I tried to stay alert waiting for Ralph to show up, but after staring intently at the monitor for what seemed like an eternity, my eyelids blinked on and off until… Oops, I must’ve fallen asleep for a few minutes. Shaking the fog out of my head, I thought I heard a tiny voice singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” with Bruce Springsteen.
Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes I glanced at the monitor. A young woman in her early twenties, I surmised, was sitting behind a desk, cluttered with paper and books. Her curly hair was so red that it contrasted with her magenta mohair sweater. She was writing something down with a pencil, then poking her forehead with the eraser all the while cracking gum and humming along with Bruce. She looked up at me and sighed, “Well, finally you’re awake. I had to pump up the volume on my radio to get your attention; nearly blew the bow right out of my hair!”
“You’re not Ralph.” I said, not quite alert.
“Myopia told me that Ralph would come to me if I pressed his code letters, which I did. And now, I’ve got you, whoever you are. Where’s Ralph?” I was highly indignant at her answer.
She jumped up off her chair and walked around to the front of her desk. Her green plaid pleated skirt swung back and forth over black tights. She tapped one of her tan Ugghs on the floor while wagging a purple painted fingernail at me. “First, miss high and mighty, my name’s Earlene, Ralph’s secretary.” She vocally underlined the last two words. “Second, anyone wanting to see an IA needs an appointment.”
“Geez! Myopia didn’t tell me I had to make an appointment. I’m sorry if I offended you.” I cooled down a bit.
Earlene strutted back and forth in front of the desk. “You newbies are all alike. Ya think all you have to do is press a few keys and whamo-jambo you get help. It doesn’t work like that.” She shook her head and gave me that oh-brother-this one’s-a real-jewel look.
“Okay, I’ll start again. I’d like to make an appointment with Ralph as soon as possible.” I was a little perturbed at her comment. No, rather a lot perturbed.
Earlene swayed back to her desk and sat down in front of her computer. “Well, let’s see what,s available.” She hummed and cracked her gum to some unrecognizable tune while checking Ralph’s calendar. “The earliest he can see you is Wednesday, January 25 at 2 p.m.”
“What?” I screeched, well, almost. I couldn’t believe that I’d have to wait for a whole month. “B…but,” I stammered, “Myopia said that he was coming off a break up with his partner, Alph. She thought I’d be just what he needed to get back into the swing of things.”
“Well, she got it wrong. He’s back for his regulars, but you’re new and just like a doctor’s office, you’ll need to fill out some forms before he can see you.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me…Forms?” I did screech then. I began to wonder if getting an IA to help me with ideas was worth it.
“Yep, if you want help from and IA, you must fill out the forms.”
“And, how do I get those forms?”
“Easy as pie.” Earlene gave me another you-are-so-dense stares. “Tap on *AR then type in the words IA Forms. They’ll come up on your screen. Just fill them in, and tap enter at the bottom of the form that says Enter. It will go directly into Ralph’s computer.”
I avoided the way she gave the instructions like I was a kid or something, and decided I’d approach her in different way. So, I asked in my most sincere voice, “Could I possibly be put on a waiting list if Ralph has any cancellations?”
Earlene sucked in her cheeks and murmured to herself, “These newbies want it all, and want it now.”
“I heard that!” I was getting annoyed with her uppitiness, but again realized that I had better hold back because I felt that somehow she could make or break a new writer by flipping them off her computer with one stroke of her purple fingernailed finger. So, I smiled and thanked her for her help while gritting my teeth.
“All rightie then. I’ll be off, now. Tootle-oo, but don’t delay, there’s plenty more people looking for help.” she warned.
With a click of her mouse, Earlene was gone. And I was left sitting at my computer trying to wrap my head around what the hell happened. I knew that my next task was to fill out the forms, but at this point, I couldn’t bear to bring them up on my computer. Frankly, I was a little scared at what it was that I had to fill out. The one thing I knew was that I couldn’t procrastinate forever. Earlene’s gum-chewing warning lodged in my head. I needed to stay on her good side if I knew what was best for me!