Monday morning came quickly. I had a coffee at my moms house, in my old bedroom, before throwing on some jeans and a button-down shirt and heading downtown for my meeting. I picked up a tray of pastries from the bakery downtown before I met up with Jeff at the radio station.
Jeff, an old friend from high school, held the front door open for me as I maneuvered my way into the radio station with the tray of goodies.
“Well, good morning. I see you’re sucking up – it’s working.” He chuckled and took the tray from me and then set it down on the coffee table in the waiting area before reaching his arms around me in a hug.
“It’s been too long. You look great, Sienna. You haven’t changed since high school.” He held me at arms length and smiled a genuine smile.
If only that were true, I thought to myself. “Hi, Jeff. It’s nice to see you again. You look great too.”
We made small talk for a moment before Jeff picked up the tray of baking and led me down a hallway, to the staff room. “Let’s get started. Shall we?”
I nodded and then followed him through the maze of hallways.
“I didn’t know how many people would be at the meeting so I grabbed the largest pastry tray they had. I don’t remember that bakery being downtown when I was here last time. Is it new?”
Jeff laughed. “That’s my ex-wife’s bakery.”
A chill of agony tore through me. “I’m so sorry, Jeff. I didn’t know”
Good start, Sienna, I scolded myself.
“Don’t be sorry. It’s the only thing I miss about her – her baking! I’m looking forward to diving into that tray.” He held open the door with a huge smile on his face and let me walk into the staff room before him.
The room filled up with staff members as I arranged the baking tray on a table at the far end of the room, near the window. After I was done with the tray, I turned around and saw about twenty people scattered around the room. When the meeting started, Jeff talked on and on about some of the station’s business that was none of my concern, but I remained quiet for the sake of the others in the room.
I was self-conscious. I felt like an intruder even though my rental fees were paid and I had every right to be there. I felt a little uncomfortable being the only person in the room who didn’t work for the company. I may have been doing a similar job, but I was out of place, sitting among a group of people who legitimately worked together.
When Jeff called out my name, I jumped up, startled. “Everyone, I want you to welcome Sienna Jones to the ranks.” The room broke out into weak applause.
When the room went silent, he turned to me. “We’re a pretty small market in this area, so we’re on a first-name basis in our offices.”
As Jeff introduced the entire staff, I knew that I would be lucky if I remembered three of them. But I smiled and nodded as each person was introduced.
When he came to the last person, in the far corner of the room, my breath caught in my throat at Jeff’s introduction to the good-looking man from the bar. “And, way in the back, that’s Aiden. He’s the sports director for the station. He covers everything from local junior hockey games to high school wrestling.”
I gave Aiden, the sports director, a small smile of recognition and a quick head nod.
When Jeff was finished his head count, he explained, “Sienna works for a network out of Los Angeles, but she’s renting an office and the use of our equipment. She has her own radio show.” Again, Jeff turned to me and prompted me, “what’s the name of your show again, Sienna?”
“My World with Sienna Jones.” My response was met with an entire room full of blank stares and some polite but clueless nods. No one had any idea who I was and I was sure that not one of them had listened to my show. Strangely, I didn’t feel insulted at all. I felt relieved that people didn’t know who I was because I liked the anonymity of living back in my hometown.
“Anyway,” Jeff continued, “if she has questions or needs a helping hand, please, help her out until she feels comfortable around the offices.”
I smiled appreciatively at Jeff as he summed up his meeting. “One last thing before we leave, Sienna was gracious enough to buy a tray of pastry for all of us so help yourself to some goodies on the way out. Thanks for coming this morning everyone.”
As everyone grabbed a pastry and headed out the door, I made my way over to Jeff and smiled. “Thanks a lot, Jeff, for everything. It means a lot to me that you’re allowing me this opportunity. I was dreading the idea of working out of my house and you saved me from having to do that.”
Jeff laid a hand on my forearm, and smiled. “It’s my pleasure. Anything for an old friend. And if there’s anything you need help with, just let me know.”
I thanked him, grabbed a pastry from the tray I had bought, and then headed for the exit. As I took my time wandering through the hallways to get out of the building, I heard a male voice in the distance, talking with some of the other staff members.
As I approached the corner, I peeked around the corner, then hid back behind the wall, remaining out of sight. Aiden’s voice was quite clear when I heard him say, “it’s nice of Jeff to let her rent space here for her cute little one-woman radio show, but what happens when she’s in the booth and we need it? Does she get precedence because her network is paying a lot of money for her to be here?”
I stopped listening and backtracked down the hallway, headed towards the back exit instead of having to face Aiden and his disrespectful words.
So that was how it was going to be? Aiden already had a chip on his shoulder and he didn’t know anything about me or my show. What a jerk. I didn’t care how good-looking he was, nothing makes up for a shitty attitude.
I was hurt. I loved my show and my listeners. It was an insult to my fans that Aiden had called it my “cute little one-woman radio show.” I took offense on behalf of myself and all of my listeners.
I knew Aiden and I weren’t going to get along very well.