Tales from Corporate World Continue

I’ve made it: One month at BankBig.

Most of the day my eyes blur and my head spins as my new boss tromps out of his office – not mad, usually, just heavy-footed – and rapid fires another report he wants me to run: “EC3 EC5 OCL LQC HV TL.”

I scribble madly, managing to ask, “Where do I find the data?” before he stomps off to the next lucky soul’s desk, throwing over his shoulder, “SharePoint.” Like that narrows the field of a 1,000 reports.

He loves numbers. Here’s one: I’m his third admin in five months. I learned that fact yesterday.

Tom, the youngest of the special needs employees who reports to me, wants to be a part of whatever is going on, so launches out of his seat and lurches over to my desk.


“Yes, Tom?”

“I NEED TO TELL YOU SOMETHING, JAN.” He never uses his indoor voice…or gets my name right.

“Okay. What?”




“Do you know their name?”


“Okay. When you remember who you come back and tell me.”


He lurches back to his desk.

He’s had a head cold and a sinus infection for a week. He sits at his desk, hawing into a tissue. “YES!” he cheers, thrilled at the results. He hacks and hawks and spits. “YES! GOOD ONE!”

He’s left a tub of cookies on my desk that he made while he was off sick. He’s asked if I like them.

“Absolutely. They’re delicious,” I lie.

“DO YOU WANT ANOTHER ONE?” he asks, handing one to me.

“Oh no. No thank you.” I’m worried I’ve hurt his feelings, but he’s happy to have another cookie to pop in his chubby face.

Our manager – the stomper – has left early today, and Leeza, Ms. Bossy Boots, comes to me on a wave of sour milk smell. I hold my breath while we converse.

She says, “Should I close his door?”

“No need.”

“He should have closed his door,” she insists.

“There’s nothing out on his desk,” I explain, wasting breath I can’t spare.

“When people leave for the day they need to close their doors.”
“Then close his door, Leeza.”

“He should have closed his door,” she says, the stench of dairy sweat lifting as she leaves to slam the door with authority.

Smells are a general theme of my day. I receive an email informing me that the bathroom stinks, stating, “Not regular stink, but sewer pipe gas stink. They have a plumbing problem and you need to report it.”

I head to the bathroom – because I want a refreshing break from the latest report – to sniff. Shallowly. It is sewer gas, but nothing extreme. The ground is cold and the pipes are old and – well – sh*t happens.

Still, I will be questioned what I did with the request, so I submit the issue to Will, our maintenance man. I discover the next day that Will has fixed the problem. We now have three vanilla-scented Airwicks on the bathroom counter. The sewer smell is masked. Not so the sour dairy sweat.

At 6:45 p.m., after an 11-hour workday, I climb into my car, visions of home dancing in my head, drive five minutes, and come to a hard stop. There has been a three-car accident between where I am and where I want to be.

After idling for 20 minutes, my brain prods ancient memories of driving back roads on summer days – though now I’m seeking landmarks in the early dark of December.

As I drive, tentatively at first, then faster, with more confidence at the sight of familiar street names like Deer Park and Nicodemus, I take in the gaudy lights of Christmas, the air-filled plastic shapes of a Ravens football player riding a motorcycle and Santa in a Hawaiian shirt under a palm tree…and a small holly tree strung with white twinkling lights that is so simple and pretty I want to cry.

Nearing home, brake lights to headlights with the other commuters who have found another way, I turn on the radio in search of music or companionship, and learn that a woman died in the crash, not a mile from her house.

Two hours to get home from work.

Still, I do get home.

That’s me – always seeing the sunny side of midnight.


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