February 9, 2014

Be My Valentine

A dozen red roses, tenderly wrapped in tissue inside a florist’s box, waited on her desk. No mistaking this delivery for copier paper or overnighted presentation handouts. Pamela purposefully scheduled arrival for when the office was humming. She knew she’d be in a meeting on another floor the morning of Valentine’s Day and decided, this year, to send herself a bouquet with a card that said, “Love to my Valentine.”

Soccer uniformed nieces and nephews smiled from pictures in Pamela's cubicle. Always paying rapt attention to co-worker’s family vacation and school play stories, she could be counted on to bake to-die-for desserts for office celebrations. Fifteen years at Shelby Investments as a hard worker and team player, her personae had also evolved to include "plain, overweight, and professional aunt."

Stepping off the elevator after the meeting, the receptionist could not hide her surprise and blurted, “Looks like SOMEONE got a Valentine!” Years spent perfecting responses, Pamela did not betray her secret and the walk to her desk was everything she hoped for. Ken Muller actually stepped to the door of his private office to say hello and pretty Cathy Summers looked on with a mix of curiosity and jealousy.

Arriving at her desk, Pamela feigned surprise, coaching herself to move calmly and remember to “act like you've done this before.” While people waited, some playing like they were working and some staring, she resettled her laptop and papers just to mess with them. Sliding the ribbon off the box, she lifted the lid. “Wow!” Cathy said, clearly impressed with the mixture of white and red long-stemmed roses. Two dozen and each pristine. “Aren’t you going to open the card?” someone asked impatiently.

Thrown, Pamela wanted to double-check that she ordered twelve, not twenty-four blooms. With shaking hands she opened the envelope, eased the card out and read unfamiliar writing: “Happy Valentine’s Day, Pamela. I hope these roses are as lovely as you.” Feeling her face go red, she tucked the card in her pocket and wondered where on earth her order was.

That afternoon, after the excitement died down, Tina from annuities stopped by, quietly re-introduced herself, and asked Pamela to dinner. She accepted.