I'm back!!!! Ahahahaha... anyways.. to those following my 'fangirl' I'm happy to tell you that I may post it some time next week... but for now, this fic is based on my grueling experience last Saturday when a typhoon hit our country. The incidents really happened.. but I added some 'fluff' scenes which didn't happen in reality.. So yeah.. I hope you would have an idea at what I went through that day...(although I made this one short..yeah... SHORT)I hope you like it!
PS: Yeah, the banana shake was true and so as the 'picnic'. There's that "TanaKamei' thing goin on...I did eat that chocolate, 'Matsuura-san's really gay.. 'Nakazawa' really ran off. There's really that shivering 'Risa' beside me..though in real life Risa's a HE and I definitely didn't do what Ai did. Talk about code names.. :)
“I wish I went out earlier”
I let out a deep sigh as I grabbed my phone from inside my bag. I have to message my manager that I’ll be late. Now my record of having a clean slate would be tarnished. I looked outside the window and saw that the rain was still pouring down hard. I hate rainy days.
~Good morning mam!~
“What’s so good this morning? I’m going to be late!”
~It’s me, Takahashi-san. I think I’m going to be late. The bus hasn’t move due to the flood for about forty minutes now. I’m really sorry.~
After I sent the message, I put my phone back to my bag and pulled out a book that I bought two days ago. I can’t seem to focus to my reading as my ‘responsible’ side was bugging me.
“If you only didn’t play PSP earlier, you would probably be in the store right now.”
“I can’t help it. I can’t wait to try the new game.”
“And now, look at you. Why are you reading that book when there’s only 20 minutes left before you will be officially late from work?”
“I’m going to be late anyways. There’s no need to make haste.”
“What are you saying?!? Are you really a team leader?! A leader isn’t supposed to say those things!”
“And what should I do?”
“How about you, getting out of this bus right now and run towards your store just before your time expires.”
“And what? Be soaking wet from rain and mud?”
“Remember, this will be the first time that you will have a ‘late’ record!”
“But if I do that… I’ll have an ‘x’ mark on my ‘uniform’ in the checklist. You know Fujimoto-san’s strict when it comes to appearance.”
”But you will be late!”
“This is my first time… and I can’t control the weather. I think Fujimoto-san will understand me.” As if on cue, I pulled out my phone from my bag and read the message.
~It’s ok. I’ll just adjust your time if you will be late for an hour. The store’s in a mess right now. We closed the ‘Smoking’ section due to the heavy rain.~
I smiled. Our ‘scary’ manager really has a soft side. The ‘responsible’ me vanished after reading the message and I’m left alone with my book. I finished four chapters and looked at the time. It’s been thirty minutes pass my ‘original’ schedule but the bus only moved an inch…or so. I messaged my manager again to tell her about my current situation although nothing much changed since then. It’s just to show her how ‘eager’ I am to get to work so she should stick to her word about adjusting my schedule. I continued exchanging mails with my manager. I learned that our front was already flooded and although our store was on the third floor, due to the wind, the outside was already ‘flooded’ too.
It’s already an hour and fifteen minutes passed since I was stuck in this traffic jam. I looked outside and noticed that the rain had died down. I sent one last message to my manager. I’m glad I bought some load before I got on the bus.
~I will walk now~
“I should have listened to my other side”...I shouldn’t have fallen for that new game.
I cautiously walk along the highway. One, because I don’t want my pants to get dirty and two, because I’m walking beside the cars and buses. But I’m not alone in this kind of ‘Exodus’. I was thinking to use the train for convenience but after seeing that I have to ‘swim’ to get to the other side, my feet automatically turned towards the flyover. I took a picture towards the ‘brownish sea’ below me as a form of evidence. I was nearing the end when I saw that it’s also flooded. I quickly boarded another bus to get to my destination. So here I am in our store, almost 2 hours late if not for the adjustment.
“Takahashi-san~! How are you! Glad you made it.” I was greeted by my ever ‘weird’ sub-leader. She’s reliable… yeah… But sometimes.. She’s just plain weird. I didn’t know how Rei can keep up with her weirdness. Oh yeah, did I say that in our store, it’s forbidden to have a relationship between your co-workers? They always say, ‘one must die’ if they ever found out but hey, you can’t stop love. And surprisingly, Matsuura-san found out, but still kept quiet. It’s because Tanaka-san and Kamei-san knew something about our Matsuura-san and Fujimoto-san’s relationship which I knew from the beginning because I was ‘fairly’ close to Matsuura-san. Yep, I have an open mind about the third sex. Anyways, Michishige-san was reapplying her make-up when I approached the cashier’s area.
“Hey, what happened here?”
“The ceiling’s leaking. We had to cover the POS and elevate the UPS so that it won’t get wet. And I had to hide my cute face under this hood so I won’t get wet too.” Shige-san’s narcissistic side attacked again. I smiled as I walked past her and put my bag into my locker room. Nothing much happened for the rest of the day. I just did some paper works, checked the stocks, and cleaned what was needed to be cleaned.
“You want some banana shake?” Jun asked me. I looked back at the dining room and saw that the others were already drinking their share. I know he liked bananas but a shake at this weather? Well, I guess it’s not that bad.
“Sure. You made this one?”
“Yeah…” There were no guests given that there’s a typhoon in our country right now. Fujimoto-san suggested that we had a ‘picnic’ and at the same time, helping our store to have some sales. Aika suggested that we use our tip in case we don’t have enough money. Lin-chan and Jun-kun made our orders. Rei-kun and Eri-chan made the drinks while Shige-san and Aika-san went to the lobby and tried to get some customers, if there were any. I sat down beside Fujimoto-san.
“Is Matsuura-san alright? I heard in the news on the bus that her town’s flooded right now.”
“Yeah, apparently, her subdivision is the only place where there’s no flood.”
“Glad to hear that.”
It’s almost six in the evening and finally, some real guests arrived. It’s only four transactions but still, at least we sold something. Due to the bad weather, we closed early that day. We left the store at 9 in the evening. I’m the only person who goes home in the south.
“Are you sure you’ll be ok?” Linlin asked worriedly. Among the staff in the kitchen, Linlin was my favorite. She’s really funny and I like to tease her a lot about her eating habits. Besides, we get along pretty well when it comes to cooking so even though I’m a dining team leader, she would let me cook sometimes when there are few guests.
“Yeah. I’ll be fine. I’ll keep in touch.” I waved at them as they crossed the street. Rei-kun lives nearby but I know he will accompany Eri.
“Don’t you wish you had a boyfriend?”
“I’m still enjoying my single life.” Yeah, my single, BORING and REDUNDANT life. Shaking that feeling aside, I had to squeeze my way in just to board a ‘nearly’ full bus. Normally, it would only take me thirty minutes to reach my other bus stop but then, some of the streets were still flooded. I sighed in resignation. My legs were numb from an hour of standing on this crowded bus. After another thirty minutes, I got out from the bus. I really wish that there’s a bus line that would travel straight to my place so I won’t have to board a bus twice.
And as if it’s really my UNlucky day, I’m waiting for at least an hour now. It’s almost midnight but there’s no bus going towards my town. My stomach growled and I instinctively opened a pack of chocolates inside my bag. Sorry Kusumi.
“Hey mom, I just got here… I’m stranded for two hours.”
“I told you not to go to work today but you didn’t listen.”
“I can’t help it. I’m a team leader.”
“Anyways, I think you should sleep at your cousin’s house.”
“Apparently it’s really flooded outside. We’re on the second floor now because the water on our first floor is waist deep.”
“Ehh? How about my PS2? My computer? My books?”
“Don’t worry about it. We saved it just in time.”
“Thanks. I’ll call Kusumi now.”
“Ok, be careful on your way home.”
“Hello? Kusumi? It’s Ai.”
“Ai-chan? Hi there! How are you doing~! Where are you~!” Still my ever hyperactive cousin.
“I’m here at work. Mom said that our house is flooded and she thought it would be better if I would stay there.”
“GREAT~~~!!! LET’S PLAY ~~!! I HAVE A NEW GAME~~!! And please.. BRING SOME CHOCOLATES~~!”
~It’s not flooded anymore. Where are you going to sleep?~
~I’ll go home. It’s already midnight and I don’t want to disturb Kusumi’s sleep.~ That is, if she really sleeps at night. That kid’s always full of energy.
There were many buses going to the town next to mine. It’s a nice option but still I didn't want some ‘adventure’ in the middle of the night. Another option was I can sleep in a hotel… or motel but I didn’t have extra money with me. When all hope was lost, a miracle happened. A lady driving a white pick-up truck stopped in front of us and asked the old man beside me where he’s going. Apparently, the old man was from the same town as mine, and so are the others beside me. The kind lady told us to ‘hop-in’ on her truck. Finally, I was going home.
But that didn’t end my sufferings. We were again, stranded just right after midnight. Add to that, the rains were pouring harder. I’m glad I brought an umbrella that day but I can’t be happy when there are other people on the truck who were soaking wet because of the rain. Two hours have already passed since I boarded this truck. The kind lady checks us time to time. I learned that her name was Yuuko Nakazawa and she’s working in our city hall. That made sense as to why she helped us.
I tried to sleep but I can’t. My ‘seatmate’ kept on moving. She was sitting beside me before but when I observed her, her knees were close to her chest while she lay her arms and head on the side of the truck. She was shivering badly, probably due to her wet shirt and she was probably conserving her body heat with her current position. It began raining again and this time, I shared my umbrella with her. She looked up as she felt that the rain wasn’t falling on her. I vaguely see her face but I definitely notice her eyebrows and bean-shaped forehead.
“Thanks.” She mumbled.
“It’s nothing.” I looked away and observe the other people on the truck with us.. There’s the old man, a woman with her pet dog, a student.. a lot of office workers and a lovey-dovey couple in front of me... hmm… that’s interesting. At first sight you would think that they’re a normal couple because that short-haired blond GIRL really looks like a guy but then again, my gay-dar’s improved all thanks to Matsuura-san giving me on-the-spot quiz every now and then with the guests that eats in our restaurant were gay or not. I continued watching them and noticed that they were sharing their body heat with each other; my inner side spoke up again.
“Now, do you wish you had a boyfriend?”
“In this circumstance… yes.”
I looked back at the girl beside me. She’s still shivering. She shifted her position so that she was again sitting beside me on the side of the truck, with her head on her lap and her arms crossed over her chest.
“Care to share your body heat with someone?”
“Ehh? But I don’t know her!”
“Being a leader means you are sensitive towards the other’s needs.”
“Yeah.. I can see that she’s really cold right now but the thing is… I DON’T KNOW HER!!!”
“Then take this a chance to, you know, make friends.”
“But… I can’t.”
“Come on! This is really easy. You are working in a restaurant where you HAVE to interact with various STRANGERS! Show them why Aya made you a leader!”
Ok. First things first, I’m a shy person. I’m not the one who usually made the first move or started a conversation. I was really surprised when I learned that I’ll become a leader although I already had the feeling that Fujimoto-san and Matsuura-san will choose me. I was just doing my job properly though they saw me as ‘hard-working’ and ‘perfectionist’. Did I already say that THEY think I’m ‘responsible’ too? Anyways, I’m a leader but it’s like that I’m the one being lead by the others. And another thing was, I would rather forecast and analyze the stocks and input something on the computer than to face the guest. I would serve them, yeah… But sweet-talking them as to why they should eat in our restaurant wasn’t really my thing. I always leave that to Kamei-san or Michishige-san while I always hide in the bar where I’m enjoying making/tasting the drinks.
“Just do it. Look at the other passengers. They are talking even though they don’t know each other. Look at Nakazawa-san, she let us ride on her truck even though she doesn’t know us. She talks to us from time to time just to check on us. She’s not even the mayor but just a simple worker in the city hall but she still decided to help us. So I think, that’s enough reason for ‘us’ to help this person who’s in desperate need of heat.”
Gaah, I hate it when my inner mind tells me what to do. She made it look like it’s really easy. I sucked in my fear and faced the girl.
“A..a.. are you cold?”
“Geez can’t you tell yourself?! OF COURSE SHE’S COLD THAT’S WHY SHE’S SHIVERING!”
“Ahhh…” The reply made me want to cut the conversation but my inner side was still bugging me. I looked down at my jacket. “I can share you my jacket.” The girl looked back at me with a shocked expression on her face.
“Yeah.” Our conversation was going smooth. Did I sound sarcastic there? Anyways, I started taking off my jacket when the girl straightened up and stopped me.
“It’s your jacket. I’m fine.” Finally! A full sentence from the girl.
“But I can see you shivering.” The girl blinked several times at me. I knew that she was trying to think of an answer.
“Well, it’s because of this weather. It’s just normal.” Woah, I didn’t know that there’s a person who’s stubborn than me. I can’t give up now right? Not when this strange feeling of confidence has swept me. I moved closer to her and put half of my jacket on her.
“I think its ‘normal’ for me to share this jacket with you.” This time the girl was speechless with my bold action. I can’t remember the last time that I’m being bold like this. I tried starting a conversation and my efforts have not been wasted. I learned that her name was Niigaki Risa, she was just hired as a receptionist in the hotel in front of our building and she lives near my cousin’s house. It’s really a small world right? We talked about lots of things; from our current situation now, which wasn’t going any better, to our work and hobbies. And then after almost four grueling hours, the cars were already moving. We laughed at the scene. There were many cars and buses that weren’t moving, probably because the driver has fallen asleep. We approached the toll gate in a matter of 15 minutes. But, when it’s our turn to pay, Nakazawa-san sped off.
“Ehh? Why?” Risa asked me, as if I know the answer.
“Maybe she’s just pissed off because we’re stranded for hours and they didn’t do anything.”
And what do you know, my hunch was right. Apparently, a high-way trooper followed us and asked Nakazawa-san to pay.
“WE’VE BEEN STRANDED FOR HOURS AND YOU PEOPLE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!”
“The flood is out of our hands. We can’t control things like that.” And so, we innocent people have to listen to this heated argument. The trooper called some back up and I felt Risa stiffen as soon as she saw that the other trooper was holding a shot gun. Nakazawa-san was still driving slowly because the cars in front were driving slowly too. I bet the flood hasn’t gone down for good. And then my reverie was suddenly halted when the door of the passenger seats opened and the people inside there, transferred to our place… while the truck was still in motion. A girl was crying and freaking out.
“He aimed the gun at Nakazawa-san! I was really scared!” I looked at the couple in front of me; the girl with the long black hair was stroking the scared girl’s back.
“Don’t worry about it. He will not shoot her. There are many witnesses if he did that.” The boyish girl answered. Risa looked at me with a scared expression on her face.
“Don’t worry. Nakazawa-san works in the city hall. She’ll be alright.” After a couple of minutes of heated argument, the troopers finally left us. The rest of the journey was uneventful, after all, it’s almost four in the morning and all of us were already tired.
“You guys alright back there? Nakazawa-san shouted from the driver’s seat. “Just shout when you need me to stop.” All of us answered yes.
“I’m almost near.” I said to Risa. “I can leave you my umbrella and just get it tomorrow at the hotel.”
“Thank you but I decline your offer. You’ve done a lot for me.”
“We’ll see each other again.”
“Hai!” Risa answered. I’m glad that I listened to my inner self. It feels good to earn a new friend. I shouted to Nakazawa and she stopped the truck. I jumped down and took one last look at my new friend before going to the front and thanking the kind lady. It’s muddy and dark at our place. I quickly got my lighter and opened it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t smoke but we had a smoking area so a lighter was part of our ‘readiness checklist’. When I got home, I quickly mailed my manager, asking whether she can change my schedule, again. Thank goodness Matsuura-san was already awake at that time and replied that I can go to work at lunch time. I quickly replied thanks and put the phone on my drawer. It’s been a tiring day for me but I experience a lot of new things and earned a new friend.