Because It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

Woman at WorkYour fast-paced footsteps can be heard from four cubicles away, I recognize the pattern and intensity. You’re looking for a volunteer, and likely feeling hopeful, and doubtful, that anyone will bite.

As you reach my cube, I glance up just in time to see you look up from your phone. “Jane, do you have a minute? I need to run something by you,” and already you’re sorting through the files you were carrying, preparing to hand them off to me. Am I that transparent?

“What’s going on George? Need to pass off some projects?” I ask, as though you’d ever actually say no. Of course you want to pass them off, that’s why you’re at my desk. It’s not like you come by to talk about the weather. Again I can’t help but wonder why on we are still using file folders and paper charts when we should be using project tracking tools and email. But I’m glad our office is stuck in the 1990’s. If we were actually doing what we should, I wouldn’t have these drive-by favor requests. I know you dread them, but you don’t realize it’s the first conversation I’ve had with a person today. Not counting the cashier in the lunch line, though I really should count her.

My boss finally looks up and makes eye contact, “Jane, you always volunteer to stay late when the team is running behind. I know I ask you this too much, but we’re behind deadline again.”

Of course I don’t mind, I’d prefer to stay here and join the others. So of course I offer, though is it really an offer when it’s expected? “Have they already gathered in the conference room?” I ask as I begin gathering my things so I can join the recovery team.

“I think dinner orders are being taken as we speak, a few mentioned Chinese food,” George mentions as he’s already backing away, preparing to head out the door. He likes to rush home to his wife on the weekends. I can’t say I blame him.

It’s Friday night, and I’m eager to join my co-workers. A night spent in a cold conference room with a hot meal delivered is so much better than the alternative, heading home to my rented basement apartment, watching The Office on Netflix over a bowl of cereal.

“Fantastic, I’ll head over right now. We’ll have this caught up in no time,” I say, as we begin to head in different directions.

“I knew I could count on you. Have a great weekend Jane!” and your escape is complete underway.

So is mine.

Photo credit: Death to Stock Photo, altered to black and white.

*Note to the reader: Constructive Criticism is accepted and requested here! I had a goal in mind for this post, and I didn’t achieve it. If you have any thoughts you would like to share about how this could have been better, or what you would have done differently, please share! Feel free to comment below, or even write your own version as a response.


If We Were Having Coffee

I would arrive fashionably late, as I always do. You’d be sitting at a table in the corner, with coffee for two. After years of us meeting like this, you’re prepared for my tardiness. You have a book out on the table, pretending to read, but I can tell you’re scanning the crowd, waiting.

Our eyes meet, I give a quick nod and begin walking toward you, trying to think what my excuse will be today for arriving late. “It’s okay,” you say, sparing me from my feeble attempt. You slide a coffee toward me and I’m grateful for the warmth, it’s been such a dreary winter.

We begin as we always do, telling each other about our previous week. These Sunday meetings are the best part of my week, but you don’t know that. I never let on, I’d never want you to know that.

You tell me about your new assignment at work, how it will help “get you noticed,” though you know, it won’t make any difference at all. These are the lies you tell yourself to help keep you sane.

When it’s my turn to share, I tell you the things I’ve practiced. I have two stories for this week and I’ve gone through them in my head enough times I can keep the names and places straight. You don’t know the dates I tell you about aren’t real, you listen – maybe pretending the men in my stories are you. You listen to me, week after week, as I share details that I carefully crafted.

This week you hear about Joe at a shoe store in the mall, and how I almost got him fired. You listen as I tell a darker tale, one that would have actually been dangerous – if it had been real.

As we finish our coffee and our weekly excuse to meet, I wonder why I do this. Why I torture myself and you. Why can’t I just tell you the truth?