Without a lot of fanfare, here is a story I wrote when I was working in a corporate cubicle:
Another Love Story
It was a cool October morning and I parked, grabbed my lunchbox, and headed toward good ‘ol Building 66. As I approached the entrance, a blue Toyota came bouncing off the speed bumps, Axl Rose and Guns–n-Roses blaring from some seriously amped-up speakers. The driver swerved and almost hit me, without even looking. She parked in the carpool lane. No one else was in the car.
Oh well, I thought.
She stepped out of the car and it was all over but the shouting.
I was in love!
As we approached the elevator, I waited for her to board, but she stopped and held the vibrating cell phone to her ear. Holding out her hand in a gesture meant to say, “hold on for a sec,” I waited patiently and stepped aside for another co-worker to board. She was literally shouting into the little speaker. After listening to an embarrassing conversation that frankly was not the most appropriate for a job setting, one of the passengers in the now half-full elevator pressed our floor button. She slipped in at the very last second before the doors closed.
Oh well, I thought.
I didn’t see her again until lunch. As I arrived at the corridor leading to the break room, the unmistakable odor of burning popcorn permeated everything. As I entered the kitchen, there she was, draining the last drop out of the last pot of coffee. I watched intently (told you I was in love!) as she placed the empty pot back on the hot burner.
“That will burn if you leave it there,” I offered.
“First the popcorn, then this,” she replied.
After introducing myself, I proceeded to tell Bunny the process of how to make more coffee. She was obviously disinterested. She was a new employee and I shared with her my understanding of the culture and work environment. I hoped she would adjust quickly. I said goodbye and could not get her off of my mind.
As I entered the parking lot, I saw the blue Toyota and looked for her. She was standing at the building entrance with one foot holding the door open while she furiously worked at extracting the last bit of nicotine from her cigarette. She tossed her smoldering butt in the general direction of the ashtray, the ashes exploding as it hit the ground. Several employees fanning away the second-hand smoke looked on in disdain.
“What did you bring for lunch today?” I asked.
“Salmon and broccoli today,” she answered. Something was really good in the fridge yesterday!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Whoever brought in the stuff in the blue container in the first fridge.
I wanted to explain how it is not polite or civilized to steal food from someone else, but instead smiled and stirred my coffee. We headed to our respective cubes after a nice chat. After agreeing to meet later, I walked her to the door. She was walking so slowly, I self-consciously stepped aside to let the crowd forming behind us pass at a normal pace. She was unfazed by this.
“People are sure in a hurry around here”, she observed.
Of course they are in a hurry! This is a business! A place where work is performed! That is the process for how business gets done! Moving at a reasonable pace is a highly desired activity! That was what I instinctively wanted to say, but all that came out was “yeah,” (in love!).
We agreed to meet for dinner.
At 10 am on Wednesday morning I was greeted by the face I had seen so many times in my dreams since Monday. I was on the phone with a client and in the middle of my reply, Bunny cut in.
“Hi. You busy?” she asked.
Of course I am busy! Can’t you see that I am on the phone? Do you have any concept of politeness or professionalism? When someone is talking on the phone, it is quiet time! Time to SHUT THE FUCK UP!
That was what I instinctively wanted to say, but what came out was “never too busy for you” (love!).
Bunny’s cell rang loudly. She began a conversation so loud and obtrusive that several nearby employees grimaced. As she finished her conversation, it was obvious that I would remain on the phone for quite a while longer. She stood impatiently it seemed, as I continued my call. Saying nothing, just standing there.
Popping her gum.
Talk about annoying.
I shrugged my shoulders, muted my headphone and arranged to meet her later that evening for dinner. As she departed my cube, I detected an odor that was neither pleasant nor associated with the Chinese food being enjoyed by my assistant.
Oh well, I thought (love!).
Pouring my early morning cup of java, I detected the odor of a burning coffee pot. We were the only two people in the break room. We were the only two people in the world as far as I was concerned! I was going to take Bunny to lunch at noon and she met me at my cubicle promptly at 12:15. I had taken a call, not knowing if our date was still on or not, so I pointed to my headset as she approached. She listened for a minute and before I could speak, she blurted “I know what they are asking for. The same thing happened to me!”
I quickly muted my headset and smiled (love!). That was definitely not my instinctive reaction.
I was on my way home at the end of my shift when I could see Bunny sitting at another employee’s desk. I waved goodbye, as I was cutting it close to be at a doctor’s appointment I had specially arranged for.
“Leaving without saying goodbye?” she asked.
I apologized and explained my doctor’s appointment. She went on and on about her day and what she was thinking we could do this weekend. I glanced furtively at my watch and could not be more obvious that I was in a hurry. On she went. I finally had reached the very limit of my time.
“I will see you tonight,” I said.
Tonight? I told you I was going out,” she protested.
“In my dreams, Bunny.”
I smiled and left.
I couldn’t eat.
I couldn’t sleep.
All I could think about was this new employee and how I couldn’t live without her. I drove in to work with a real sense of urgency and knew what I had to do and say. I had rehearsed it all night and all morning in preparation. I saw Bunny sitting at the bench by the parking garage as three fat little birds danced in the shade. I slid next to her, put my arm around her, and proceeded to explain how I felt and how I absolutely could not live without her. When I was done, I turned her shoulders square to me and gazed deeply into her eyes.
“Will you marry me?” I asked.
“Yes, yes yes!” she blurted, showering me with kisses.
“I have only one request of you Bunny,” I continued.
“What is it? Anything! Anything for you!” she laughed.
“You need to get another job.”