and complimented the car next to them: “Oh, a BMW, that’s a nice car.”
Why was it always like this? Mia was upset trying to work out something and he didn’t care at all, talking about something so different. Shaking her head, looking over to the car next to her, observing the same thing—a girl sitting at the wheel, heavily gesturing with her hands while talking, obviously not being amused about something, and next to her a guy, totally relaxed, not caring what she was saying.
The man looked over to Mia, blinking an eye and smiling at her. Mia shook her head again. This was unbelievable! It was the same situation in the car next to her. She felt like she had just seen her own reflection and had to smile about it. She thought: My boyfriend is also staring out of the window right now flirting with the girl in the car next to him. Of course, it wasn’t just the BMW but the driver, too, a thirty-something attractive woman now smiling at Bo. Mia had had enough, but she kept calm. It wasn’t worth it. She moved on. She would not bring up any more issues. It was simply a waste of time. Bo would never change.
The next morning Avoka is on fire. Early in the morning, she contacts Tim, the guy she had met one morning in the coffee shop, who wanted to establish a saving card. Avoka actually has the idea that they might be able to work together and create a Dublin tourist card.
She also writes to Stephan, one of the guys she worked with at the Fruit of the Loom company, to see if he wants to help work on the customer service side, handling inquiries, marketing and promotion.
Her workday passes by with her usual training sessions, during which she tries her best not to listen. Today her Indian trainer told her everything about a video which she, of course, does not need to know. Cavern creates another situation to call her in one of those instructing sessions before he’s ready for his trip to India.
In the late afternoon, she meets Jerome, Harry’s colleague from Amsterdam, at the Pyg to discuss the whole e-roller strategy. They get on well, and Stephan as well as Tim agree to work for the business. Tim joins the two later in the evening and over the weekend they work out an amazing deal for creating the Dublin Tourist Card.
Tuesday morning is Avoka’s exam day. The day before she had sessions with almost every colleague to work through all questions that could be asked and successfully answered them all, so she is very confident that she really covered all of the relevant topics.
The exam starts with a video chat and the Spanish guy helps her set it up. The video call comes in and on the screen Cavern, Rajet the Indian trainer, and Karma the Indian girl make an appearance. They are surprised that the Spanish guy sits at Avoka’s side; he then leaves.
The questioning starts and Avoka answers all questions confidently. She can see how Karma looks over to Cavern, rolling her eyes. She’s not even happy that Avoka answers her questions correctly. A fourth person switches in from the Internet company they actually, do the job for–a name appears but no face. The questioning goes on and a topic comes up Avoka hasn’t heard before so she simply says that that wasn’t covered at all or brought to her attention so they leave this question out and carry on.
The questioning takes more than an hour. Rajet brings in his favorite roadblock question, which Avoka answers absolutely, correctly. She had worked through all possible questions about that topic with Josh before. A half hour more and the questioning is finished.
Avoka goes back to the other guys, who wonder how long it took. Sheis quite satisfied with her given answers but from the way the people looked at her, she knows they will do everything to make her fail.
After lunch, she gets the result via e-mail. Cavern states that they didn’t count the topic she had not heard about but despite that she made only 60%. All given answers are listed, some of which Avoka never gave. On the second question about which data is used for showing forecast data the trainer wrote, “She thinks forecast data is from anonymous user data but it’s from ad requests.” Avoka can’t believe that this is the communication style for an official test exam relevant to her employment. The whole thing is written in the style of a fifth grader, and this has been passed on to about eight people including the actual client, the Internet guru they work for. It’s, actually one, of the most unprofessional pieces of paper she has ever received and full of errors and things she didn’t say.
She passes it straight on to her lawyer with a note reading, “Help, any suggestions?” He instantly writes back, “That’s the official result? Where are you working, in the kindergarten?”
The next morning Avoka enters the office not actually knowing what to do. She sits around all morning, wondering if she should quit but her lawyer has asked her to do nothing but wait. None of the other guy’s talks to her and Avoka feels so unwelcomed here, like in an auction for old-timers.
The Spanish guy comes over asking if she would like to go for a walk and talk. So they walk around the business park talking about the company’s policies and the team leader’s incompetence. The Spanish guy says, “I’m just waiting’ to get another job, then I’m gone and they know that. The way they treat people here is like cattle, not humans; it’s ridiculous the way they handle it.”
They walk back to the office and Avoka gets to her desk and reads an e-mail that Kate from the personnel office will call her via video conference in five minutes. The Spanish guy accompanies her to the video room and there Kate’s voice pops up, explaining that Avoka did not pass the exam and she is dismissed with immediate effect. The Spanish guy hands her all the papers.
Avoka says thank you and leaves, walking straight to her lawyer’s office. Jones welcomes her. “Hey Avoka, are you free now?” Avoka replies, “Yes, freedom; here are the final papers. You’ve already had the pleasure of the e-mail with the exam from yesterday.”
Jones says, “Yes, the wording and communication style is remarkable. I never had such a communication style in my whole career, but anyway, it is in our favor. With this I can now set up a great case that will pay you some good compensation, my dear.” Avoka smiles.
Jones continues, “And I had lunch with Martine, Ms. Fantasia, today. It’s a quite delicate matter! There’s so much more behind, about what they really, do, there. The three personnel women use this place to import their girls. They do a whole side business in the entertainment industry here and there are so many high figures involved. This is going to be a blast. I have a copy of the video here. Do you have strong nerves? Maybe you can identify your team leader and his manager?” Jones offers a dirty smile.
“Maybe you should have a drink first, a gin and tonic?” Avoka agrees.
Jones says, “Maybe we’ll wait for Ian. I told him about the video and he suggested he’d come over. I think he’ll be here in a few minutes.” Avoka goes for a second gin and tonic.
Ian has arrived meanwhile and they are watching the video from the product launch orgie, and this is too ridiculous. The whole management is naked, dressed with speakers only, everyone with his latest personal gadget, group sex, whips, guns and other things out of everyone’s imagination. Ms. Cooper, the team leader’s Manager and her “Lady”, the head of personal, are bound on a wheel giving commands for their sex toy treatments. The scene is so hilarious Avoka can’t help to burst into laughter. But the video actually, delivers all they need; they even confess their figure manipulation and much more.
Jones cheers to Avoka and Ian, “Avoka, you really keep me busy. This case is going into history. You should reserve the book rights for this if this is something you want to consider.”
Avoka says, “Oh, great idea, but you know I’m more in the tourist attraction business at the moment, so maybe we could make it a musical play.”
Ian shakes his head. “This is so over the top–who would have thought that of this company.”
He adds, “Actually, we have the big game soon, and our Manager was asking for a good campaign. Avoka, have you talked about that?”
Avoka says, “Yes, we are working on that.”
Ian is satisfied. “Well, I see we are all highly busy right now. Things are going well–how I love it.”
Jones agrees, “Yes, things are moving forward here, quickly. Who could have imagined? The girl drives it.”
For tonight Avoka had a meeting with one of the lawyers for discussing the Cork case as well as how to deal with this current company. Avoka was sure they would let her fail.
At eight pm they met at the Shelbournes. Ian would join them. So far Jones the lawyer had no good news. During the dinner, he was explaining for the Fruit of the Loom company that their chances would be almost zero to win a case, as what they could hold against them was not enough. By law, they were covered with all their strange menu policies and for the bullying, Avoka would have needed to file immediately. They offered some kind of ombudsman with whom to make that claim in writing; they have a process for it. In addition, the other guys seemed to have gotten cold feet so they did not want to sign the papers and speak up.
Jones explained, “They probably will rather turn around and talk against you when we start a file. I’m really sorry, Avoka. But with this current case we have to wait; what we have so far is good. The trainer did not stick to the agreed reviews. So, we will see what they do on your exam result and then sue them.”
Ian added, “It’s so ridiculous that there is nothing we can do against this Fruit of the Loom when it is so obvious that those figures are fake.”
Jones said, “That’s true but we have no evidence, as long as we don’t have a person as a witness, and we don’t.”
Avoka said, “No, and they all stick together. They are all so afraid of losing their jobs; that’s how they can play that way.”
Jones agrees. “Well, sorry, I wish I could do more on that, but you know what guys, this evening is done; why don’t we go over to 37 Dawson Street and have a drink? I think that could help us all now.”
Ian said, “Yes, that’s a good idea. Let’s go.”
The three move on to one of the town’s best cocktail bars. They enter 37 Dawson’s and take a seat in the dark leather chairs behind the bar. Ian opens the bottle of Champagne.
“We can’t celebrate a case against Fruit of the Loom but we can celebrate the first won pitch of my girlfriend and her new office rooms on lower Baggot Street.”
He hands over the full champagne glass to Avoka. Jones says, “Congrats, Avoka, this sounds good, and for your present company case I will get you a nice sum that will pay your rent for the year. Cheers.”
They toast and Ian sits down again when suddenly the door opens and an elegant woman all dressed in black in a mix between black leather boots and a tight corset is coming in–a beautiful woman, but actually, unusually dressed. Walking along the floor to the bar, she looks over to Jones and winks.
Jones says, “Oh Ms. Fantasia, is it already that late? How time passes. I’m sure you know her, Ian; she has her entertainment business, the most well-known establishment here in town.”
Avoka looks at Ian with a gaze in her eyes, wondering, “Please don’t tell me you have been there.”
Ian flashes a smile. “No, I haven’t met her in person, but yes, of course, I have heard about her; who hasn’t?” Ms Fantasia comes over to the table while overhearing the conversation of the three from a distance.
“Who actually hasn’t? Jones, I’m pleased to meet you. How are you?”
Jones replies, “Oh Martine, a pleasure to meet you. What brings you here at this time? Isn’t this when you are usually busy at work?”
Martine, with a slightly arrogant smile, says, “Well, yes, Jones, that’s right but I actually needed a break from that asshole I just had in–you won’t imagine; this is one of our clients that exhausts me with his ideas. You know, one of those creative heads down from the Fruit of the Loom company.”
She pauses. “Well, after a two-hour whip trip I need a break and a good drink.” She’s sipping on a vodka lemon. Jones flashes a smile.
“A creative head from the Fruit of the Loom company, really? Yes, I can imagine they have fantasies to live. We were just talking about them. Don’t you want to have a seat?”
Martine joins the three. “Oh, you were talking about the Fruit of the Loom heads? You know them and their creativity?” They all agree and everyone gets the same thoughts that Ms. Fantasia might have some interesting stories to tell. Martine says, “Well, you won’t believe how crazy these guys are. They sometimes come over and have their private celebrations–you won’t imagine when they had their latest product launch what kind of sex orgy they had. A business party dress code: Eva costume and one of their latest gadgets, and my girls. I have this thing on video. It’s this whole personnel team, including the woman–you know her, the leader of that customer center? She’s actually involved in the girls’ business from one of the entertainment places, but not mine.”
Jones smiles, “Wow, you got that orgy on video? But it wasn’t a live stream, was it?” Martine says, “Of course not, but I got it. You never know, that’s why.”
Jones says, “Actually, we had an issue with some guys from that company and I wonder if you might help us.” Martine replies, “So let’s see, if you let me know more in detail what’s it about then I can see if I can do something for you. I have to go now; call me tomorrow and I’m sure we can work something out that helps you.” Jones agrees.
Ian can’t believe it. “Is this true? The evening looked like we had lost this thing and there comes Ms. Fantasia and presents the key to us like that?”
They all get up, making their way to the door. Jones says, “Yes Ian, that’s how it seems; sometimes you simply have to let go and the right thing comes your way. Avoka, seems like your lucky day today!”
Avoka is speechless. This Martine, Ms. Fantasia, seems to know all the secrets of the Fruit of the Loom people and is willing to help them.
Jones says, “So Avoka, leave it to me. I think I will file a case that will keep you satisfied. And let me know if you need any help on your new businesses.”
Old colleagues, new deals and examen day
The next morning Avoka is on fire. Early in the morning, she contacts Tim…
Avoka was just happy to leave at five. She had an appointment with a real estate agent and Ian for viewing some rooms she could use as an office for their promotion company on Upper Baggot Street, close to Stephen’s Green park. She was excited and her expectation got topped; the space was perfect and the price was absolutely in her budget, so she agreed to the letting.
For making that evening even more perfect, she and Ian had dinner at Hugo’s vine bar opposite the road. Avoka was happily smiling, looking with big blue eyes into Ian’s eyes, cheering their champagne glasses, then Ian gave her a long kiss. He was proud of how she handled the stress at her workplace, holding through and playing their fucking show instead of just quitting and making all these arrangements and by now she already had organized two events and two major companies as customers with well-paid contracts, including his club and the Irish Tourist office and a six-figure contract volume. He was impressed.
Avoka looked over to the door, still with the sign ‘for rent,’ then said, “Oh, this beautiful place becoming my new office? I can’t believe it! You can’t imagine how the work atmosphere is with these guys when this guy totally ignores your skills like you wouldn’t be capable of anything and then seeing what idiots they actually do give the jobs to.”
Ian nodded and replied, “Always know that the same amount as some people might hate you for something, there are always people who love you just as much for exactly that. You’re a smart, ambitious woman.”
With a smile on his face, he pulled out a little light blue box with golden letters written on it and smiled at her and handed over the little box. Avoka looked at him, saying, “No! That’s for me?”
Ian smiled and nodded. “Yes, of course, it’s for you, or do you think I give those boxes to the waiter or any other woman here in this bar?”
Avoka, smiling, opened the box. A beautiful, golden ring with a heart symbol sparked her eyes and she asked, “Seriously?”
Ian answered, “It’s actually an Irish tradition. It’s a Claddagh ring.” He continued, “It is typically passed down from mother to daughter or grandmother to granddaughter. The ring represents love, friendship, and loyalty. Actually my mom gave this one to me for you. I asked her for it. And the tradition is that usually single ladies wear the ring on their right hand with the point of the heart facing the fingertip. When in a relationship, the ring is flipped around so that the point faces the wrist, symbolizing that her heart has been captured. And when the woman becomes engaged, the ring is moved over to her left hand, with the point of the heart facing the fingertips. The ring is flipped around at the wedding.”
Avoka gazed with wide-open eyes at Ian and again at the ring. “You are crazy!”
Ian said, “You don’t have to say anything yet. I just want you to be my girlfriend. So, if you feel the same about me and want to show that your heart is captured, you can wear it. Avoka kissed him and Ian put the Claddagh ring on her right hand with the point facing the wrist.
Ian added, “There is nothing to commit to. Don’t be scared; I just want to say I love you and be with you. I love spending time with you and I hope you feel the same about me?”
Avoka smiling, laughing, a tear running down her cheek, not for sadness of course, but for happiness. She couldn’t believe that he could be so emotional but she loved to hear that for him this wasn’t just a fling as she feared in the beginning. And she replied, “Yes, I do love spending time with you, and love how you said that. Yes, let’s see how this summer goes and when it’s all a bit settled we will make plans.”
She bent over, kissing his lips, then whispering in his ears, “I love you so much.” Ian replied, “I love you, too.” Both finish the champagne and slowly walk out the bar, making their way back to Ian’s house.
Avoka woke up half-sleeping, walking into the kitchen to get her first cup of coffee ready, and Ian’s, of course. While walking back through the living room she stared out the huge window looking over the bright blue ocean, with the sun slowly rising-up. The view is amazing. She is breathless when suddenly Ian is standing behind her pulling his arms around, kissing her cheek and then nipping from her coffee. Both enjoy the stunning scenery in the moment.
Time rushes and Avoka disappears in the bathroom, hurrying up. From Ian’s place, it takes a good half hour to get to her office. Ian relaxes in the kitchen, preparing some toast. Ten minutes later Avoka comes out dressed up, her hair still in this sexy wake-up look. Ian smiles at her, offering some toast with honey. Avoka asked, “Toast with honey and you are up this early in the morning, seriously?”
Ian said, “Of course, you need some sugar for your nerves to start the day and be strong enough for your workplace.” Avoka laughed.
“Oh yes, sugar and honey–you are the real nutrition expert.” They both laugh. Ian’s training starts at 11:00 so he has no hassle and takes his whole breakfast to the sofa, switching on his television.
Avoka grabs her bag and keys, giving Ian a quick snuggle, then walks out the door. Ian was so kind suggesting Avoka could take one of his cars; she had the free choice and, no, to avoid any more trouble at work for showing off or any tricking actions from her colleagues, she did not choose his red Ferrari but his Qushqai.
Officially her work started at nine o’clock. She walked downstairs to the main kitchen, where the main contractor YeahBoom is preparing pancakes once a week and some guys have offered her to come upstairs. So Avoka takes her second breakfast to the fifth floor and still has an hour before starting.
As the start and end times are strictly controlled by her Team-leader, Cavern, this had been an issue, too, only two weeks ago, when Avoka had started a conversation about a feedback that had been sent per e-mail shortly before her work day had ended. Cavern had finished the conversation with the words, “Your shift is over; you go home, now.” Which of course was another trouble issue Avoka had going on with the Personnel Manager in India, as she didn’t see that as an appropriate communication style. But of course, she had played it down. Now, to avoid any misunderstanding why she might start an hour earlier without prior notice and confirmation from her all-important Team-leader Cavern, she takes a seat in the coffee area and works through her private e-mails.
The Amsterdam guy had confirmed the order for the Ireland tourist tour bikes. Many more organizations have agreed to participate in the E-Bike Tour. There was the Guinness Storehouse, the National Gallery, the Dublin Zoo, a Salsa Dance School, the Trinity Science Department, and Witherspoon’s in Dun Laoghaire. All those companies had agreed so she could create two or three different tours for Dublin, one ending in the Jameson Distillery, one including a Salsa night, and one that would explore the greater side of Dublin, going down to Dalkey, including a lunch at Witherspoon and with a visit to the Stadium.
Paul Ian’s manager had also replied and agreed to Avoka’s promotion ideas. They had inquired with the five major PR agencies in Dublin but the final pitch would go to her. Avoka looked up outside the huge window looking over to the Arriva Stadium. She felt so proud having won that pitch.
37 Dawson Street
For tonight Avoka had a meeting with one of the lawyers for discussing the Cork case as well as how to deal with this current company. Avoka was sure they would let her fail….
Avoka walks over to her place, starting the system. Her new colleagues, who had had the training for the last two weeks and who had badly complained on Friday about how crap it was, were just coming out of another question and answer game session, wondering about an answer and asking Avoka what she thought was right, so Avoka answered B. It is about the ranking which display would be first. The two reply, “Yes that’s what we thought too, but the guy said it was A.” After fifteen minutes asking around, including the team-leader and the guys in India, it turns out for the right answer to be B and this really was the basis of the business. One of the new guys shakes his head. “You really have to scarf this down, don’t you!” Cavern comes over, explaining that the guy made a mistake and this could happen; it wasn’t his fault, so now this issue was solved and he could not be responsible for the mistake because the guy is no official trainer so he was just trying to help. The two nod. Sure, it was solved but now the two had also had a taste of the so professional training and how they would deal with issues. But the two just went on and started talking about their favorite German politicians and Gregor Gisi was such a hero and how many people liked him on YouTube that he added, “Die Linke is voll geil,” which means something like the left wings are so genius.”
Avoka stared in the air, thinking, “And this you have to scarf down, too.” She looks at the guys and again she cannot understand that the recruiting person chose them and her for doing the same job. What should be the common thing they had that was necessary for doing the job except speaking German?
And the day went on. Someone needed to do some translation. So now the new super genius from the German team was asked to look over the English/German translation that the Italian girl had translated. Of course, there was no better head for doing the translation than by a non-native speaking person first and then to be checked by a native speaker, but why not. Doing the English/German translation seemed to be her new job. That was what she originally had been enrolled for as a Translator. Avoka wondered why she then had been in the technical training with her for the technical customer support role, but anyway.
By eleven thirty the super-genius arrived, the guy who had been in the German team for the last year and the only one who was still there. Acutally, all other guys had quit so far. Avoka went down with him for a fag; he would explain her issue, how to handle it, asking questions and answers to be prepared for the exam as Avoka’s exam was now scheduled for next week.
While walking around in the car park Josh told her that the Italian girl had her exam two weeks ago but had failed and yes, she now would do the translations. Avoka looked in the air but somehow wasn’t really impressed. Whatever these people were looking for in employees, she could not really figure out. The only person to have a normal conversation with was Josh, and he was the only one who would have real answers and he was honest to Avoka about what it was about how to answer those customer queries to keep the customers satisfied without making much effort. Josh also told her he was working on another project for an online gaming thing and finally had his license.
In the afternoon, Cavern got up from his desk and in his typical manner he looked around over his team’s heads. “Guys, we are having a meeting. Come in the room, please.” This looked so silly; an e-mail would have done, too, instead of making this announcement in that way, but anyway. Everyone got up into the conference room.
Cavern started his presentation, stated some basic rules like we help each other, the old staff helps the new staff and we don’t say the word ‘impossible’ and the presentation went on in that style. Again, Avoka was wondering if this was for a kindergarten group, as this kind, of ‘instructions’ she had last heard in the kindergarten at age five, as far as she remembered. Cavern went on with future plans, how they were growing and then he repeated his phrase five times: “we will take over this floor…” that seemed to be his main mission. There was also the goal that the e-mails had to be handled in a more efficient way and that a case should be dealt with in two e-mails and that more e-mail exchange was not acceptable. The Spanish guy argued that this would be part of his good customer statistics that he made his customers feel good about investigating his cases really, profoundly and keeping them updated. Cavern simply ignored the Spanish guy’s arguments; it did not interest him at all what was needed to keep the customer statistics up. The meeting was finished and everyone was shaking their heads.
Shortly before Avoka wanted to leave she got an e-mail with her instructions for the exam and again this was written in a way that she had training sessions to improve her understanding. Avoka had just read the first line and already run mad about the way this was written and sent to other people. Immediately Cavern was standing next to her. “Avoka, what’s your problem? In the room, please.” This was really, too much, she had enough of that communication style and she just grinned into Cavern’s face.
“I find that communication style unprofessional and it’s not the way I want people to talk to me and certainly not when other people are involved.” Cavern could not understand her concerns. Of course, not. For him this was a normal communication style; for Avoka it sounded like fifth class. But anyway. Cavern again claimed he was the boss. So, well.
Avoka was just happy to leave. She went straight to the river bar, where she was having her Monday night salsa class. The building was showing the colorful flag supporting the actual vote for gay couples to be allowed to get married. It looked cool and inside was a great atmosphere. A live band was playing and another girl was already sitting there. She had just ordered a beer and chicken. Avoka joined and ordered a Caesar salad and glass of prosecco.
At eight o’clock the class began and the place was crowded. They started with a warm-up similar to a Zumba style, all lined up in three rows together following two guys who performed steps, turns and sexy moves to hot Latin music. Then they split up the class into beginners and improvers. Avoka’s friend stepped up to the improver class this time and they all had a blast. They took two hours including the Kizomba class, the erotic dance style that is danced really close together. Avoka just wished her dance partner could be Ian; honestly, she didn’t like it much dancing so closely with that kind of guy, whereas it was a mixed group from Irish, Latin like Spain, Portuguese, Brazil to Eastern block-countries like Poland.
Avoka was happy when the class was over. Her friend came over and they left the club. Avoka unlocked her bike, and the salsa dance teacher was standing at the door, commenting to the two, “You did great, girls, see you next week.”
The two winked over to him, shouting, “Yeah, see you, it was a great class. Thank you.”
The Spanish girl agreed with Avoka about the Kizomba dance style but she felt great after the dancing whereas she had to face much trouble at her workplace with some guys who tried their best to get her out of the job as a project manager, suggesting to Avoka, “Oh, yes the dancing was great; all we need to do is dance more salsa and life feels much better.” Avoka laughed, agreed, and drove off O’Connell Bridge.
A new morning but the same shit continued in the office. The first e-mail she read was from Cavern in one of his professional written styles saying, “She has signed it.” This was about the additional paper they had asked Avoka to sign stating that if she wouldn’t pass the test, her contract could be terminated as consequence. As this was also written in the regular contract that they keep reviewing the job and passing the tests, signing these paper, was unnecessary; they wouldn’t claim anything different that had not already been signed.
Avoka knew this game already from her time with the Fruit of the Loom company. This was a typical method here to get rid of uncomfortable employees. One of the lawyers she had contacted had already explained this process to her. Of course, they never intended her to pass the exam, that was for sure.
At 10 o’clock Cavern announced a meeting. Ten people walked into one of the meeting rooms that looked more like a glass cell and was for video conferences with a maximum of 6 people. One of the Spanish guys started playing with the video camera, showing each of the colleagues from their least fortunate side. Everyone laughed, then Cavern entered the room asking Mario to shut the door – of course this was certainly a top-secret meeting as we shared the whole food with another team of 10 people who worked on some apps and who had flagged their territory with a pirate flag. He asked the Spanish guy to stop playing with the video camera and then announced his news of the day: “Josh has resigned, business as usual. Okay, guys you can go back to work now.”
Avoka thought, Oh, my God, he was the only guy to talk to and the only one who had some kind of know-how, but okay, for her the days were counted anyway. Back on her desk, Avoka commented: “Well, there’s no place to get old here.”
One of the German guys replied, “Maybe not old but gray, when I see the applications and policies here, one would not think this is that high-tech giant; the hard- and software they use is rather antique.”
Avoka smiled towards him. “Agreed. Well, that’s even more a reason not to get old here.”
Their other German colleague who was going through his e-mails commented, “Oh, man, our great French project manager didn’t approve our order, the modern ergonomic keyboards, and no second screen.”
Alex replied, “No? Yeah, that’s what I thought anyway when I see how they work here.”
Bill shouted, “I can’t work on just one screen and certainly not this one.”
Alex said, “Hey, calm down, we just do that job here and once everything is settled we bring our own shit and do our programming! That’s easy here and with the coffee stuff, snacks and times it’s chill here compared to those other call centers that I know you won’t have anywhere that kind of freedom.”
Avoka asked, “No, do you know more call centers here?”
Alex replied, “Yes, and I can tell you, you don’t want to know how they work.”
Avoka said, “Well, I heard about that.”
Alex turned to Bill. “Let’s see, we take the exam tomorrow.”
Bill said, “I do that with my left hand. It’s easy stuff, man. I want to program.”
Then turning to Avoka, he said, “Why didn’t they already schedule you? You always know all the answers.”
Avoka replied, “Well, no matter what answer I give they evaluate it as wrong; here again, I got yesterday’s evaluation. Josh had agreed it was everything right, but this Rajet has given me just moderate. I’m going to ask him later on what was wrong on those answers.”
Bill laughed, “Oh, so no matter what answer you’re giving it’s the wrong one. I already realized that; what do they have against you?”
Avoka replied, “Actually, I don’t know; it all started with this Mario guy. In the beginning, he was like ‘Oh, you did Java programming, did you?’
And I answered yes, and since that moment he comments on what I say with correct or not correct, just like he’s jeopardizing the answers.”
Bill said, “Yes, because you always talk so much.”
Avoka shrugged. “Sure, I talk so much.”
Bill added, “Yes, I mean that in another way. I realized that, too, like Cavern was telling us we have to work in shifts–one has to come in early, the other late and then switch. But I told him, I don’t want to work late, then I have nothing from the day and don’t see my girlfriend and he got totally pissed.”
Avoka asked, “Really? I thought you were his favorite, that he would be rather understanding for you.”
Bill said, “Yes, that’s what I thought, too, but you have to be careful; he plays friendly but actually he isn’t.”
Avoka agreed, “Yes, it seems so. But I don’t understand why they play this whole game; if they don’t want me to work here, they could just fire me. It’s all in probation period; there was no need for this game.”
Alex added, “Yeah, that’s the way they play it; they will prove you that you couldn’t do the job; they won’t confess any other issues–that’s why they turn it all that way. And as we all need this job here, no one will help you with this; they are all going to shut up, as they depend on their jobs. I experienced that in a previous place, too–the minute you say something they play against you and you have no chance.”
Avoka agreed, “Yes, maybe I should give me my own leave paper from this institution.”
Bill said, “You should have just shut up, but you had to say something!”
Avoka said, “Thanks, I’m looking forward to my Rajet session; this is the most torture of it all. One hour of his Indian accent straight in your ear, and he doesn’t let me say a thing. He talks continuously. Except for those five questions yesterday he was talking non-stop. But anyway.” She turned toward the two.
“Good luck with your exam today!” Avoka’s training session started right after lunch. Rajet appeared on the screen and Avoka asked,
“Why did you rate me with moderate on those questions? I gave all the right answers!”
Rajet answered, “Yes, okay, I won’t evaluate you anymore.”
Avoka just replied, “Okay!” He gave no further explanation but actually, this was a part written in the additional papers that she would get a written evaluation from each session so that she could get an idea what to work on. But it was senseless to get into any further discussion with this guy. The next hour he would tell her anything about advanced video implementation which was an extra exam the ones who had been here for a year now had just passed. Absolutely, irrelevant for her examination, and she knew he did that extra. On another topic about advanced traffic shaping, he told her that was very important to know about the Control Manager. She was just happy that the hour was over, Rajet immediately wrote an e-mail he would not send an evaluation. Avoka decided to say nothing and just pass it on to her lawyer; she was tired of any discussion with these Indian guys.
Bill looked at Avoka. “What bullshit are you talking about? The Control Manager? This is stuff no one will ask you about; concentrate on the relevant stuff, girl!”
Avoka replied, “That’s the bullshit he told me. I should go through this; this was relevant.”
Bill was just shaking his head. Alex was in his examination; after an hour, he came back to the desk relieved–he had passed. Now it was Bill’s turn, and he actually came out twenty minutes later complaining, “This is such bullshit–what questions they asked! I didn’t understand that Indian bitch. They asked me questions even you wouldn’t know and this French guy just laughed and immediately left. This asshole–he is so arrogant.”
Cavern came to Bill’s desk saying he shouldn’t worry, he was scheduled again for tomorrow when he didn’t understand the Indian girl that was total understandable and he shouldn’t worry. Everyone knew this had nothing to do with the Indian girl, but anyway, they wanted him to pass, so the next day he passed.
And immediately he walked around, telling everyone he easily managed the test and how great he was, how his previous result wasn’t that bad; he’d almost had beaten Alex. Alex looked up, rolling his eyes, then agreeing. “Yes, of course, your result wasn’t that bad.” Bill kept walking around the floor letting out his inner chimp.
Avoka still hadn’t received any dates for her examination and meanwhile Cavern totally ignored her. She wasn’t involved in anything at all, even when it was about translations; that was done by the Italian girl who wasn’t a native German speaker but still he preferred her doing the translations. Avoka only held a degree in Media communication but anyway, who cared? She had her regular training session with the Indian guy, who again was talking for an hour, this time talking about third-party ad handling. Avoka just stared into the screen, nodding her head, once in a while. Again, she was just listening for an hour while nothing new was being said, once in a while smiling into the screen without saying a single word for the hole hour.
She only was happy when the session was over. She was just wondering, asking herself why she had to do that, why didn’t she just quit. But her lawyer had asked her to stay and let them fire her and foremost to get through the exam to get more evidence of their unfair marking. She spent her lunch break at the Epic Bar, which was really a cool place for a lunch break, a pub with cool music, a terrace and screen outside to watch sport plays. At the wall was written in big letters, WORK HARD, PLAY HARD. So, that reminded her to stay.
She quickly answered some e-mails from the Amsterdam guy; he would come over on Friday, so they had the weekend to plan for their promotion strategy for the E-Bikes. The Irish tourist office had also further inquiries with upcoming events and Avoka was also in discussion with them for planning tourist sightseeing tours on E-bikes throughout Dublin. She arranged a meeting for Friday afternoon. She also received the first positive feedback from the Jameson Bar and a restaurant who both were interested in participating as tourist attractions in the E-bike Dublin tours in form of a co-operation. Avoka was really excited so there was a lot of work to do.
She also had received a message from Hunt. A week before he had written a message stating how much he would have liked to be there to explore Dublin, as it really seemed to be a great place which he would like to visit, but now he had sent a message like this was totally out of reach. Avoka didn’t get it but she was tired of this Whatsapp-message-only kind of conversation with a guy she had met only once. Obviously, he wasn’t interested to meet in real life for whatever reason but Avoka didn’t like the exchange with a guy she only knew that vaguely. She sent a picture with a kiss saying locked, kiss to unlock and he never replied to that message; he was just ghosting her now. So, it was.
She went back to work, reading through the ad management, which was interesting anyway. Bill started his first tickets answering customer queries reading aloud the client’s question then asking, “What the fuck is an ad medium?”
Avoka rolling her eyes, thinking, that question wasn’t serious, was it? She badly bit her tongue; no, she would not say anything to this. Those were the banners/ad spaces they sold and made a billion-dollar business but anyway. Bill was definitely the ad hero, and the kind of guy they were looking for at this workplace.
Again, Avoka wished she could just walk out the door and never come back. There was another short meeting announced. The ten guys again all walked in the glass room that was designed for a maximum of six people. Cavern proudly presented the two new team members as having passed their exams and now supporting effectively the team, then announced the plan for his absence from next Wednesday while he would be on his trip to India visiting the headquarters, which included everyone but Avoka, of course. Late afternoon Avoka received her schedule for her exams, which were set for Thursday the following week.
Dinner at Hugo’s
Avoka was just happy to leave at five. She had an appointment with a real estate agent and Ian for viewing some rooms she could use as an office for their promotion company on Upper Baggot Street, close to Stephen’s Green park. She was excited and her expectation got topped;
The next morning Avoka takes her bike that she had picked up the week before in the city store, a second-hand bike. She gets ready and opens the door, looking down into the big brown eyes of a young pony that is standing in front of her door. She thinks aloud, “What is this?” Somehow the pony must have been running away as there was a horse farm next to the huge park. Actually, the little pony got frightened when Avoka came with her bike and turned around.
Avoka gets on the bike and now the pony is running in front of her on the street. Of course, the traffic lights and any signs are of no interest to the pony, but it keeps the lanes quite well. At some point, the pony stops and she can get hold of it near the supermarket. Some people know the owners, giving them a call and taking care of it so Avoka can continue her trip to her workplace.
She passed the Busaras, the main bus station and toward the big corner suddenly her bike locks. The chain has dropped and Avoka is in the middle of a double lane street and a truck is moving toward her. She quickly gets off the bike, which is still locked; the wheel doesn’t spin. She quickly grabs the bike, running off the street as the truck is coming closer and closer. The truck rushes by. Safe at the boardwalk, Avoka tries to get the chain on again, but it seems hopeless. Her hands, meanwhile, are total black from the chain’s oil. She decides to leave the bike at the nearby bus stop and then walk the rest of the route. Of course, she is more than late and that is absolute not the impression she wanted to give. But taking a cab would cost too much and she thought it was not worth it, the way they acted on her, trying to get rid of her anyway.
At ten she arrived, walking in with her deep black hands, her colleagues, including the two new German guys, staring at her and shaking their heads like how could she do that, allowing her to come in late and then showing up with black hands.
She just laughs, passing the guys, her team leader looking at her. Avoka, while passing him and walking towards the toilet, lifts up her hands, hollering in a loud voice, “The bike chain dropped. I’m so sorry for the delay, but I could not call in.” Flashing her hands, covered with big oil bits, toward the team-leader, she adds, “I’m sure you understand.”
A bright smile rises on the team-leader’s face. The delay seemed to amuse him. Of course, this was playing into his hands, and seeing her with black hands was an extra, too. Okay, Avoka’s ‘business outfit’ is like John Fairchild says: “Style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma.” She is dressed in an expensive silk business blouse, a bright pink rain jacket which Avoka puts on for not getting overlooked on the bike in the morning traffic, together with deep black oily hands and her long blond hair–one must confess this really looks kind of funny.
She washes the oil off and goes over to get a coffee in the well-equipped coffee corner, the best part in this office, giving her a little Starbucks feeling. The main company, the Internet guru, really is exceptional on that; there is everything from fresh fruits, muesli, cornflakes, muffins, fresh sandwiches, pancakes, fruit juices, sweets and coffee types including comfortable seating along the corridor.
Cavern comes over to Avoka. “Oh, I see you said your bike chain dropped?” He can’t hide his smile and continues, “There is actually a station in this area where they repair bikes.”
Avoka replies, “Thanks, Cavern, but I left the bike at the bus stop. I will bring it to the shop where I bought it. They know best probably; it’s halfway, anyway.”
Cavern says, “Yes, just for you to know they have a place to fix it, in case it happens again.”
He adds, “For the delay, I will not make a note.”
Avoka again apologizes and thanks him for making no official note, which of course was not necessary as they had already set their plan to make her fail the exam results and then kick her.
Avoka walks over to her place, starting the system. Her new colleagues, who had had the training for the last two weeks and who had badly complained on Friday about how crap it was….
Tonight, she couldn’t care less; she was ready, set to party and joined Harry, whose daughter and boyfriend had meanwhile arrived and who were already dancing on the dance floor. The music was playing and she felt like love was in the air. Harry, looking at Avoka, had seen her smile on her face while she was texting, was now jeering at her. “Who was it, the sexy ghost lover or the hot rugby player?”
Avoka looked up with a grin. “Both.”
Harry said, “Well, what a great combination; maybe I should also get a ghost dancer for the nights my girlfriend is off.”
Avoka giggled, “Well, the ghost is not always appearing at exact the moment you wish.”
Harry replied, “Oh, damn, if they both appear at the same time, that’s trouble, of course.”
Avoka said, “Well, with a Whatsapp ghost it’s good to handle.”
They all laughed out loud. Avoka said, “Maybe I should have another drink; let’s see who else appears then.”
She wasn’t finished with her sentence and this drunk girl from the Fruit of the Loom “farm”, the one Avoka once had worked with on the team, is standing right in front of her. “What are you doing here? I thought you were gone.”
Avoka said, “Does it look like I’m gone? Maybe you are seeing a ghost “buh”. Or are you so drunk that you don’t really know who is standing in front of you.”
A voice behind the girl appeared. “Oh, my God!” Avoka was thinking, the other asshole, the same duo, just like last night’s party. Would they stay here? That would ruin the whole night. But he was shouting after the drunk girl that she should come now, they had to go to another party. The drunk girl actually tried to make her way to the shouting guy but somehow missing the door, she walked the wrong way. The exit was on the other side or was she thinking she could walk through a glass wall? Both were already on an alcohol level that made it damn hard to understand what they were saying, and one was wondering how they even could still stand or walk. But Avoka just felt lucky that they both made a U-turn and found their way through the crowd and out of the bar. She was feeling relieved when in a blink of her eye, at the same moment, someone entered the door–someone who looked quite familiar. This someone, looking damn good, was moving toward her; it was Ian.
Avoka was surprised; that was the last thing she had expected, him coming here to Cork. He walked through the crowd then stopped in front of her with a cheeky smile. She smiled at him, looking into his eyes, asking, “Did you get lost on the way from London to Dublin?”
He laughed. “I needed an emergency landing, well, I heard there was a party in Cork tonight with some special guests which could be worthwhile.”
Avoka winked. “Oh, something could be worthwhile, hey?”
He smiled. “Yes, something very worthwhile, and I just couldn’t resist taking that Cork flight.”
He opened his arms and wrapped them around her shoulders, giving her a long kiss. It was some time ago she had last been together with him but there was no better place to be right now than in his arms. Her hands around his neck, she is whispering, “I see, yes, this could be something very worthwhile.” And they kiss again in the middle of the dance floor. The music is playing Wicked Wonderland.
A half hour later they all sit at the river window, having a good time, drinking champagne, and whisky, sharing old stories and fresh ideas how Avoka can overcome her job dilemma.
Harry is creating ideas how they also can fight back the Fruit of the Loom giant who had played this sneaky game on her by pretending her figures weren’t good enough and making her sign this additional paper and pressuring her with legal consequences that could lead to dismissal.
Always with this “could” and “we’ll give you another chance” thing. But Harry already knew how they would just play with those statistical figures, as he had seen and experienced it himself how quick and easy they were about dispersing the figures just as it suited them and how the manager would make manual adjustments. So, neither of those employees who were shown how bad their results were nor the employees who always had the continuously consistent 90% rate over months were reliable. Also, they were using more than two different systems that always showed huge discrepancies in their metrics.
He was quite good friends, or kind of, with one of the Managers, who sometimes told him on that after-work drinks in the Pub what jobs he had to do, so he knew how they manipulated things. Harry had heard a lot and he knew how unfairly this was played and that they had done that just to have the possibility to put pressure on Avoka whenever they needed to. Harry was saying, “If there was anything about the job you do that would be really bad or not good enough, you were quicker gone than you came. They employ almost 150 new people every month. Especially while you are on probation period there wasn’t any need to keep someone if the person wouldn’t do a good job. They love doing this; they played the same on a guy in my team and this went on and on they would always make him sign some additional paper to give themselves the opportunity of dismissal, mostly for having the freedom to put pressure on the people whenever they liked to or to have a ‘buh-man’ whenever they need one.”
On one side Harry liked working for that giant, as he was interested in their whole business construct, but the way they played those games on employees was also against his work ethics and he assured Avoka he would help her to fight back. Avoka had seen a lawyer but she had told her that there were not many chances, to prove that the figures had been manipulated. So Avoka simply had looked for another job and had than quit, but was again in the same situation in the new company who had a similar work style. Harry gave in. “Yes, I know that they love playing this on you; you are too much for them.”They all laughed.
Most people said exactly the contrary and would say, “Yeah, there must be something that you do that annoys them that they all act that way.”
But Harry added, “Yes, in my company in Germany I had experienced the same thing. There was one girl, more that kind of beauty if you know what I mean, keen, quiet, resourceful, who really brought in good ideas. One would think that she would be popular with those others and that this would improve the work productivity and effectiveness. But they all tried to put her down, spreading lies, both men and woman—in, particular one, who really was good and you would think he is not in need of acting like that. But wrong. He saw her as too much competition. And in your present job where you are, Avoka, with those young guys, especially with such a strong cultural macho background like Latin and Indian, you as a woman–you think they like that?”
Again, the whole corner table laughed. Harry’s daughter threw in. “Well, Honey, they are not against you, they are for themselves. So, you better fight for yourself, too.” She shows a bittersweet smile, flashing her white teeth, then adding, “We’ll find a way to turn that around. On both companies, we’ll turn that bullying into gold. My boyfriend’s father is a lawyer who works in a well-known law company who has dealt with those companies before. I’ll talk to him to make an appointment for you.”
Everyone supported this idea and they kept on making plans on how to fight those sneaky giants back. Harry agreed, “Yes, the best is their 8-minute-desk-absence-policy for the toilet!” Ian looked up questioningly. “Eight-minute-desk-absence-policy for the toilet?”
Harry nodded. “Yes, every employee has to put himself on a menu with a few options like available, unavailable, meeting, coaching, break and idle. And apart from anything that you are scheduled to, you are allowed 8 minutes of idle time a day. And if you need to go to the toilet in between you are allowed, to put it on idle but the maximum daily idle time is eight minutes.”
Harry’s daughter said, “Fantastic because the toilet is something that can be scheduled so well.” Ian bursts into laughter. “Seriously? And what happens if you’re over?”
Harry said, “Well, they have a set percentage of discrepancies on those figures but anything else counts as an incident. The same as if you are more than five minutes late–it will be reported and no matter what reason for, it counts as an incident, the same as being sick. And in general, if you have more than three incidents within six months you’re getting kicked out. Of course, they play with this policy; there are many who are sick all the time like Avoka’s team-leader who are far beyond three incidents and who are still there.”
Avoka agreed, “Yes, actually the time I used to work there, when I had moved to my flat, the neighbor girl had told me that before me a Spanish girl had lived in the flat and she had been kicked out of the Fruit of the Loom company because she had been late three times.” Avoka continued, “This was funny anyway as she said the Spanish girl now worked for Voxgo. This was the same company who had made me an offer and where I had been in March for three days but decided not to sign the contract because of the unprofessionalism of the team leader and organization. This company actually, had worked on the project I’m working on now, but their quality wasn’t good enough, so they took it away from them.”
Ian threw in, “And they gave it to that so professional Indian outsource company you are working with now?” He shook his head. “As if they do a better job on the project, seriously?”
Harry agreed and burst into laughter. “This is unbelievable, but quality has a different definition here. It is not like our understanding of delivering the best solution for the customer but for the company’s most benefit, of course.”
Ian nodded. “Ah, so solving the customer’s problem is not really asked for.”
Avoka said, “Exactly, just making him feel like you are understanding and bringing across how you can’t help him in a friendly way.” Harry said, “But it’s funny, Avoka, that with each company you end up with the same project and the competencies get worse and worse with those people.”
Avoka added, “And actually it’s not just the same project. I also meet the same people again, the Voxgo team-leader and some other girl I had met again at the Fruit of the Loom company they work there, too, now.”
Harry said, “No, seriously? It’s really hard to understand how they get so successful with that.”
Avoka said, “Yes, but it seems to work for them. The company stands as damn successful–at least it looks like it.”
Harry mused, “But if they build their business on the same figures like they manage the figures in the systems we work with, you can be sure that 90% from the one person compared to 90% with another are based on totally different grounds. Just like yesterday, one of the guys came back from a two-weeks holiday but had consistently a 90% rate on his stats. I wonder how he managed this with not answering a single chat–that’s impressive, isn’t it?” Everyone laughs.
Ian said, “Yes, who knows if those financial figures they put out are real and their brand value or maybe it’s just kind of overrated just like they did with the real estate bubble?” Harry agreed, “Well that would be a point but we’ll see. We must find a way to prove it.”
Ian said, “All right, I put my menu on idle time for the 8 minutes for now.” He laughs and stands up, walking to the toilet.
Harry said, “Well, yes, I think it’s time to put mine on unavailable.”
Avoka laughed, “Oh, I think that’s the one we’re not allowed to set.”
Harry said, “Oh, damn. So, what will this get me now, an incident?”
Avoka said, “Maybe.” Harry replied, “Anyway, I think we should count the incidents. I’m with you, Avoka. I will try to get some more people involved. If we go for suing them together we stand much better chances. What do you think?”
Avoka agreed. “Yes, that’s a good idea, I guess, and we can bring much more awareness to how these companies really work and who takes the profit out, including their mysterious tax strategies they use.”
Harry said, “Yes, but that’s another issue but we’ll keep an eye on it, too. I know they are running claims in the US, too.”
Ian returns to the table. “Hey guys, I have an idea for another point that’s certainly not on one of your company’s menus and would cause another incident.”
He’s flashing a smile towards Avoka. “Ah, and I guess it’s one worthwhile incident, isn’t it?”
Ian is nodding and Harry says, “Oh, I’m sure it’s one that’s never getting on the menu, and certainly not by law.”
Harry’s daughter says, “Well, well, but that’s the one I thought about already the last 30 minutes and I like that one! Let’s go!”
They all get up, pay at the bar’s till and leave the Electric. Harry takes a cap home. His daughter is spending the night with her boyfriend at his place and Ian and Avoka walk over to the Imperial hotel where Ian has booked a suite.
Avoka wakes up in the morning with sweet kisses on her face and Ian holding her tight, flashing his bright smile into her face, and they enjoy breakfast in bed. Two hours later they take some time to the Escape, the Hotel’s spa, having the pool all to themselves.
It’s an incredible atmosphere swimming those long lines. The pool is built in an old traditional Roman style with high marble columns. Ian is hanging at the pool’s edge; Avoka is swimming toward him. He wraps his arms around her, lifting her up and kisses her lips. Than they both sink into the water, skin on skin. Even when they are drowning it feels like they are becoming one and it feels like they are each other’s air. In this moment, she knows he must be the one.
Late that afternoon they take a stroll through the Crawford Gallery and then make their way back to Dublin. They arrive at about ten o’clock. Ian drops Avoka at her flat at Marlborough Road No 6.
Avoka is happy, feeling like she is on cloud number seven but coming down quickly when she opens the door. At the corridor stands a crowd of people, the two guys from the ground floor and three friends. They wink at Avoka, who walks over to them. One of the guys starts, “The girl from the front flat was screaming for help. When we asked, the boyfriend came out saying everything was okay.”
The couple in the front flat must have had a bitter fight and the guys were wondering what to do. Now it was quiet. One was suggesting to call the police but everyone was afraid the boyfriend would put it on them and might beat them off. So, they all decided when she screams again to go in and call the police.
Avoka was a bit shocked but then went upstairs. You never knew how they would react; the guy was from Tunisia and the girl she hadn’t seen before. She gets her bed ready and then a good night message from Hunt arrives. She sends a sleeping moon back, wishing sweet dreams.
Work hard, play hard
A bike trip to work
The next morning Avoka takes her bike that she had picked up the week before in the city store, a second-hand bike. She gets ready and opens the door, looking down into the big brown eyes of a young pony that is standing in front of her door…