I felt wings were grown behind my back. I was on my own, finally enjoying my work, no one to control me, and I have completed a few very successful work cases.
One of them was a new store opening, when I had to help Dana, my best friend. We started working together on the store level, when I just came to Dubai, and we found many things in common. Sometimes we went to have a good pint after work, chatting about life and so on. She was nice girl, but not easy, so wasn't I. That brought us closer, I guess. She've been to a complicated relations, and I knew both of them, so I used to be the shoulder to cry on. I didn't mind, cause I knew, she had no one else a girl in this country.
A year after my promotion, she got promoted as well, taking a similar position in a brother-brand. We both worked under B that time.
So I was helping her with the store opening. I had my own store openings back to back that time, so that was very hot fall, nothing to focus on, but work.
We met early morning in the mall, picked up a few helpers from the stores, and headed to Abu Dhabi.
I'll give you a rough picture of what the store opening is: no lights except emergency lamps, labours all around, drilling the last elements of design, cleaners trying to clean whatever, staff binning the cartons with product, arranging stockroom, merchandisers starting to perform a display, and bosses all around, pushing everyone to finish if off ASAP and get ready to open tomorrow. That's how it is, and how it exactly was last time. Well, we had enough hands, which was great, everyone worked hard, so I estimated the situation as smooth, and planned to move to one of my other Abu Dhabi stores, that I have just opened last week. I planned to drop by, take pictures, and then return back to Dana and finish work with her.
I was hanging somewhere at the ceiling, my both legs standing at the metal shelves of the stockroom, cause there were not enough ladders, and taking out display pieces of product. That was how B found me, when he entered the stockroom. I greeted him, he raised his head, and I thought about my tight black leggings, hoping, that the dimmed lights in the stockroom would not reveal the whole landscape of my thighs and buttocks.
'How's it going?' - he asked in a concerned tone.
'Everything is under control!' - I replied with braveness.
He didn't seem to move out, so I threw the product in the floor and jumped down.
We walked out together, and I gave him a round in the gloomy store, giving a heads up.
'I don't have my car today' - he explained, - 'Came here with Rasheed'
'Oh, I see' - I replied - 'what's happened to the car?'
'That's a funny story, I lost my car key, and I couldn't find the second set also'
Crazy, I thought.
'Oh, how did you loose it?'
'I gave my car to valet, and they returned it back to me, but somehow I've never seen it again' - he smiled is confusion, revealing the row of small, but perfect white and straight teeth. I again mentioned to myself, what a smile that man had.
'The guys from Lexus said, that it will take a week to produce a new key' - he continued, - 'So I'm taking any lift I can'
Ok, I said to myself, of course you can do it, everyone will be there to drop you. A the same time I recalled those times, when I didn't have car, and the ghost of Ras-Al-Khaima public bus stop came over my mind, taking me out of this reality. I shook my head and heard B talking to someone about HOF, the store, that we have just opened, and that I planned to visit today. I checked my watch, it was close to lunch time, but there was no traces of food around, cause the mall was still closed for public. That was time to move, so I called out:
'I'm going to HOF now, do you want to join?'
I said that, but I wasn't sure he will. Before I found him to be a little shy, especially when it was coming to favours, especially to favours from employees on a step lower, especially from females.
But surprisingly, I caught his glance. He hesitated a second, that seemed to me like a minute, he himself probably took it as an hour of thinking.
'Are you going HOF?' - he asked me, holding my eyes.
Damn, didn't I just said that?
'Yes, and coming back here after.' - I honestly didn't want to make it a big public deal.
'Ok, let's go and come back'
We left the construction site and I leaded him to my parking lot.
'God, you walk faster than me!' - he exclaimed, loosing a few steps behind me.
'I always walk fast, I don't like to loose time' - I replied, slowing down as we approached escalator.
'Good, me too.'
What was strange, I had rolled this kind of moments in my head so many times. As we drive somewhere, or having lunch, or just talking. Why did I do that? I have no idea. But in reality everything was different, and I wasn't so brave and smart, and he wasn't so brave and charming, too.
We sat in the car, and I took off.
Actually, we have never had problems talking. We made an easy talk, discussing cars, roads, routes and weather, and I don't remember what else. Sometimes we paused, but it didn't feel uncomfortable. He told me that his first car here was Jeep, and I appreciated it with full honesty, cause I liked the car. I thought, he was a cool guy.
We listened to some music, he started singing along, and the singing was bad. I smiled to myself, what to do, not very one can sing, but at least someone is not shy to try. I'd better kill myself, than sing in public, cause I know, I have no voice, though, I have a pitch and I can play instruments.
As we headed towards the City centre, we discussed the modern buildings and Abu Dhabi architecture, and I told him about some innovative constructions, that he didn't know about. He seemed impressed, and I was prod, that finally I said something smart.
We stacked in a small traffic in the City centre, in one of the signals, but we both didn't notice it, cause we were deep into some discussion about Moscow, and the lifestyle there, and he started recalling some of our colleagues, particularly one lady, district manager.
'Marina was her name, right?' - he asked.
'Yeah right, Marina'
'A very nice lady, what happened to her?'
'I have no idea' - I replied - 'hope, that something good. She was a good person, very hardworking'
'Yeah, very professional and hardworking, but she didn't have kids, right?'
'No, she never married' - I also recalled that her father died, and there was no family left.
'That's strange, she was very good-looking woman' - he said thoughtfully.
'Yeah, she was naturally beautiful' - I admitted, deep in my thoughts also, when his question reached me:
'Am I a good-looking?' - he suddenly asked.
I was a little bit lost at that moment, cause the question was too sudden, and at the same time the traffic started moving, and one Pakistani truck was just about to cut my way, so I roughly threw the gear and pushed the pedal to pass the signal on yellow. So all that moment went little bit unclear, but I think, I mumbled something encouraging, like 'sure, you look ok!'
If the environment around was better, I would for sure turn to him, catch his sight and try to read in his eyes, and maybe deserve another charming smile of perfect white teeth, and return it back, and see what would happen.
But in this reality, I had to concentrate on the road, and just regret that such a delicious moment went unused.
We took the elevator from the parking to the mall, a brand new place, but deserted. As we approached our location, we found, that the area was still closed, but there was a staff and security meeting, and everything seemed to be ready to open.
'Just pass through' - he said to me.
So we both entered with the poker faces, and walked through the clouds of perfume department, until one of the securities called out:
'Sir, excuse me, we are closed yet'
B turned to him, started explaining, what we were doing there, and finally they let us in.
We took a round in the site, took pictures, everyone with his Ipad, and when the business was done, we descended back to the car.
'Drop me here nearby.' - B asked me, as we sat in.
'You will not go back?' - I asked, hoping that no disappointment was shown in my voice.
'No, there is a place with the food from my native town, I always have lunch here,when I have chance. I'm not offering you, cause I know, you don't like our food' - he smiled.
Damn Indian food. Can't stand it.
'But you have no car' - I tried my last chance.
'It's ok, Sunil will drop me back' - he replied. I wonder, if he regret, or he felt embarrassed about unanswered question, or he just decided, it's too much of me in his day today.
'Ok, as you wish! Enjoy your lunch!'
It took us minutes to get there, and he closed the door, and waved me. I smiled, waved too, and took off.