By Amber Robbin
I emerge from the boardroom like a bat out of hell, just having endured a painful, two-hour meeting with Georgia and Nancy about the database overhaul I’m “spear-heading.” This translates to: “you’re about to spend every waking moment of your life correcting thousands of mailing addresses so that Mr. and Mrs. Rich Deusch can be sent their gift basket of ass kisses to their current multimillion-dollar address.” I have no time to think about what that might mean for my hopes of not hating my life. I have to get back to my desk immediately if I have any hope of walking out the door at 5:30 to my much-needed therapy appointment.
I have an hour left and a dozen binders piled high on my desk. I’m printing with my right hand, labeling with my left, and hole-punching with my foot. I hear the deliberate click-clack, click-clack of stilettos coming around the corner to seal my fate. I slip soundlessly below my desk. Ashley’s perfectly-manicured, hot pink toes stop abruptly in front of the crack between my desk and the carpet. I watch them intently, glaring as if to say, Get outta here, pinky. You gimme any trouble, and I’ll hole-punch you.
She finally clacks away, deciding to do the menial task in her hand all by herself. I rise slowly, surveying the reception area with a full rotation in my chair.
Only one binder completed, and now I have a conference room request and dinner to order. Sparks fly from the keyboard as I race to enter the reservation for the conference room. I dodge Dorothy as she heads out fifteen minutes early, ducking into the coat closet expertly to avoid a conversation about how “this is the year” God will find her a new job. I hear the elevator door shut and back out of the tiny room, holding a fake gun in my hands like one of Charlie’s Angels. A delivery guy stands by my desk, disturbed. He books it to an open elevator in fear as I head back to my desk, shrugging my shoulders like nothing weird just happened.
I’m placing the entire phone order to Panera without taking a breath: “Just give him the damn carrots cause he never tells me what freaking side he wants and extra bread with that bread-bowl, that lady can never get enough damn bread, and you can throw in a cookie for me, I’m taking a commission on this shit – ten minutes? Thank you.” Click. Inhale. Dial again, “Hey Gary, food’s ready at Panera in ten. Yeah, four people are staying late.” Click. Click-clack, click-clack. I duck below my desk. Ashley’s pink toes strut by again. I hear her mumble, “Must be nice to be the receptionist and go home early…” Must be nice to have a job that uses every one of your dozen brain cells, I think back.
Ashley passes my desk for the last time on her way out, all done up in her leopard fur coat. She gives me a look that says, where the hell were you the last ten times I tried to give you my work? Then she tosses her flat-ironed mane and waves her leather glove at me. “Too-da-loo, Amber!” The march of everyone (who gets to leave before me) commences, again.
Two-thirds of the office files out.
Gary rushes past me with the Panera bag, throws people’s dinners at their desks, and charges out.
Georgia, my boss, parades slowly around my desk like a snooty pony. “I need that binder by tomorrow morning,” she says dismissively. “I don’t know why it’s taking so long.”
I’m sitting in my chair, all packed, purse on my lap and coat already zipped. Just then, the light flashes rapidly next to Nancy’s extension and a blaring ring shakes the room. I shoot up and dart over to the corridor. No one’s coming. I run back to my desk and check the security camera to find the back door clear too. At last, the call goes through to voicemail. I stand there furiously weighing my options, my temperature rising with every tick of the clock. The taunting trill starts up again. In one swift motion, I defiantly press the giant red button, sending all calls immediately to company voicemail, scoop up my belongings and run for the elevator.
I reach the threshold of the lift and realize I forgot to shut the giant sliding door to the office. If I leave it open, it will undoubtedly give my early exit away. I grab hold of the metal handle and start pulling against it with all of my body weight, the enormous partition just starting to budge as I hear the heavy thud of Nancy’s condemning trudge down the corridor. Oh God, I’m not going to make it! I scream in my head. Just as Nancy’s hulk-like shadow reaches beyond the edge of the wall, the door slides closed. I seal it shut with a turn of the lock and break for the closing elevator. I fly through the opening just in time and slam up against the back railing, sliding down the mirrored wall to collapse on the floor in a broken heap. I watch with joy as the numbers descend. Thank God, I think, lying there, a sad excuse for a human being. I’ll make it to therapy!
To be continued…
Amber Robbin is the creator of Tumbleweed Diaries. She is passionate about languages, world travel, and currently working on a book about her adventures in Italy.