Same Ol・ Grind

by Amaranth

Disclaimer: Okay, I・ll be the first to admit that it・s been like two years since I last wrote a story. But, what the hell. I had nothing better to do.

The characters belong to Marvel.

Sadly enough, the life is mine. At least the girls can escape. I am trapped forever, pasting Dilbert on my cubicle walls and constantly on the lookout for new wallpaper for my computer. And, since I know that some yahoo is gonna ask, No, I didn・t make the comments by the ・subscribers・ up (although I would like to point out that somehow they always think my name is either ・Evelyn・ or ・Deborah・. I have no idea how the hell they get ・Deborah・) although I couldn・t bring myself to put their full stupidity into print. I hear this stuff every day, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and somebody please save me!

Jubilee laid her head on her arms and began to cry. This had to be the most horrible day of her life. Nothing even came close - not her parents dying, not Wolvie leaving, nothing.

She jerked up suddenly as someone pushed open the door to the bathroom, hurriedly wiping away her tears.

It was Laurie from next door. ・Oh! Sorry! I-I・ll just come back later・・

Jubilee stood up. ・No, that・s okay. I think I can handle it.・ She took a deep breath.

・That bad, huh?・ Laurie asked as she went into a stall.

Jubilee just whimpered, pushed the door open, and left.

She took a few more deep breaths as she headed back to her desk. Wincing ever so slightly, she retrieved her headset, hit the ・auto-in・ button on her phone, and sighed.

・Circulation, this is Jubilee, how can I help you?・

・Hi, is this circulation?・

Jubilee drummed her fingers on the desk. ・Yes.・

・Okay, well: IwasjustcallingbecauseIthinksomeoneistakingmypaperbecausethere・soneatmyneighbor・sdoorandseveraldowntheblockandevenmymomgotonebutIdidn・t

Jubilee raised her head from the desk and asked for her phone number.

・Okay, ma・am, I have the reason that you didn・t receive a newspaper this morning is because you haven・t paid your bill since last July.・

・Oh.・ ・click・

<*Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.*>

* * * * *

Monet stared at her computer screen and tried to stay calm. ・Sir? If you call me that one more time, I will hang up on you.・

* * * * *

・Well, well, well.・ Emma Frost looked up from that morning・s paper as her students shambled in. ・Jubilation, Monet? Why the sad faces? Did something happen at work?・ Of course, she knew perfectly well what had happened, it was right there on the top of their minds, all 7.5 hours of it, not counting lunch.

They ran away screaming.

Emma couldn・t hold it in any longer. She burst out laughing, trying not to let anyone hear, but all that did was make her spray spit all over the hand she had clamped over her mouth. Oh, it was too rich. In the past few weeks, Jubilee had proven her ingrained ability to be a bad influence on everything and everyone who spent more than a day in her company; and Monet, after a lifetime of repression, was no match for the evil little twit. No one was safe. Paige had to check her conditioner bottle daily for hair dye, Angelo could never find any pants to wear, and poor Sean・ After that little trick with the Jello and kitty litter, she・d almost been at a loss as to their punishment. But, oh, what a genius Logan was.

・Trust me, Em, a few weeks of customer service and they・ll be begging you to ground them. Hell, they・ll probably volunteer to wash your car, using only their tongues, if you tell them they don・t have to go anymore.・

It had worked, too, for a couple of days. Then they got used to it. She called for reinforcements.

・You have reached the circulation office of the Snow Valley Sentinel. Due to unforeseen weather conditions, your paper may have been wet by the time you retrieved it. Unfortunately, because of the high complaint volume, we no long have replacement papers. Please stay on the line to speak with a customer service representative who can credit your account.・

The two of them had stumbled in at the end of the day, too tired to do more than wave vaguely towards the other students on the way to their bedrooms. Emma downright chortled with fiendish delight. She owed Ororo a big favor. Maybe something with muscles.

And then it happened. It had to happen, of course, when everyone was out sick and they were the only ones answering the phones. The best part was, Emma had nothing to do with it. She could lean back and enjoy every minute of it guilt-free.

・Hi, you・ve reached the Snow Valley Sentinel・s circulation department. Due to production problems, the paper may be up to two hours late. You can expect delivery by 10:00 am.・

・Hi, this is Monet, how can I help you?・

・Are the papers running late?・

・I haven・t received my paper yet. Is there something wrong with my account?・

・Why don・t I have my paper? Does my carrier have it in for me or something?・

・Why can・t you get the paper out on time?・

・Well, why don・t you buy new machines?・

That day they didn・t even bother coming home. They just slept in the lunchroom.

Emma sighed happily to herself and sank back into her chair. The clincher. Oh, how she would have loved to see their little faces on that momentous day.

Paycheck Day.

・No. No! NO!・ Both girls wailed miserably and collapsed onto the lunchroom sofa. The squeak of the vinyl made a lovely counterpoint.

* * * * *

Jubilee stared at her reflection in the mirror. She was so pale. And - there were dark circles under her eyes. She looked dead. She turned to Monet.

・Your face has sofa creases on it.・

Monet looked in the mirror. As far as she could tell, Jubilee was right. She was having trouble, though. Her eyeballs felt like curried marbles and she couldn・t remember when she・d brushed her hair last. Or her teeth.

・We have to stop. You know that.・ Jubilee moaned.

・We can・t. If we stop, they win. They・ll have broken us. We can・t let that happen.・ Monet swayed a little as she began the effort of turning her body towards the exit.

・We can.・ Jubilee swallowed and wished for Scope. ・I don・t know about you, but if I hear one more person ask if my name is Jill, I・m going to scream.・ She stared down at her sneakers and tried to remember how bows were tied. ・It doesn・t even have the right number of syllabullalulls・・ She tried to focus and gave up.

Monet sniffled. ・I want to go home. I・ll never complain about early training sessions or Angelo・s red socks in my intimates or Jono・s sneakers in the refridgerator or Paige・s aerobics tapes. I・ll be good, I promise, just please let・me・go・home・.・ She gave up, sank to the floor, and sobbed.

* * * * *

Emma twirled through the living room. She skipped through the dining room, and cavorted down the main hall. She twinkled her toes to the soft, melodic strains of Vivaldi, waved her arms in appreciation of Kitaro, and sank gratefully down onto the shag rug in front of the fireplace.

Jonothon glanced up from the book he was reading. A month of no Jubilee, and Frost was already losing it. He vaguely wondered if he should tell anyone, then dismissed the idea. She was so much more relaxed this way. Also, he had to admit, it was nice to know that when he opened his sock drawer, all the left ones would be there.

* * * * *

Jubilee stared in shock. The phones were silent. It had been an hour, and she・d only had two calls. Her computer had not only started up the screensaver, but had gotten bored and shut down the monitor. She raised her head to look over the cubicle wall. Apparently Monet was experiencing the same; her head was resting quietly on top of her adding machine and ・yes ・there it was ・she・d started snoring.

Jubilee smiled softly to herself. Someone looking at her would actually be able to watch the manic glint slowly fade from her eyes, to be replaced by something that was almost ・but not quite ・dumb acceptance of the world and her place in it. She was a CSR. She answered phones and listened to people・s problems, then ignored them until they went away. And this was how it would be・ listening, ignoring, listening, ignoring・.

And she got paid for it.

* * * * *

Emma felt the teensiest frown cross her brow. Something was wrong. It flitted across her subconscious, niggled at her, wiggled at her, and then panicked and started jumping up and down.

She rolled over onto her elbows. She・d heard Jubilee and Monet come home. But ・something was wrong. There・there was a sound. It started low・she thought maybe it was someone clapping their hands, but it was so familiar・ She rose and wandered towards the student・s quarters. The noise was louder here, and now there was thumping. Rythmic thumping, the sort of thumping made by two girls who had just put on a Ramones CD and were proceeding to scream and yodel and dance their way through ・Rock・n・Roll Radio・.

Emma whimpered and pushed open the door to Jubilee・s bedroom, wincing as the blare of music rolled out of the doorway and smack into her eardrums.

・Hey there, Frosty! Long time no see!・ Jubilee burbled. Monet was lying back, staring at the poster of Legolas on the ceiling above the bed.

Emma gulped. ・Jubilation. I ・I take it you had a good day at work?・

Jubilee reached over and turned down the volume, sat down, and put on her Serious Face. ・Y・know, Emma, I always wondered how people could sit through the same job day after day, hearing the same crap over and over; wondered, Why don・t they go insane? I mean, sure, the occasional postal worker or whatever, but other than that・and, d・ya know what I figured out today? What the secret to surviving a dead-end job is?・

Emma retreated under Jubilee・s advance.

Jubilee smiled mildly and shrugged her shoulders. ・Don・t care.・

Emma frowned. ・You don・t care about what?・

・No, no, Frosty, I mean that・s how ya do it.・ She shrugged again. ・You don・t care. I mean, once you get the fundamentals down, it・s easy. If the customer is nice, help them. If they・re mean, screw ・em. They are not always right, in fact, they・re usually wrong, and all you have to do is learn to take joy in that.・ Jubilee stared off somewhere over Emma・s shoulder. ・I am Omnipotent. I have power over them. I have access to the mystical realms of the subscription account. I command a vast army of newspaper carriers. Even the District Managers bow and scrape before me! Mwahahahaha!・

What have I done? Emma turned and ran. What sort of monster have I unleashed upon the unsuspecting subscribers of Snow Valley?

Jubilee snickered. ・Okay, that was the most fun I・ve had in weeks,・ she said, plopping down on the bed near Monet, ・Not counting telling that subscriber that we couldn・t fix the press because the elves were on strike. But it was pretty damn close.・

Monet closed her eyes and sighed. The funny thing was, she was already going over the accounts she had to check tomorrow, planning on who to call, who not to call, who to ignore・it was like she couldn・t escape. She・d been sucked in without realizing it, and was helpless to escape. And she wasn・t alone.

・Okay, what should I wear tomorrow? The blazer or the pantsuit?・ Jubilee frowned at her closet. She・d have to go shopping for some real clothes, the kind of stuff Jean wore. She grimaced to herself. If she went on like this, she was going to end up as・as・an adult! It wasn・t right.

And yet・the red blazer really did go nicely with her rose print skirt・

(There isn・t really an end to this particular story, mainly because that・s the point. I have worked in customer service for a major newspaper for two years now, and everyday I say, this it IT. No more. And then I turn around the next day and go back. I think there・s probably a deep philosophical meaning behind all of this, but my brain no workie right now so we・ll probably never find out what it is. Damn.)