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Frederick Lang

 

He wasn’t the kind to pick a secretary by the color of her hair. Not Bill
Hargrave. Both Paula and Nancy had been smart enough to know that. And for some
time everyone in the office had known that one of them, Paula or Nancy, was
going to get the job. In fact, the decision would probably be made this
afternoon. Hargrave was leaving town and wanted to settle the matter before he
left.
The two girls  could see him from their desks outside his office. Maybe it was
only some correspondence that he was looking at with cool, keen eyes. But for a
moment his finger seemed to pause above those two efficient little pushbuttons.
If he pressed the left one, it would be Paula’s pulse which would begin to beat
faster.

Paula couldn’t keep her eyes off that light on her desk. She kept making
mistakes in her typing and nervously taking the sheets of paper out in order to
start all over again.
She leaned across her typewriter and said to Nancy, “The boss is all dressed up
today. He must be going on a special trip.”
She was just talking to relieve her nervousness. Nancy took her time about
answering. She wasn’t used to having Paula talk to her in such an intimate tone.
Not since they’d learned a month ago that they were both in line for a
promotion, for the important job as Bill Hargrave’s secretary.
“He does look nice.”
Hargrave was young and outside of office hours he was said to be human. But that
wasn’t why he’d gotten to be one of the important officials of the company until
they saw him one day in one of the top executive positions.
The two girls saw him get up from his desk  and walk to the doorway of his
office. He stood there with one hand in a pocket of his blue flannel suit. There
was a small white flower in his buttonhole and the usual keen, unrevealing smile
on his face.
“Did you send for the tickets?” he asked Nancy.
“I got the tickets all right,” she answered, “but…and she tried to smile in the
same hard way the boss did. She looked about as hardboiled as a white kitten.
“But there just aren’t any staterooms to be had,” she told him. “Not for love or
money.”
The boss was certainly disappointed. Anybody could see that.
“Suppose I try it?” Paula suggested quickly.
And for the next ten minutes, half the office employees could hear Paula telling
the ticket agent exactly what she thought of him.
“Listen,” she said, “I don’t care whose reservations you have to cancel…”
Well, the job was worth going after. There was the salary, for one thing. And
there was the prestige. The boss’s secretary knew a great deal about the
business. And there were the interesting people she got to talk to. The
important people. And the boxes of perfume, flowers, and candy they often left
on her desk.
And there was Bill Hargrave for a boss. Young and clever and attractive. That
was a factor, too. Because in the advertising business you called the boss
“Bill,” and he called his secretary “Nancy” or “Paula” and took her to dinner on
the company expense account.
It was all strictly business, but it seemed intimate and informal.
Both Paula and Nancy knew about those dinners. Bill had tried to be fair. He
would ask Paula to stay one night, and it would be Nancy’s turn the next night.
But Paula had been smart. She had soon learned how impersonal Bill Hargrave
could be, even at those intimate dinners. About as personal as one of those
advertisements that says, “This means you.” And she saw how much harder to
please he was during the overtime hours- more irritable, more inclined to be
critical in his manner.
So when Nancy had said, “I don’t mind staying nights, really. I know Paula
usually has a date. She’s popular with the men…” well, Paula had been glad to
let it go at that. She’d been quick enough to see that neither of them was going
to get the job simply on a basis of physical attractiveness, and she was right.
Paula didn’t need any lessons when it came to office politics. She was the one
who was always busy when someone of little importance in the office wanted his
material typed. “Sorry, but it’s impossible, Jack. Why not ask Nancy?”
And they did ask Nancy. It left Paula free to do Bill Hargrave’s work in a
hurry. She was never too busy for Mr. Bill’s work.
When Hargrave finally pressed one of those buttons it was at Paula’s desk that
the light went on. She started to make a grab for her notebook, but she quickly
took out her mirror first. Then she grabbed up her notebook and an envelope that
was on her desk.
As for Nancy, what else could she do but sit there with her pretty blonde head
bent over her typewriter? Nancy was a natural blonde, and that seemed the best
way to describe her.
She just didn’t seem to know any tricks such as Paula did for making herself
more popular with the boss.
The moment Paula got inside Hargrave’s office he asked about that stateroom.
“Any luck, Paula?”
Paula wasn’t dumb. It was the little things that would count with Mr. Bill.
Orchestra seats at the theater when an important client was in the town and the
show was sold out. Or a stateroom when there were “no staterooms to be had for
love or money.”
She handed him the envelope. It contained the two sets of tickets. “That’s your
stateroom number on the outside,” she said in a businesslike way.
She had on a blue flannel suit something like Bill’s, and it was clear he
thought she looked pretty smart in it.
“Don’t forget the time,” she added, “eight-fifteen.”
Hargrave smiled. “So there were no staterooms for love or money, eh?”
He looked again at the number of his stateroom and he put the envelope carefully
in his inside pocket.
Then he told her. She was going to have a new job. He mentioned the salary, too.
He didn’t neglect to mention the salary.
She took it just right- in a very businesslike manner. Just enough of gratitude.
And then, the old sportsmanship. How sorry she felt about Nancy. She didn’t look
sorry
And neither did Bill. He told her it was okay, that she shouldn’t worry about
Nancy, that Nancy wasn’t made for the job anyway, and that besides, he and Nancy
were leaving on their honeymoon tonight. Tonight at eight-fifteen.

Büyük F?rsat

Frederick Lang
O bir sekreteri saç?n?n rengine bakarak seçecek tipte   biri de?ildi. En az?ndan
Bill Hargrave böyle de?ildi. Hem Paula, hem de Nancy bunu bilecek kadar
zekiydiler. Ve bir süredir de bürodaki herkesin bildi?i gibi içlerinden biri,
Paula veya Nancy, i?i alacakt?. Asl?nda, karar muhtemelen bu ö?leden sonra
verilecekti. Hargrave kasabadan ayr?l?yordu ve gitmeden önce meseleyi halletmek
istiyordu.
K?zlar?n ikisi de, çal??ma odas?n?n d???ndaki masalar?ndan onu görebiliyorlard?.
Belki de patronlar?n?n sakin, keskin gözlerle bakt??? sadece bir mektuptu. Ama
bir an için parma??, o iki küçük i?lek ça?r? dü?mesinin üzerinde durur gibi
oldu. E?er soldakine basarsa, daha h?zl? atmaya ba?layacak olan nab?z
Paula’n?nki olacakt?.
Paula gözlerini masas?n?n üzerindeki ???ktan ay?ram?yordu. Daktiloda hata
yapmaya ve her?eye ba?tan ba?lamak için gergin bir ?ekilde ka??tlar? ç?karmaya
devam etti.
Daktilosunun üzerinden e?ildi ve Nancy’ye, “Patron bugün ba?tan a?a??ya iyi
giyinmi?. Özel bir geziye gidiyor olmal?” dedi.
Sadece gerginli?ini yat??t?rmak için konu?uyordu. Nancy cevap vermekte acele
etmedi. Paula’n?n, kendisiyle böyle samimi bir ses tonuyla konu?mas?na al??k?n
de?ildi. Özellikle de, bir ay önce her ikisinin de Bill Hargrave’in sekreterli?i
gibi önemli bir i?e terfi etmek için aday olduklar?n? ö?renmi? olmalar?ndan
beridir.
“Ho? görünüyor.”
Hargrave gençti ve mesai saatlerinin d???nda insanc?l oldu?u söylenirdi. Ama
onu, bir gün ?irketin üst yönetici mevkilerinde birinde görene kadar ?irkette
önemli biri olmas? gerekti?inin sebebi bu de?ildi.
K?zlar?n ikisi de onun masas?ndan kalkt???n? ve çal??ma odas?n?n giri?ine do?ru
ilerledi?ini gördü. Orada, bir elini mavi kadife tak?m elbisesinin ceplerinden
birine sokmu? olarak ayakta durdu. Ceketinin yakalar?ndan birinde küçük, beyaz
bir çiçek ve yüzünde her zamanki zeki, kendini aç??a vurmaz gülümsemesi vard?.
“Biletleri istettiniz mi? diye sordu Nancy’ye.
“Biletleri hallettim,” diye yan?tlad? Nancy, “ama… ve patron gibi ayn? ciddi
ifadeyle gülümsemeye çal??t?. Beyaz bir kedi yavrusu kadar çaresiz göründü o an.
“Ama ay?rtabilece?imiz hiç özel kompartman kalmam??,” diye aç?klad? ona.
“Mümkünat? yok.”
Patron kesinlikle hayal k?r?kl???na u?ram??t?. Bunu herkes farkedebilirdi.
“Bir de ben deneyim mi?” diye çabucak bir teklifte bulundu Paula.
Ve sonraki on dakika boyunca ofis çal??anlar?n?n yar?s?, Paula’n?n bilet sat??
görevlisine kendisi hakk?nda ne dü?ündü?ünü söylemesini duyoyorlard?.
“Dinleyin,” diyordu, “Kimin rezervasyonlar?n? iptal etmek zorunda kald???n?z hiç
umurumda de?il…”
Eee, i? pe?inden ko?maya de?erdi. Bir kere, maa?? iyiydi. Ve sayg?nl??? vard?.
Patronun sekreteri, i?ler hakk?nda oldukça fazla bilgiye sahip olurdu. Ve
konu?mak durumunda kald??? ilginç

insanlar vard?. Önemli ki?iler. Ve bu ki?ilerin s?k s?k masas?n?n üstüne
b?rakt??? kutular dolusu parfüm, çiçek ve ?ekerler.
Ve Bill Hargrave vard? patron olarak. Genç ve zeki ve çekici. Bu da bir etkendi.
Çünkü, reklamc?l?k i?inde patronuna “Bill” diye seslenirdin, ve o da sekreterine
“Nancy” veya “Paula” derdi ve onu ?irket giderleri hesab?ndan ödenen ak?am
yemeklerine götürürdü.
Bu mutlak suretle, tamamen i?in bir parças?yd?, ancak biraz samimi ve gayri
resmi görünürdü.
Hem Paula, hem de Nancy bu ak?am yemeklerini iyi biliyorlard?. Bill adil olmaya
çal??m??t?. Bir ak?am Paula’dan kalmas?n? rica ederdi, ve sonraki ak?am yemek
s?ras? Nancy’ye gelirdi.
Ama Paula ak?ll? hareket etmi?ti. Bill Hargrave’in o samimi ak?am yemeklerinde
bile ne kadar mesafeli olabildi?ini hemen ö?renmi?ti. ?u içlerinden birinde
a?a?? yukar? “Bu sen demeksin” diyen reklam kadar mesafeliydi. Ve onu fazla
mesai s?ras?nda memnun etmenin nas?l daha da zor oldu?unu gördü_ daha asabi,
hareketlerinde ele?tirici olmaya daha fazla e?ilimli.
Ve tabii Nancy “Ak?amlar? ben kalabilirim, gerçekten. Paula’n?n genellikle bir
randevusu oldu?unu biliyorum. Erkekler aras?nda oldukça me?hur…” dedi?inde,
Paula olay?n böyle geli?mesine izin vermekten ho?nut olmu?tu. Paula, ikisinin de
bu i?i sadece fiziksel çekicilikleri ile elde edemeyeceklerini görmekte
gecikmemi?ti, ve hakl?yd?.
??, büro politikalar?na geldi?inde, Paula’n?n hiç bir derse ihtiyac? yoktu.
Büroda fazla önemli olmayan biri notlar?n? daktilo ettirmek istedi?inde her
zaman me?gul olan hep oydu. “Üzgünüm, ama imkans?z Jack. Neden Nancy’den
istemiyorsun?”
Ve onlar da Nancy’ye rica ederlerdi. Bu Paula’ya, Bill Hargrave’in i?lerini daha
acele yapma özgürlü?ünü getirdi. O, Bay Bill’in i?leri için asla çok me?gul
de?ildi.
Hargrave en sonunda ?u dü?melerden birine bast???nda, ????? yanan Paula’n?n
masas?yd?. Not defterini kapmak için hareketlendi, ama daha önce çabucak
aynas?n? ç?kard?. Sonra defterini ve masas?n?n üzerindeki bir zarf? ald? hemen.
Nancy’ye gelince, sapsar? kafas? daktilosunun üzerine bükülmü? bir ?ekilde orada
öylece oturmaktan ba?ka ne gelirdi elinden? Nancy do?al bir sar???nd?, ve bu onu
tan?mlayabilecek en iyi ifadeydi.
Sadece, Paula’n?n kendini patrona daha da yak?nla?t?rmak için ba?vurdu?u
hilelerin hiç birini biliyor gibi görünmüyordu.
Paula patronun çal??ma odas?na girdi?i anda, Hargrave ?u kompartman konusunu
açt?.
“Hiç ?ans?m?z var m?, Paula?”
Paula aptal de?ildi. Mr. Bill için önemli olan Ufak ayr?nt?lard?. Önemli bir
mü?teri kasabadayken, tüm biletlerin sat?ld??? bir tiyatro salonunda orkestra
gösterisi için yer bulabilmek gibi. Veya “ayarlanmas?n?n mümkün olmad???” bir
zamanda bir kompartman.
Ona zarf? uzatt?. ?çinde iki ki?ilik bilet vard?. “Bu salonun kenar?ndaki
kompartman?n?z?n numaras?,” dedi ciddi bir ifadeyle.
Üzerine Bill’inkine benzer mavi kadife bir tak?m elbise giymi?ti, ve bu elbise
içinde patronun onun çok güzel göründü?ünü dü?ündü?ü a?ikard?.
“Saatini unutmay?n” diye ekledi, “sekiz-onbe?.”
Hargrave gülümsedi. “Güya kompartman ayarlamak mümkün de?ildi, ha?”
Kompartman?n?n numaras?na tekrar bakt? ve zarf? dikkatli bir ?ekilde iç cebine
koydu.
Sonra ona söyledi. Yeni i?i o alacakt?. Maa?tan da bahsetti. Maa?tan bahsetmeyi
ihmal etmedi.
Paula bunu tam anlam?yla uygun bir ?ekilde-çok ciddi bir tav?rla- kabul etti.
Sadece yetecek kadar bir minnettarl?kla.
Ve sonra, ?u eski sportmenlik. Nancy için ne kadar da üzülüyordu. Asl?nda pek de
üzgün görünmüyordu.
Ve Bill de üzgün görünmüyordu. Ona her ?eyin yolunda oldu?unu, Nancy için
endi?elenmemesi gerekti?ini, nihayetinde Nancy’nin bu i?e uygun olmad???n?, ve
bunun yan?s?ra, o ve Nancy’nin bu ak?am balay?na ç?kacaklar?n? söyledi. Bu
ak?am, saat sekiz-onbe?teki trenle.

 

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