Every Wednesday afternoon, the supervisors at New World had a meeting at two o’clock. It was, without a doubt, the most awful part of Melinda’s week. The supervisors almost always used every last minute, and there was nothing more deadly boring to Melinda than having to sit in a conference room for two whole hours while her boss and co-workers droned on and on and bickered amongst themselves.
On this particular Wednesday, the meeting promised to be even more fun than usual. The CSRs had been receiving monthly bonuses for meeting call metrics and now the company had decided to do away with the bonuses. The CSRs did not know about it yet, but the supervisors had been informed via an e-mail message from Jerry.
“Oh, great,” Blaine said, after he read the message. He pushed away from his desk and looked at her, rolling his eyes. “That ought to go over real big.”
“Yeah,” Melinda sighed. She scrubbed a face over her hand. “Score one for morale.”
“What does upper management care? They’re not the ones who have to listen to the CSRs bitch endlessly about it.”
“Oh the joys of being a member of middle management,” Melinda sighed.
“Hi, Melinda. Hi, Blaine,” a voice said.
Melinda stifled a groan as she turned toward the sound of the voice. “Hi, Vic.”
“Did you see the message Jerry sent?”
“Yes. Fantastic, isn’t it?” Blaine asked.
Vic gave him a look like a father about to scold a particularly disobedient and stupid child. “Now, Blaine, you know that we all have to support this. We need to support anything that’s good for the company. The CSRs may not like it, but they’ll just have to understand that it has to be done for the good of the business.”
“Yeah, slow economy and all that,” Blaine said, with a poorly concealed expression of contempt for Vic.
Melinda felt the same way Blaine did. She couldn’t stand Vic. He was such an ass kisser and, besides that, he always smelled of mildew. “It’s just going to be a big adjustment, that’s all,” she said mildly.
Vic peered at her through his too-small glasses before reaching up and fiddling with them. “Well, we all have to adapt to change.” He graced them with one of his phony, high-pitched laughs. Blaine’s expression resembled that of a rabid dog. “Anyway, Melinda, I wanted to talk to you about something. Did you notice that Amy spent nearly five minutes chatting with Lillian rather than taking calls?” he asked in a stage whisper.
Why the hell are you watching my team? Why don’t you pay attention to your own instead, you little prick? Melinda thought. What she said was: “No, I didn’t. I’m glad you told me, though. I’ll definitely keep an eye on her.”
“I just thought I’d let you know.” Melinda knew his tone was meant to convey a sense of camaraderie. She wasn’t buying it, though; she knew Vic would gleefully stab her in the back given half a chance.
“I really appreciate it,” she said, making her voice as saccharine as possible. She and Blaine both sat in silence, staring at Vic until he began to fidget uncomfortably.
“Oh, look, there’s Susan. I needed to talk to her. Susan! Susan!” He rushed out of their cube and over to accost the CSR.
“He. Is. Such. An. Asshole,” Blaine hissed through clenched teeth.
“Shhh.” Melinda peeked around the corner and saw that Vic wasn’t all that far off. “He is, but you don’t want to give him any fuel for his fire.”
“I just can’t stand people like him. He’s so fake. Why the hell don’t Jerry and the other managers see through that?”
“Because Vic is good at telling them what they like to hear, you know that. What do you think this is, the type of place where people get where they are as a result of their honest, hard work?”
“Oh, right. I forgot. The most valued skill you can possess here is that of masterfully kissing arse,” Blaine said, his voice oozing sarcasm.
Melinda smiled at him. “Tsk, tsk. Bitterness doesn’t suit you. In fact, it makes you even uglier than usual.”
“That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” A grin spread over his face, obliterating the sour expression he’d worn just seconds earlier.
“I should write for Hallmark, don’t you think?” Melinda asked, grinning in reply.
“Oh definitely. Your talents are certainly being wasted here.”
“Aren’t all of our talents?” Melinda sighed.
“Hitchcock should have done a movie about this place. I’m sure people would’ve paid to watch a movie about an evil building that sucks out your very soul, until you become a mindless automaton shuffling slowly from one cubicle to the other while muttering, ‘Yes, boss. Anything you say, boss.’ Don’t you think so?”
“I’m not sure. It would probably be far too terrifying. It’s certainly a lot more diabolical than anything Hitchcock ever thought up.”
“And speaking of terrifying things, it’s time for us to go to our weekly meeting.”
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