June 15, 2011
I got to the office early the next day. I woke up early and went to the gym and, after going to the gym, I figured that it was time to start my day anyways. I still had a lot of documents to go through and, if Harriet turned into as much of a terror as Leon and my sister described, I would need the morning and late evenings to get my work done.
The more and more I looked into this building purchase the more nervous I got. First, they didn’t use a broker to sell their building. That’s not illegal or anything—owners can choose to sell their own buildings. They don’t have to have an agent since they’re selling their own building, but it is unusual. Secondly, there were some leases in the research complex that were shops. Purchasing that would make Goodard Corporation a landlord to a strip mall in addition to having a research facility. I memorized every piece of paper I saw; the dealings are too messy in this situation to put anything to chance.
At around eleven the doors to my office swung wide open. I took off my half-moon reading glasses and looked up. In the doorway stood a tall and thin artificially blonde woman who was decked from head-to-toe in designer brands and a fake spray tan. She had on big, round sunglasses and a bright pink structured tube-top dress. She was wearing heels that made her look even taller. She was probably five-ten, but the shoes made her look like she was over six feet tall.
The woman walked over to my desk and dropped her white leather designer bag on it. She flipped up her shades, and I saw her piercing eyes and high cheekbones that you could cut glass off of.
I stood up and extended my hand.
“You must be Harriet. I’m Mel. Mel Jones.” I shook her hand.
“I’m Harriet Goodard.”
“Take a seat.” I gestured to the beige leather chair that sat opposite my desk. I smiled at her. Even though she was dressed unprofessionally, I figured that I’d be polite and meet her where she was.
Harriet chomped away on her gum and flopped down onto the chair.
“You wish to be an intern here, correct?” I smiled.
“Yeah. I guess.” Harriet bit the bubble that she blew and folded the gum back into her mouth. She looked out the window with a disinterested expression.
“What makes you want to work in the law?” I asked.
Harriet rolled her eyes. “I don’t want to work in the law.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Then why are you here?”
“My stupid older brother sent me to this stupid school that makes me do a stupid internship. Every. Freaking. Summer. Like, why can’t I have fun with my friends or do something else? Literally anything else? I just want to go to the mall. Instead, I’m stuck here. No offense.”
How am I not supposed to take offense to that?
I paused for a moment. I figured that I should meet her where she’s at, so to speak. Someone had to look at the shops in property that we were purchasing. Why not her? If she wants to shop, let her shop and so something that needs to be done anyways.
“…I think I have something for you.”
Harriet rolled her eyes. I wondered how someone could turn out to be so rude and entitled. When I was her age, I was working two jobs and going to college trying to get ahead. Entitled brat. At that moment in time, something in me snapped. The buck had to stop with me. I was going to put her in her place. Boss’s sister be damned. I figure if I’m not going to earn her cooperation through being friendly, I’ll earn it by being the meanest boss ever. Probably no one ever told her that she’s a terror. Welp. She’s going to get an earful. What’s the boss going to say? Can he really fire me for doing my job and trying to teach his sister some damn manners, respect, and a work ethic? He must know that his sister sucks. He’ll understand.
“Look.” I started. “I know you don’t want to be here, but I’m trying to meet you halfway. If you’re going to be in this office, you’re going to do some kind of work.”
Harriet scoffed. “How dare you?”
I stood up from my chair and leaned over on my desk. I probably was more intimidating in my own head than in real life. When you’re only five-one, it’s hard to be intimidating. “How dare I do what? Make you do actual work? You’re getting a paycheck here. So long as you are getting a paycheck, you will do work.”
“Furthermore,” I continued, “This is one of the most prestigious medical research facilities in the world. So many people would jump at your opportunity.”
Harriet stood up and grabbed her bag. She loomed over me like a pillar. “Well, you know what!”
“Sit down,” I ordered.
“Sit down, Harriet.”
Harriet plopped down in her chair and fidgeted with the handle of her white leather bag. Inwardly, I was celebrating that I won our little exchange. I think I managed to display some female dominance to get her to back down. Outwardly, I was ice-cold, though.
Harriet crossed her legs and looked off to the side. Her face was red. I could tell that she was embarrassed. Good.
“Fine. What do I have to do?”
I folded my hands on the desk and pulled out a blueprint of the research complex. “See this blueprint?”
“I have eyes.”
I put my hand out in a ‘stop’ motion. Harriet opened her mouth and then closed it. “I know you have eyes,” I responded calmly. “Anyways, this blueprint is a property that the Goodard Corporation is looking into purchasing.”
“So? What does this have to do with me?”
“This is a big complex; there are three large buildings here. This one,” I pointed to a glass thirteen story building, “is an office building. This one,” I pointed to a large warehouse, “is a research facility. This one,” I pointed to a strip mall. “is a mall that’s being sold with the property.”
“Why are we buying a mall?” Harriet asked.
“Honestly? I’m not too sure. The seller insists on selling these three properties as a unit.”
“Well, that’s stupid. Maxwell doesn’t need a mall.”
“I know it’s stupid. Here’s the thing—the mall has some leases on it.”
“People live in a mall?”
“It's leased for the shops.” I corrected. “This company, Blazes, owns the mall and rents out spaces to different stores. The stores don’t actually own their property. If we buy the mall, we have to honor these leases, so the shops stay.”
“Huh,” Harriet said.
“Some of these stores don’t pay Blazes Incorporated, the old owner, their rent.”
“Why does that matter?” Harriet asked.
“If we buy the building from Blazes, our title includes those leases. So if we buy this property, we buy this mall. If we buy this mall, we’re stuck with the people who are at the mall now, barring the leases that are up.” I explained.
“So, what does this have to do with me?”
“I’m getting to that. Be patient.”
“Ok.” Harriet sulked.
“I need you to go to the mall and see how busy it is. Look at the stores. Are there people there? If so, how many people? Is there anything shady going on there? Do the stores look like they’re making money? Things like that. I want to make sure this mall won’t cost the corporation a lot of money.”
“That’s it,” I repeated.
“So…you just want me to go walk around a mall and tell you what’s going on.”
“Yes, exactly. It’s important, though. I want to see if there are a lot of people there so, if we do buy the property, I can get some new leases with the leases that are up and increase the pre-existing leases rent if I can.”
Harriet stood up and grabbed her bag.
“If you do this successfully, Ms. Goodard, then I will give you other tasks of more importance that suits your interest. However, if you decide just to skip and play hooky, you’re going to be stuck doing boring filing all summer long. Mark my words.”
Harriet looked down at the ground and blushed. “Ok.”
“Also, Ms. Goodard, work begins at nine in the morning. Prompt.” I added. Part of me regretted saying those words after they left my mouth. Now I was going to have to deal with her even more. At the same time, though, I felt that I owed it to Harriet to mentor her. She reminded me a bit of Ray, my own kid sister. I wanted to help her. Give her some guidance that I felt that she desperately needed.
Harriet quietly nodded her head. It was a nervous and embarrassed nod. She scurried out the door. I smiled to myself. I hate to play the bad guy, but in this situation, someone had to do it. She was rude and a terror. Alright, maybe I did enjoy playing the bad guy a bit. I didn’t want to put up with that all summer. Also, she was going nowhere in life with that attitude. Even if she modeled, which I figured she probably would end up doing in the future, she still needs to be relatively cooperative, I told myself.
I sat down at my desk and continued to conduct my research in peace and quiet.
I had a sinking feeling that this was the last time I’d get some peace and quiet in the office for a while.