Feet on the Path

Thursday brought a lull in visitors, calls and questions. Tish spent most of it muttering at her screen as she worked her way through the first of a number of courses she’d found.

Everything she learned seemed to make its way into the courier receipt spreadsheet. The file was different and more complicated every time Calypso opened it to record a delivery.

Thankfully there weren’t many and she was able to devote a decent amount of time to outlining her suggestions for the event space.

Halfway through the afternoon, two floppy-haired young men bounced through the doors.

They faltered a little when they saw Calypso, sending her vague, uncertain smiles as they came to a stop in front of Tish. Who didn’t notice.

Calypso said. “May I help you?”

The man with the floppy light brown hair said. “Oh, no, no, we’re fine. Just checking how our protégée here is enjoying herself.”

So these would be the people who placed Tish? Interesting.

Calypso raised a brow. “Tish, would you like to tell these gentlemen how much you’re enjoying yourself on Reception?”

Tish looked up, noticed the pair in front of her, rolled her eyes and said. “You two are useless, leave me alone.”

Then went back to her course.

The man with the floppy dark brown hair gave a laugh as false as it was hearty. “So useless, we got you this job. You’ll have to come and do a presentation to the rest of the group on how well you’re doing.”

Tish took her hands from the keyboard and gave them a hard stare. “Sure. I’ll tell them all how you stuck me in a job I’m useless at, with none of the skills I need to be able to do it and no idea of what was involved.”

Calypso headed off the rest of Tish’s rant. “Were you just here to see Tish, or do you have a meeting with Hel?”

Light-brown hair said. “I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve me. You are?”

She returned his condescending smirk with a saccharine smile of her own. “I’m the receptionist Hel hired to replace Tish.”

That got rid of the smarmy grins. Tish sniggered.

Dark brown hair spluttered. “She can’t do that.”

Hel’s timing was, as always, impeccable. “Of course I can. My business, my rules, my decision.”

She rounded the desk and looked the two men up and down.

Calypso was starting to appreciate how well Hel used her unconventional appearance to gain the upper hand.

She continued. “Unlike you though, we’re not simply dumping the girl and running.”

Ignoring Tish’s wordless protest, she turned to Calypso. “Accounts?”

Calypso nodded. “Accounts. The more complex, the better.”

The two floppy-hairs were trying to recover their aplomb. “So good to hear she’s working out. We have a couple more candidates we just know you’ll love.”

Hel raised a brow. “Do you have ears?”

They faltered again.

Hel spoke to Calypso. “I would prefer you to recruit your assistants through an organisation supporting disadvantaged people.”

Her glare kept the men silent. “However, I would like you to find one that has enough respect for its candidates to both understand, and train them, properly.”

She left and Calypso turned back to her computer screen.

The men hovered. She let the silence stretch.

The one with the darker hair broke first. “So, you’re recruiting.”

She replied. “I am, but not through you.”

The lighter-haired one leaned over the desk. “Now don’t be like that, you know we can find you wonderful candidates. Much more presentable than Patricia.”

Calypso did not reply. She picked up the phone and called the number her web search brought up. “Yes, is that Delphi Personnel? Could you please put me through to Pythia? It’s Calypso Titan. Thank you.”

One of them, she wasn’t looking and their voices were too similar to bother distinguishing squeaked. “But Delphi are a professional search firm.”

Calypso replied. “Yes, with very successful bridging programmes for both refugees and the homeless.”

Tish leaned across to look at the screen. “Really? That’s cool.”

Another male whine. “But they’re taking jobs away from our disadvantaged group.”

Calypso gave them her own hard stare. “Then make your group more employable.”

Pythia picked up the phone and Calypso outlined her position and her request. The recruitment consultant took down the brief and promised a shortlist of candidates early the following week.

She hung up and looked at the two men still looming over her. “Was there something else, or do I need to call Security?”

They left, sulky and reluctant. As the door closed behind them, Tish growled. “What did they mean, more presentable than me?”

Calypso looked across. “Is that a question or a grumble?”

Tish looked down at her keyboard, cheeks turning red. Oh dear, it was a question.

She chose her words carefully. “Your look works on you, but is a little unusual on a front desk. Most receptionists are a little… more bland… than you.”

“So you think I’m not presentable.”

Calypso rolled her eyes. “I think you’re as presentable as you wish to be. The only advice I’d give you is to keep your lipstick topped up.”

Strangely, the retort seemed to work. Tish checked herself on her phone, reapplied her lip colour, and got back to work.

Friday morning was quiet. Calypso congratulated herself on the progress she’d made on the event space. Just a couple of hours more, and she’d have an initial set of ideas ready to present.

She didn’t get them. The afternoon brought a flood of people mistaking the submission date, asking questions so they could get their forms done on the weekend and in two cases, wanting Calypso to proof read their forms and proposals. She said no. She also pointed out they were a month and a half early.

The flow increased as the afternoon wore on.

She called Hel. “People seem to think submission is next week and I can’t work out why.”

Hel replied. “There’s an article on one of those start-up insider blogs that’s decided we have an early bird submission date. I’ll deal with them.”

She had no doubt Hel did deal with them, but the flood of panicked querents kept up through the afternoon.

She was able to get away on time though, and spent most of her train journey to Middle Melting on the Z Corp contract, going through, making notes, checking previous pages, jotting down questions. Her head was spinning when she stepped onto the platform and into Herne’s arms but she’d gone through the whole thing and was feeling a little more confident about her hypothetical seed of a business idea.

To anyone looking on, Calypso was sure the weekend would have looked boring. To her, it was bliss. Herne, the animals, the quiet, green open space. Even their Saturday afternoon trip to the supermarket was wonderful.

Herne was called out on a job on Sunday morning, and she spent the hours he was away curled up on the sofa, dogs at her feet, scribbling notes on homewares ideas.

When he got back, Herne asked. “What do your flatmates think of your business plans?”

She replied. “I haven’t said anything. They may worry whether I’m allowed to do this, and they’ll certainly gossip. This way I’m not putting them between me and Z Corp. It’s not like this is a real application anyway, it’s just…”

He flopped beside her on the sofa. “Just your dream and you don’t want it shot down. You think the company might have a problem with it?”

She made a face. “Maybe. It depends on what particular warhorse Zeus is riding if it comes up.”

She spent the train trip back to the city scribbling as well. Now how to get it all typed up and organised without Jason getting curious?

In the end, she took her personal laptop into work and retreated to the basement area at lunchtime; perching on one of the plastic chairs stacked in the corner, with the computer on her lap.

Hel found here there, just as she was coming to the end of her break. “You can use your work machine for non-reception projects you know.”

Calypso stammered. “Oh, I thought it was fixed to the desk. My one at Z Corp was, I had to borrow a spare when I did a project trip with them.”

Hel replied. “I’ll have Heimdall show you how to unlock it.”

She left before Calypso could reassure her about the progress on her plans for that level.

Returning to the front desk, and sending Tish on her break, she opened the event space file and scowled at it. This had to be done by the end of the day.

A woman’s voice said. “Oh, sorry, I think I might have picked a bad time.”

Calypso smoothed her expression and cursed on the inside. “I’m sorry, I was trying to make sense of a report. How may I help?”

She looked up, the woman grinned at her. “Maybe I can help you.”

She put out her hand. “Eos, I’m here to run the food truck.”

Calypso’s smile turned real. “Of course, Hel said you’d be here to finish the set-up today. It’s going to be lovely having you here.”

They shook hands and Eos said. “Now how about a trial cup of something to help you with that report? I do need to test my equipment after all. What would you like?”

After some good-natured bickering about what was and wasn’t too much trouble, Calypso was treated to the best chai tea she’d ever had.

She sipped and hummed. “I think I might have a new obsession.”

Eos was sunlight in brown skin and box braids. She was married ‘to the sweetest man on the planet’ and had five kids, the youngest one in high school.

She was also a people magnet. The applicants who came in for answers, stayed for coffee. Many returned the next day. The ground floor began to hum with human life as well as the plant variety.

Calypso finally sent her first thoughts on the downstairs space to Hel late on Monday afternoon. She wasn’t terribly surprised to see a response in her inbox the next morning.

Expand on options one and three, we can use the ground floor for catering space. Keep the colours dark.

Calypso stared at the computer screen. What on earth should she do next? She’d never furnished a space larger than her flat, and this was definitely not a personal space. She messaged Hercules.

You know that event space I told you about? I need to start getting things happening with it. Do you have any ideas who I can go to for proper designs and quotes?

He replied. I’ll check with Dionysus; we’ve got a wedding planning meeting with him this afternoon. He’ll know all about that stuff, both temporary and permanent.

She stayed a little late, working on her pretend business submission. The other two were home when she arrived.

Hercules said. “Dionysus asked if he could come and take a look at the place, maybe share some ideas.”

Calypso gulped. “He wants to see it?”

Jason handed her a glass of wine. “He’s always on the lookout for new venues to hire. If he’s able to get input on how it’s set up … it sounds like a good way to get a committed client.”

Calypso nodded. “Can you send me his details? I’ll ask Hel, and then contact him.”

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