Phil pushed open the door at the travel agent and went inside. The atmosphere evoked professionalism and a sense of calm. Plush carpet covered the floors. Travel posters covered the walls, depicting exotic locations – they were designed to tempt the customer.
A middle aged woman was seated behind the only occupied desk. She was on the phone. Receiver in one hand and eyeglasses twirling in the other, she wore her hair in a manner that suggested a recent visit to the stylist. The jacket she wore over her white blouse matched the colour of the office walls, a pastel green teal. She waved to him and signaled that it was OK to sit.
Phil nodded his head but chose to study the posters. Singapore, Buenos Aires, Kenya, and London all beckoned from their respective showcases. Phil took the time to study them all, while he eavesdropped on the one sided conversation that he could hear.
“Ok, then. Sounds good to me… I will wait for your fax. Uh huh… thanks.” He listened to her set the phone back on the cradle and spun towards her and, away from the poster when she addressed him. “What may I do for you today sir?” She asked. She came around the desk with her right hand extended to shake.
“These are very interesting posters and I would love to visit all these places. But today, I’m mostly interested in booking a trip to Iceland,” he told her as they both headed back towards her desk.
“Iceland? How exciting, we don’t often have people here looking to go to Reykjavík. Do you have family there? Or, are you perhaps an adventurer?”
“Neither, I’m afraid,” Phil responded. “I want to meet women.”
“Really? In Iceland? I’m not sure I understand. Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to meet women right here in Omaha?”
“That’s not what I hear.” Phil said, stone-faced. “My buddies at the lodge told me that there is a single woman at the base of every tree in Iceland. They said you can just walk through the forest and take your pick. That sounds ideal to me. Say, do you know what Icelandic women look like? I guess it doesn’t really matter. If I get there early enough in the season there should be plenty to choose from. I shouldn’t have any problem finding one I like.”
“I’m afraid your buddies are pulling your leg. There’s not a lot of forests in Iceland.”
Phil looked at the nameplate on her desk, ‘Irene’. “How do you know that Irene?”
“I’m a travel agent,” she replied, “It’s my job to know things like that.” She smiled.
Phil looked at her left hand, ‘no ring’. “Can you get away from here for a while Irene? I need to learn more about Iceland. There’s a coffee shop just across the street… my treat.”
Irene tilted her head to the side and studied Phil. He held his breath in anticipation. Time seemed to stand still. After what seemed like forever, she nodded her head and said, “Sure.” She grabbed her keys from the top desk drawer and headed to the front door. She set the little clock to say “Back in 20 minutes” and locked up.