It was the annual neighbourhood Christmas party hosted by the Crewdons. They lived in the colonial style house on the corner.
Being new to the street, Olivia in number 67 and Ross in 74 hung around the punch table. After sharing several awkward glances, Olivia broke the ice.
“Aren’t you from the house with the Japanese Maple out front?” she asked.
“Yeah, You’re from the house with the amazing day lily garden,” replied Ross.
“Thanks,” gushed Olivia. She hesitated a second, then asked, “Do you work from home? I see you around a lot.”
The idea that someone knew his activities made Ross blush. “I do. My main office is in London.”
“Wow.” Olivia flipped her hair. “What do you do, if I’m allowed to ask?”
Ross cleared his throat. “I’m with the Bureau of Statistical Curiosities.”
“That sounds fascinating,” replied Olivia, not knowing what else to say.
The two nervously avoided each other’s gaze as they scanned the party around them. Eventually, Olivia broke the tension.
“What does the Bureau of Statistical Curiosities do?”
The question perked Ross up. “We learn things people what to know, like what percent of the population brush their teeth with their right or left hands. Just the other day we figured out how many button their shirts from the top down or the bottom up.”
“Why would anyone want to know that? Who would want to know that?”
“You’d be surprised. Governments, Companies, NGOs. Information is a hot commodity,” explained Ross.
“And they ask you to learn it for them?” asked Olivia.
“Exactly. Usually for a hefty fee,” said Ross. Emboldened, Ross screwed up his courage. “Do you want to have dinner with me sometime this week?”
Olivia rolled her eyes. “No thanks. I don’t like know-it-alls.”