I look over my desk. My empty desk. No need for paper now. Everything is on laptops and Chromebooks, and iPads. I reread the quarterly report and sighed. The company is doing well. Why don’t I feel good then? I sent an email of the report to Margaret, our 65 year old finance officer, with a little smiley face. She peered over her cubicle and smiled at me, giving me a thumbs up. Ah. the little things in life that keep us going. I zone out thinking about tonight. At least I have tonight.
Chip is at my desk complaining about how they changed the expense report format again for the fifth time. He’s a little man with a bald spot at the back of his head. His shirt is tucked in too tight, and he’s got pit stains on each side.
“They do this so they don’t have to pay us our expenses,” he says, slurping on his coffee. “If they think we’ll give up or forget to submit our expenses because of format errors, they got another think coming.”
“That’s right, Chip! Don’t give in,” I say. I’m not really encouraging him, but it beats the boredom. The boss crosses the floor in big strides as if he’s got somewhere important to be. Why does he always look constipated? He’s in his office now talking into the red phone. All the staff are watching him, expectantly. Every quarter there’s a winner for the most sales, and everyone is just flipping to find out who. He puts down the phone and steps outside his office door with a hand raised holding onto a paper. What drama! There’s probably nothing written on it, probably just for show, but who cares anyway.
Nope. Not me. My sales were good, but nobody can surpass the boss’s golden boy Dean. Dean, with his chiseled jaw, and blue, blue eyes. Everyone is crowding around Dean now congratulating him. The guy is six foot two for Christ's sake. Everyone knows taller men make more sales. Suddenly, he’s standing at my cubicle looking down at me, with his young George Clooney smile and head tilt. I look back up at him, congratulate him on the win, (What is it now? His fifth time winning) and shook his hand firmly. Thoughts of red lights enter my head. Tonight, I say to myself.
“How’s the wife and kids, Jim?” he says mockingly. I’m twenty three and single. The thought of kids makes me shudder. We exchange the expected pleasantries, and I go back to calling our clients to see if they want to resupply their stock.
The boss leans out, holding himself by one hand on the door frame of his office, and calls my name. What now? I get out of my chair, fix my tie, and brush the lint off my pant leg. I walk slowly towards the big guy's office. Chip is staring at me. George Clooney nods his head. Even the office floozy, Nancy, is eyeing me with her heavy eye shadow and rouged cheeks. My feet feel heavy. Normally they are light and dancing, but right now they feel like cement blocks.
I imagine how charming I’ll be when I get to his office. Hi big man, I’ll say. What can I doodly do for you? How can I make your day better for you? It doesn’t go that way.
“Take a seat, Jim,” the big man says. I do. He shuffles some paper before continuing. “So, how are things going on the floor?”
“About as usual.”
“Good. Good. How about those quarterly reports, huh?” He twirls a red pen with his fingers, and I cannot, for the life of me, see where this is going.
“Yes,” I say, and nod my head in agreement. “Dean surely did well this quarter.”
“Well you didn’t do so bad yourself. Which is why I called you in here. We’d like to offer you the senior’s sales position.”
“What about Dean?”
“Dean’s getting a whole branch for himself. You, on the other hand, your numbers are solid. You’ve got good manners with everyone, and the best thing is there's a considerable jump in your pay.” The big man leaned in with a big smile. I could feel his breath. “What do you say? It's a dream job.”
“Can I think about it?”
This took him aback. Not the response he expected.
“Okay. I don’t see what there is to think about, though. You’ll be making enough money to have any number of pretty things sitting on your lap.” His remark made me want to gag. “Don't think too long, alright. You have until tomorrow.”
I hurried past the staring eyes and tried to hide in my cubicle. The grey rough tapestry of the cubicle walls could not shield me from inquiring minds. Chip was the first to pop up. Of course, I told him what happened.
“You are a god!” he declared. One of his hairs stood up on his bald head, and I had to keep it together to stop from laughing. “I can’t believe you said you have to think about it, hah. You are the man. Listen, think about me for your sales team, okay.” He pointed at me, and mouthed silently that I was the man.
Nancy popped by with her short skirt and smoky eyes. “I knew you’d be doing great things, here, Jim.” She sat on my desk which made her skirt ride up somewhat. Her hair fell in locks upon my shoulder. I swiveled my chair away from her.
“You. You and I. How come we haven’t hung out before?” She laughed coquettishly.
“Because you’re on Dean’s list of junior sales reps, not mine.”
“I guess, with Dean on his way up and out, you and I will be spending more time together now.” She laughed again, and I wished the day was over. The clock read ten to eleven and my heart sank. Not even noon yet. The thought of leaving the office and heading home to prepare for tonight perked me up.
Dean stopped in again. “Jim, Jimmy, Jimbo. Knew you could do it pal.” He slapped my back and pinched my neck giving me a shake. “I got some great leads for you my man. We’re gonna do great things. Before you know it, you’ll have your own sales branch too. Nancy, walk with me.”
Oh Joy. Everything's just falling my way. The rest of the day droned on. Several more colleagues popped by to say congrats and to throw in their bid for a place on my junior sales team. When the clock struck five I was out the door before anybody else could grab me. I practically ran home to my one bedroom apartment. Inside, I made dinner, which consisted of a California salad and a nice salmon steak, and then I began preparing for my night.
At eight o'clock I slipped on my dancing shoes, and headed out. The city lights shined in the night and could already feel the rhythm of the downtown nightcore. I shrugged off the day's work and let the city vibe fill me. I was free out here. This is where I belonged.
When the nightclub DJ put on my song it felt as if everything made sense. When I danced my body and mind felt full, exalted. I was transported to a magical place. This is where I truly connected. I knew I was going to say yes to the senior sales position in the morning, but for now I was free.
The DJ announced, “Let’s put our hands together for Jim.” All eyes are on me now. The men cheered as I began to strip.