"Mom, how could he?!?" Missy blubbered into the phone. Missy called home every week to talk to her family. Usually, she was in a bubbly mood and full of joy, but today a storm hit her life.
On her final day at work, everything had started like any other day at work. She woke up at 5:30 in the morning. She grabbed a nice warm shower in the sunlight that poured through her bathroom window. After her shower, she poured herself a cup of coffee and ate some toast and fruit. She knew this was her final day of work where she had worked for the last six years, but it did not feel like anything special. People always talked about getting emotional or nervous, but she did not feel either of these.
She got to work. She parked in her same old spot. Then she went upstairs to login to her same old work computer for the last time. Still nothing felt strange or out of place. Then her boss stopped by her desk and asked her to join him for an ice cream cone during lunch. He said he had something important and kind of personal to discuss with her. She had known him almost her entire career and she respected him a great deal. He rarely discussed anything personal with her or anyone else. She was being promoted to a better paying job in a different company. Everyone seemed to be happy for her. Then it was, on this beautiful sunny day, that an ugly storm came into her life.
As she and her boss sat down on the concrete park bench, he solemnly looked up at her and asked if he could speak plainly. Of course she said yes. He explained that he had been a boss for a long time and that he had had many different types of women working for him over the years. He loved working with her. She was positive, friendly, and easy on the eyes, but most importantly, she worked very hard with very few mistakes. "In the future though some men may get those attributes all mixed up and promote you because you are easy on the eyes. Please don't let that be the way you promote. Your work can speak for itself, so let it. Make sure that your wonderful smile or your pretty looks do not get in the way," her boss said. The entire time he spoke, he was looking directly into her eyes.
"I don't do that. I am always professional," she retorted.
Then the conversation and mood turned very cold between them. He saw it in her eyes. He knew that he had hurt her feelings, but she had to be warned. Sometimes men suck.
She finished her ice cream without uttering another word except a quick and cordial goodbye. He said his goodbyes and knew that he would probably never see her again after today.
She finished her work for the day and rushed home to call her mom. On the way home, she did not let anyone see that she was hurting. She got home, went inside and then locked the door. Then her pretty blue eyes filled with tears and her mascara began to run. Then wiping her eyes, she found her phone and called home.
"How dare he accuse me of using my sex to get promoted. I have worked twice as hard as the boys to get where I am. I take on all of the jobs that nobody else wants and receive nothing but positive feedback from the readers and the editors," Missy cried into the phone.
"BUT, is that what he actually said?" asked her mother patiently. "You told me that he told you to be careful in your future career, to make sure that selections were made because of your work and not because of your looks. It did not sound like he was accusing you anything inappropriate, but giving you a practical warning. You are a beautiful and friendly young lady. If a man chooses to promote you for your work, then he is opening a door for you. If he chooses you for your looks, then he is asking you to step into a dead end job. He will not promote you any further, because he will always want you around to look at. It sounds like your friend was just looking out for you."
"Mom, he made me feel like that was something I was doing already though!" Missy cried.
Her mother quietly responded, "Missy, you need to get a thicker skin and a quieter ego. Nothing he said suggested that. This is a hard world to live in, especially for a pretty little country girl from Alabama. I know it was difficult to hear from a man that you respected, but I assume that he figured that you would be moving out of his circle of influence. He was trying to teach you to watch out for yourself."
"Do you truly believe that Mom?" asked Missy, finally starting to see the reason for her boss' final statements to her. Her mom confirmed her thoughts.
The words kept repeating themselves in her head all night long. Her boss had never been cruel. He had never accused her of using her body to get anything at work. Then the doubts began to flow through her mind. Maybe her mom did not understand because she had always been at home. Maybe her mom did not understand how hard she had worked to get where she was. Maybe her boss was just upset because she was leaving his employment. Maybe he wanted to date her but never had the nerve. Maybe he was just jealous of her promotion. But she knew that none of that rang true in the back of her mind. Finally at 3:15 AM, she prayed about it and fell asleep.
When she awoke, she finally understood what her mom and her boss were saying. It was a good thing that she did not blow up on him.
Hopefully, she did not totally destroy her friendship with her boss with the cold shoulder that she gave him yesterday. As the warm water of the shower and the bright morning sunlight coming through her bathroom window blended, she decided she would send him a nice message today to hopefully repair any damage done and to thank him for his sage advice.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
A lot of redundant language throughout, especially repeated use of the word "work." "On her final day at work it started like any other day at work," "final day at work where she had worked," "sunlight poured through the window... then she poured coffee," etc etc. I'm also not sure what exactly the message is supposed to be here. Or the stakes. And for a story that seems like it's maybe trying to make nods towards female empowerment, it actually seems a bit demeaning towards the female protagonist?
Thanks for your input.
Hello Ed, I am sooooo glad I was never in a work environment like that one! But, then, I am no beauty ;) Your wrote as if you knew this story personally; it carried the pain of both Missy and her boss. I was so glad Missy's mom was level-headed and practical in her advice. One of the things us novice writers spend a lot of time doing is ...giving all the details of what are actually everyday actions. I have learned to leave out the details of what my character eats, what they do getting ready for bed or work, or how they think. Unless it i...
Thank you for the welcome and feedback Lavonne
Friendly overthinkers—seems like you understand the female species ;) I liked your story. I felt like the word “work” was used just a bit too much. I like that you kept her career/work place environment vague and general enough that readers can fill in the blanks with their own visuals , but maybe you could replace some of the words with other terms such as her job, the office, or the terms that referred to her actual work with assignments, tasks, duties, etc. keep it up!!
Thank you, I will keep that in mind.
Hello and welcome to Reedsy! This is an interesting story and unique use of the prompt. Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed it.😻
I saw this kind of thing at one of my jobs. We had a sleazy store manager who hired a lot of young women with similar looks to be managers and I think he’d had affairs with a few of them. Then since they had the power to promote people all of the next rung of managers were young guys that they found attractive and oddly enough not many of them were good at the job unless it was by coincidence. The managers who knew what they were doing were all left over from before the store manager got the job.
Unfortunately I have seen this in many work environments. As a manager, I tried very hard to fix this problem. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I failed to make a difference. That is what gave me the idea for this story.
It’s a hard one to fix without demoting or firing people who aren’t fit for the job.
You are right about that, especially when it is two or three layers deep. All we can do is try to fix our little corner as much as we can.