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The Pink Collar Chronicles are three flash stories about the work experiences of three secretaries back in the day.
MAYA’S EDD CLAIM
The morning’s breakfast was still singing as Maya pushed the plate aside. Eyeing her resume on the kitchen table, she grabbed an ink pen when the phone rang.
“Is this Maya Brantworth?”
“Yes, and who are you?” The pen’s end cap popped in and out like a Jack-in the-Box from her thumb’s pressure.
“Cecilia Townhouse from the EDD office.”
Maya’s right eyebrow climbed above the left one. “I need my money - Is there a problem with my claim?”
“Your former employer said you quit without giving notice.”
“Doug is lying! I got laid-off!”
“He said you cursed him out too.”
“Are you kidding me!” The pen traveled across the yellow kitchen like a boomerang thrown from her hand.
“He indicated your office skills were atrocious.”
“So why did the bastard write a recommendation letter for me?”
The EDD rep laughed. “That man’s story had so many holes it was ridiculous.”
A hum from the refrigerator consumed the kitchen. “What about my claim?”
“You’re getting your unemployment benefits.”
“Thanks for letting me know.”
So that's why Doug called the other day. He told me that my claim was approved. When all the while he was trying to get it denied. What a bastard.
*Fictitious names used.
SNIP, SNIP, SNIP!
“Snip, snip, snip!” Roger chuckled opening and shutting the scissors in front of his office. A crimson lake on his cheeks and upper neck shook. “Wanda, wanna haircut?” His question glided over the wooden desks, office conversations, ringing phones, and hang in the air like a kite.
It sounds like Roger had a liquid lunch. Wanda glanced up from the typewriter at him and resumed typing. While Tom and Mike are away the mouse will play.
“Wanda, how about a haircut?” Roger’s voice rumbled through the office like a sonic boom.
“No!” She spied some loan officers queued at the photocopier in the corridor. I know they hear him that’s why they’re laughing.
“I’m an expert at cutting naturals!”
Why don’t those men do or say something?
“Snip, snip, snip.” Roger continued opening and closing the shears as if he was a five-year-old with a new toy. The giggles of the two other unit secretaries showered Wanda’s hair and ears.
So much for sisterhood. She checked the dictionary for the proper spelling of a word. Then reviewed the dictated correspondence from her steno pad. Roger has finally quieted down. I hope it stays that way.
“Wanda, I’ll cut you hair off the top first.” She jumped. Out the corners of her eyes she spotted a pair of men’s brown shoes by her desk. Glimpsing up, a navy-blue suit, Roger’s mug, and water-logged brown eyes greeted her. He must’ve tip-toed over here.
“Get away from me!” She stood to walk past him, but he blocked her. “Get out of my way!” When she stepped to the right or the left, Roger’s feet followed hers.
“One, two, three cha-cha-cha.” Roger chortled.
“Would you please move!”
“No, I wanna cha-cha.” Wanda caught her breath and turned from him to retrieve the letter opener off the desk. “Snip, snip, snip!” Roger flung back his head laughing. It was a demented sort of cackling like the recording for the laughing lady at a fun house. “I love cutting naturals!”
Wanda thrust the letter opener into the dictionary’s front cover repeatedly. “Stab, stab, stab!” Roger’s mouth clammed up as if locked by a key. “Stab, stab, stab.”
The scissors nose-dived from his hand to the gray carpet like a crashing airplane. “I was only joking.” He stepped back from her, speaking to the employees staring at him. “I was only joking.”
“Stab, stab, stab!”
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND BROWNIES
Gretchen, my boss and one of the company’s honchos was about to provide an update. I glimpsed the conference room’s wall clock. In one hour and forty minutes the bomb was supposed to explode. It seemed as though everyone’s trembling hands, furrowed eyebrows, blank stares, and whispers merged into one hellish nightmare that hopscotched about the room.
“Our leasing company’s security consultants inspected every floor in this building.” The boss lady swept a few strands of red hair off her face with two French-manicured fingernails. “They didn’t find anything.”
She walked around the room like a drill sergeant, but wore a pen-striped black and white suit jacket and short black skirt. “It was a prank bomb scare call. We are not going to evacuate the building.”
“All c’mon Gretchen,” someone said.
She folded her arms and cocked her head to one side. “Any employee leaving before 10 a.m. without a valid reason will be fired. So, stop your mumbling and get back to work.” The herd poured out the room to their respective workplaces.
I was sorting the morning’s mail when Gretchen’s office door flew open as if she kicked it. “Julia, I’m meeting with a prospect onsite.”
Her calendar is blank. “What’s the name of the company? What time is the meeting? What’s the name of the person you’re meeting with? And what’s their contact number?”
“It’s strictly confidential.”
“What do I tell Howard and Jeff?” Gretchen’s lips pressed against each other like a clasp on a purse, and she headed toward the elevator bank.
Half turning, she replied, “I’ll speak to them when I get back.” An elevator opened, she entered and the door closed. After locking Gretchen’s office, I glanced at the wall clock. It’s 9:15 a.m.
Within ten minutes Howard and Jeff were hovering at my desk like two gum shoes from a 1940s’ flick. “Where’s Gretchen, Julia?” Howard barked, his jaws were tighter than a rubber band around a ponytail.
Don’t get angry with me because your office wife is off shagging her new man. “Meeting with a prospect.” Howard glanced at Jeff as if a flock of pigeons sprayed caca over them.
“Where at?” Jeff balled his hands into fists.
I shrugged. “Gretchen advised she would speak with you when she returned.”
“I suppose after 10 a.m.” Howard’s breathing sounded as if he was having an asthma attack. “That bitch left us here.” The two men ran down the corridor and caught an elevator.
So, Gretchen lied about the security consultants checking the building.
I peeked at the wall clock again, it’s 9:55 a.m. It’s too late to get out of here. I scampered beneath my desk clutching my purse. I felt as though someone was choking me. Eyeing the minute hands on my watch, I counted down:10: a. m., 9:56, 9:57, 9:58, 9:59, 10 a.m., 10:01, 10:05 a.m. I took a deep breath. I’m going to live.
Around 1:30 p.m., Gretchen waltzed back with a grin as wide as the Pacific Ocean. Her skin glowed like the sun, and she was carrying bags of chocolate chip cookies and brownies from the bakery. “Julia, could you please distribute these for me. Thanks.”
I nodded. You left the office with a French manicure and returned with pink polished fingernails, newly arched eyebrows, and a sex afterglow obtained at some fancy hotel. While we could’ve been blown to bits. I grabbed the bags from her hands, disliking her even more.
I'm I. Cowthern -- I enjoy watching old black and white movies and listening to jazz, pop, rock, R&B, and classical music.