Welcome to Hell: The Third Circle
I enter the restaurant and admire the fish tank in the front foyer. The colorful koi dance in the water and I watch them as I wait for the waitress to seat me.
“This way, please.”
She leads me to a spot in a corner hidden from the view of the other patrons.
“Thank you,” I whisper before turning to my dinner companions.
“Gina!” Carmen gets up and hugs me.
She squeezes me tight and releases me, only for Natalie to follow her. Both of them sit back in their chairs and I pull up to join them. The table is round with a smaller rock turn top that spins manually. I give it a tug and stare as it whirls around with the slowness of a snail. Probably for the best to not fling cuisine all over the floor.
“How are you?” Natalie asks quietly.
She’s always been a bit on the shyer side, but after we hit a year of friendship, she shares much more of herself.
“I’ve been better, to be honest. I had the worst patron the other day. It’s not just the one either. I don’t want to slog at that business anymore. I’m tired of making food and having to deal with customers.”
Carmen flicks a dark length of hair behind her shoulder. “Yeah, I get it. I had this lady leave her entire cart for me to put away after shoving it into a magazine rack. It’s awful.”
Natalie’s voice cracks at the end and I reach a hand out to place on her shoulder. She sniffs and blinks her eyes to not cry. Unfortunately, complaints about our jobs have become far too common when we meet up. It will go on unless we make some changes. Sighing, I acknowledge I have to be honest about where I am with my career.
“I almost quit yesterday.” I murmur softly.
Gasps from my two friends prompt me to continue.
“My latest evaluation scores were lower, and it’s cutting into my commission. I try really hard to keep them up with every call, but they mark me for little technicalities.”
The frustration of the previous day weighs on me. I have a degree but can’t find a gig in my field. I currently work as a customer support representative for a tech company. The pay is alright but the brutality of the clients and management keeps me from enjoying my entry level post college position. I have hopes of promoting out of the current role, but that would take time. I don’t know if I can stick it out that long.
“You didn’t…did you? I understand you want to pay your loans down.”
Carmen folds her hands and rests her chin upon them. She looks right at me, completely focusing on my person. Natalie also is peeking at me. They both care about me and as the first to graduate, they believe I will succeed. That I’m a guiding light to what they’ll have once they finish school.
“No. I didn’t, but the temptation is huge.”
I sip from my glass, trying to calm the rapid beating of my heart. Anxiety grows as I accept that I’ll have to return to the same stuff tomorrow.
“Carry on job hunting. You got this Gina.”
Natalie smiles and passes a plate of noodles over for me to scoop out my portion. My lips quirk up as the conversation turns to happier topics.