TWELVE Tips to Help You Succeed in Life:Part Nine
TIP NINE: HATE JERK-FACED JERKS
Because of my promise (mostly due to my big mouth, which I seriously need sewn shut) I needed to find a way to help finance my Mom's hospital stay. Sure enough, my Mom was right with her prediction: our savings would only be able to fund three days. So the additional five days needed to be supplied by yours truly. My original plan was to use my own personal Usuki/plushie savings fund and then dive into my other 'in case there's ever a rainy day emergency' fund. And while one fund (the less practical one) only had one hundred Neopoints, my other more useful one had enough Neopoints to help supply two extra days for Mom. Regardless, I needed to find a new source of income to supplement for Mom's pay-checks, and those Neopoints needed to fund our various bills: electricity, utilities, Neovision etc. (Since when was there a Neovision bill?)
I was lucky to find a job at the School Supplies store, though. All I had to do was ring in purchases—something you all know I've had a lot of experience with! Yes the store wasn't the funnest place to work at, but I had no choice: there were a lot of bills to pay, I needed food, and the school supplies shop had a pretty decent salary, so I knew I couldn't refuse. Though the store was BORING to be in—even my co-worker, a blue Aisha named Inka, was blah. I swear she must have been born a robot pet because her 'personality' was a bland as plain old white bread. The very first thing she said on our first day together was a very tired-sounding, "Do you know where the pencils and erasers are?"
"Yep. That yellow Chia dude showed me around," I explained, forcing myself to be perky.
Inka nodded. "Gooooooooooooooooooooodd," she drawled. I swear she looked half-sleep. "Those are the store's top two selling items for, like, all the Neoschool kids. Oh, and the Chia's name is Harley. He's the manager…guy here."
In all honestly, Inka gave me the creeps. I was always tempted to flick her in the forehead to see how she would react—would she swat at me or just stare and blink? Although the pay was solid and Harley a nice manager (though I preferred Cassie much more because she doesn't smell like hay) I still hung around the shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help make ends meet. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays were spent at the Plushie Shop, where I was much more eager to work. I mean the school supply shop wasn't as bad as the Grooming Parlour, but it was just so boring! Even the customers were boring! To think no little kids would scream and throw tantrums in a shop that sells school supplies…wait, forget that. That wouldn't make any logical sense anyway.
But the weirdest day was when I was flipping through the NT one particular Friday afternoon (I was bored and there were no customers.) By then Mom was at the hospital for seven days, and I had paid for three additional days since the doctors needed to conduct more tests. I was really missing Mom since the Neohome seemed too empty without her around anymore. As I flipped the NT, I kept thinking about Mom in the hospital, eating her food and watching Neovision all day. My thoughts were interrupted, however, when I noticed the page I turned to featured three Neopians on it: members of a popular new band. And one of the band members looked exactly like Andrew! Then I read the caption...and the mystery red Usul WAS Andrew! "Oh my stars, I know this Usul!" I exclaimed.
Inka peered over my shoulder. "His band is reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaally big right now," she said in a monotone voice. "I think they got their break in Tyrannia…you know, at that stadium-thing."
The article elaborated about Andrew's band: sure enough, they were discovered while performing in a Tyrannian park and were signed to a major record label by a Chia who had also discovered Yes Boy Ice Cream and Jazzmosis. I was flabbergasted. Who would have thought that the Andrew I was associated with—the one who dragged me to Usukiland and got me my first ever job—was going to be a worldwide music sensation?? Although he had his familiar shaggy brown hair, his eyes seemed more sparkly in his picture and his smile more confident. His band—named '3P' for some reason—was scheduled to perform in Neopia Central this Saturday, and all three guys seemed thrilled about returning to their hometown. (I thought the pink Zafara was a foreigner, though. The blue Shoyru was from Neopia Central. He worked at the Toy Shop.)
"Sooooooooo, are you going to go?" asked Inka.
I wasn't sure. For starters, I admit that I wasn't the most supportive friend to Andrew when it came to his crazy rock star dreams. But now he had proven me wrong, so what was there to be nervous about? Could it be I was jealous that Andrew was living his wildest dreams at long last while I was nothing but a regular working Neopian? I pondered on this for the next two days, even asking Cassie for any wise words of advice. "Would Andrew still be the same Usul he was before he became a big shot?" I asked, unpacking a box of adorable Bruce plushies.
Cassie beamed. "Of course he will. After all, you're both childhood friends, right?"
"Eh, I guess so," I said doubtfully.
"I also heard the band may be doing a meet-and-greet session at the Smoothie Shop today," added Cassie. "Maybe you should go see him after work?"
"Eh, I'll think about it," I said, considering the idea.
Sure enough the work day came to an end, and as I walked by the Smoothie Shop, I saw a group of Aishas packing up two folding tables, four chairs and a couple of velvet-rope thingies used to keep impatient Neopians in line. At first I was relieved about not seeing you-know-who. Then, just as I was going to turn away, I saw you-can-guess-who exit the Smoothie Shop with a smoothie in hand. Forcing a smile, I waved and walked over to him. "Hey Andrew," I croaked. "Long time no see!"
Andrew—wearing a red and white outfit that I think clashed with his black shoes—looked me up and down and sipped his smoothie. "Yeah, long time," he said, sounding as unenthusiastic as Minka. "I'm guessing you're working at the Plushie Palace now?"
"And loving it!" I said cheerfully. "How about you? How's the music thing going?"
"We've just finished our tour of Tyrannia," Andrew explained, "and now we're prepping to perform in Faerieland. A lot of fans love our music."
I nodded, embarrassed I was never a fan of Andrew's music and that I was initially unaware of his current success. Still, to sound polite, I said, "How wonderful that you're garnered so many fans! And to think your owner doubted your musical abilities."
Andrew shrugged. "Not like I talk to him anyways," he murmured.
"Well…uh, my Mom would be so thrilled to see you again," I said brightly.
"That's nice." Andrew looked me over again for some reason. "Are you still working part-time? Or have you graduated to full-time shifts now?"
The word 'graduated' made me proud of myself (Sad isn't it?). I straightened my posture and smiled. "I'm so happy with my job at the Plushie Palace! Cassie's the bestest boss ever and she makes these delicious sweets every—"
"At least one good thing as changed," Andrew smirked.
"What do you mean?" I asked, thinking Andrew was joking around.
"Come on," Andrew scoffed. "We both now how much of an egotistical n00b you were before, Nadine. You were unemployed, collected Usukis, and spent a majority of your days either watching Neovision or hanging out with Claudia the Airhead. Now that you're actually working…well, let's hope the changes will be permanent, okay?"
"Permanent?" Now I was confused and as angry as a group of Kadders missing a feeding session. "What do you mean by that? I thought we were friends!"
Andrew stuck his hands into his pockets. "The truth is that I've always had my doubts. Yeah you can be very effervescent and your energy is infectious. You can be funny—but also obnoxious, lazy, self-centered and melodramatic." He kicked a pebble, probably in my direction but missed. "You've also never been supportive with my music, and I know that for a fact—even if you've never used words."
"That's…well…" I stammered. My mouth was growing dry.
"Do you like my music or not?" Andrew gave me a hard stare.
I gulped, afraid to answer his question.
Before I could answer, however, Mr. Smarmypants just smirked and said matter-of-factly, "Of course you don't. I can already guess your predictable answer."
"But look at you now," I managed to choke out. "You're a big-time rock star now! Why do you need to care about my opinion? I'm nobody compared to you!"
"I know," said Andrew, turning to leave. "And believe me: I can do MUCH better than having a friend like you around. Good luck with whatever you're doing."
And that was the last time I ever saw Andrew—okay, only in person. The next day I saw his ugly face on a plastic lunchbox, and I was tempted to stab at it with a fork. Andrew's career kept soaring, so naturally I wanted him to either fail, have his band break up, or lose all of his fans and popularity because the world finds out what a jerkface he is! It's a shame, but perhaps Andrew and I weren't meant to be long-time friends. Of course I can end this part by complaining some more, but I'll save all that for part ten.
PLUS there will be a very special guest next part, too! I can't say who it is, but let's just say she's a saviour and helped me cool down from the tragedy that is Andrew's departure and total lameness. (And she's SOOOOOOOOO pretty!)
So don't miss it!
To be continued….