Jenna hated the blinking cursor. Whoever thought of that should be shot. All we need is to see where the cursor is. It doesn’t have to flash like a strobe light waiting for you to think of something to say. Some people have seizures, you know—that blinking is annoying at best and life-threatening at worst. Ok, so maybe not life threatening.
She sighed and leaned back in her chair, rubbing both eyes like doing so would somehow dislodge the fuzzy cloud hovering over her usually-rapid-fire mind. All it managed to do was smear her eye makeup. Luckily, no one was there to see it anyway.
Jenna didn’t procrastinate. She had been trying to think of how to start since she was assigned the project in the first place. She didn’t wait until the last minute, she just ran out of minutes and nothing happened.
I’m a fraud, that’s why, she thought. I’m an imposter, masquerading as a creative professional, just hoping no one notices that I’m out of ideas. The thought prompted its usual audible groan. She knew it wasn’t true, but it felt true every other Thursday. On schedule. Right before things were due. She pushed away from the desk. “I hate deadlines!” Her phone chimed.
Working late? It was Dave.
She smiled. That was nice. He cared.
Working isn’t working, but I’m here.
She went back to staring at the screen, but was actually just watching the phone for a reply. At this point she was hungry for the distraction. He didn’t text back. Five minutes passed. When the desk phone rang, Jenna jumped.
“Hey. I can’t connect.” It was Dave.
“Hi, you. I was waiting for you to text back.”
“You said working wasn’t working, so I thought I would pop on and surprise you—see if I can help. But I’m having trouble signing on.”
“Yeah, about that,” Jenna whined, rolling her eyes. “Don’t get me started. There’s something wrong, I don’t know what it is, I don’t understand half of this stuff, and that’s why I’m here right now, because if I could sign on remotely, I would be completely blocked in the comfort of my own home with a glass of wine, thank you very much.”
“Have you called it in?”
“No, but I’m sure someone has.”
“Who? Who called it in? Or are you just assuming that, and no one is telling anyone because everyone thinks someone else called.”
“Oh. I don’t know, actually.”
“So are you going to call it in?”
Jenna shook her head without noticing she was doing so. “I…that’s not really my department. I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“You say, ‘I can’t log in from home, and I’m not the only person. I don’t know if anyone else has talked to you, but can you help me log on please?’”
“Dave, stop it.”
“Stop being so…logical about it. It’s not that easy for me, ok?”
“I don’t know. Because I’m afraid I’ll sound stupid. Because I know I’m going to have to try to explain what’s going on, and that always leaves me feeling like an idiot, and the poor guy on the phone ends up with a headache trying to figure me out. That’s why.”
He paused. “Jenna?”
“Not asking for help because you don’t want to look like you don’t know is the only part of this situation that is actually stupid, ok? And you’re in great company because I’d bet everyone else said the same thing and that’s why they didn’t call it in either.”
“How do you know no one called it in?”
“Because it’s still not working and Phil isn’t standing next to you right now.”
“Phil, my dear, is your best friend right now and you don’t know it yet. We’re going to conference call.”
“No. Please, Dave, you do it. You tell him what’s wrong. I’ll mess it up.”
“Oh, my God, Jenna, I have never seen you like this—you are a capable woman. Why on earth are you letting this get to you?”
She sounded so much younger than usual for some reason. She hated it. “Technology is scary. It’s way too easy to mess it up. I just…I’m not real confident about that stuff.”
Dave took a breath. “Ok. I get it. You’re still talking to Phil. Right now.”
“Sorry, already dialed.”