It was Sharon’s thirteenth anniversary
at CommSolutions, Inc.
(Not that anyone noticed.)
But she took herself out to lunch
at the Panera a few blocks away
and allowed herself one of those
oversized cookies for dessert.
She had walked into her beige cubicle
the first day,
an enthusiastic, motivated 23-year-old.
An artist at heart,
doing this as a mere “day job”
until she started getting published.
Would probably have to put in her notice
when she got her big advance
and had to schedule a book tour.
But she also wanted to do her best
and be the kind of person her manager
She vowed that she wouldn’t take shit
nor would she stand for it
when Doug talked to her like that.
Thirteen years on,
Doug continued to talk to her like that
because he was a VP,
and she wasn’t even a manager,
even though she was certainly indispensible.
But she had learned to keep a poker face
at meetings when people used words like
“innovative” and “state of the art” and “circle back.”
She learned to smile and say, “Sure, no problem,”
when it certainly was a problem.
She learned that quality mattered less than quantity and speed.
She learned to congratulate people she didn’t like
for promotions and weddings and babies.
She learned to sign birthday cards
for coworkers in the other suite she had never formally met
and couldn’t identify in a police lineup.
She learned not to feel so bad for her lost literary dreams
because at least she had a 401k and three weeks of vacation.
She learned to avoid the girls in the kitchenette
and take her lunch outside,
eating a turkey sandwich in the sunshine,
under a blue, cloudless sky,
listening to birdsong
and cars rushing down the highway.