Someone has to go first.
I wonder how they sort it out.
Maybe it's a corporate operation. The Big Guy showed up, unannounced, this morning.
It's a long drive from the airport, and his suit already looks tired. That's never a good sign. Company meeting, call in the outside guys, it's all hands on deck.
It's no surprise, we've heard it all before. Profits are down.
Sure, it may seem like business is good, but there's so much going on behind the scenes. Winds of change, trending markets, losses, depreciation. Rising costs, growth, health insurance. Sad clichés. It's nothing new. Recycled, at best.
We all need to tighten up, if we're to stay afloat. They'll have us feeling bad for them by the end of the meeting. Lucky, to be working at all. Nobody will ask for a raise for months. They're pushing early retirement, with some hokey cash bonus. My own money, most likely.
Maybe I should take the offer this time. Such a gloomy meeting, there might not be too many more happy endings. Open doors. My wife would flip, we're not ready, she'd say.
We'll never be ready, it's just another carrot. A dangling promise of stability.
They'll get some so-so pizza, for lunch. I'll need some Tums.
The good place takes too long, and it's not a day to splurge.
Nobody will end up with much of an appetite, by the time they let us out.
I should just do it. Take the offer. Let her flip. She always comes around.
I could be home early. With pizza.
OK, that's a stretch.
Perhaps it's the lady in the office.
She's up front, and visible. Nearly as pretty as she feels. She's nice.
Her conversations are heard by all, there's no whispering. Nothing to hide.
She has a commanding presence. Right away, you assume that she's in charge.
She's not. There's some eye rolling, some glances, but they all manage to get along.
You can smell her perfume, after she walks by. Pleasant, not overpowering.
Like flowers, on the breeze. She was just here, and she went that way. Easy to find.
You wonder how she has time to sleep.
She's up on all of the current gossip, from the coolest social media sites. Misses nothing. She watches the awards shows, as awful, and commercial as they are. Soap operas.
On, while she's at work. How can she follow them?
Reality shows. Those have to be the worst.
She can tell you who got a rose, and who's going to get slapped next week.
She knows the fashion trends, and she's not afraid to push the envelope.
She knows the latest dance steps, the cute ones, that the little kids are doing, right up to the dirty club moves. She can teach you all of them.
Correctly, and without making you feel stupid. She has them down.
She's happy to start this show, and set a good example. A true leader.
She's been preparing for weeks, just the right hues, and pattern.
All of the drama. Full attention. A perfect spectacle.
She wouldn't want it any other way.
Maybe it's not her, at all.
It might be the new kid, Assistant Area Whatever. Nobody is sure what his proper title is. He's probably somebody's nephew. Nerdish. He has a few nicknames already.
He's serious, a go getter, fresh out of some economy business school.
Packing a shiny degree. He hasn't been accepted yet, at the water cooler.
He may never make that circle. The conversations stop when he walks by.
It's OK. He didn't take this job to make friends.
He's building a career, and has his eye on a big office. A company man.
Not a blatant brown noser, but he has a clear understanding of the pecking order.
Today, he dressed to impress, after a sleepless night. So excited, this would be his first jump, and he wanted to pull it off, perfectly. By the book. He read them all.
He was too prepared, and pulled his chute a little early, but made a good showing.
Embarrassed, and disappointed, it wasn't at all what he had hoped for. Relieved. It was done.
The haters had their fun, and snide comments. He wouldn't let them ruin it.
Sure enough, he'll end up in management, someday.
He'll remember those clowns at the water cooler. All of them.
Not him? I bet it's the old timer.
The guy that heads to the rest room, twelve minutes before lunch every day.
Gotta wash his hands, he says. Yeah. My hands are dirty, too.
He'll never be whistle bit, he's all packed up and ready to go, long before quitting time.
Nobody will say anything. They let it slide. He's been here since the place opened.
Not the last place, but the very first place, the one that burned down. Ages ago.
He's been ready for this leap for days, constantly checking his big watch.
It couldn't come soon enough.
He goes first, every year. A stipend, of his employee number, 0002. Seniority.
He'll jump, the minute they let him, and hopefully make it home early.
He might sneak a short nap, before Ma has his dinner ready. A huge reward.
This must be his last shot, he's way overdue for that retirement party.
Those, we all look forward to. They get the good cake, from that little bakery,
not some day old grocery store leftover. Excellent ice cream, too. That's important.
We'll miss you, old buddy.
Finally, it might be that guy.
That Guy. Cocky, arrogant, always running his mouth.
He's a favorite, at the water cooler, loud and lewd.
Dancing around in the gray area of workplace impropriety.
He's a complainer. Never happy. The company has it out for him, somehow.
The way he tells it, everyone is against him.
Most of the ladies avoid him, he's rough.
There are a couple that encourage him.
They think he's cute, and he makes them laugh.
Looking on the bright side, I reckon.
He never eats his lunch alone, I'll give him that.
He's had a pile of jobs, all better than this one, as he recalls.
Yet, somehow, here he is.
He had a big worker's comp scheme, back when he first started. Bad back.
It was messy, he called a bunch of TV lawyers, and told everyone that he'd own this place.
He doesn't. His back seems to be feeling better.
He's been job hunting, since he's worked here.
Always one interview away from that dream, gravy train job.
He stuck his head in the corner office, on his way out the door, last night.
To everyone's surprise, he hastily gave his two week notice.
Finally putting his money where his mouth was. Bold.
I noticed that he took his coffee cups home with him, I heard them rattling in his lunchbag.
Two weeks? Not this character.
That's him, down there on the ground, this morning.
Looks like he's all done.
Don't be afraid to use a little imagination.
It can take you anywhere.
Thanks for reading.