Thursday, August 19, 2004

Clearing my call list

Thursday, August 12. Early afternoon. I was at the cemetery for over an hour and I feel much better. I'm on the road back to work. I call Ross's cell.


"Ross. Steve."

"Hello, Steve."

"Ross, we have to talk-"

"I'm not in the office, Steve. I'm home. Barbara hired a contractor and I had to come home to choose a grout color."


"Steve, I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it."

"I DO worry about it."

"I need to speak to you when you get back to the office."

No, I'm not quitting. But let that fucker sweat it out a little.

Ross doesn't come back for the rest of the day.


Friday, August 13. 9:00am. Phone.

"Steve? Claire. Please hold for Mr. Johnson."

Someday, I'll be enough of a big shit to have a secretary dial my calls and announce me before I pick up.

"Steven! Dan Johnson!"

Ya, I know. Your secretary just told me.

"Good morning, Mr. Johnson."

"Steve, tell me what you've learned today."

I pause.

"I hate asking 'how are you?'," he says. "We're programmed to say, 'fine', no matter what the real answer is. So I like to ask people what they have learned!"

"Well, I learned what to say instead of 'how are you?'," I say.

He laughs. "Good show, Steve!"

He clears his throat. "Steve, we've got an opportunity here. Not a problem, but an opportunity. Apparently, Ross has been acting a little inappropriately. It seems some friction is building between you two."

"I don't have a problem with him."

"Even after what he said?"

"Well, before that, I mean."

"So what is your plan, Steve?"

"MY plan?"

"Yes. Tell me."

"How about we open a branch office in Alaska and ship Ross there?"

"Come on, Steve."

"I called him yesterday. He apologized. But I don't think this is over."

"Of COURSE it isn't! You haven't resolved anything! An apology is NOT a resolution!" Dan says.

"Let me handle it. That's my plan," I say.

He pauses. "OK, Steve. Just remember, be POSITIVE. POSITIVE, not negative."

10:15. Ross's office.

"Ross, I've known you a long time. I respect you and admire you," I say. "But yesterday? Last week? That wasn't Ross."

"I've got a lot going on, Steve. It's not you. I've been snapping at Barbara too...."

"I think you're drinking too much, Ross." He's either going to go ballistic or start crying.

"Steve, just drop that. OK?"

"OK, Ross."

"Just do me a favor," he says.


"Don't say anything to Claire or Dan Johnson."

Too late, asshole.

"Of course not, Ross."

"Steve, you're doing a great job. You're a good employee. I feel terrible about what I said to you."

Do you also feel "terrible" about going behind my back to fuck me out of a promotion? DICKHEAD?

"Don't worry about it, Ross."

I am relieved that's over. If it really is.


Friday, August 13, 5:00pm.

I finally force myself to call Jenn.

I wonder what's going to happen. She might be glad to hear from me, or the conversation might be filled with 15-second chunks of uncomfortable silence.


"Hey Jenn, this is Steve!"

"Hey, hon!!" she chirps.

"Hon"? So much for uncomfortable silences.

"How's it going?" I ask.

"I had SUCH a great day today. I got to see some patients!" she says. "There was this little boy, Nicky, with asthma. He was so cute!"


She sighs. "Oooooh, I know, I know. We have to have our talk," she says.

"Yeah, we do."

"Did you read my letter? Were you mad?"

"No! Of course not! I loved your letter!"

"So you don't think I'm a raving bitch?"

"No! I just want to tell you that I think it would be cool for us to be friends. And I think it would be cool for us to be more than friends."

"That would be weird," she says. "And dangerous."

"I got butterflies too. When I kissed you," I say.

"You're not making this easy, are you?" she says.

"I'm not trying to," I say.

"Steve, my god, what if your mother-"

"Don't WORRY about my mother. Or yours. What do YOU want?"

"It doesn't matter," she says.

"Yeah, it does," I say. "Just tell me YOU have a problem with this. Tell me YOU think it's wrong."

"But it would look so-"

"No. Tell me YOU think it's bad. You personally."


"You see? You feel the same way I do," I say. "I think you should follow your own heart, not someone else's."

"Steve, can we talk about something else, please?"


Yeah, case closed. For now.