A wannabe YouTuber in her early twenties successfully finds her niche, but how far is she willing to take it?
All characters are 18+. This is my first story, please feel free to give feedback! 16 total chapters
Between all the frustrations and victories of daily life, it is easy to overlook the sensitivities of the strangers that are all around us. There are times when the efforts and wellbeing of your day must simply take priority over the nameless faces of your morning commute. One of these nameless faces you may pass is Daniela Ramirez.
Daniela was a mild, meek young woman who worked the front desk of a middling insurance company in Bogota, Colombia. “Soluciones de Serenidad”, or “Serenity Solutions” as it is called, covered any and all insurance policies that their clients would be anxious enough to cover. It wasn’t uncommon for the workers of this company to switch between handling complex health insurance claims, to fumbling with online translators to settle travel insurance claims, to dealing with the irate and angry clients who just got caught in a car accident, all within a few hours. Their slogan and corporate mantra “Cuando confies en nosotras, puedes dormir tranquilo!” (“When you trust us, you can sleep easy!”), was featured throughout the building on banners and letterheads. The high stress, unpredictable nature of situations that both the clients and staff of the company found themselves in led to tension and dismissiveness to anyone not immediately involved in solving a problem.
Daniela found herself in the middle of these tense operations often. One day, for example, upon one of the first phone calls of her morning after clocking in, she picked up the phone with a cheery “Hello! This is Serenity Solutions, how may I help you?” A huffed sigh made a static-filled response on the other line.
“Hi, yes? Can I speak to Manuel? I just got rear ended on Route 45A.”
“Well certainly I will be able to transfer you, one moment,” replied Daniela. She pulled up the instant messenger platform on her desktop computer and message Manuel. “Hi Manny! I have one of you clients on the line, are you in yet?” She took a quick look at the clock, 9:17 AM. It was a Monday, she knew Manny was usually late at the beginning of the week. It was often a bad way to start off her week, hearing him get chewed out by his boss when he did slink in through the side door.
She hit send. An auto reply message responded “Hey this is Manny, I’m not in right now but feel free to leave a message!” Daniela winced, she could tell this gruff man on the line would not be happy. Switching back to the landline at her desk, she began “Hello sir, Manuel is not yet in yet and—“
“What? Who am I talking to?”
“My name is Daniela, and I am a member of our client success team—“
“Can you help me out here? I need to file a claim, I need my policy number and my coverage status.”
Daniela knew she did not have permission to client files, she was just there to transfer calls and smile for any potential clients who walked through the door.
“I’m sorry sir, I’m unable to—“
“Let me speak to you supervisor, please put someone on who actually knows what they’re doing, I don’t have time for this.”
Daniela’s forced cheerfulness for the client collapsed like a cheap camping tent. Her frown and melancholy could not be seen over the phone, but her shaky voice revealed her discomfort.
“Ok sir, I will transfer you.”
Already half an hour into the work week and she was forced to invoke the attention of her boss, a clear metric she has tried to avoid in her eight months at the company. Her manager knew there was only so much she can do, but she still hated the idea of distracting him from his very busy day already. She clicked a few numbers and symbols on her landline and hung up the call.
The rest of the morning was uneventful for Daniela, it was like she was watching a movie she had seen a hundred times before. She watched a few weary account executives walk through the front door, trying to drum up any positivity before they reached their desk, deep into their own world and ignoring Daniela’s welcoming glance and soft smile. A few potential clients who barked a few impersonal questions at her, asking to where so-and-so sat and how to find the restroom. The mailman stopped by shortly before lunch, traded small talk platitudes with her and asked for a signature. Business as usual.
At lunchtime, Daniela set up small sign saying *“Be back soon”, and left to find a food truck around the block. She was a fan of the empanadas truck, and grabbed an order of two small empanadas with her favorite picante sauce. Daniela was fairly new to Bogota, and as a result did not many friends to eat lunch with. She didn’t have many friends at all.
She was only in her early twenties, and left home from her rural hometown just a year ago. She grew up in small town, in a very middle class family. Her father was a mechanic and her mother was a teacher. They couldn’t afford to send Daniela to college but hoped that after some time on her own, she would be able to save some money to afford training or school so she could make a means to a better life. She left for the big city with some gift money from her family to get started, and found a small studio apartment in the cheap outskirts of the city.
The first few months were difficult. With no connections or skillsets, she spent most of the time searching for steady work so she could support herself. She tried waiting tables, but she found the constant stress and long hours were too much for her. She tried finding a teacher job at one of the local schools, but she did not have the qualifications. She ended up finding the receptionist gig at Serenity Solutions, and while she was not a fan of it, decided it was the best possible route moving forward.
Daniela finished up her lunch, sitting on a slightly raised concrete ledge that surrounded a manicured lawn of a local corporate building. She walked through a crowded lunch rush on the sidewalk, around the block, and took up her post back at her desk.
Daniela logged back into her computer and began reading through some emails when she out of the corner of her eye she caught a tall man in a suit come through the front door. It was a man she knew well—actually, it was only from afar, but nevertheless she was well aware of who he was. The man’s name was Victor, a salesman from the third floor of their building. He worked in the health insurance department, and was known for his cool demeanor and welcoming rapport that always made his clients feel at ease. He always hit his sales quota and was making waves around the office as a promising new potential leader. Daniela knew this because she has spent some time eavesdropping on some of his colleagues and superiors, or rather selectively listening, during her laps around the office. Also, though she would never admit it, she has spent a fair amount of free time looking through the company’s internal directory seeking any information she could find.
Victor seemed preoccupied in thought, but nonchalantly approached Daniela at the front desk.
“Hi! How are you today?”
Daniela nervously looked up from her laptop and made eye contact with Victor, furtively looked away, but composed herself and looked back.
“Hello! How can I help you?”
“Hey I was just wondering if you knew if Manny was in yet. I know Mondays are rough on the guy,” he chuckled.
Daniela mirrored him with a slightly forced laugh herself.
“I know what you mean, let me just check on chat.”
Checking if someone was online was a simple task that anyone on the payroll could check in moment, Daniela wondered why Victor took the time out of his day to ask her to do it.
“Well, it looks like he’s finally online. I’m sure he’d be happy to see you,” Daniela replied with smile.
“Thanks, that’s good to hear. We’re going to be working together at this tradeshow next week and we’re going to have to do a little planning. The thing is, this guy goes out every single weekend and is a wreck until Tuesday.” Victor shook his head with a smile. “Wild guy, but who are we to judge right?” he added.
Daniela, trying her best not to reveal her subtle beaming at him, just nodded and rolled her eyes in agreement.
Victor paused and as salesman instinctively do, keep the conversation flowing with some offhand small talk. “So, what did you get into this past weekend?”
Daniela was caught flatfooted. This past weekend she did just about nothing, outside of running some errands and watching a few movies on her laptop. It was exceedingly rare for anyone in the office to even bother asking her how her weekend went.
“Well, I—I ended up getting supplies for a new recipe I wanted to try and I caught up on a lot of sleep!” she replied earnestly. She knew it wasn’t enthralling, but hopefully it came off more genuine than trying to make something up.
Victor nodded and momentarily averted his eyes, and followed up with “Yeah, that’s great. That sounds like… a restful time! It’s good to have weekends like those sometimes, right?”
Sometimes? Daniela thought. This past weekend was the norm, definitely not the exception. She tried not to be too hard on herself, she was in fact, new to this town. Victor was not, he was a former marketing major at the local university. He had a multitude of friends in the area (as Daniela knew from her internet sleuthing).
“Yes! It sure is,” Daniela remarked. Trying to be cordial, and to keep Victor in her presence for as long as possible, she asked “How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?”
Victor’s increasingly absent look perked back up as said “Yes! On Friday I met up with a few college buddies uptown for happy hour to try a new bar that opened up, and on Saturday I took a hike with my girlfriend.”
Daniela kept listening but her stomach sank. She knew Victor was an attractive, fun, and driven man who was likely to already have a girlfriend, but it did hurt to hear it confirmed on their first actual conversation.
“She and I had a great time on the trail and then went to her friend’s birthday party later that evening. We were completely exhausted though,” he finished with a laugh.
Daniela laughed in unison but she still felt a bit upset. Their conversation tapered off into silence and she quickly chirped up with “Oh I don’t think I caught your name! I’m Daniela.”
Victor smiled and extended his hand and said “Hi Daniela, nice to meet you. My name is Victor. I work on the third floor in health insurance, if you ever need anything, feel free to drop by sometime.”
Victor’s empty, office-speak gesture did feel genuine to Daniela. She felt as if she was ever in dire straits, there was a friend a few floors away who she could call on to help her out. While Victor was a compassionate and thoughtful person, his natural charisma and charm did most of the heavy lifting in his relationship building, as opposed to his pure intentions.
Daniela shook Victor’s hand, and in a split second decision out of desire, desperation, and a twinge of loneliness, quickly blurted out “Hey! Are you doing anything this weekend? I’m kind of new to the area and I’m trying to find some fun new things to do.”
Victor, familiar with the emotional volatility of dealing with clients all day, expressed a slight furrowing of his blow in surprise to signal he was not expecting this response, but quickly reverted to his cool form.
“Ahh, actually Daniela, I’m going to be out of town this weekend. Maybe we can catch up in the future at an office happy hour.”
Daniela read his deference loud and clear. She shrunk back mildly, slightly in disappointment, but more-so in surprise that she took that leap herself.
“Ok… well please have fun on your trip! Hope to talk to you soon!” She cracked a small smile and wish she could melt into the earth.
As a consummate sales professional, Victor let the awkward interaction slide and smiled, gave a wave, and turned to head towards the elevators.
Once he was gone, Daniela let out a sigh and buried her face in her hands. Maybe there were some cute boys in the renters’ insurance division instead.