She found the room, which was empty when she got there, so she sat down to wait. She read through the project plan while she waited, trying to learn something about the JOLT project before the meeting began. As she was poring over the pages, a friendly face appeared in the open doorway.
“Hey, good morning,” the voice said. It was Rob.
“Hi!” Eun said, very glad to see him. He looked fresh and striking this morning in a bright pink shirt and slim gray slacks. Eun had never seen a man wear such a pink shirt to work. It looked great on him.
“Are you looking for a meeting or having one all by yourself?” he asked.
“I’m waiting for a project meeting. It starts at ten.”
“I was going to find you later,” he said. “I am going to a concert tonight with friends. One had to cancel, so we have an extra ticket. Would you like to come?”
A night with Rob and away from her father. Perfect! Eun jumped at the chance.
“Yes, sounds great!” she said quickly.
“Don’t you want to know what kind of music?” Rob asked.
“Yes. Of course. What kind of music?” she asked lamely.
“Classical. It’s a string quartet. How does that sound?”
“Fine, it sounds very fine,” she said. He could have said they were going to hear a chorus of cats wailing on a backyard fence and she’d have said the same.
“I’ll bring the ticket to your desk later. It’s twenty-eight dollars. On the ticket is the address and time so you know where to meet us. And good luck with your meeting!” Rob said.
“You are very kind,” Eun said.
“My pleasure!” he said. “Gotta run!”
“Run?” she asked.
“It means I have to go. I’m not really running, just going.”
“Okay, then, you run,” she said, and he laughed, though she did not know why.
Why did he tell me the price of the ticket? she wondered. Am I supposed to pay him for it? Is it how these things are done in the US? Is this a date, or just friends? She wondered, too, how to get there in a city she hardly knew at all. But for now she was simply happy to have a plan for the evening and a chance to get to know handsome Rob. Things in LA were looking up after all.
At ten o’clock, Glen Drake arrived and introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Glen. You must be our new Finance person.”
“Yes, I’m Eun.”
“Pronounce that again?” he asked.
“Eun,” she repeated.
“Oon,” he said. “Is that right?”
“Eun,” she corrected. It wasn’t a sound that came naturally to Americans, almost like the “oo” in “good,” but not quite.
“Oon,” he said again, rhyming it with “moon.”
“Yes, that’s okay,” she told him.
“I’m guessing it’s not really, but thanks for giving me a pass on that. So how much do you know about JOLT?” he asked her.
“I just received the assignment from Gabriel this morning, so I don’t know anything yet. I have this to read,” she said, showing him the project plan.
“That’s a good place to start,” Glen said, “but it’s out of date. We’ll have to catch you up as we go along.”
Members of the project team began to arrive. Some of them introduced themselves to Eun, others did not. A little after ten o’clock, Glen started the meeting.
“Everyone, this is Oon. She is our new financial analyst. She hasn’t had time to learn much yet about this project, but feel free to ask her a lot of questions.” Eun must have looked startled, so Glen explained, “We never give people much warning. It’s how we have fun around here,” he said. Polite laughter around the table.
Glen projected the meeting agenda on the screen at one end of the room. The first item was a financial report, with no one’s name assigned to it.
“We usually start with a review of the expenses,” Glen said to Eun. “But I assume you’re not ready for that yet.”
“No, I’m sorry, I’m not!” she exclaimed.
“Okay, next week, then,” he said.
He then asked each team lead for an update, and they talked about progress and problems for almost an hour. Eun listened hard, trying to learn as much as possible. There were so many new phrases and words, and she wrote down as many as she could. She had not brought her laptop to the meeting but resolved to do so next time.
At the end of the meeting, everyone jumped up to leave.
“Nice to meet you,” a couple of them said to her as they headed out the door.
Eun and Glen were the last two in the room.
“Any questions?” Glen asked her.
“Many,” Eun said. “But before I ask about the project, can you tell me what is a ‘drop dead date’?”
“It’s a date when something must be finished. It’s urgently important that it is finished by that date. It kind of means ‘finish or drop dead.’”
“Really?” Eun said.
“Yes,” Glen said, “it sounds terrible, but no one ever drops dead.”
“Though some people have been fired for missing drop dead dates.”
“Then it sounds very serious.”
“This can be a mean place to work. Drop dead dates are common. So are blame and rumors and distrust. But I shouldn’t be telling you that, I guess. You’re still in your honeymoon period.” When she looked at him blankly, he added, “It means you just started so it all seems fun for now.”
“Fun? Not exactly,” she said, and smiled.
“Well, if it’s not fun now, it won’t be fun later. Let me just tell you that. Okay, then, Oon, it was good to meet you. You and I should get together this week so I can help you get financial reports ready for next week’s meeting.”
“That would be very helpful,” she said.
“I’ll email you.” And with that, he left.