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The Unexpected Yet Anticipated Call

I am most certainly not accepting this tip. I thought to myself as I wheeled back to the lockeroom to change and clock out for the day. I do want to go out with the guy, but you know, for free! I don’t even accept tips from Jill and Frank and those only count for a tiny fraction of dis check. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I’m definitely gon' return dis to him when we see each other again.

I proceeded to put the powerchair in as close to my locker as possible. Conveniently, my locker was placed not too far away from a white bench. I grabbed my canes out of my locker and stood up to change out of my sleek, black apron and remove my nametag. I don’t have much of a use of my canes during the day as they’re not as helpful on days where I have to walk long distances throughout. I also grabbed my black bucket pocketbook, a now 3 year old purchase from Old Navy that was honestly holding up quite nicely. After grabbing my bag, I placed my apron into my locker.

After clocking out of work, I went back home to my cozy little apartment, parking the wheelchair outside and beginning to head up the stairs. My disability caused me to invent a system where I take a step with one leg and move the corresponding cane forward before stepping with the next leg. For example, if I wanted to take a step with my left leg, that cane would be placed in front and then I would move that leg forward. I didn’t have anyone there to help me today, so it’d take me a bit longer to get upstairs. Instead of making use of the railing - since I had 2 canes to carry, I used them for leverage. I took my time placing one cane forward and stepping up with the corresponding foot - being careful not to lean too much on my dominant hand as it could cause it to fall down the stairs.

Once I made it upstairs, I opened the door and headed for my bedroom decorated with collages of African American leaders, album covers and cut outs of empowering images, as well as some quotes from Pinterest. I placed my canes just at the foot of my bed, ensuring they wouldn’t lean and fall over mistakenly. I then plopped down onto my geometric colorful comforter. Just as I was removing the strap of my crossbody bag, my phone started to ring inside of it. A smile grew on my face and I hurriedly unzipped it and searched for it like a magician doing a “Pull A Rabbit Out of a Hat” act. It could be only one person. As I retrieved my phone out of the bag I spotted the check that Gary handed me as well as the note and amount in the tip field. I looked at the number displayed on my iPhone and by the first few digits I could tell it was the one on the check. I let it ring twice before picking up.

“Hey Girl-Next Door.” The welcoming voice on the other end of the line said. I immediately lay back on my bed like a teenage girl, with my arm behind my head barely touching the pillow.

“Hey Comb-Over.” I smoothly replied “How’s it goin’?

“It’s goin’ really okay considering that I’ve somehow managed to land a date with this gorgeous waitress I met not too long ago. Something tells me you might know her.” Gary playfully responded.

“I’m quite familiar with her, actually. She’s really dope.” I said in response, twirling a strand of my lob around my finger.

“I’d be lying if I neglected to tell you that I completely agree.” I could tell he was smiling as he spoke. I could perfectly envision a gentle smirk forming on his face, causing a grin to form on mine.

“She’s fallen silent. It’s because I made you smile, isn’t it?” He asked, matter of factly.

“That’s.. definitely a possibility.” I nodded my head, smirking to myself.

“You’re a piece of work, you know that Ms. Chantel?” Gary replied, laughter cutting into his speech.

“Oh well isn’t this a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black?” I playfully interjected

“Hmm, can’t argue with you on that.” Gary said.

“Yeah, don’t. ” I playfully demanded

“Wasn’t planning on it.” Gary asserted cleverly

“Great!” I accidently yet adorably allowed a giggle to escape after finishing my sentence.“So, back to the conversation about the waitress. I happened to meet a pretty suave dude today. He actually gave me his number and asked me on a date, but he neglected to tell me where we're going.” I spoke in a falsely-oblivious tone, quite convincingly if I do say so myself.

“He did, didn’t he?” Gary inquired, catching on and continuing to play along.

“Yeah, which is really unfortunate ’cause he’s not too bad! Humorous and really handsome too. “ I brightly uttered.

“A tiny little detail about the waitress I told you about?” Gary playfully inquired.

“Yeah?” I nodded my head, still smiling.

“She told me she doesn’t usually engage romantically with clients. I just can’t help wondering what made me different.”

“Well.. she’s young. Doesn’t usually take risks. That guy I told you about?” I paused, cleverly.

“Uh-huh?” he responded.

“He said on multiple occasions that she hid a mystery behind her persona right?”

Right..” Gary agreed, his tone suggesting that he was curious about my observation.

“Well she figured, he might have a few mysteries behind him too. Why not try and figure them out? What does she have to lose?”

“I think that’s a great reason to go out with him, actually. And something tells me that you might be right.”

“Of course I am!” I added, cheekingly. “So where you guys goin?” I inquired, continuing to play along.

“I was thinking we could go for a walk in the park. Tell that waitress I told ya about to wear somethin’ casual.”

“The park. That sounds nice.” I responded, pulling from the second half of his last sentence. “Tell that guy you know that the waitress said she will keep your suggestion in mind, but to be in for a surprise.”

“I will certainly do that Ms. Chantel.” Gary chuckled lightly, causing me to let out a semi-audible bout of laughter.

“In all seriousness, is Friday a good time for you?” he inquired.

“Friday sounds great!” He replied, enthusiastically “Catch you later, Girl Next Door”

“Don’t miss me too much, Mr. Comb - Over.” I wittingly responded. The phone clicked, call ending. I sat back against my pillow smiling, holding the phone to my chest. I let out an exhale, my stomach filling with butterflies as I began to grow excited for our date at the park in two days time. I also glanced at my open purse and the check located in the middle compartment. My decision was unchanged. It was definitely going to be returned.

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