March 4, 2011 § 9 Comments
In entered Ms. Pepper Parrish, clutching her beat up purse in one hand and a check in the other. She was on the older side, and made older choices with the patterns on her clothes. The sleeves of her coat were subtly frayed. Mr. Benson invited her to his window and began the process of checking her ID and cashing the check.
“Isnt it just a fine day today? I enjoy when the sun comes out right after the rain.” Pepper rattled on, couldn’t stop the drivel from escaping her lips. The clerk seemed to be going through the motions, no personal relationship in a big bank chain like this. This she was grateful for. Pepper was still shaking after the letter this morning. But the check was going to be cashed right now.
27 Locust St
Marston Mills, Ma
Dear Ms. Parrish,
Over the years, the Board has valued and appreciated your dedicated service and willingness to tackle any task. However, the Knights of Columbus have not escaped the downturn of the economy. Sadly, we must cut back on our administrative staff. As of Wednesday we will have to let you go due to lack of funding.
Again thank you for your years of service. Please do not hesitate to contact us for references in your search for a new position.
Good luck in the future.
She had read the letter at her small corner desk and immediately her eyes jumped to the picture of her boy, riding a bike. Next, picture after picture, drawing after drawing sloped and colored by small loving hands. And how was she going to feed him? Then, she looked behind her, where Hazel May, the new girl sat filing her nails, no such burdensome letter weighing on her thoughts. She remembered how Pat had mentioned the young girls appearance at the meeting discussing the new hire. Others at the meeting had chuckled uncomfortably at his comment. Now Hazel bent over, giving Pepper a generous view down her drunk-on-cleavage top.
Pepper turned back to the picture of her child and thought of the stack of bills in her bag and a long list of other things this disaster affected. Her bills to the doctor, the brand new car payment she had taken on when they had given her a small raise. She knew it would be a struggle, but she was confident she could handle it. She had even discussed the new car with Pat. The bastard had recommended a dealer.
Hotter and hotter her anger grew, and Pepper started to think of ways out of the situation, entering into a circular thought pattern that soon had her in tears. Pat slinked by her, headed for the men’s room. She had no choice. There would be no discussion. Hazel was cheaper than she. Hazel had not been there for 7 years. Hazel was hotter than Pepper. Hazel was not as efficient as she. Hazel still had a job. Pepper did not.
“Pepper, do you have those blank checks I have to sign for the vendors?” Marcus, another member of the board came to her desk and she was struck silent by the idea his innocent question gave her. “Pepper? The checks?”
Quickly snapping out of it, she reached in her bag for her keys and unlocked the cabinet where the checks were kept. She handed Marcus the checks and decided to ask him about the layoff letter.
“Pat gave me the letter. Why me Marcus? Why not Hazel? She is newer and I know more. I have been here for 7 years. You guys know me. This seems unfair and frankly, devastating to me. Why?” He looked at her.
“What letter? This is news to me.” She handed him the letter and he quickly skimmed it. “ I’ll be right back.” He walked into Pat’s office and shut the door. The checks, she thought. He had left them right there on the corner of the desk when he went to talk to Pat. Before she knew what she was doing, she grabbed the top check. The checks were already signed by Marcus Kent and just needed the signature of Patrick Donald Cheddar.
When Marcus returned, he gave Pepper the standard line. This was not Pepper’s first time being laid off. Tough decisions had been made, he was very sorry. He whispered to her that he had fought for her but that Pat seemed to have “a real hard on” for Hazel. This crude joke escaped his lips and he blushed ridiculously and walked away. Hazel and she were the only girls in the office, so crude jokes were often uttered. Marcus and his embarrassment delivered yet another brilliant realization. Hazel and Pat were fucking. Perfect, she thought.
She started slowly to Pat’s office, then picked up speed. She didn’t want to lose her nerve. She entered and shut the door. He fumbled, fat and middle-aged to pick up the phone and pretend to be on a call.
“Dont even, Pat. I’ve known you for 7 years.” She surprised herself with her bold words, but she supposed she didn’t have much to lose now.
“Pepper, I don’t know what…” His lying snapped some branch that had started to bend upon opening the lay off letter.
“Cut the shit and take out your pen, Patrick. We are about to talk about tits. And a severance package.”