“I hope you have a great time in Korea,” I say to him. “I’ve always wanted to go there, but I never did.”
Standing at the door, he wishes me good luck with that dream. “Maybe,” he says, “you’ll have more time now. Think about it, Gabe, you can be your own last customer.”
I smile. “Huh, good point.”
He turns and walks out. Yes. The last one served.
Right. Me being my own last customer. That wouldn’t count. I’d do it online just like they all do it now. Truthfully, it’s the way I do it now, too. They just don’t know that. Everything’s online. The last time I made any arrangements over the phone was what? More than five years, I’m guessing.
Korea. It’s always been on my bucket list. And with this forced retirement, I should go. It’s not like I can’t afford it. When I first got into this business, people were beating down the door for my help. We had the contacts in the industry, people we could talk to about anything and everything our customers desired.
It’s all become so impersonal. Frankly, I don’t care much for this business anymore, what with everything being between me and my computer. There’s no life to it. No joy.
He’s stopped outside my window and is looking at the posters, rubbing his chin. I wonder if he’s thinking of booking another one?
Turning back, he walks through the door again.
“Say,” he says. “Can I buy one of your posters?”
“Sure,” I say, ‘it’s a fire sale. No need for them anymore. Which one do you want?”
“The Bali one,” he says. “I love the hammock strung between the two coconut trees and clear, clear water.”
“It’s yours,” I say, reaching into the window. “Any others?”
“Well, ah, how much for the Bali one?”
“Free ninety-nine,” I say. “You’ve been a loyal customer over the years. Now you’re my last customer. It’s yours. And any others you want.”
“Oh, no, that’s so kind of you. I’ll just take the Bali one. I’m really going to miss you, Gabe. I hate trying to do all of this online by myself.”
I roll up the Bali poster and hand it to him. He thanks me again, and I watch him walk out the door one more time.
Looking around the office, I admire all of the posters. Paris, Mount Fuji, the Grand Canyon. I’ve been to almost every place you can see on the walls and in the windows of my agency office, but not to Korea. That poster is a photo of the Seoul Tower.
But I can’t sit down at my computer right this minute and book it. I power everything down, go to the door, turn off all the lights, and head out. It used to be a glamorous job, you know. And now it’s dead. It’s nothing anymore.
One day I may travel to Korea but not just yet. I’m not booking that until I get over my anger at being put out of business by a machine.