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Size 14 Is Not Fat Either (Heather Wells #2)(3)
Meg Cabot

And I guess there’s the work-study student manning the reception desk. But she doesn’t even look up as I go by, she’s so engrossed in a copy of Us Weekly she’s stolen from the mail-forwarding bin (Jessica Simpson’s on the cover. Again. She and Tania Trace are neck and neck for Tabloid Skank of the Year).

It’s not until I turn the corner and pass the elevators that I see the line of undergrads outside the hall director’s office. And I remember, belatedly, that the first day of spring semester is also the first day a lot of kids come back from Winter Break—the ones who didn’t stay in the dorm (I mean, residence hall) to party until classes started again today, the day after Martin Luther King Day.

And when Cheryl Haebig—a New York College sophomore desperate for a room change because she’s a bubbly cheerleader and her current roommate is a Goth who despises school spirit in all its guises, plus has a pet boa constrictor—leaps up from the institutional blue couch outside my office door and cries, “Heather!” I know I’m in for a morning of headaches.

Good thing I have my grande café mocha to keep me going.

The other students—each and every one of whom I recognize, since they’ve been in the office before due to roommate conflicts—scramble up from the cold marble floor on which they’ve been waiting, the couch being only a two-seater. I know what they’ve been waiting for. I know what they want.

And it’s not going to be pretty.

“Look, you guys,” I say, wrestling my office keys out of my coat pocket. “I told you. No room changes until all the transfer students are moved in. Then we’ll see what’s left.”

“That’s not fair,” exclaims a skinny guy with large plastic disks in his earlobes. “Why should some stupid transfer student get dibs on all the open spaces? We got here first.”

“I’m sorry,” I say. I really am, because if I could just move them all, I wouldn’t have to listen to their whining anymore. “But you’re going to have to wait until they’ve all checked in. Then, if there are any spaces left, we can move you guys into them. If you can just hang on until next Monday, when we know who’s checked in and who hasn’t shown up—”

I am interrupted by general moaning. “By next Monday I’ll be dead,” one resident assures another.

“Or my roommate will,” his friend says. “Because I’ll have killed him by then.”

“No killing your roommate,” I say, having gotten the office door open and flicked on the lights. “Or yourself. Come on, guys. It’s just another week.”

Most of them go away, grumbling. Only Cheryl continues to hang around, looking excited as she follows me into my office. I see that she has a mousy-looking girl in tow.

“Heather,” she says again. “Hi. Listen, remember when you said if I found someone who would swap spaces with me, I could move? Well, I found someone. This is my friend Lindsay’s roommate, Ann, and she said she’d swap with me.”

I’ve peeled off my coat and hung it on a nearby hook. Now I sink into my desk chair and look at Ann, who appears to have a cold, from the way she’s sniffling into a wadded-up Kleenex. I hand her the box I keep handy in case of Diet Coke spills.

“You want to trade spaces with Cheryl, Ann?” I ask her, just to make sure. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live with a person who painted the walls of her side of the room black.

Then again, it was probably annoying to Cheryl’s roommate that Cheryl’s side of the room was decorated with so many pansies, the New York College mascot.

“I guess,” Ann says, looking wan.

“She does,” Cheryl assures me brightly. “Don’t you, Ann?”

Ann shrugs. “I guess,” she says again.

I begin to sense Ann might have been coerced into agreeing to this room change.

“Ann,” I say. “Have you met Cheryl’s roommate, Karly? You know she, er…likes the color black?”

“Oh,” Ann says. “Yeah. The Goth thing. I know. It’s okay.”

“And…” I hesitate to bring it up, because, ew. “The snake?”

“Whatever. I mean”—she looks at Cheryl—“no offense, or anything. But I’d rather live with a snake than a cheerleader.”

Cheryl, far from being offended, beams at me.

“See?” she says. “So can we do the paperwork for our swap now? Because my dad is here to help me move, and he wants to get back to New Jersey before this big blizzard hits.”

I pull out the forms, finding myself shrugging, just like Ann—it’s sort of catching.

“Okay,” I say, and hand them the papers they have to fill out to make the switch. When the girls—Cheryl giddy with excitement, Ann decidedly more calm—finish filling out their forms and leave, I look over last night’s briefing forms. Fischer Hall is staffed round-the-clock by a security guard, student front desk receptionists, and resident assistants, students who, in exchange for free room and board, act as sort of house mothers on each of the hall’s twenty floors. They all have to fill out reports at the end of their shifts, and my job is to read and follow up on these briefings. This always makes for an interesting morning.

The reports range from the ludicrous to the banal. Last night, for instance, six forty-ounce bottles of beer were hurled from an upper-story window onto the roof of a cab passing on the street below. Ten cops from the Sixth Precinct arrived and ran up and down the stairs a few times, unsuccessfully trying to figure out who the pitcher had been.

On the other end of the spectrum, the front desk apparently lost someone’s Columbia House CD of the Month, causing much consternation. One of the RAs somberly reports that a resident slammed her door several times, crying, “I hate it here.” The RA wishes to refer the student to Counseling Services.

Another report states that a small riot occurred when a cafeteria worker chastised a student for attempting to make an English muffin pizza in the toaster oven.

When my phone jangles, I pounce on it, grateful for something to do. I do love my job—really. But I have to admit it doesn’t tax my intellect overly much.

“Fischer Hall, this is Heather, how may I help you?” My last boss, Rachel, had been very strict about how I answered the phone. Even though Rachel’s not around anymore, old habits die hard.

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