I walked out onto the back gravel terrace; hundreds of potted flowers were scattered without rhyme or reason along with miscellaneous patio tables, chairs, and a few parasols. I had been asked to choose a table where Susy and I could dine together.
The air was slightly humid, and still quite warm as if it were still the middle of the afternoon. As there are no mountains here, the sun doesn’t set in until about 10:30 at night. As I sat, I looked across the acreage over at the lake and noticed how beautifully quiet it is, no sounds of city life; only the songbirds singing, the wind dancing with the leaves of the countless trees surrounding me, chirping of crickets in the grass, and the later it became the more the murder of crows would discuss their plans for the next day.
Susan Stayne Jackson
Despite my repeated requests to help her, Susy insisted on making dinner for me. When she finally started to walk out to the terrace with the food I observed her before promptly getting up to help her. Yes, she is in her later years and she has an old school way of working and thinking, but you could see pride in her walk (despite being a little uneasy as she walked the gravel in her age and chosen footwear). Susy has bleach blond hair, which has thinned in her age. She was wearing dark red lipstick and dark eye shadow and a bit of rouge on her cheeks. (Whenever she is out and about she is in full make-up) She was wearing a white summer hat and summer dress that might have suited someone a few years younger much better, but she wore it with confidence nonetheless.
Down to Business
She brought a fresh baked baguette, a slab of butter, some veggies with balsamic glaze and smoked salmon (as the french do it anyways). Susy sat down across from me; I sat facing the beautiful scenery, trees and nature while she sat facing the chateau. I broke a piece of baguette and ate it with some butter.
“Andrew, you’ve arrived at precisely the right moment, when I most desperately need some help; I hate to throw you into the deep end immediately as we have 3 weddings back to back. The first is of 120 which will be the wedding from hell,” she told me it was because they wanted too many ‘freebies’ in her opinion and she wasn’t making enough profit although the couple, she said, is very nice. She continued, “the second wedding is over 200 guests and the third around the same, however I know you will do well.”
I continued to listen, avoiding interjection despite the underlying thought that crossed my mind of: what have I gotten myself into? She spoke in her sweet as pie way of talking like an old grandmother you can’t help but like and want to help. She continued, “In France I have such trouble with employees, there is a job shortage here though it seems like no one truly wants to work. The employer is often at the mercy of the employee which makes it difficult to run a chateau at a decent profit. I saw how you worked, how you interacted with people when you were here in March. I want you to be my right hand man; you will be my personal assistant and I will train you how to manage the chateau and look after things. Of course you will have an opportunity to make some extra money with photography by selling your services to weddings however; when I leave in two weeks for my holidays, you will manage the chateau and the team on your own...You could make a good life here if you want."
I really thought about it and said to myself, yea it could be very good here. I don't mind working long hours, the place is beautiful, and I get to improve my French. So, I nodded politely and smiled sweetly to give affirmation but still not wanting to interrupt her.
"I think you and I are very much the same, we are both Jewish. We are different than most people; we work hard and get the job done no matter the hours. We have a certain drive about us that makes us succeed at whatever we do.” (Back when I met her in March Susy found out that I am of Jewish heritage when she asked me why I didn’t eat pork, although I don’t eat it because the mere smell of it makes me nauseous and it’s in my opinion disgusting, my usual answer is because I have Jewish heritage as it cuts off any other questions or insistence from others that I should eat it.)
Living in Europe has always been a dream of mine, but is this what I would want to do for a long time? There is only really one way to find out, so I smirked and nodded as she continued to fill me in...