While I stewed in the back of the Uber car as we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge, I thought back to my motto. Live with no regrets? I was definitely regretting that I let him even think he could have slept with me that night.
I also had another motto: Fool me once, shame on me. You won’t fool me twice. My pride will never, ever let me fall for something again.
If Bram McGregor wasn’t on my hit list before, he definitely was now.
“Nicola Price, you’re fired,” my boss says to me in his most Donald Trump-like expression. Only he’s not smiling like it’s a joke and his coif is so shellacked with hair goop that it would put Mr. Trump to shame.
Also, I’m pretty sure he actually said, “Nicola, we’re so sorry to tell you this, but we’re going to have to let you go.” But what’s the difference when they pretty much mean the same thing? In one damn second I’ve lost my job. My income. My stability.
It’s a wonder I don’t have a meltdown like the ones Ava throws when she can’t find her favorite plush toy, Snuffy. Or even leak a single tear. Instead, I just sit there like an idiot, a frozen, slack-jawed failure, while my boss, Ross (ex-boss now, I guess), prattles on about how sorry he is and how he wished they could have kept me but the company is downsizing and they’re removing one of the stores and yadda, yadda, yadda.
But none of that matters whatsoever since I know I’m one week shy of having worked for them for three months. In one week, I would have finished my probationary period and my health insurance would have rolled in. I would have gotten a raise. I would have gotten piece of mind and a career in the field I’ve been striving for.
And now I’m angry because I realize these assholes knew they’d never offer me a permanent position, they just wanted the cheap fucking labor. This had been their plan all along, to string me along under false pretences and then kick me to the curb before it became serious.
Sounds a lot like my love life, come to think about it.
“Is there anything we can do for you?” he asks, peering at me with concern, perhaps watching my face for signs of an imminent explosion.
Ava, it always comes back to my daughter. If it weren’t for her, I probably would have just nodded at the dismissal. Take it graciously like I try to do with everything life throws my way, like I’d been taught at a young age. Never let them see you cry; never let them see you as anything but perfectly appropriate. Suck it up and carry on, a vision of cool.
But my life at the moment isn’t cool and there isn’t a single appropriate thing about it. My rent at my shitty apartment recently increased. My car needs a part I can’t afford, so it just sits on the curb collecting rust from San Francisco’s eternal mist, and Ava has been increasingly sick lately. Nothing to worry about, the doctor says, just lethargic on some days but I’ve got an endless supply of worry for my kiddo and not always enough money to pay for a doctor’s visit. Not to mention a pretty useless doctor at that. I was counting on that goddamn medical insurance for her, not for me.
And so, like Bruce Banner when he turns into the Hulk – minus the shirt-ripping – I let it all unleash on my unsuspecting ex-boss. For three months I have been prim and proper and yes sir, no sir, running around all the stores like an overworked slave, all while keeping a big smile on my face. Never let them see you sweat. Always keep your cool.
I’m not even sure what to say. It’s like I go into some deep, black pit of pent-up resentment. I think I even blackout for a moment. All I know is that when I realize what I’m doing, I’m standing up, my finger jabbing in the air towards my ex-boss, and I’m spewing a load of obscenities.