Jen Cortez quickly skyrocketed to popularity in her office after beginning work as a receptionist early this year. And like any sky rocket, Jen knows she either has to reach the stratosphere or come crashing down to the ocean and explode. Does she keep doing what got her this far?
“This success is all new for me, but I do know I’m not untouchable,” Jen explains matter-of-factly over a tupperware of salad. “That’s why I brought oranges for everybody today.”
And Jen originally became liked because she did just that one day, when oranges were on sale. “Everyone was so happy that I brought them! They learned my name, called me ‘sweet.’”
The same day, on a stroke of luck, Jen made a hilarious joke to an accountant that paid big dividends. Their accountant was over at Jen’s desk, dropping off paychecks, and the accountant’s cell phone rang. “I picked up my desk phone,” Jen chuckles softly at the memory. “I said ‘hello, hello?’ into my phone. Even though I knew it didn’t ring.”
So she’s been bringing in oranges and making that joke ever since. “I brought muffins once and they turned on me. ‘You’ll ruin my diet!’ my boss said. But they love the oranges, my god. And they still laugh when I say ‘hello, hello?’ when nobody’s on the phone. They’re actually angry if I don’t do it. Where’s the joke, they say.”
“It’s surprised even me, but success has become a sort of prison. They can’t like this stuff forever, but it’s all they seem to want,” Jen sinks down into her chair.
Where did Jen Cortez get her start? Jen smiles a sad smile. “This all just started with a naive college graduate… and a dream. She wasn’t looking for attention, just a job. She was uncertain, but optimistic. She was called in for an interview. People kept knocking on the interviewer’s door during the interview — it was so tense, until she broke the ice with a joke about how the interviewer must be really popular! That was her first taste of being the funny one in the room. She got that job.”
“…The girl was me, that whole story was about me.”
But any success of Jen’s magnitude has enemies. One former friend, who asked to remain anonymous, feels snubbed by Jen’s success. “I got her this job. She was NEVER the funny one! Saying ‘hello, hello?’ into the phone when no one is there? I invented that. Jen is a thief and hack.”
When I relayed those words to Jen, she jumped to her feet and slammed both fists on her desk. “They don’t know what I’ve been through to get here! One of our top executives just asked me if I have plans this weekend! And then told me they’re visiting their parents! Do I sound like a hack to you??”
Whether Jen will find a way to become more than a one-trick pony remains to be seen. She may find an additional very cool pony trick to do, or may already have peaked. Someday, when the fans move on, it may just be Jen intoning hollowly – “hello? Hello?”