An orange shirt. A bright orange shirt. That was my uniform. An actual, button up, long sleeves, orange shirt. With a blue Monster Ball logo stitched unto the right breast pocket. Yes, it even had a breast pocket. I had a feeling this wasn't made for a female to wear at all, but I couldn't complain. The pay was more or less enough to survive on, I had to report for work at eleven am, and got off at nine pm, with a two hour break in the middle. It kept me busy and out of the house, and didn't require a lot of interaction with people. Okay, well, maybe it did, but all I had to do is smile and nod and hand them what they wanted and I'd be left alone. Good enough.
I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, letting some loose strands fall out. Grabbing my phone and backpack, I walked out of my room, only to run back in to grab my employee card. Downstairs, I could hear Aidan making baby noises as he played with a couple of blocks in front of the T.V, my mom on the sofa watching some soap. The jiggle of my car keys made her turn around. "Lana, what in the world are you wearing?"
"My uniform, mom. For work, remember? I have to be there in half an hour." I mumbled, fidgeting in the hallway. Aidan looked in my direction as I spoke and clapped his hands. He was a cute kid. I should spend more time with him. He seemed to like me, even though he barely ever saw me. Maybe I could take him out sometime, if mom ever let him out of her sight.
"Alright honey, have fun! Come and give your brother a little kiss, would you? You hardly ever play with him!"
The woman seemed to have read my mind. I went over to Aidan on the carpet and bent to his level to give him a kiss on his little dark blonde head. He made some more baby noises, laughing. I smiled, pinched his cheeks, waved goodbye to my mom and left the house.
At the Monster Ball, I took my place behind the counter. Behind me were popcorn, nachos and hot dog machines, a fridge stocked with drinks, and a row of cabinets with bowling shoes of different sizes. The three-lane bowling alley at the rightmost side of the arcade was just beginning to light up, sounds of bowling balls going through the machine echoing in the almost silence. I had been briefed at how to handle my responsibilities, and it sounded pretty simple. Listen to what the customers want, tell them how much their bill is, take the money, give them what they want, and if there was any technical problem beyond my counter, I would divert them to Stanley, the technician.
Stanley The Techie was kind of cute, in a shy, geeky kind of way. He came up to counter as I was refilling the popcorn machines. "Hey, first day?"
I looked around, my hands still fumbling with the popcorn machine. "Yeah." I mumbled, forcing a smile. He might be cute, but I was never good with strangers. I didn't come here to make friends, and I didn't want him getting too comfortable.
"I'm Stanley, the technician. I'm sure you know that by now. Oh, be careful, that thing is hot!" his warning was just a second late, as I had already used my hand to open the lid. I yelped out a curse as I stuck the two burning fingers into my mouth, trying to soothe the pain. "Oh man, that's gotta hurt." He jumped over the counter and finished off my job at the popcorn machine, then got me a glass of ice. "Here, this should help."
I thanked him, pushing my fingers into the cup, internally cursing myself for being so stupid. My first day hadn't even officially started yet and I was already accident prone.
"I didn't catch your name." He said as he jumped back over the counter to the other side.
You didn't catch my name because I didn't tell you. "Lana. It's Lana." I replied, turning towards the door as it opened, revealing a group of girls, loud and giddy. Stanley gave me a "see you later" and vanished behind rows and rows of video games, leaving me to deal with the customers, who were now coming in steadily.
Five hours later, at around four pm, I took my lunch break, handing over my counter to my substitute. I gladly walked out of Monster Ball, away from the loud noise and smell of hot dogs and caramel popcorn mixed together. This wasn't going to be as easy a job as I had initially thought. The kids where whiny and demanding, the teenagers snobby and irritating. And whose idea was it to have a bowling alley in such a small space?! The sounds were deafening. I was sure I'd have a headache by the end of the day, and a pounding one at that.
My hand was on the handle of my car, my sweet, sweet car, which would provide me sweet solitude, when I heard my name being called. I cringed, turning around, knowing what to expect. Stanley was headed my way, a stupid grin on his face.
"Hey, cool ride!" he started, eyeing my car, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his baggy pants, his bright orange shirt even more blinding in the sunlight. I mentally willed him to go away, but he just stood there, waiting for me to say something.
I sighed, accepting the fact that he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. "Thanks." I muttered, leaning against the car and crossing my arms on my chest; classic body language that screamed go away.
Apparently, Stanley was oblivious to it all. "You don't speak much, do you? We work together now, we're partners! How about we grab some lunch together and socialize?"
"I don't socialize." I replied bluntly. It was only after I had said it out loud that I realized it sounded rude. Too late to take it back now.
He looked shocked by my response, which I pretty much expected. Well, maybe blunt was just the way to get the message across. "Um, okay. I'm fine with just lunch, then."
This guy did not give up, did he?! I sighed loudly and got into the driver's seat. Stanley stood in front of me, his eyebrows raised. I jerked my head towards the passenger seat and his face returned to the grin, as he jogged to the other side and got in. Once he was in and had his seatbelt on, I turned on the engine and backed out of the parking lot.
"So where should I drop you off?" I asked, not looking anywhere but at the road. He turned to look at me and I knew the expression probably wasn't a good one.
"Excuse me? I wanted to have lunch together, if that wasn't clear enough for you."
"I changed my mind. I'm having lunch at home. And bringing strangers over for lunch won't sit well with my mom." That was a lie, my mom would have been ecstatic if I brought over anyone aside from the usual Jorgia or Christine. Especially if it was a guy.
Stanley was quiet for a while, then asked me to stop the car at a Subway that was coming up ahead. He got down, looked at me, saw I still refused to look back at him, then slammed the door shut. I breathed a sigh of relief. Having someone aside from Jorge or Chris in the car was unnerving. I knew what I had done was utterly rude, but I really don't want anything to do with him, or anyone for that matter. Maybe his anger would keep him away from me.
I drove all the way to the diner, my hands gripping my steering wheel a little too hard. It was slowly dawning on me that my socially negative behavior was getting worse. But I did my best to ignore it. Once again, I blamed it on my genes.