Ruby ran her fingers over the nameplate on the door. She slid her key into the lock and swung the door open. The smell from the new carpet almost overwhelmed her. The shiny mahogany desk was just what she ordered. The finish shone in the light from the windows. The windows, oh the windows. As she stepped closer to them the city of San Francisco lay at her feet. From this the twelfth floor she could see the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate. And down below people walk on the sidewalks in the financial district, HER financial district.
SHE HAD MADE IT! She was a partner at Brooks, Hartford, and Johnson. The youngest partner in the history of the company. All the hours of study, the extra weekend classes, and summer internships were all worth it. Just look at the reward, a corner office with two windows! She opened her black leather briefcase and carefully lifted out her photographs. She took ownership of the desk by placing her family there. There was one of her whole family, taken at her sister's wedding. One of her and her siblings taken at her brother's wedding, and one of her six nieces and nephews taken at the beach house. She hung her degrees on the wall next to the largest window. They were testaments to her prestigious education and honors. At twenty eight she had achieved all her goals. She had the perfect job with the perfect company and she couldn't wait to get started.
Ruby had ordered some plants that hadn't arrived, but they would love this sunlit environment. Today she was stopping by her favorite gallery to buy two paintings she had been eyeing.Tomorrow she had her first scheduled meeting with the other partners and a briefing on her new clients. Life doesn't get better than this!
Ruby left the office fingering her nameplate once more, the exited the building to check off the rest of her carefully made list. There was the gallery, the cleaner's, the florist, and the Thai food restaurant, then home.
Ruby entered her tiny apartment. She had lived here since college graduation. She never saw any reason to move. It was a studio but it had everything she needed. A two burner stove she never used. Who had time for cooking? A TV she rarely watched and a couch that made into a bed. Oh and her closet which consisted of two rolling racks in her living room. which held the multitude of conservative business suits and a rainbow of silk blouses which made up her wardrobe.
Ruby ate her dinner, watched the news, and laid out everything she needed for tomorrow. She called her mom, just to check in. "Oh Mom, you should see my office, it has two windows. You have to come and see it." "We definitely will as soon as your dad is feeling better. He hardly got out of his chair yesterday. The doctor can't figure out what is wrong. More tests on Tuesday. He sends his love and congrats again on the new job."
Ruby felt a strange uneasiness as she ended the call. Her dad was never sick. She'd go see him this weekend.
Ruby slept like a baby and awoke before the alarm went off, as usual. She went through her morning routine, put on her lucky outfit and drove to the office. She pulled into a parking place with her name on it. The excitement was building. She rode up in the private elevator exclusively for partners. She hopped out on the twelfth floor ready to begin this new phase of her career.
Ruby was called to the boardroom at nine o"clock and was greeted by applause, flowers, and pastries. She felt the tears but held them back. She was the only woman and by far the youngest partner, she couldn't cry! Business was discussed and it was announced that Ruby's first new client was Mrs. Cameron. She was a multi-millionaire, well preserved seventy eight year old who had been with the company forever. Her impatience and demanding character had worked their way through each of the other partners. She was never satisfied and threatened to leave but never did. You had to meet with her at her home and she wouldn't come into the city. Ruby smiled and sighed. "I guess it's my turn, when's her next appointment?" "Thursday'" was the reply. Ruby loved a challenge .
Thursday morning dawned cold and foggy. Ruby hated driving in the fog especially when she didn't know where she was going. She crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito. She followed the directions as given and came to a seemingly endless driveway. Soon she came to a gigantic wrought-iron gate. She pressed the buzzer. "Ruby Grant to see Mrs. Cameron" The gate slowly opened. The house was magnificent. One whole side was glass which looked out over the ocean. It took your breath away.
The front door was opened by Mrs. Cameron herself. She was a bit stooped over but that was the only thing that revealed her seventy eight years. Mrs. Cameron look over Ruby from head to toe. "Who are you, an intern?" "No, Mrs. Cameron I am the newest partner. You know the company wouldn't send an intern to our most important client." "Oh, you're a brown noser too?" she barked. Ruby couldn't help but grin. Ruby's phone beeped. "Turn that thing off! This is my time," Ruby put her phone on vibrate. She glanced and saw it was her mother calling.
Ruby followed Mrs. Cameron into her office. The view was amazing. I wouldn't get work done in here thought Ruby. Her phone vibrated in her pocket. She took a quick glance and its was her mother again. Unusual. Mrs. Cameron had papers spread across her desk for Ruby to look over. The phone vibrated again. It was her mom again.
"Mrs. Cameron, I'm sorry, but I have to take this call."
"I made this appointment two weeks ago and I expect you to handle affairs not be socializing on the phone. Do you want me to take my business elsewhere?"
"Im trying to be respectful, but your'e making it very difficult. The phone call will only take a minute, then I'm all yours."
"Well you better know the partners will hear about this!"
Ruby stepped out of the room and called her mother.
Ruby returned looking pale. "Mrs. Cameron, I'm afraid I have to leave. I have a family emergency and it can't wait. I will call the office and get someone to come out here today!" Mrs. Cameron shouted, "Well you can take me off your client list. You are the most rude person I've ever met. I hope I can get your partners to un-partner you. Now get out!"
Tears threatened for the second time today. Ruby ran to her car. She called the office and explained then took off for home. Her dad had suffered a heart attack and wasn't expected to live. She raced to the hospital, skidded into the parking lot. She ran up to Intensive Care and into the arms of her family. "You go in Ruby, he's been asking for you." Ruby tiptoed into the room. Her Dad was covered in medical equipment. A lump formed in Ruby's throat that made it impossible to swallow. "Dad," was all she said. They both cried and hugged, and Ruby sat down next to the bed as her dad dozed.
As Ruby climbed into her childhood bed she reran the day in her head. I may have lost my job, but somehow it doesn't matter. What were all the goals for? She would give it all up for a few more years with her dad. It was time for her to work to live instead of living to work. It was time for decent hours, family, and fun. Maybe she would finally say yes to date offers. She called the office and left a message. "My Dad is critical and I need at least a couple of weeks off. My family needs me now! And would someone please water my new plants?"