Social Deductions was busy for awhile, but now it’s empty. Maybe it’s the calm before the storm. To be honest, I dread the storm. The storm equates to no time to work on homework or anything really important.
I’m trying to catch up on my Algebra 2 when I hear the door open. “Hey, this is Social Deductions,” I mumble tiredly. Evan decided to opt out today for homework, and ironically enough, he was more energetic than I was. That never happens.
“Hi,” the customer replies.
“Uh, you can sit down,” I say, waving towards a seat.
As he walks over, I make my usual observations: Freshman. Neat blonde hair: organized. Watch on right arm; left handed. Eyes all over the place; attempts to be observant, but is too twitchy. Neat clothes. Fantastic posture. Very type A.
“So, what’s your problem?” I ask while shoving my homework back in my planner.
“Uh, um… I’m Jamie Duncan,” he mumbles while adjusting his watch.
“Nice to meet you. What’s the problem?”
He fidgets a moment. “Uh, I have study hall, but I usually finish what I have to do ahead of time.”
I nod. “Good for you.”
“I get to play on the computers in the library once I’m done.”
I raise my eyebrows; the librarians usually get really upset when they catch someone playing games.
“But… I get obsessive.”
I tilt my head. “Eh? What d’you mean?”
He turns a little red; he clearly doesn’t want to talk about it. “I need to finish the level I’m on. If the bell rings and I’m in the middle of a level, I can’t stop playing. I have to finish the level. I need to get it done.”
Oh. I get it. “Jamie, why’re you here? You don’t seem to want to be here.”
He shakes his head. “No! I wanna be here! I do! It’s just that Mr. Barnet recommended you, so…yeah.”
I sigh a little. “Okay. Do you have any ideas on how to stop this?”
He leans back and groans. “The only thing I can come up with is to stop playing the game, but I don’t want to.”
I think for a second. “Okay, Jamie. Understand this; this isn’t a Social Deduction. It’s for you, not anything social. Just you. I don’t usually do these sort of cases, okay?”
He nods. “I get it, that’s what I told Mr. Barnet, actually.”
“Okay then. Can you meet me again tomorrow? I need some time to think of stuff.”
“So, what d’you think, Evan?” I ask. I’ve just relayed the whole meeting to him over the phone.
“Hmm. Maybe… Ugh. I don’t have this problem. I’m stumped. All I can think of is that he shouldn’t play a game with levels, y’know?”
I sigh. “Yeah, I got it. I just dunno which idea to decide on.”
“Huh. Tell me.” So I tell him the three ideas that I’ve got. “Hmm. All of those ideas have their good sides and bad sides.”
I huff a little. “Yeah, I know. Which d’you think is better?”
“Why do I have to decide?”
I groan. “I’m not asking you to decide! I just want another opinion!”
He thinks for a moment. “Maybe tell Jamie both ideas, and let him decide. He is the customer after all, so he should choose for himself.”
I roll my eyes. “You’ve been hanging out with me too much. That’s what I was planning to do!”
I squint. “Was that on purpose?”
“Maybe, maybe not. You decide! Anyway, I gotta go, my lit homework is screaming at me. See you tomorrow.” He hangs up before I can interrogate him. Darn. I’m rubbing off on him, aren’t I?
Jamie is back in the Social Deductions at exactly 3:00. I’ve never had a customer who’s exactly on time. Usually they’re either late, or early. He really is very type A. “Have you come up with any ideas?” he mumbles.
I nod. “Yeah, a few.”
He leans forward. “Ooh, what are they?” he asks excitedly.
I take out my notes. “Well, idea number one is: stop playing the game, and read a book instead.”
He shakes his head. “I get that way with books too. At lunch, I read, but then I have to finish the chapter I’m on.”
I nod. “Okay, that makes sense. Idea number two: play a game without levels. Just a repetitive game that you can ‘kill’ your character on.”
He shrugs. “I guess that could work, but I’m kinda tired of those games. They become all the same after a while.”
I flip to the last note. “Idea number three; keep playing the game, but set a number of levels that are attainable before study hall ends.”
His eyebrows raise. “Huh. That sounds okay…but can you explain?”
I cough. “Uh, it means that if you have fifteen minutes… Wait. How long does it take you to complete a level?”
He fidgets a moment. “It, it, takes about ten minutes. Maybe more, maybe less.”
“Okay, if you have fifteen minutes, set a goal of one level, and then stop. Maybe speed read a chapter in a book, and then read it more carefully later.”
He nods, slowly understanding. “Oh, I get it. That makes sense.” He groans. “Oh man, why didn’t I come up with this? I should’ve!”
“Hey,” I snap. “Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes on a problem. You can’t come up with every solution on your own, y’know?”
“Even you?” he asks confusedly.
“Yeah, I’m only human,” I answer.
He gets up. “Okay, I’ll try this out.”
I nod. “Good. Let’s meet up on… Tuesday? I mean, it’s Thursday now, so that’ll give you time.”
“Sure!” he says cheerfully. “That’s fine by me. See you then,” he says, and leaves.
As usual, right at three, Jamie shows up. I have to admit that it’s kind of nice to have someone be so reliable. Evan skipped out again; he has to study for a chemistry test. He’s always busy nowadays.
“Hey, Jamie. How’ve you been?” I ask.
He beams at me. “I’m doing better!” he cries.
I lean forward. “Oh, huh. Tell me what’s been happening,” I say.
He sits down. “I’ve been setting goals for the levels. If I have twenty minutes, two levels. If thirty, three. It’s actually good for someone like me to have a goal in mind while doing this. I’m kinda rigid in that way.”
I nod. “That’s why I gave you that idea. I nearly just told you that one, because you seem very goal oriented, but I thought it’d be better to keep our options open.”
He nods. “I need to get better about that,” he murmurs.
I smile. “Well, that appears to be another goal to try to attain, yeah?”
He nods slowly. “It’s so difficult!” he suddenly cries.
I shake my head. “I never told you that it’d be easy, Jamie. It’s difficult to do this,” I say.
He sighs. “Okay, I’ll keep that in mind,” he says. “Thanks, Sage.”
I smile. “Your welcome,” I reply. Once he leaves, I organize my notes in my binder. Maybe next week won’t be the storm. I hope so. I have too much work. With that, I put my binder back and leave the Social Deductions room.