The Ecstasy kicks in as Don, my boss, tells me and nine associates that three will be laid off by the end of today. The status meeting has now turned into a session of questions everyone is afraid to ask.
I look over at Mark who looks as if he’s mentally already looking for another job, Sally has tears forming, and Eric doesn’t appear to have heard what Don just said. Lately the rumor has been that Eric substitutes Percesets in his Pez dispenser, making it very difficult to read him.
Myself, I’m worried, but okay for the moment. Ten minutes ago, while preparing for our weekly status meeting I meant to take an Advil to alleviate a forming headache, but totally forgot about the Ecstasy pill I placed in the bottle while at the club Piranha last night.
I’m blushing as Don talks.
Marilyn is staring at me. I love her. Not in a throw her on top of the desk and do her right now sort of way, but rather a deep rooted friendship based on respect in the workplace. Her hair looks extra bouncy today.
Don is going around the table, listening to the status of everyone’s projects. Will this determine whether I’m fired? Not sure and definitely not the day to notice how warm and fuzzy Samuel, the VP of Retail looks. I want to hug him.
Don looks over at me and then over to Matthew and asks him to give his status. Mathew is over fifty and has the look of fear in his eyes. Eric pulls out his Snoopy Pez dispenser and pops a Perceset. Mathew discusses a new retail system being reviewed.
“So no decisions have been made yet.” Don confirms.
“No, we’re still in the discovery phase.” Says Mathew.
“Very good.” Says Don and that’s when we know Mathew is one of the three.
Possibly sensing this Mathew speaks up, “We are close with EStore, Inc. We like their system. Just had a demo yesterday.”
“Okay.” Don pauses. “Make sure you speak with them.”
“I will”. Says Mathew.
“You see in business we call that following up with the vendor.” Don says to all of us. The room is loaded with Ivy league degrees and years of industry experience yet Don feels the need to talk to us as if we’re six years old.
Barry is up next and informs all of us that next week is the first official “Moral Week” and that he has arranged for cheerleaders to be in the office to help company moral. After hearing this Marilyn looks sick as do most around the table; however, I’m still feeling pretty good, suppressing a smile not only from the drugs, but also because Don has never liked Barry and the cheerleaders idea is clearly a reason to fire someone. I’m almost certain Barry is number two. This means there’s only one more of us, but then I look at Barry and realize the real issue is that Barry will no longer be with us. I like him. I want to go over and give him a pat on the back, maybe give his hair a nice tussle, something to show I care. Barry will be missed.
Don points my way and asks me to continue the meeting. I talk about my financial workflow project and how I’ve assembled a “Steering Committee” to review the process.
“Very good.” Says Don. I’m staring at his forearms, notice they are very large.
I’ve learned the phrases “Steering Committee”, “Requirements Gathering”, and “Post Implementation Review” are three ways to impress Don.
“Make sure to document the meetings well.” Says Don to me as he sways to the right.
“No problem.” I say.
Don throws his hands up to get everyone’s attention and then says, “You see, in business we call this communication.”
My head feels numb.
I attempt to continue, but Don cuts me off and moves on to Antonio.
Is this a sign? Am I number three? Where is my resume? It’s so hard to figure out, especially with Antonio talking with his very soft hands. I wonder what type of moisturizer he uses.
I look over at Sally, the trooper still holding back tears and she looks at me and gives a fake smile. I suspect she’s had a crush on me since I started. I smile back and inadvertently lick my lips, and then smile again. Sally blushes and then looks away.
I could really use a glass of water, strobe lights, and some techno music.
Don works the room. Jerry discusses the financial business systems. Laura discusses the department marketing strategy. Eric stares out the window.
The meeting finishes up with Don reminding us that “Moral Week” starts on Wednesday and that three of us will be let go today. Slowly everyone exits the room leaving myself and Don. I walk up to him because I want to ask him a lot of questions, but am not sure how to phrase them.
“Yes?” Asks Don as I stand next to him.
He puts his finger up to his eye, wiping away an eyelash, and then stares at me.
I’m ready to ask him whether I will be fired when instead I look into Don’s eyes and realize how much I love him. Not in a throw him on top of the desk and do him right now sort of way, but rather a deep rooted friendship based on respect in the workplace.
It lasts for three minutes.
The Ecstasy wears off shortly after and I don’t get fired…
David S. Grant is the author of several books including Corporate Porn, The Last Breakfast, and Happy Hour. His new novel, BLOOD: The New Red will be available in the fall. David lives and works in New York City. For more information go to www.davidsgrant.com. Follow David on Twitter: .david_s_grant.