She swore to herself: "Damn! That damn light again!"
Her 'chariot', as she sometimes called her almost ancient car, was showing the 'check engine' light again. She'd had it worked on, and paid money, that she couldn't really afford, to have that done, and now the damn light is on again.
Usually, she knew by then, the light didn't mean much, wasn't really serious. Then the car quit; it just kind of drifted to a stop and she shepherded it to the side of the road.
"I guess it meant it this time!" Janet said.
Right then, Janet Worshek was on the way to pick up Alice Mae from school. She had a standing agreement with her supervisor at work, Warner Ltd, that she'd pick up Alice Mae and put in the amount of time she missed. Alice Mae spent that time in the section of the plant that was meant for watching worker's children. It worked out well for her.
Janet, a lovely 32 yrs old at the time, was a petite blonde. She had the figure of someone who worked out. She was into yoga and had studied martial arts for a good while. She tended, though petite, to be big in the breast, and was altogether pleasing.
She was also tickled to have been hired in the pr and sales department of Warner. It was such a grand place to work. People who worked there were all quite pleased with their relationship with the boss, Jason. He treated everyone, individually and in groups with kindness and attention.
In addition, she'd been out of work for a good three quarters of a year, causing a real financial crunch for her and her Alice Mae. It had been a severe time of pinching pennies, no luxuries, like new or even adequate car/transportation. It was a time to live through, and now with the new job, it might just begin to get better but Janet knew that the 'better' was still a long way away. She had obligations that she'd incurred, during the no job time, and those were first on her agenda. She was working on those.
Janet had married into a rather old Boston family but Roy, her husband, had proven himself to be fairly shiftless. He had some old money behind him, though not as much as he liked to think and lead people to believe.
The message that the money had run out, that he'd given Janet about 13 months ago was a bit of a shock, and then he was gone on what he called 'an adventure' with friends. Janet never heard from him again.
Roy's Mom, who truly disliked Janet, and considered her a few social ranks 'below' the family, simply showed both Janet and the Alice Mae the door.
Truth to tell, Janet was happy to be away from the old witch and they went to a different part of the country and were on their own. She, indeed, had no close family left but they were slowly making it together.
During her time unemployed, she ran up debts with people who were simply nice to her and she made it one of her priorities to pay those debts first of all.
There were debts for furniture for their apartment, and others that had occurred, for the damn car, for instance. The amount wasn't huge, several thousand dollars but Janet had been grateful for the love and concern of others during her difficult times.
"And now this 'damn, damn, damn' car," She fumed, although a small inner voice told her, spoke to her saying that getting this upset with it wasn't going to change a thing.
She acknowledged the voice but was still upset. She simply didn't know what to do about Alice Mae.
Jason Warner, big boss and owner of warner Ltd, was just then deep in a report about some business opportunities that they were opening in the Eastern part of Europe. He was pleased with the perspective.
For occasions like this, when he had some reading to do, he chose to let his 'man' Ralph do the driving. He normally drove his own car but today it was Ralph and the Benz limo, a black beauty that Jason loved.
He happened to glance up, as they were driving toward home, and noticed the car stopped by the side of the road. He was surprised, as soon as he saw the woman standing there.
He knew her! She was 'one of his'. That was the thought that crossed his mind, as he asked Ralph to stop.
"I know that woman," Jason said, "She works for me."
Ralph pulled onto the shoulder of the road and both he and Jason got out.
Janet was really relieved to see Jason Warner get out of the car. She'd only met him once but saw him around the business any number of times.
"Mr. Warner!" she said, the relief in her voice.
He walked over to where she was standing and he said, softly but pleasantly: "It's Jason!"
"Jason," she repeated with a smile.
"Your car?" he asked.
"Yes, recently had it worked on but the 'check engine' light came on again. Normally, when it does, it's still drivable but today it just stopped."
"Ralph," Jason said, turning to the chauffer, "Will you make a call about Ms. Worshek's car?"
She broke in then, with an apology: "Please, it's Janet."
"Yes," he said, "Janet."
(Of course, it should be said, Jason Warner recognized Janet. She hadn't worked for him long but he knew his people; he especially knew the pretty ones, like Janet Worshek. He smiled inwardly at that thought.)
Ralph made the call and then Jason said: "Where to? Home?"
"Oh, no," Janet said, "I'm on the way to pick up my daughter Alice Mae at school. I do in the afternoons and she will use the family play room at work, while I finish my day there."
"Ah, I see." he said. "Well, Ralph, we'd better go and fetch Alice Mae from the school."
"Oh, thank you!" Janet said, truly grateful.
Janet got into the sleek and beautiful car and settled back, looking around her then with a smile on her face.
"This is so lovely," she said.
"Yes," he answered, "It's what I use, when I have some work to do. I have this prospectus for a buy out in the Czech Republic that we might be interested in."
"Yes," she responded. "I heard a rumor at work about that possibility."
"Well, I've been looking it over and like what I've seen," Jason said next.
Then he had a thought. "Say," he went on, "How about if we pick up Alice Mae and go for a treat? I think that I'd like to run these prospectus items past you and get your opinion. Can we?"
"I'd like that, Mr ... er ... Jason," she said, causing him to grin at her.
They pulled up in front of the school just about in time. Janet got out of the car and waited by the side of the car until she saw Alice Mae running toward her.
"Mommie!" Alice Mae said but stopped short, when she saw the kind of vehicle that her Mom was standing by.
"What's this cool, cool ride for?" Alice Mae said, with an all out grin.
"The car broke down," Janet said, beginning her explanation.
"Again?" Alice Mae said.
"Again," Janet said, "And Mr. Warner was nice enough to give me a ride to come and pick you up."
"You mean 'THE' Mr Warner?" Alice Mae said, grinning.
Just then Jason got out of the back seat of the car.
"Alice Mae Worshek," Janet said, "Don't you make a scene!"
It caused Alice Mae to grin at her Mom and then she turned to Jason and said: "Mr. Warner, thank you for taking care of my Momma."
"Well, it certainly seemed as though someone needed to," Jason said. "The car and her being stranded and all."
"Yes," Alice Mae said then, "And no one to meet me at school."
"Exactly," Jason said, "No one to meet you at school."
"But look at this car," Alice Mae went on. "It's just lovely, lovely."
Jason turned to Janet then, who was watching the interplay between her, as usual, almost outrageous daughter and Jason Warner.
"Well," Jason said next, "I've suggested going out for a treat now. Your Mom and I need to bore you with some business talk but a treat?"
"Grand," Alice Mae said, and surprised both her Mom and Jason by grabbing him for a hug.
"You're so nice," Alice Mae said, in the midst of the hug, that caused Jason to simply grin at Janet, who was watching and smiling, and then kiss Alice Mae on the top of the head.
"And, by the way," Jason said, as the hug broke up, "This is Ralph my absolutely everything guy."
Alice Mae had her hand out to meet Ralph, who took the hand and said 'hi' to Alice Mae, a grin on his face.
"Okay, everyone," Jason said. "Load up and it's ice cream for all of us."
"I'll make sure that a friend of mine comes to look at her car; I'll get it taken in to his garage," Ralph said.
"Thank you, Ralph," Jason said, and was echoed in that 'thanks' by Janet also.
They went to a nearby ice cream parlor and ordered their treats. During their time there, Alice Mae had all sorts of news about the new math items that she'd been introduced to that day.
"My daughter the math wizard," Janet said, getting a grin from all of them.
Then Alice Mae suggested that she take a treat out to Ralph, who was outside with the car.
Jason gave her some money from his wallet and she went to take the treat to Ralph, who was appreciative.
While Alice Mae was gone, Jason looked at his watch and said: "I'm afraid that I don't have time now for the perusal of the Czech thing. How about dinner? We could do it then."
"I'd like that," Janet said.
They made the arrangements then. He had Ralph drive them home and they went home themselves.
They'd agreed that it could be a pizza dinner, one of Alice Mae's favorites. He took his own car, later in the afternoon, and went to where Janet and Alice Mae lived. Once he was at Janet and Alice Mae's tiny apartment, they ordered the pizza and Jason sat with Janet to talk to her about the Czech proposal.
.... There is more of this story ...