The alarm came too early this morning. Nicole's eyes shot open and she let out a tired groan as she rolled over and hit the clock. It can't be five already, she thought to herself as she dragged out of bed and headed toward the bathroom. Showering and changing into her uniform, she grabbed her bag and headed out the door, her eyes darting around, making sure she was aware of her surroundings. After taking the bus to the diner, Nicole stepped through the door warily. It was a quaint, family place. Mementos lining the walls and warm conversations and colors around her. She walked to the back of the diner and into the small break room. Nicole set her things down just as the door opened.
"Good morning, sweetheart!" Maggie's voice chimed. Nicole turned and was greeted with a warm smile and a cup of coffee.
"Bless you, Mags," she grinned, accepting the mug and taking a sip. Maggie was a life saver. At 65, she was the kindest, most hard-working person Nicole knew. When Nicole arrived at the diner a year ago, Maggie had taken her under her wing. She even let Nicole stay with her until she had found an apartment.
"How was closing last night?" Maggie questioned as she rummaged through her purse.
"The usual." she shrugged in reply.
"I can't believe Sam had you close and then open." Maggie shook her head. "Is that man trying to kill you?"
Nicole laughed, "I asked for the shift. I need a bit of extra cash."
"You are going to run yourself ragged, hun." Maggie hugged her shoulder as they both walked out front.
The morning was busy with the breakfast rush. Maggie usually worked behind the bar while Nicole took the tables. They bustled around the diner until about ten o clock when things started to slow down. Nicole went in the back to grab a drink of water when the door chimed and she heard Maggie welcome them in, "Good morning darlin', just sit anywhere you like."
Nicole walked out and Maggie handed her a menu. "He sat down at the far table." She nodded her head toward the man in the far booth.
As Nicole walked up to him she stared at him with surprise. He didn't exactly look like the type to set foot in here. He had dark hair and a very expensive looking suit. "Good morning, " she smiled warmly, "Can I start you out with anything to drink? Coffee?"
"Coffee is fine,” he said coldly. Nicole poured him a cup and smiled again, "I'll leave you a moment to look over the menu." She began to walk away but stopped when he spoke. "I'll have an egg white Denver omelette, fruit on the side." The man didn't even look up.
"Will do, it'll be out in just a bit." She tapped her pen on her notepad and walked off. "Jerk..." she mumbled to herself as she put in his order. She brought him his order and refilled his coffee.
"Can I get you anything else, sir?" She asked, using her best customer service voice.
"Okay then, enjoy your breakfast." She walked back to the counter and stood next to Mary.
"He's a real chatterbox ain't he.." Maggie mumbled.
"I hate it when we get these big business types that can't be bothered." Nicole rolled her eyes. "Ten bucks says he doesn't tip."
Maggie chuckled and turned to her, "Fifteen says he just leaves the change."
They both laughed and continued on with their work, Nicole checking on him once in a while. When he was done he got up to leave and Nicole walked over to the table to clean up and gather her tip. Laying on the receipt was fifteen cents.
"Figures..." She said, a little too loudly.
The man stopped, his hand on the door. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, nothing." She offered her fakest smile.
"If you have something to say then say it." He challenged.
Nicole knew she shouldn't. Sam would be so pissed if he found out she talked back to a customer.
Technically he had been served and paid.. so was he really a customer anymore?
"I SAID figures." She threw in some sass to make her point.
"What is that supposed to mean?" The man glared down at her, his eyes flashing to her name badge, "...Nicole?"
Nicole put her hands on her hips, summoning all of her confidence. "I'm just curious how a man who can afford such a nice suit can't seem to afford to pay a simple tip."
"Is this the way you treat all your customers miss?" He stepped forward.
Nicole looked less sure of herself, his movement forward sending her into flight mode. But she decided to stand her ground. "No, just the jerks." She glared at him and then gave him a sickeningly sweet smile, "Have a nice day!" With that she turned and walked quickly to the break room, hearing the diner door slam behind her.
"WHAT. ON. EARTH?!" Maggie boomed as she entered the room.
"What?" Nicole asked from her chair, "We were all thinking it!"
"Girl, what is going on in that head of yours? You better hope Sam doesn't find out about this. You'll get a real earful, or even worse he'll fire you." Maggie shook her head and walked out.
The rest of the day was business as usual and by the time Nicole got home she was exhausted. She collapsed on the bed without taking off her uniform and passed out.
She woke an hour later to the notification sound on her phone. Opening her email she squealed as she read it.
We are pleased to have received your application for Executive Assistant at Jackson & Holman, L.L.C.
We wish to have you in for an interview along with the other candidates. Please be at our offices on Wednesday, August 12 at 8am.
James Hanson, HR"
"YES!!" She danced around her small apartment for a bit in celebration.
The next morning she skipped into work, giving Maggie a kiss on the cheek.
"Well!" Maggie chuckled, "What's with you?"
"Guess who has an interview as an Executive Assistant at Boston's largest architecture firm?!" She teased.
Maggie screamed and wrapped her in a hug. "Oh! My girl, I'm so excited for you!"
"Hopefully I can find something to wear," she rolled her eyes.
"Just put on what ever you have that's best." Maggie cupped her cheek. "They'd be fools not to hire you. You deserve this Nicole, you deserve to have so much."
Nicole was giddy the rest of the day. Things were finally turning around. She would finally have the security she wanted. She would finally move on to the next chapter of her life.