I was running late again. Tardiness is never a good thing, but it’s even worse when the workplace is in an uproar. I work for Jessup & Jessup, a privately owned marketing and consulting firm in Greenville, Delaware. In addition to maintaining our normal office duties, the firm just underwent a major audit and we have just been bought by a larger firm. Details were being closely guarded by the bosses, putting the entire office on edge. Layoffs were sure to follow. The official announcement of the merger was being made to public today. This was not the time to stick out like a sore thumb.
I rushed across the parking lot and into the building. Members of the Board of Directors from both companies, and members of the media filled the small lobby. I elbowed my way through the crowd and made my way onto the elevator, clutching a stack of files close to my chest. We were packed in tight, like canned mackerel. I was wedged into a corner by a barrel-chested man in gray suit who kept leaning into me and smacking my knee with his brief case. The smells of coffee breath, remnants of acrid cigarette smoke, flowery perfume and musky cologne mixed in the tight confines of the car and made my stomach roil. This ride to the Executive Offices on the fourth floor would go down in history as the most agonizing moment of my career.
I was grateful when the doors opened and cool air from the hall rushed in and dispersed the stifling fragrance in the elevator. I was shoved out of the elevator doors by my fellow occupants and the barrel-chested guy stepped on my foot as he passed. I shot him a glare that could have bored a hole through steel and limped around the corner. I looked down to check the time on my cell phone. 8:07. I picked up my pace as I turned the next corner and ran into a brick wall of a man, almost falling backwards.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry,” I said, as I kneeled to gathered the folders I dropped.
“Keisha, is that you,” Brick Wall Man asked as he leaned over to help me. I looked up and met the hazel eyes of Stanley K. Billingsly. No good could come from this interaction.
“Stanley? What are you doing here?” He took me by my elbow and helped me rise from the ground.
“It’s been a while. How have you been? It’s really good to see a familiar face.”
“Um. Ok, but, what are you doing here,” I repeated. This could not be happening. I prayed he was a member of the media.
“I’m the new owner of Jessup & Jessup.”
My new boss is my ex fiancé, and he was happy to see me. I wanted to curl up into a ball and disappear. I silently prayed that I was on the lay-off list.
“You’re the new owner?”
“Yes! Isn’t that great? Listen, clear your schedule from 12 to 2. We have a lot to go over with this new transition. We can do it over lunch, and maybe we can do a little catching up, too.” And with that, he turned and ushered the board members into the conference room. I walked to my desk, and sank into my chair. I thought this chapter was over, but Stanley is back. Crap!
Copyright 2013 Nike Binger Marshall