“Are you fucking stupid?! Well are you? Remind me again what your function is here exactly?” Karen Akers was in fine form this morning, beratements dripping from her tongue in a caustic, unending stream. Natalie began to apologize, but then thought better of it. Why add more fuel? Karen had a way of latching onto whatever you threw her and shaking it to death, like a rabid pit bull. Natalie merely nodded her head, a tear streamed down her cheek and she went back to her keyboard. Being treated as sub-human just came with the job and today would be no different. It was only Monday—this week would clearly suck, and hard.
Anna tapped her on the shoulder, “Hey, are you okay, hun? Fuck them.”
A sweet sentiment, but just more words. Anna was a bit of a shallow floozy, well past her prime, but that didn’t stop her from trying to look and act like a twenty one year old. It was actually pretty sad.
“I know, I’m okay,” Natalie lied, as she often did. It was just too hard to talk about it and Anna wouldn’t be the ear she needed anyhow. Besides that, any talk of the present situation would inevitably pry open the tear ducts and make the scene Natalie was unwilling to make. She knew she needed the job; she also knew it was slowly killing her. “Kill me faster,” she mouthed silently.
Chris Powell, the big boss, burst in like an angry storm cloud. He was a short, fat, little man with cheeks so plump; they seemed to swallow his small, round glasses. He was a walking heart attack. Natalie was convinced his blood pressure was so high, that if he suffered so much as a paper cut, it would likely spurt across the room.
“Karen! In my office—NOW!” Karen scurried as a rat would being chased by a broom, and the door closed behind her. Natalie and Anna eavesdropped contentedly, but kept their heads down and fingers busy clanking away at the keys. Nat sort of enjoyed it when Karen was in trouble, though it usually meant that now Natalie would be in trouble. This was the way of the hierarchy. Chris shits on Karen, Karen shits on Natalie, then Natalie cleans shit up, and Karen takes credit for it. Regardless, she could see Karen through the blinds getting verbally pummeled, and she did like it.
The door to the lion’s den opened again and Karen had lived. Dammit…
“Natalie! We need to talk.”
Outstanding... Natalie followed her to the break room to take her licks. Karen had fucked up a large shipment, and as usual, had thrown Nat under the bus. So now, as usual, she had to put on a show for Chris. Wave her flabby arms around and holler and carry on. Normally, Natalie wouldn’t put up with this from some moron she didn’t respect. She wouldn’t work at a place like this; it was a literal, bi-polar circus, but when the bubble burst in ‘08, everything changed. Companies no longer fought for employees; they didn’t have to. For every job opening there were a hundred applicants. Now, the employees of the world fought to get a position with the company; any company. The company didn’t have to fight too hard to keep you either. You knew as well as they did, there’s no quitting a job anymore because if you’re lucky enough to have a job, then you better damn well do everything you can to keep it. Natalie thought that was pretty poor excuse for treating people like trash, but what could she do? She was stuck. She and Kevin had seen some hard times like everybody else. And these were still hard times, so it meant taking the abuse to keep the job. What she wouldn’t give to get out of this hell hole; out of Emmett. Things were not shaping up at all as she had expected,
She looked out the window and saw trash blowing down the streets, and it was cold; late October. Natalie had decided that Emmett was a depressing little city with no job prospects and she wanted out, but that was life in small towns everywhere lately. Natalie hated it in Emmett, but that’s just where they had landed, chasing a buck. They had been here through two seasons now, and it was two seasons too long in Natalie’s mind, but Kevin; he liked it here somehow. Natalie sometimes thought he only liked it here, because small towns like these were full of drunks; probably made him feel better about himself. Kevin preferred a slower pace, whereas Natalie craved the hustle and bustle of the big city. Big city living was out of the question though on their salaries. Natalie’s job paid pennies and Kevin’s contracting of late consisted of mostly odd jobs and honey-dos. She worried about whether they would even make it through the winter or not. And thus began another week; the unending string of Mondays through Fridays that overcast her life with barely a reprieve on the weekends.
Copyright © Rusty Henrichsen, 2013