DRIVING TO WORK. The memory of purchasing her Excitement membership three days prior, stayed fresh in Mag’s mind.
Upon verbal confirmation of her purchase, Summer described additional details of Excitement’s contractual agreement.
Emphasizing… all of Mag’s interactions would be with pre-screened Excitement associates. Engaging her in public spaces only.
Mag’s information was uploaded to Excitement’s database and Summer addressed her final concerns. Ensuring no interactors would attempt to communicate with her via mobile, or try to meet her separately.
Upon submitting payment… a personal engagement manager was assigned to assist throughout her engagement term.
Mag’s engagement manager Timothy, made initial contact yesterday.
Providing instructions for installing Excitement’s mobile application on her mobile and confirming if -for any reason- she desired to suspend her interactions, she could do so using the app.
He also explained… whenever an interactor canceled an attempted interaction; for instance, if they noticed her in the presence of someone appearing to be a love interest, or while she dined with individuals seeming to be her parents… the hourly time, location and cancellation reason would be listed in the mobile app.
Lastly, he noted that Mag could request a full list of her successful interactions via the mobile application or by contacting Timothy directly.
Her trial bracelet was no longer needed.
Instead, Excitement tracked her position via the mobile app.
Three blocks from her office, she pulled in Starbucks parking lot.
Though she appreciated ADKARs free coffee… the occasional desire for a Starbucks Frappuccino summoned her in.
Standing in line at 8 a.m.. She glanced at the Cafés interior.
Full of activity.
All indoor seats were occupied and a line of customers waited to order.
Surrounded by merchandise. Paralleling her position.
Scanning coffee mugs and other items for sale, she decided to check work email on her mobile.
Retrieving it and scrolling through messages… A pair of forceful hands grabbed her shoulders and a man yelled from behind,
“Hey! What are you doing here? I haven’t seen you in forever!”
Caught off guard, she turned and absorbed an unfamiliar face… who are you?
Bright green eyes.
Short brown hair adorning lightly bearded and tanned skin.
Warm smile and square chin. Height – tall. Build, lean.
Her nerves jumped and she muttered,
“Oh. I’m just. Uh…”
The man’s cheerful eyes… lost cheer.
“I’m not sure if I remember you,” said Mag. “Do you work at ADKAR?”
His broad smile disappeared and his face flushed.
Eyes widening in shock. “Oh my Gosh. I’m so sorry.”
His hands lifted from Mag’s shoulders,
“I thought you were someone else.”
Quickly, his eyes recovered and his expression recomposed, “Seriously though… You’re more stunning than the woman I mistook you for. I’m afraid your good looks betrayed you.”
Recognizing the cheesiness of his statement, Mag blushed instinctively,
“Let me try this again. Only this time I’ll try not to embarrass myself like a fool.” Stepping backwards, he established proper introductory distance.
Cheerful eyes re-emerged and a fresh smile beamed from his face,
“Hi. I’m Powers. Michael Powers.” Clicking his heels together, he stood military straight and extended his hand in official handshake pose, “And you are..?”
Cradling her wrist in his palms. Pools of sincerity emanated behind eclipsing eyes, “Believe it or not, I don’t make a habit of this. But occasionally I unknowingly approach strangers like an idiot. And blabber to them as if we’ve known each other for years. I’ll be honest with you though. This is the first time I’ve done it today.”
“First time today?” Mag smiled, “It’s only eight in the morning!”
“I know, I know. But I stand by my story. It’s the first time today and I’m not gonna let you fool me twice.” Raising his index finger, he smirked.
“Besides, you have to let me make up for it. What are you drinking?”
She had no chance to respond.
“Wow! That sounded weird! It’s like we’re at a bar and I’m trying to buy you an Appletini or Moscow Mule. Or whatever the heck kids drink in bars these days.”
During their conversation, all customers in line had ordered; leaving Mag suddenly aware… I’m next in line.
Michael spoke over her shoulder towards the cashier,
“Can you guys make a Moscow Mule?”
The cashier… a ponytailed forty-year-old, with a greasy handlebar mustache stared at Michael with… ‘I could not be less impressed with you’ eyes.
“Eww,” Michael gritted his teeth and whispered to Mag,
“This guy hates his job.”
“We should order and get the hell outta here before these hipsters call the cops.” Stepping forward, he ordered. “Gimme a venti double espresso with whip.” He turned towards Mag, “Order whatever you want. It’s on me. Resistance is futile.”
“A tall, no whip mocha frappuccino.”
Michael’s brow raised toward the cashier, “What she said.”
Paying for drinks, he side-spoke to Mag, “Are you in a rush to go to work this morning? Please say no.”
“No. Not really.”
“Good. Do you mind chatting with a stranger while these fine baristas prepare our drinks?”
“Not at all.”
“I think there are open seats outside.”
Leading the way out, he approached a corner table and the early morning sun basked the area in warm glowing light.
Sitting. Michael glanced toward the sky, “It’s already pretty toasty out here. I love Mountain View weather. It’s warmer than San Mateo.”
“Did you drive from San Mateo?”
“Yeah. I live there and commute down. What about you?”
“I drive from San Francisco.”
“That’s a bit far, isn’t it? I’d fall asleep at the wheel every morning. How do you do it?”
“It’s not that bad.” Mag chuckled, “I listen to music during the drive. And when I take the shuttle, I sleep or catch up on work.”
“What kind of music do you listen to?”
Unsure whether to answer the question honestly, she decided to be vague,
“I listen to a lot of different styles.”
“Ugh!” Michael grimaced, “That’s a crap answer.”
Mag smiled defensively, “No, it isn’t! What kind of music do you listen to?”
Straightening his back and adjusted a non-existent collar on his t-shirt, he smiled, “I’m so glad you asked Mag. I listen to Classic Rock, Indie, Dance, and R&B.”
Mag leaned forward, “You listen to R&B?”
“You don’t look like an R&B guy.”
Leaning back, Michael laughed, “What do you mean, I don’t look like an R&B guy? What the heck does an R&B guy look like?”
Mag leaned back and grinned embarrassingly.
“I don’t know.” Her eyes darted down,
“They look like… uh.”
She blushed, seeking to escape the spotlight, “What is Indie music?” Her eyes beamed, “Is that something you just made up? What is it?”
“Oh my Gosh! You did it again!”
“You evaded the question. Are you a politician?”
Mag smirked bashfully., “Well, I really don’t know what Indie music is.”
“No one knows what Indie music is. It’s pretty much any group that is not signed by a major label. It’s all different kinds of music. I like it because it’s got tons of variety.”
“Hold on. Our drinks should be ready. I’ll get ‘em.”
As he walked, Mag examined the remainder of his appearance.
Dressed typical for the Bay Area. Green converse sneakers and slim blue jeans beneath a form-fitted raggedy t-shirt. His shoulders were broader than average and his short sleeves revealed arms… Sinewy – strong.
Returning to the table with their drinks, Michael slid Mag her frappuccino and sipped his coffee. Glancing at Mag.
“What were we talking about?”
“You were telling me about Indie music. What are some of the groups?”
“I don’t think you’ll know any of ‘em. Most indie music isn’t played on the radio.”
“I don’t listen to the radio much.”
“Okay. Have you heard of Human Hats? or Drinking Dragons? or maybe Ice Cream Rodeo?” Mag’s eyes rolled wide and she grinned, “Are those real groups? I have no idea who they are.”
“I knew it!” He pointed at her, “There’s no way you’d know them. These groups aren’t popular at all.”
“I might know some of the songs.”
“Maybe I’ll play some for you one day.”
Another moment of silence and they realized…
we’ll probably never see each other again.
“What R&B do you listen to?” asked Mag.
“I forget most of the group’s names. But I like Tay Walz, The Drop and Thank God It’s Saturday.”
Mag’s eyes sparkled, “You listen to T.G.I.S.?”
“Yeah. He’s a really weird guy. But some of his songs are awesome and the production quality is amazing.”
“I think so too.”
Her mobile phone sat on the table and Mag leaned forward. Touching it while she spoke, “I listen to a lot of R&B using ADKARs music app. Most of the songs in the app sound different than on the radio. In the app, there’s tons of cursing. But on the radio, there are no swears at all. It makes it hard to enjoy music in the app.”
Michael nodded, “I know what you mean. Most R&B acts make multiple versions of songs. They make a clean radio version and a dirty non-radio version. Usually, I hear the clean version first. But when I download it, I only find the dirty version. It’s a little disappointing. But I still download the songs.”
“I feel the same. Why don’t they just create one version? The clean one?”
“Good question.” Michael lips pursed, “So, what’s your favorite song right now?”
Mag grinned. Unsure whether to admit her favorite to someone she just met. She also thought… why not? I’ll never see him again anyway.
“It’s kind of a dirty song. I mean the lyrics are dirty. But I like Put in You by T.G.I.S. That’s why I was surprised you mentioned him.”
Michael smiled, “I like that song. The beat is smooth and I love the bass. Have you ever listened to it through huge speakers?”
“Oh. You should.” His eyes shined, “The bass completely envelopes you. It’s awesome.”
Mag sighed, “I play music loud in my car all the time. But I think it’s not the same. Not as deep I guess. I used to have a big Bluetooth speaker in my apartment. It sounded great, but it broke. I haven’t listened to music through a big stereo in a long time. I miss it.”
Her phone vibrated on the tabletop.
Picking it up, she read a message from Drew asking… ‘why did you take the car!?’
“Is it your office?”
“No. But I have to go to work.”
“Yeah, I guess we both do.”
Grabbing his phone, Michael accessed screens while speaking, “I enjoy talking with you. Is it wrong that I want us to talk more about music and other stuff? You’re the only person I know who likes R&B. Maybe we can email each other once in a while?” He handed Mag his phone,
“I made a contact entry for you. Can you type your email address?”
“Oh… Yeah. Sure.”
Typing her address hurriedly. She used the same email created exclusively for Excitement. Unknown to anyone else.
“Cool,” said Michael. “I’m glad I made a fool out of myself meeting you.” He leaned in close, “You’re actually way more interesting than the person I mistook you for. And for the record, that person is incredibly interesting. How do you do it?”
She smiled, “I don’t know. It was nice talking with you too though.”
Returning to her car, she responded to Drew’s text.
<Mag> What do you mean?
<Drew> I was gonna drive the car to Oakland today. You were supposed to take the shuttle.
<Drew> We talked about this two days ago. It’s on our calendar.
<Drew> What’s the point of us agreeing to do something, if you don’t do what we agree?!
She completely forgot.
Two days ago Drew said he needed the car today and marked the plan on their shared mobile calendar.
A calendar Mag despised using.
Already having enough work-related appointments and obligations.
She had no desire to add more.
Regardless, the agreement slipped her mind.
<Mag> I’m sorry, I forgot
<Drew> You could’ve at least taken the laundry since you took the car. Why didn’t you take the laundry?
An image of their laundry flashed in her mind.
A duffle bag full. Flopped by the apartment door; waiting patiently to be dealt with, by someone.
Her pulse pounded…
why do I have to do the stupid laundry all the time?
You never do it!
Fearing rebuttable from Drew, she responded the opposite,
<Mag> Geez. I’m sorry. What do you want me to say?
<Drew> I don’t have time to discuss it. I have to reschedule my appointment.
During the remaining drive to work, she stewed over the argument with Drew and cursed herself for forgetting he needed the car.
Afterwards… attending a meeting.
She returned to her desk and caught up on emails.
A wave of entrapment washed over her and she wished to be anywhere else in the world.
Her phone vibrated.
Revealing an email from Michael.
I have to let you know how much I enjoyed our conversation this morning. I can’t remember the last time I spoke with someone about music.
I used to listen to old school R&B years ago. Then I spent a few years listening to rock, followed by lots of electronic dance music.
But today you encouraged me to listen to R&B again.
Have you ever seen the video for the T.G.I.S. song we talked about (Put In You)?
I just watched it for the first time. It’s really good!
How is your day?
Memory of their encounter flashed in her mind and she put her work aside to type a response.
I feel the same. It was nice chatting with you too. I literally never get to talk with anyone about music. None of my coworkers like R&B. Actually, I think most of them like Indie music, and I still have no idea what that music is.
I’ve seen the video for that song many times. It’s super good.
I like how it seems… the two people are underwater, but they’re not. Their clothes and hair float around and all the colors are blurred, but they’re just walking around outside. How do they make videos like that? It looks so cool. I have to watch it again.
My day is hectic. There are a few projects I’m working on, but I’m finding it hard to focus. It’s super busy.
You mentioned Tay Walz today. I don’t like his music. I recently read an article about him. Whoever wrote it complained that he uses too much auto-tune on his voice. I guess that’s the effect that makes him sound the way he does? It made me realize he sounds the same in every song. Like exactly the same. The critic said he probably can’t sing and that’s why he uses auto-tune.
How is your day going?