Choice 1

It was January 8. It was a cold day. Well, cold for Florida.

Jimmy knew it was time. He’d had enough. Jimmy took the last swig of his morning coffee, getting that sweet taste of caramel syrup that sunk to the bottom, and purposefully stepped into his boss’ office closing the door behind him.

This wasn’t out of the ordinary. Jimmy had a casual relationship with his boss, Elizabeth. While the small financial firm was hers, Elizabeth saw Jimmy more like an equal.

Elizabeth was a woman nearing retirement and, while she wasn’t unattractive, she certainly would not cause any car collisions. She had long, curly, jet black hair that she played with incessantly. It wasn’t a nervous twitch, it was just how she occupied her time.

Jimmy sat down and told Elizabeth he had something to say. She started listening, though never removing her gaze from her computer screen. Elizabeth was not dutifully focused on work. No, Elizabeth was concentrating hard on her riveting game of solitaire.

Ten years earlier, when James Elliott Paul graduated from Stanford, he was offered a position at Elizabeth Katanees and Associates. Jimmy always thought he wanted to work for a large brokerage house and make millions. While he still wanted to make millions, he saw the stress and lack of life some of his peers had working in such large firms. So, he thought long and hard about this offer from a small firm in Fort Lauderdale.

Sitting in Elizabeth’s office, Jimmy wondered whether he made the right move a decade ago. Sure, he didn’t have the stress many of his peers had but he also didn’t make as much money. It’s not that Jimmy didn’t have any money, he just didn’t have as much as some of his friends.

Over the years, Jimmy made good investments, paid off student loans, bought a nice little car and a condo. Jimmy didn’t make tons of money, but he invested well and was able to pick up and go away for the weekend on a whim. That’s the lifestyle Jimmy always wanted. He didn’t need to have his own jet. He just wanted to be able to do what he wanted without having to plan too far ahead.

Stability and a regular paycheck was what kept him at Elizabeth Katanees and Associates. The job started out great ten years ago. Over the past decade, it got progressively worse. It was a stable job with decent income but Jimmy couldn’t take it any longer.

“It’s time for me to move on, Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth, still intent on beating the computer at solitaire this time, only kind of heard what Jimmy said. “What?”

“You have taught me many things and, for that, I am eternally grateful. But, I’ve received an offer from an old friend back in Portland and I just can’t pass it up.”

This felt so much like breaking up with a girlfriend. Jimmy had never quit a job before. Not a real job, anyway. He’d quit a couple of part time jobs in high school and college but nothing like this.

Jimmy was slightly nervous, his leg was twitching. Maybe it was the excess caffeine.

While Elizabeth was not a towering figure, she could get heated quickly. Jimmy was not an intimidating man. He was barely six foot and only 150 pounds soaking wet. Jimmy had a baby face, pasty skin and a few freckles. His dark brown hair had been the same army buzz cut since he was seven. He liked it that way. It took no time to style in the morning and he could drive with his windows down without messing up his hair. He saw no reason to change.

“I can’t believe this, James.” Elizabeth liked to call Jimmy by his given name. She felt it was more formal, so she said. The real reason was that she wanted to be a motherly figure for Jimmy since his family was so far away.

“I know and it pains me to do this but I just can’t pass up this opportunity.” Jimmy justified telling Elizabeth he had a job offer in Portland because it was easier than telling her the truth. In reality, there was no job. Jimmy wasn’t moving back to Portland. Jimmy had simply grown to despise Elizabeth.

Elizabeth felt betrayed. “Well if that’s how it’s going to be, leave your key at the front desk when you leave. I’ll go to lunch and expect you gone when I return.”

Well, that happened fast.

“I’m fully prepared to stay on and help train a replacement. I have a full month before I have to be in Portland.” Jimmy’s voice was shaking now realizing the anger and hurt in Elizabeth’s tone.

“No, it’s fine. I appreciate your work. Take care.” Elizabeth had her moments but Jimmy had never seen her turn this cold this quickly with someone with whom she had supposedly been close.

In a perfect world, Jimmy would have started emptying his desk and slowly removing items from his office weeks ago. But, this decision was on a whim and he didn’t have that luxury.

True to her word, Elizabeth left while Jimmy remained seated in the uncomfortable wooden chair. She said she was going to lunch but it wasn’t even ten in the morning yet. Elizabeth stormed down the hallway, “Jimmy quit! Say your goodbyes.”

Jimmy dreamt of this moment for quite some time but he couldn’t believe it was actually happening. He was still sitting, stunned, in Elizabeth’s office when his assistant, Portia, came rushing in.

“Yes, it’s true. I have a better offer.” He hated lying to Portia. They made a good team and she had been his assistant since his first day on the job. Despite his great longing to leave Elizabeth Katanees and Associates, he was going to miss Portia.

Jimmy saw numerous associates come and go during his tenure. Elizabeth always felt betrayed, even if she was letting the person go. As a result, not a single employee ever left on good terms. A sign Jimmy should have picked up on years ago.

Jimmy knew Elizabeth was serious about him being gone before she got back from her mid morning lunch. Jimmy quickly went over things with Portia as he was packing up his belongings. He hated leaving this pile of work on Portia but there was nothing he could do now other than make sure she knew what to do.

Jimmy had been looking forward to this day for years. Now that it was here, it was like an out of body experience. It was as though Jimmy was looking down from above watching himself pack up his office.

As the seconds turned into minutes and Jimmy’s actions began sinking in, he started getting excited. Jimmy was anxious for what was to come next. He was looking forward to the opportunities ahead. But, mostly, Jimmy enjoyed the wonderful feeling of having a vast weight lifted off his shoulders. And now, Jimmy was wondering just why the hell it took him so long.

Next Chapter: Choice 2