Of Snails Cats And Dog


jezebel_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Of Snails, Cats, and Dog
Synopsis The Alley Cat Courier Service acquire a new business sideline, while a couple of bikers bond.
Date November 14 2008

Alley Cat Courier Service

What was once a small warehouse now serves a completely different purpose. From before dawn until after dark, bikes pass in and out the open doors, couriers off to pick up and deliver mail, returning to take on another task.

Although the warehouse should be rather spacious, it mostly manages to feel crowded. At the very least, busy. A row of lockers, stacked two high, covers one long wall. Bike racks for those who prefer to keep their bicycles here - or need someplace to leave them while on break - line the opposite side of the building. There are always people moving about - rummaging in their lockers, little knots of chitchat, trading experiences and advice on routes (or just the latest gossip) beneath the shouted calls for messengers to deliver this package there or go pick up something from somewhere else. There are usually two people tasked with coordinating the chaos of the Alley Cats, a receptionist who takes called-in orders and the manager who sees to the fair dispersal of jobs; a corner of the warehouse near the main doors has been partitioned off to create their offices.

Alley Cats is, as usual, a scene of partly-organised chaos. A couple of people man the phones, attempting to make sense of directions for delivery given by would-be customers. Another leans over the counter to peer at a map, discussing routes through Midtown with a frowning courier. Several off-duty couriers lounge off to one side on the worn couches and chairs in the break area, while a couple more hunch over bikes while performing repairs.

Looking rather amused to find herself in the role, a woman in elegant monochrome stands behind the counter as the only person currently to deal with newcomers, the Briton twirling a pen back and forth across the fingers of her right hand.

Jezebel is in monochrome, alright, but it's not elegant. It's black biker leathers with a gray top of some sort under the jacket. She walks in from the street, looks around for a few moments and then heads straight for the desk.

Ygraine lifts a hand to wave at Jezebel, cracking a broad grin as she recognises the biker. "Hello there. What can we do for you? Employment, delivery, or something else?"

Jezebel grins back. "Oh, hi, Ygraine! I need to set up a drop box. If I get a post office box somewhere where the Snails will go to, can someone check it for me, drag the mail here, and call me to pick it up?"

Ygraine nods pensively. "You'll need to sort out ID for people collecting it. Or go for somewhere that just requires us to have a key for the box. But sure, that should be possible. We could deliver it direct to another address, of course, if you wanted, but so long as you're only getting stuff we can move by bike, and that doesn't take up too much room here…." She darts a glance towards the people arguing on the phones. "If we wound up storing things for you, you might pick up extra charges - but otherwise it'd just count as a delivery from the box to here, plus a phone call."

Jezebel nods. "Hopefully it won't be too big for me to move on my own. Some packages may be more car-sized. We'll see. How much would you charge for that? I'm thinking of a running account, not case-by-case."

Ygraine nods again. "Car-sized, we can't handle. Got to be big enough to fit on a bike for us to move. But… hmmm. How often'd you be wanting the box checked? Daily? We should be able to gather up smaller items, and at least let you know if there's anything we can't shift ourselves. How long'd you be wanting the service to run for? You'll probably get a better deal the longer you book us for…."

Jezebel has to stop to think about that one. "Once a week ought to do it for checking the box. I think I'll be here at least another month. I'm not sure how long I'll be staying up here, to be honest. If I transfer to Columbia or Barnard, I could be here for years."

Ygraine arches a brow. "A student, huh? My girlfriend's at Colombia, and seems to like it. Met a really nice old professor on secondment there, too. What'd you be studying?" As she talks, she rummages through papers, sorting out lists of costs, darting a glance towards the two people still caught up in their phone calls.

Jezebel says, "Originally, I was shooting for molecular genetics. I might go for botany instead. This is all a big if, because I worked myself into killer pneumonia last April. To tell the truth, if I stay here much longer, I should probably get a job, but I have no idea what's compatible with housesitting."

Ygraine winces sympathetically. "That… doesn't sound good. You're house-sitting for your sister, at a guess?" She jots down a few notes on a piece of paper, then turns to pass it to the bespectacled man to read through while still on his phone call.

Jezebel shakes her head. "No, a real eccentric who's justifiably worried about someone breaking into his house. It's in a bad neighborhood, which is why I'm coming to pick things up down here. I need to be there as much as possible, which makes getting something vaguely resembling a job tough."

Ygraine nods worriedly, while behind her the man starts jotting down calculations on the sheet Ygraine passed to him. "That… doesn't sound too good, to be honest. Hope it works out for you. Would something part-time work? If you don't mind taking your life in your hands on the roads, and you've got the legs for it, we're generally happy to have more riders."

Jezebel replies, "Thanks, I need all the good karma I can get. I think I can handle the roads here, if I stay on the Harley. I couldn't manage courier work on a bicycle. I'm just not that tough. Theoretically, I am to be resting until January." She sighs. "My parents want me back home and back in school and I don't want to go."

Another sympathetic nod. "God, yes. Don't take to the pedals here while you're trying to recuperate from a lung illness. Daft idea on my part. You might manage to get work with a motorised courier service, perhaps. Dunno what your bike's like, or if you'd be willing to put it at the risk of riding it a lot through the city's traffic."

Ygraine glances around, accepting the return of the sheet of paper, which she then passes over to Jezebel. Below a series of calculations, a fee for the month's service has been circled, with a scribbled note that long-term storage of items'll cost extra.

Jezebel looks at the paper. "I can manage that much money," she says and signs the bottom. Without looking up from writing in her phone number, she asks, "Where is the nearest place the Snails will go, anyway?"

Ygraine cracks a wry grin. "Officially? All of Chelsea's habitable and restored to the bosom of the metropolitan area… In practice, any legitimate business hereabouts should be getting regular snail-mail service."

Jezebel says, "Including you? That would save you a bunch of trips."

Ygraine cracks a grin. "I'm not sure what the legalities are for taking mail for money, but… we can almost certainly set something up. And if not, we can find you somewhere nearby. There're post-box services here, as you'd expect, for people who don't trust regular mail to reach them yet."

Jezebel smiles. "Mail Boxes, Etcetera does that every day, so you can do it. If I could just get a post-box here, get the Snails to deliver to it and have you call me, that would be great. I wasn't sure where the Post Office is willing to go these days."

Ygraine nods quickly. "I'm sure we can arrange something. So… d'you have to be anywhere, or can I offer you a cup of our wonderful coffee and a chat?"

Jezebel answers, "I'd love the coffee and the chat, if it won't get you fired. I can weasel being gone for a bit."

Ygraine laughs softly. "Oh, I'm not even meant to be on duty. I just dropped in to say hi, and found myself covering the desk… but it looks like I can slip out again, now that Dog's figured out where he's going to go through the ruins…"

Jezebel says, "Dog's a braver man than I am. How are you feeling?"

Ygraine shrugs amiably, part-folding the note with the costing so that it sits upright, placing it atop a computer's keyboard before slipping out from behind the counter. "Much better, actually", she says with a faintly sheepish grin. "Much, much better. That Abby's rather good at what she does." As she talks, she guides Jez over towards the drinks preparation area.

Jezebel lets herself be guided over to the drinks. "Abby is really good. She's beginning to think of going professional. I'm not sure how many classes she'll have to take, but it's got to be better than being a waitress."

Ygraine starts sorting herself a coffee, waving an invitation towards the array of herbal teas and with-or-without caffeine options for Western pick-me-ups. "Take your pick…. I think we can stretch to a drink for a client. And… yeah. Hopefully. Though I'll say in Erica's defence, that if she does get a job there, it's likely to be a good one. I've not seen any signs of Erica secretly being a tyrant."

Jezebel looks over the teas and grabs Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger. "Thanks. I need to start stockpiling teas again. I'm glad to hear that Erica isn't a tyrant. That chocolate gateau is amazing. I don't know whether to schedule regular visits, or swear off the place now."

Ygraine laughs, offering Jez a broad grin. "I try to ration myself, I admit. I need to work at staying in shape, if I'm to cope with the cycling. But it's worth indulging every now and then."

Jezebel grins back. "Scheduled visits, then. Between Erica's and Piccoli's, I am going to become fat and lazy."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "I can recommend a few good gyms, if you like. Though if you do sign on as a student, the universities tend to have pretty good facilities available for free."

Jezebel says, "I may have to take you up on that, Ygraine. Honestly, I don't know about school. Something in my life had to give. I know I made the right choice. I run into someone or something new and great every time I go out up here. I miss my studies, though and my parents are already beginning to scream."

Ygraine chews her lower lip. "How about part-time, perhaps?" She pours herself a helping of just-boiled water, then starts to stir her coffee. "Or maybe a distance-learning programme, so you don't have to commit to turning up frequently at specific times?"

Jezebel shakes her head, then pours boiling water into her tea, letting it steep. "Not in science majors, I fear. It would work for either CompSci or, say, history, but I have no knack for either, to the disgust of my parents. You have no idea how much Dad wanted me to learn how to program and go to MIT."

Ygraine chuckles sympathetically. "Spending my life on a bike wasn't exactly what my parents had in mind for me, but… prove you're good at what you do, and the chances of acceptance go up a lot."

Jezebel says, "I can only hope. What did your parents want you to do?"

Ygraine chuckles. "Mum's a solicitor, and Dad's a university lecturer. Sitting on a bike, showing off how I look in lycra… not quite what they'd planned when they plotted how they were going to invest in my education."

Jezebel smiles sympathetically. "My mother's a lawyer, solicitor-type. My father programs for the government, non-secure material. My biological father may have been a mechanic. How they produced me, I don't know."

Ygraine laughs softly. "You don't necessarily need to let them down entirely. There're ways of trying to combine things, but…. Figure out what really matters to you, then investigate what options you have. Too often, it can feel like you've only got choices betwen what others tell you to do, or rejecting it all and getting away from everything."

Jezebel says, "I haven't quite managed the latter. I suppose it's a case of no choice going wholly unregretted." Jezebel finally fishes out her teabag and sips her tea.

Ygraine nods sadly. "Oh, I can wholly sympathise with that, I assure you. I… it's been hard - horribly hard - to give up on pursuing racing. But… There are few choices that have to be quite so cut and dried, and you can usually find ways to work around the limitations other people tell you are there."

Jezebel sips her tea. "Ahhh, I needed that. Thanks. I suppose I'll have to see what can be worked out. I suppose I shouldn't panic. I just got here last week."

Ygraine laughs softly. "Yeah. Don't panic too much. Many people are still wigging out about either being in The Big Apple, or Nuked York, depending on what strikes them most."

Jezebel says, "I think both, really. New York was always a strange place."

Ygraine cracks a grin. "You seem to be adjusting all right. Don't worry about not having wholly found your feet just yet… You'll get there."

Jezebel chuckles. "That's me, adaptable. I'm beginning to understand why some people love this place. There's always something new."

Ygraine shrugs amiably. "For somewhere to live long-term, I think I'd still prefer somewhere quiet, old and beautiful… but it does have its advantages, certainly."

Jezebel says, "Quiet, old and beautiful can be hard to find these days. I'd either look in New England, or perhaps south to Charlottesville."

Ygraine grins. "Bah. All parvenu settlements", she observes with a wink. "Barely a few hundred years old…. I grew up in Edinburgh, and did my post-grad work in Canterbury. My first degree was in Manchester, admittedly, which has been a big city only for a couple of hundred years."

Jezebel grins and snorts at that. "Back across the Pond with you! Either that, or we'll have to send you south of the border to somewhere near a pyramid."

Ygraine giggles. "I do have a few reasons to stay here, though. I doubt I'll be going anywhere for a while. I've got civilisation to help to restore - or at least mail services to help set up."

Jezebel says, "A very noble cause. Mine's just antique."

Ygraine cocks her head. "Your cause, or your mail service?"

Jezebel bursts out laughing! "I meant the Hero's Journey, or maybe that should be the Fool's Journey. I'm not going to comment on the Postal Service."

Ygraine cracks a grin. "Well, should an ex-pat courier on medical leave be able to help you at all, do let me know. It's going to be a while before I can be out and about on the bike again, so a distraction of making myself useful'd be welcome."

Jezebel finishes her tea. "I may take you up on that," she warns. "Thanks for the tea and the contract. Should I pay something on that before I leave?"

Ygraine glances over towards the counter, where things now seem to be rather less hectic. "Looks like they should be ready to get you through the paperwork and take some money from you now. I'll be outside eyeing up your bike."

Jezebel says, "Look for the Harley," and heads over to the counter.

Ygraine chuckles, raising her mug to Jezebel in temporary farewell, before ambling outside to do just that….

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