A silver car pulls into the parking lot and parks in reverse. Tiffany recognizes the car. It reverses into the parking lot smoothly and the driver steps out in an all-white set of dress and blazer with black trimmings. The black ankle-high leather boots elevate the woman a little but she is still shorter than most people. The speed at which the woman parked irks her. The white outfit irks her. The black leather boots irk her. Everything about her secretary irks her.
Ever since Day One, her secretary has been rubbing her up the wrong way. From their first hand shake to this very moment, two months later, as her secretary walks to the elevator lobby in her irksome calm way. Tiffany can’t explain it. She can only say it’s chemistry gone wrong. But her secretary has not made any mistakes in her job thus far. In fact, in retrospect, the first two months with this secretary have been more smooth-sailing than with the last three secretaries. So she can’t do anything about it. It’s just her luck that this irksome secretary has to be the best she’s ever had.
“Taeyeon-ssi, bring in the dossier for my three o’clock meeting.”
A knock on her door is followed by a head of jet-black hair falling straight past pretty shoulders entering the room. The rest of the head follows, featuring a pair of clear brown eyes, a pert nose and pouty lips on one of the fairest canvases she has ever seen. The frame that brings all these features together is almond shaped with a sharp jawline, distinct and strong. The result is an irritatingly charming visual treat.
As her secretary walks to her table, Tiffany notes, for the nth time, that Taeyeon is short, but smart in dressing to accentuate the best of herself. The white dress rides down to mid-thigh, showing most of her slender legs yet the long sleeves keep up the formal vibe so she looks regal at a glance. The blazer has been left on the coat hanger since they are indoors so her secretary’s slim waist is now visible under the dress’s tapered waistline.
“The dossier you wanted, Sajang-nim.”
“And get me a cup of coffee.”
“The usual, Sajang-nim?”
“Right away, Sajang-nim.”
Tiffany slams her pen on her desk as soon as her secretary closes the door. The way her secretary calls her ‘Sajang-nim’ is irksome too. How much more of this can she take?
“The numbers for Daegang are not ideal. Explain your basis for recommending this company more clearly.”
Tiffany holds her level gaze on the managing director as he attempts to explain his proposal. She can see through the lack of preparation just by looking at his eyes. And the proposal is as flimsy as tracing paper drenched in rain.
“Enough. Don’t waste our time on a lacking proposal. Get your marketing analysis done properly and report it to me by . . .” Turning to her secretary, Tiffany says, “Do I have time to meet him next Wednesday?”
Taeyeon nods without hesitation, without even checking the schedule. “You have a conference call at ten next Wednesday but your afternoon is currently open after lunch.”
Turning back to her managing director, Tiffany addresses him, “You will show me the full report by next Wednesday. Three o’clock. It’s best that you know it as well as my secretary knows my schedule.” Then, with a calm look at the rest of her directors she says, “Let’s move on to the next agenda now.”
Nine o’clock at night. Tiffany reads the time as she logs off and shuts down her laptop. There’s time for a drink at a nice restaurant before going home. Pulling her beige blazer over her matching dress, Tiffany checks the mirror to make sure nothing is out of place before picking up her leather satchel and mobile phone. Stepping out of her office, she sees her secretary standing behind the desk outside with her bag as well.
“Sugo haseyo, Sajang-nim,” her secretary says with a bow.
Tiffany returns the courtesy but says nothing more as they walk to the elevator. The entire journey down the twenty-seven floors is completed in silence too. She can’t wait to get out and get to her car so she doesn’t have to share the confined space with her secretary.
The doors open and Tiffany exits quickly. But she is stopped by her secretary’s call three steps in. “What is it?” she asks, a mild storm brewing under the surface as her secretary appears in front of her.
“I’m sorry to take up your time, but I really have to find out. It’s very hard for me to continue working for you without knowing why.”
“What do you want to find out?” Tiffany asks, a little taken back by her secretary’s sudden outburst of emotion.
Misty eyes meeting hers, Tiffany tries not to display any emotion as her secretary asks, “What have I done wrong?”
“What do you mean? You haven’t done anything wrong.”
The misty eyes begin to condense. “If I haven’t done anything wrong, why do you dislike me?”
The question shocks tiffany. Straight to the point, this question cannot be dodged. But this is not the place to be discussing such issues. Without further thought, Tiffany grabs her secretary’s hand and pulls the woman to her car.
“Get in,” she says.
“But my car—”
“We’re not going anywhere. Just get in.”
The atmosphere in the car is no better than outside but at least nobody can overhear their conversation now.
“So are you going to tell me what’s wrong now?”
Tiffany looks at her secretary with a sigh going off in her chest. “There’s nothing wrong.”
“I don’t think I imagined it, Sajang-nim. Please be honest with me. I will do my best to change or fix the problem.”
“You can’t fix the problem.”
Her secretary turns in her seat to face Tiffany. “So there’s a problem. What is it?”
Tiffany turns her face to the window and stares out of it. “Everything about you is a problem.”
Still refusing to look at her secretary, Tiffany elaborates, “Your hair. Your eyes. Your dressing. Your height. Your voice. Everything.”
There is silence for an extended length of time. Then the soft, gentle voice of her secretary says, “Should I quit?”
“No!” Tiffany yells, much too loudly for the small interior of her car and their eyes meet unexpectedly. “No, you’re not allowed to quit.”
“But it’s hard for me to continue working like this.”
“There’s something you can do.”
“What can I do?”
“Stop looking so good. Stop sounding so good.”
Her secretary stares at her as though she’s gone crazy. “Should I come to work in my pyjamas then? Without makeup?”
“Argh, this is so frustrating.” Tiffany thumps her head against the headrest and closes her eyes. “Why the heck are we talking about this.”
“Because it is stressful for me to work under a boss who acts like she doesn’t want to talk to me or see me all the time. Even though I have done nothing wrong. And it is insulting to work for a boss who compares me to a managing director who deserves to be sacked. To the extent of shaming me in front of everyone at the meeting.”
“I didn’t shame you. And I didn’t compare you to the managing director.”
“Sajang-nim, you asked him to know his proposal like how I know your schedule.”
“That’s a compliment.”
“Not with the tone you used. It sounded more like you telling him my job is simple and he can’t even do as well as a stupid secretary.”
“Taeyeon-ssi, I don’t know how you got that from my tone but I was proud of you when I said that to him. You displayed efficiency and high competence for your job, unlike him. I thought you made a good example for him to follow.”
Another round of silence chills the car.
“Do you like me, Sajang-nim?”
Her secretary’s question throws her completely off the tracks. “What?”
“Do you li—”
Tiffany silences her secretary with a palm over those pouty lips. “Don’t ask.”
Her secretary pulls her hand away. “Why not?”
“It’s okay if you like me, Sajang-nim.”
“You should stop talking now, Taeyeon-ssi.”
“I like you too, Sajang-nim.”
“Stop calling me Sajang-nim.”
Her secretary blinks, eyes wide and sinfully clear. “Then what should I call you?”
Tiffany bites her lip. This situation is getting from bad to worse. “Never mind. Anyway, we’ve cleared up the misunderstanding. You can go back to your car and go home now.”
Her secretary halts in mid-sentence when Tiffany leans over brings her face to within an inch of Taeyeon’s. “Are you sure you like me too?”
Her secretary closes her mouth and nods.
“Close your eyes,” Tiffany orders.
Her secretary complies.
That’s it. Forget it. Just do it.
Tiffany leans in another inch and closes her eyes as their lips meet gently. Damn. This is the best feeling in the world. She should have done this weeks ago.
For a secretary 😉
Styling reference: MIXXO