The Promotion – part 5

With folders tucked under her arm, Eve left Phil’s office. Her focus: be gone before he returns. She hurried down the main aisle acknowledging with a forced smile and quick nod those few workers who noticed her. Finally, she pushed the exit door shut behind her and breathe in the faint aroma of the familiar office chemicals used for reproduction.

English: The Balaklava naval Museum (former an...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ammonia. Applied to light-sensitive paper to reproduce large blueprints of equipment manufactured in the plant. Three years earlier, she had worked with these chemicals in the copy room. By lunch time, she had felt faint and nauseated. That evening she had experienced a horrific headache. That was the first and last time she worked in the copy room.

Aware of the sound of telephones ringing and employees shuffling about from desks to file cabinets, she marveled at how two different worlds were separated by the mere presence of the heavy double doors. Then, her brow knotted as she chewed her inner cheek. What do I tell Betty?

AshtrayUpon arrival, Eve exhaled a deep breath as she sat at the edge of her desk. Betty’s desk was strewn with papers and several lipstick-stained cigarette butts she had crushed amidst the ashes in the ashtray. Eve opened the window to air out the acrid stench. She could actually taste the horrid nicotine. She had read about nicotine in a health magazine. Second hand smoke was just as dangerous as actually smoking. Perhaps worse. The room, yellow with nicotine, had a terrible odor. It had to be unhealthy. There was talk in the office about a smoking room. But that had been discussed for over a year. Maybe to calm the health-conscious, non-smokers. Meanwhile, Betty smoked up a daily blizzard of smoke with windows closed.
Eve sucked in a deep breath of fresh air as she fanned the pollution out the other window.

How will Betty explain things to George? Get to work. She’ll be back. Or not.

“Eve, how’d your meeting go?” Betty asked as she returned to the office.

“Oh, fine. How did you do with George?”

“Well, not as good as I hoped. After all it is my first quarterly report. I could have used your help.”

“He wasn’t happy with it?”

“Oh. I don’t know, yet. We’re having another meeting ─ tonight.”

“Tonight?”

Betty smiled, “Yeah. What should I wear?

“What you have on now is fine. After all, it isn’t a date. No need to impress the boss, is there?” Eve frowned as Betty hugged her report to her chest and walked to her desk with a faint smile on her lips.

No report, the boss is not happy and she’s smiling! Eve suddenly saw this as an opportunity; a way out from Phil’s offer for a date. After all, George ordered her to teach Betty the ropes. “Want me to come with you?”

“Whatever for? No, George and I will do fine. Just fine.”

Eve wasn’t ready for a date just now. But when would be a good time? Who knew? “I could join you to explain things about reports. Along with George, of course.”

“I said ‘no’ didn’t I?” Betty snapped.

Humming a tune, Betty wrote on her notepad, flipped through her printout and reached for another cigarette.

Betty’s sounds happy. That “girl-friend” from California? That’s not it. Think she really met a boy-friend and now she’s lucked out not doing her work. Damn! How can she be so irresponsible and get away with it? I’d be fired on the spot! I’d fire her if I were George.

Later that evening, Eve arrived at Jason’s Grocery. As she pushed her cart to the meat counter, Betty brushed by in a black dress with a plunging neckline, fish-net stockings and silver, six-inch heels.

“Hey, Bet… .” Eve quickly puckered her lips. Don’t call attention to yourself. Where’s she going? Out. With? George? A date? A date. Geesus! You got to be kidding. No, no. She’s in a rush because she worked late with George. Must be. Going out with that friend from California. It’s late. Can’t be George. I’m sure he’s home by now.

As Eve drove home with her groceries, she pondered the plausible scenarios. What if there

Publicity photo of Carol Burnett and Mel Torme...

Publicity photo of Carol Burnett and Mel Torme in a skit from The Carol Burnett Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

is something going on? But with whom? George or California boy-friend? Don’t know it’s a man. She did say ‘girl-friend’. “Stop it. It is none of your business,” Eve yelled to her rear-view mirror. She arrived home, unpacked her cache of groceries then turned on the television to her favorite sit-com, The Carol Burnett Show.

Oh, to be a sit-com queen. To watch what goes on in each department would probably be as good a laugh. Life at the office… .

Get to bed. Quit obsessing about Betty and her shenanigans.

Phil. Forget about him. Don’t want to call. What about tomorrow? At work? Discourage him. He’s not my type, anyway. “I’ve created a monster and I’ve got to be rid of him.” Eve pulled the covers over her head.

At her usual time, Eve pulled into the parking lot. When she exited her vehicle, she noticed Phil parked next to her reserved spot. She quietly closed her door and inserted her key into the lock. With his nose in the newspaper, maybe he won’t notice. She hurried away from her car hoping to avoid him.

“Eve! Wait up. Been waiting for you. Hold up a minute.”

Eve squeezed her eyes tight as she grimaced. She slowly turned feigning surprise with eyes wide and a limp grin. “Phil. I didn’t see you there. Is that your parking spot?”

“Naw. Got to move the car before the owner shows up. I knew you always got here early, so I thought I’d wait for you.”

“How’d you know that?”

Receptionist said you usually got here before she did.”

“I got to talk to our busy, little receptionist.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, I just need to tell her stuff, is all. We’re─we’re buddies. You must know that too since you know where I park.”

“You angry?” Phil asked.

Eve forced another smile. “Angry? Why would I be angry? It’s a free world. You can park anywhere you like. So. Why are you looking for me?”

“Oh. I thought we could have our meeting. You know. Yesterday. It hadn’t worked out then. So now I have time. Coffee in the café and a bagel? Bet you’re a plain-bagel gal.”

“The meeting is not necessary. I solved the problem and you don’t have to worry about it. But I’ll join you for coffee and yes, a plain bagel.”

“Okay. Forget the meeting. Meet you in the café after I move my car.”

Why did I do that? Eve was surprised at her bold invitation. It was definitely bold. Didn’t she just decide that she was not ready for any relationship? Her shoulders drooped as she carried her L. L. Bean bag, into which she stuffed her purse, lunch, book, and other stuff. Stuff she kept forgetting to throw away until she grabbed her purse next time─usually when she rushed out the door or walked from car to office. Then she’d forget again. Until the next day.

Betty doesn’t have a problem dating─dating─and dating. Bet she dates lots of guys at the same time. Am I jealous? Nooo way. I’ll find someone nice. No lecherous men panting over me, no thank you. “Men!”

Phil arrived at the café with a broad smile and a flash of perfectly shaped, white teeth. He sported a fresh haircut and a crisp, blue shirt with a pen and notebook in his breast pocket.

Eve remained quiet as he made his way from the coffee dispenser, picked up a coffee stirrer to blend the cream and grabbed a napkin.

“How’s the bagel?”

“Fine. None for you?”

“Never liked pastries much,” he chuckled.

“That explains your great physique.” Eve’s cheeks warmed.

“Oh. You noticed. And you’re blushing again. I think you like me. Do you?”

Surprised at his directness, Eve choked on her bagel and her attempt to wash it down with coffee only made it worse. She grabbed at his offered napkin, tried to control her cough only to dribble and spray coffee onto the table and her blouse.

“Eve. You okay?” Phil’s brow knotted over his now sympathetic stare. He rose and tapped her back in a firm stroke. “Can you breathe?”

Eve choked as the bagel stuck in her air passageway. She grabbed her throat with one hand

English: A plain bagel, bought from an Associa...

English: A plain bagel, bought from an Associated grocery store in Brooklyn in their daily bread section. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and Phil’s shirt with the other. She couldn’t breathe. She sensed being lifted out of her seat and a pressure came up from under her rib cage. She wanted to breathe. Another jab under her ribs came up hard. Where was Phil? Breathe! Again, a sharp jab. She was unable to control her body. Her surroundings were no longer visible. Where was she? Breathe! Breathe! Her watery eyes opened wide at the next jab under her ribs and a tightness around her middle that came from behind. She crumbled backwards as a sudden whoosh of air finally entered her lungs. Her heart pounded then eventually slowed back to normal.

“Can you breathe?” Phil asked.

Eve turned to Phil now standing over her and stroking her hair. She nodded while she wiped her eyes and blew her nose into his napkin. “I think so. I can breathe now. How embarrassing. Thanks Phil. I need another napkin.”

“Here take this one. You gave me a fright for a few seconds there.”

“Seconds? It felt like forever. I thought I was going to die. I had these sharp pains under my rib cage,” she coughed and blew her nose again.

“I gave you a couple of Heimlichs to make you breathe. This happen often?”

“What? Oh. You mean do I choke often? Never happened before,” Eve breath in a large gulp of air and emitted a squeak and a snort. She giggled into her napkin, “Sorry. I seem to be a mess at the moment.”

“Well, you were practically unconscious. I had to grab onto you so you would stay upright while I pushed up under your rib cage to force that bagel out. You had a pretty good sized piece in there. I kept going at it until it came out. Receptionist investigated the commotion and called 911. They should be here in a few minutes. You’re lucky I trained as a para-medic. Been one for years.”

“Oh. Thank you for saving my life. It was very disorienting to lose control like that.”

“I never knew my physique would affect women so drastically. I must have a hell of a good-looking body. Now you’re blushing again. No more bagels when we’re together. Okay?”

Eve laughed as she wiped her face and dabbed at her blouse. I need to go home and change. “I’ll be late for work after all.”

“No. Stay until the ambulance gets here. Company policy. Liability stuff and all. Gosh, hope I’m not a liability with this physique of mine. Think I could lose my job?”

Eve smiled, “I don’t think so. I promise no bagel from now on.”

Phil sat opposite Eve, cupped her hand into his two large, warm hands. “I think you do like me.”

Eve smiled as her cheeks got very warm. “Do I?”

The Promotion – part 3

English: Female Jogger on Coleman Avenue in Mo...I read somewhere that jogging is a great way to solve problems. Well, let’s see if that works. Lots of traffic—Monday morning is always worse. After a weekend lots of people wake up late.

Wonder if Betty will show up. Five-day weekend. Hah! Three months as a supervisor and she sneaks out like that. Where does she get off doing that? Do I tell George? First thing—you bet! Problem solved.

Cool morning for August. Great jogging weather. Now for a tall glass of o. j. to keep me going. No cinnamon roll—Gotta lose weight.

7:05 AM, George was back. Already in his office—early as usual. “Is the coffee on?” Eve asked. Sandy turned from her receptionist desk pointing to the cafeteria as her other hand picked up the phone. The room bustled with fellow employees and department supervisors as each grabbed a quick coffee before going to their stations. The table was laden with pastries! “What prompted this terrific offering of calories this morning?” Eve laughed. No one responded as they picked through doughnuts, and turnovers. “Aw-w-w, dang, I promised—no cinnamon roll this morning.”

“Ain’t any cinnamon roll here, Eve. So go for it,” Jeff, the assistant manager, grinned as he bit into his powdered, jelly doughnut.

“No. That’s not the point. I promised myself to stay away from… . Well, actually, I meant ‘cinnamon roll’ to be any kind of pastry. You know what I mean?”

Jeff chuckled, “I understand. But c’mon. It’s free! Enjoy! Make you feel guilty as hell, but then you’ll be in good company. George bought ’em. Got to please the boss. Right?”

2006-06-27 - VeganDonuts-0002“Speaking of George, have you talked to him lately?” Eve said.

“Yeah. A few minutes ago. Why?” Jeff licked the jelly from his fingers as he eyed the remaining pastries.

“Oh, just wondered. He mention anything about—Betty?”

“Your new supervisor? Nope. How she doing? She sure looks happy these days. You know, she was the cr… .” Jeff leaned over and whispered, “Uh, don’t repeat this, but she was one bitch of a crabby gal when she worked in the plant. Never happy—about anything. But that seems to have changed since she got that job. How in hell did she become your supervisor? But as long as she’s happy… . Even the way she is, I like her—some looker for her age, the way she walks and talks to us guys—well, I mean, the way she, uh… . Well, it ain’t important, but she sure is something, ain’t she?”

“She sure is.” Can’t believe it! Jeff! Falling for Betty?

The crowd dispersed and very few pastries remained. Eve found a seat at the table—an effort to dismiss Jeff. She inattentively picked up a glazed pastry.

I don’t want to hear about Betty’s charm. What am I doing? A turnover! Blueberry. I can’t put it back. Not sanitary. Well, maybe I’ll eat it instead of lunch. She placed it in a napkin and caught Jeff’s smile as she walked out, “You’re in good company!” Eve nodded without a smile and retreated to her desk.

She turned to the window as a car sped through the parking lot. Betty’s new car. Purchased two days after her promotion. “Got to look the part,” she had said and insisted on showing Eve her “new toy” at lunch time.

My car, old “bondo-buggy”, serves me well and I’ve been here five years. Just how much is she being paid? No matter, I gotta talk to George—later.

High-Heels - Made in Italy

High-Heels – Made in Italy (Photo credit: Fashion Unlimited)

Betty burst into the office with one minute to spare. “Hi, Eve. Got that quarterly report for me? Hope there’s coffee out there! Got to get my caffeine fix! I’ll be back!” She scampered across the hall in six inch heels, and a new suit accompanied by a see-through blouse with a delicate, lacy bra peeking through, emphasizing her cleavage.

Jeff stepped out of the cafeteria as Betty brushed past him. He dropped his sugared crueller and spattered his coffee on his white shirt. “Damn it Betty, look what you gone make me d… ,” he fell silent. Standing in the doorway, he watched her in the cafeteria then barely moved aside as she ambled through the doorway. Betty reached down, picked up his crueller, then slowly pressed a napkin on his stained shirt. He grinned as he took both crueller and napkin from her hand and dabbed at the coffee stain himself. She leaned toward him, just a little, took a bite of his crueller, winked and slowly walked across the hallway back to her desk.  Jeff watched and dabbed, “Have a good day, Betty, don’t spill your coffee on your new blouse. If you do, I’ll be obliged to dab it off for you,” he chuckled.

I see what you mean, Jeff. ‘She sure is something, ain’t she?’ Eve shook her head.

“Got that report ready?” Betty practically sang.

“Uh. Yeah. Somewhat.”

“Oh. Well, that’s better ‘n nothing, I suppose. What you got?”

Eve handed over three days’ worth of printed data from New Jersey. “This is it.”

“Okay. What do I tell George? You got a written report?”

“No. You’ll have to do that yourself.”

“What? Nothing?”

“You got it. That’s your job, Betty. I got my job to do—they don’t pay overtime around here for doing someone else’s job.” Eve sat with her back to Betty and smiled at her calm frankness.

Shucks, I may not have to talk to George after all. That’s a relief. She’ll look like a fool with no quarterly report.

Betty quickly shut the door on her way to her desk.

What is she doing? Eve turned as Eve flipped through the report and began writing on a notepad. With eyebrows knotted, face flushed her hand trembled just so slightly as she lifted a cigarette to her lips. Just then, she caught Eve’s eye, “Eve, I’d like you to… .”

“Excuse me, Betty, I have a meeting to go to. I’ll be back later.” Eve pulled out three folders from her desk, quickly left the room and headed for the plant.

Don’t know what I’ll do there, but I want to get away. Two people can play this game, Betty.

The Promotion – part 1

Ashtray

Ashtray (Photo credit: @ARRGch)

Betty? Promoted? She never worked in an office. She doesn’t understand computers. Heck! She probably never saw one. This is 1979, the age of computers! Telecommunications and computing.

“The black phone is not for personal calls, it’s a modem.”

“Oh,” Betty hacked a smoker’s cough as she sat at her newly assigned desk—the former supervisor’s desk. “What’s a modem, Eve?”

Harry up and left for what? A better job? Left me here to manage. I managed for three weeks. I can do his job—Harry’s assurance as he balanced his heavy box of stuff out the door. He had a degree in business and experience in data analysis. Betty’s credentials? Production work in the plant for how many years? How old is she? Her generation never used computers. She’s looks 40-ish.

Eve inhaled, smiled and touched the black phone sitting on her desk. “Modem is an acronym for Modulator/Demodulator. It’s a phone line dedicated to communicate with another modem connected by a network.  We send digitized bits of data from a computer to the mainframe at head-quarters through this dedicated phone. The signal is modulated into electrical signals for transmission over phone lines and it is then demodulated by another modem at head-quarters to receive the digital data.” She sipped her coffee to hide a smirk.

Betty coughed “Oh—I see.  Headquarters. That’s New Jersey. All the way from Maine over to there? By phone? Without talking to anyone? Hmm. It can’t take too long for me to understand all of this computer stuff. I been working production for fifteen years here.  Done some quality control and shipping too for about six years. So I’ll be able to learn how that acronym equipment works. You agree?”

“Ever work with computers?”

“Never.”

“Are you from around here?”

“Yep.”

“So you graduated from a local high school?”

“Uh, not quite. Well—yeah.”

“What is it? Yes or no?”

“I quit when I was sixteen—going on seventeen!”

“So you quit in your junior year?”

“No—freshman,” she mumbled, pulled out a cigarette then reached for the ashtray. Betty bared her teeth as she grimaced. “You didn’t clean the ashtray.”

“I don’t smoke—I don’t do ashtrays.”

“Never smoked, Eve? Or quit?”

“Never. A waste of money. Bad for the lungs,” Eve paused as the plant manager rushed by the door heading for his office.

Betty stood up quickly, “So it is. So—it is. Uh, excuse me, will you? Gotta wash this out before I use it. I hate filth.” Betty pulled her shoulders back, lifting her chin high as she daintily held the offensive ashtray with forefinger and thumb and sashayed out of the office.

“Don’t you think we better get started first—Betty?”

Betty disappeared around the corner.

Eve’s smirk changed to a sneer.

So Harry had a falling out with the manager. Two strong-willed men and the subordinate makes a bad move. Never argue with the boss, Harry.

See what you’ve done to me, Harry? You got a new job, and I got… Betty.

Compose yourself!

Eve used the free time to re-arrange her desk and organize files for Betty. Twenty minutes later, she groaned as she began the day’s data entry due by 2:00 PM, transmitted by 3:00, received and verified by New Jersey by 4:30 then printed on the line printer before 5:00. She gritted her teeth, Where the hell is Betty?

As Eve focused on keying data Betty and the plant manager entered the room. The clock indicated fifty-eight minutes since she left.

“Hello George. Betty. You forget the ashtray?”

“Oh. Uh… I put it somewhere. Maybe I left it in your office, George. Did you notice it?” Betty coughed a chuckle as she placed her fingers over her lips and smiled with chin up and chest out—pointing to the plant manager.

“Oh, bother,” Eve mumbled and returned to the keyboard.

“What, dear?” Betty patted Eve’s shoulder.

2010-02-04 09-42-53 Office Wall Clock - IMG_1560

2010-02-04 09-42-53 Office Wall Clock – IMG_1560 (Photo credit: Degilbo on flickr)

George glanced at the clock and out the door, “I have to go. Eve, teach Betty everything she has to know. She’s got lots to learn. Make it quick. Let me know if you need anything to make it happen.” He dashed back to his office. Betty’s hand rose slightly as if to touch his arm, but she immediately retracted its movement and stuffed the errant hand in her silk, slacks’ pocket.

“I’ll be back. Got to find that ashtray so I can wash it.”

What on earth… ? She’s been here for two hours and hasn’t done a thing. “We got lots to do,” Eve shouted as Betty disappeared around the corner once more.