II. Dakota and Cheyenne’s Meet Cute
I was working at the Tech Team counter at the department store You Got It. As usual, it was a rather slow afternoon. Most people fancy themselves IT experts. At least, they use YouTube to fix their problems until their problems get away from them. That’s when they come calling.
It was one of those days where the minutes felt like hours and the hours felt like days. I could hardly wait for my shift to end. About five minutes before I clocked out she walked in. Actually, that’s not accurate. She more like tumbled in with her arms full carrying her laptop. I watched as she made her way to my counter and set her computer down. All she said was, “Fix it.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was dressed in yoga pants and a t-shirt. Her blond hair was in a messy bun and there wasn’t any makeup on her at all. But she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
“What seems to be the trouble?” I asked gaining my composure.
She took a deep breath. “I am this close to finishing my thesis and it went blank. Nothing. Nothing comes on, nothing works.”
“Did you back up your work to the cloud?”
“No,” she said making it two syllables. “I don’t trust the cloud.”
I nodded even though I wanted to ask her how that was treating her. “We can get it back to you in one week.”
“One week?” she repeated slowly. “I need to turn my paper in by Friday.”
“Today is Thursday,” I said.
“Then you can see why one week won’t work for me.”
I thought about it for a minute trying to think of a solution. If ever there was a time to come up with a solution this was that time. “I can maybe see what I can do,” I tried to say it quietly but her eyes looked past me. I leaned closer to her, “is there a man that slightly resembles Larry from the Three Stooges standing behind me?”
She nodded slowly.
“Mr. Jackson,” a familiar voice behind me said. “May I have a word with you please?”
I took a deep breath and turned around.
“In the office, now,” he said to me then turned his attention to her. “I’m sorry but it will take a week for us to look at your computer and work on it. You understand this is a first come, first serve business and we have a queue of work ahead of yours.” He followed me to the office, “Carl, will you help our customer please?”
Once we were in the office he closed the door. “Dakota, you know the rules. You can’t make promises to customers that you can’t keep.”
“But what if I worked on it after hours, on my own time?” I pleaded.
“That’s illegal and not an option. Look, I get it. You think if you fix the pretty lady’s computer you will have a chance with her.” He sized me up. “Let me give it to you straight, you have no chance with her.”
His words didn’t really register.
He continued. “Blast that old tv show Chuck. All it did was give the likes of you nerds hope that you could get a Sarah of your own. I’m here to tell you that will never happen.”
I found it odd that he distanced himself from us nerds. I agreed with him just to get him to stop talking because I needed to get back out to the floor. Finally, he ended his sermon and I was free to go.
I scanned the store but she was gone. Carl said she did not leave her computer and my hope faded that I would see her again. I clocked out and walked out to my car.
As I approached my car I heard a voice ask, “Did I get you in trouble?”
I turned slowly and there she was still clutching her computer.
“No,” I said with a smile. “I got myself in trouble.”
“By offering to help me?” she asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Not the first time, probably won’t be the last.” Man, I sure hoped that sounded as rebellious as I was going for.
She smiled, “Yeah, you look like trouble.” And then she laughed and it was the sweetest sound I ever heard. “Look, I am so sorry. Can I get you something for your trouble?”
“Like a tip? You don’t owe me anything,” I said but I also didn’t want this conversation to end. “How about if I take your computer home and work on it? I will get it back to you tomorrow.”
She bent her eyebrows. “Won’t you get in more trouble?”
“For helping a friend? I don’t think that’s a crime.”
“You don’t even know me.”
“I’m Dakota and you’re…”
“Ah, Dakota and Cheyenne. We sound like a road trip. Well, my good friend Cheyenne how about if you join me for some…” I scanned the stores in the mall and stopped at the yogurt shop. “How about some yogurt?”
She looked like she was searching for an excuse to back out of her offer.
“Look, it’s a public place, lots of witnesses. Just one yogurt and you can tell me about your paper.”
“That I need to turn in by tomorrow and should be working on.” She clutched her computer tighter.
“Your computer isn’t even working. Come and get some yogurt with your friend, tell me about your paper, and I will take your computer home and work on it tonight. That’s what friends do.”
Still she hesitated. “Normally I would say no.”
“But my paper represents a good solid year of my life. I need to turn it in.”
“C’mon, look at me,” I held out my hands so she could see me. “I’m not hiding anything and I’m willing to help.”
I could tell she was weighing the pros and cons in her mind. “Okay, but we stay in a public place and we will meet again tomorrow here.”
“It’s not the first time desperation acted in my favor,” I said then cringed. “That statement, however, did not.”
She laughed and we walked into the yogurt store and sat down after filling our bowls.
“So, Cheyenne with an important paper due tomorrow, tell me about your paper.” I was surprised how easily the words came flowing out. Never in my life had I felt so at ease with someone else.
“Well, I have been studying the migration patterns of the Painted Lady,” her voice became animated and her face relaxed as she hit her stride.
“Painted Lady?” I asked.
“Butterflies,” she explained.
“Oh, that changes the whole image in my head.”
She laughed. “Yeah, yeah, not really an original joke.”
I shrugged. “So tell me what makes their migration so special.”
“I spent about six weeks in Europe and Israel studying their annual migration.” She looked down at her computer, “All that time and work are now held hostage on this machine.”
“Don’t worry, I will take care of it,” I scooted the computer closer to me to demonstrate how serious I was to the task.
She bit her bottom lip. “That’s asking a lot but I sure appreciate it. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this means to me.”
“So Cheyenne, the Painted Lady – the butterfly – aficionado what do you do when you’re not studying butterflies?”
“I don’t know. That’s been my life for so long, I’m not sure what I do or who I am that isn’t connected with insects.” She stuck the spoon in her mouth and let it stay for a moment. “I guess after I turn this in I might find out again.”
“What is it you want to do first?”
“Other than eat yogurt with friends?” She looked at me and smiled. “I think I’d like to travel and help people somehow.”
“That sounds noble,” I said.
“Yeah, it sounds noble. But I’m not sure how to make it happen.”
“You could help build habitats for people,” I offered and was thankful I watched that PBS program the night before that was about global volunteerism.
She pursed her lips together. “You have never seen me with a hammer. That is probably not a good idea.”
I nodded. “Okay, you could teach English.”
She smiled. “I think I’d like that. Travel and teach.” She thought about it. “Yeah, I could do that.”
Less than five minutes with her and I’m sending her off to another country.
“What about you?” she asked. “What do you do?”
“What? You mean when I’m not making my millions fixing computers?”
She laughed. “Yeah, when you’re not at the store what do you like to do?”
“Well, I guess there’s the normal nerd things. Video games, reading, watching the Lord of the Rings movies.”
“And Star Wars?”
“Oh, that’s a must in our official Nerd handbook.”
“I guess that makes me a nerd as well,” she took another spoonful of yogurt.
“What? You’re a Star Wars fan?”
I pictured our wedding day.
We talked for a couple more hours. I knew I didn’t want to leave and she didn’t make a move to leave until after 5:00. I learned everything about her except for two important things. One was her last name, and the second thing I wouldn’t discover until the next morning.
“Oh my, I didn’t realize it was so late,” she said looking at her phone. “My fi…friend, friend has been texting me. I didn’t even hear the dings.”
“Anything urgent?” I asked sensing her mood change.
“No, just that we had plans and I’m late.” She stood up.
I stood up and picked up her computer.
She looked at me. “Dakota, I can’t let you fix my computer. It’s okay, I will be fine.” She reached for the computer.
I pushed her hand away. “Nonsense, I got this. It’s no big deal. You need to share your research. The world needs this.”
“No buts,” I said. “Go enjoy your evening with your friend. You deserve a relaxing night. I will take care of this.”
“But I…” she started again and I escorted her to the door. “Shoo, go have a good night.” I held the door open for her. “And maybe forget that I just used the word shoo.”
“I will be here with your computer tomorrow morning at,” I turned to the clerk, “what time do you open?”
“Ten,” the cashier responded.
“Ten it is,” I said and managed to gently shove Cheyenne out the door. “Don’t you worry about a thing.”
She succumbed and nodded her head. “Okay, if you insist.”
“This is me insisting. Now, I’ve got a lot of work to do so I have to go. I can’t believe you kept me here for so long.”
“I will see you tomorrow at ten,” she replied and I watched her walk toward her car before getting in my car. I looked at the computer on the passenger seat. “Well, this is going to be one long night,” I said and headed home to act the part of a knight.
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