You ever feel like, when your regular morning routine is disrupted, it changes the course of your luck for the day? It felt as such that Thursday.
My alarm woke me up for seven, as usual. I spent twenty minutes in the bathroom brushing my teeth and showering. Knowing what I would wear for the day I reached for everything without a second thought.
I made breakfast; oatmeal and coffee, while watching the morning news. I was out of the apartment by seven-forty and on the train by eight-ten, not before buying the days NYTimes from a newsstand outside of the station. I found myself reading the newspaper more often than ever after September 11th.
I got the same seat as I always do, facing more or less the same people that follow their own routine to get them in their own chosen seats.
Upon getting off the train I exited the left staircase because it was exactly a block away from a Starbucks. Since it was Thursday I would typically order a grande caramel iced latte with skim milk and a little whipped cream. But I felt like buying black coffee so I could use the flavored creamery in the office. It was French vanilla flavored, nothing special. Only this was imported from France and I’ve yet to try it.
That’s when the days’ events must have began to, unbeknownst to me, spiral downward.
My usual route was blocked off due to police activity. Apparently someone was threatening to jump off their sixty-story office building roof. Police, FDNY, and paramedics had a blockade up for a six block radius. My office was nine blocks away. So instead of it taking me thirteen minutes to get to work from Starbucks, it took twenty-five.
When I got there only did I realize my access card was sitting on my dresser at home. So I lost five minutes of my life checking in with security. But as luck would have it, if you want to call it that, the elevator going up to my floor was stuck midway. That didn’t begin moving for fifteen minutes.
When I finally reached my floor a headache had developed. I DON’T get headaches, not unless I’m under extreme pressure. I haven’t been under such conditions since junior year of high school when all my classes were AP and it was time for finals.
I checked the first-aid kit under the sink in the pantry after taking out the creamery only to discover there was none left. Luckily there was aspirin.
I grabbed the edges of the counter to steady myself- the headache raged on. Caffeine is reportedly supposed to help but I’m not fond of black coffee. There was a generic creamery in the fridge. The coffee was a waste with it.
I went about my work for the next four hours like nothing was wrong all with my head pounding like a sledgehammer and seeing spots float across my corneas.
At one o clock my office phone rang. “Derek Chambers is here to see you.” It didn’t surprise me, him visiting. What did was the man standing next to him when he was escorted into my office.
“Johnathan, this is Maxwell Jones. He is the co-owner of this company. I told him all about you. He said he just had to meet you.” He reached out his hand for mine. I gave him a weak handshake. I couldn’t muster anything else, not with my head fuzzy with pain.
“Derek tells me you’ve helped bring a twenty-five percent profit into this company over the last quarter. That’s a significant increase over the last two quarters combined.” Along with a laugh he says “what’s your secret?”
“It’s not only my doing, sir. It’s a team effort. The finest minds and talent work here. Had they been sub-par the numbers wouldn’t be as good.”
“You didn’t tell me he was modest, Derek.”
“You are their boss, Johnathan. Without your leadership this company wouldn’t be doing as well as it has.”
None of this made sense. It’s true we’re turning a profit but it was to my understanding that since the company is still new it’s name hasn’t been established yet which means not a lot of big projects have come through the door. Unless…
“So what brings you to the office this morning, sir? Surely it isn’t to sing my high praises delivered by Mr Chambers.”
“A man who likes to get down to business- I like that. Well son, since you’ve taken leadership here the company has been doing very well in its start up years. I’m here today to offer you a nice raise to go along with a promotion.”
“A…promotion? I thought my position was as high as one could go?”
“We’re prepared to give you a partnership in the company. This company would remain under your leadership but you’d also be overseeing more…lucrative, projects.”
“So what you’re saying is, I’d be the boss to more than just the people in this office.”
“Three times as much.”
Derek began speaking but by then I tuned them both out. I was being offered a promotion with what sounds like a significant raise and, of course, more responsibility. But I was promised this job wouldn’t be forever. Is this what Derek meant? Has he been grooming me for such a promotion which no doubt will turn into another one? I haven’t been here long and they want to make me a partner? How’s that even possible? I thought you could only do such a thing at law firms. You know what all of this sounded like? Someone trying to stall my dreams from becoming a reality.
My head was still pounding and these two men were looking at me, awaiting my acceptance to the promotion. It just made me angry. Everything was. It was not my day.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline your offer.”
The both of them stared at me, stunned. Before Maxwell could speak I turned my attention to Derek. “Mr Chambers, did you not upon assigning me this job say this work was ‘beneath’ me?”
Derek stammered as he turned his gaze to his boss who looked at him perplexed.
“When I took this job, Mr Jones, I was told this wouldn’t be permanent. I have no intentions of staying either. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy working here or it being beneath me or not. I have other plans and nothing is going to stand in my way.”
“And what might those plans be, young man?” Maxwell Jones appeared to be in his fifties to late sixties and despite that meaning he was three times my age, I despised being called young man.
“Film, sir. I applied for the Weismeister internship for the sole purpose of getting my foot in that door. I’ve been here a year and no such thing has happened, nor has Mr Chambers shed any light on such things even taking place.”
“You’re the student Derek recruited while still a sophomore in college, correct?” I shook my head yes.
“You’re still young. This is how we do things. We promote so that you’re in a position to meet such individuals. At your level you couldn’t even arrange a meet with anybody in the business.”
“So you’re saying I have to stick with the company for, what, ten-twenty years, before laying eyes on your so-called connects?”
“In so many words, yes. That’s how the game is played young man.”
That fueled my anger further. My head pounded with a new fury: rage. I’ve wasted almost three years of my life for what; to be groomed into a puppet? To Hell with this.
“Had I known you ran such an ass backwards company, sir, I would have known better than to apply for your internship. Consider this my two weeks notice. Now if you’ll excuse me,” I walked to my office door and opened it. “I have work to do.”
Maxwell Jones looked at Derek Chambers and then back at me.
“Are you kicking me out of an office I helped pay to build?”
“In so many words, yes.”
Another perplexed expression and then the two men walked out. I slammed the door which wasn’t a good idea on account of my head still pounding away. I was shaking. I had never done such a thing. It felt surprisingly good, though.
I sat down at my desk staring blankly at the screen. I had two weeks to look for another job, assuming my notice is accepted. No doubt I’d be fired instead. No, Maxwell Jones sounded like he needed me. I saw it in his eyes. He thinks I can still be controlled. Come Monday he or his secretary will call for a meeting. In that meeting he’ll tell me all of his intentions with a better proposal to sweeten the deal.
Fuck him. Fuck this. Fuck everything. The movie was moving ahead of schedule. Ralph and I needed to keep that pace.
The anger now awoke something else that only one of two individuals could take care of. I called Wendy to see if she were free for lunch. She was. I needed to get this frustration out. Wendy can help.