Friday, April 08, 2005

Settling some old business

"Does that do anything for you?"

"Does WHAT do anything for me?"

"Hearing other people go at it."

Silence. She plays with my iPod, jumping from one song to another as we drive.



"DOES it?"

"DON'T, Steve."

"Don't what? Was that getting you off?"


"And you were trying to stick to our agreement?"


"Man, when I heard them going at it-"

"Stop talking, Steve."


Monday, March 14, 10:15am
Steve's office

If there is a hard phone call I have to make, or a difficult conversation I need to have, I get it out of the way early. There's no sense in putting it off.

"Bonnie, get Denise in here please."

A minute passes.

Bonnie buzzes me. "She wants to know what it's in reference to."

"Excuse me?"

"She just wants to know if she needs to bring anything."

"Just herself."

Denise knocks on my door frame. “Hello,” she says sheepishly.

“Come on in, Denise. Can you close that,” I say, pointing my chin to the door.

“Denise, I have to apologize about the other day. I was completely-”

“It’s ok, Steve.”

“No, I was very inappropriate. I don’t make excuses; to me, an excuse ends in, ‘it wasn’t my fault’. And I certainly won’t say that. I was going through some personal issues-”

“Your girlfriend broke up with you?”

“Kinda, yeah. I understand that I have a job where I can’t let something like that affect me, and I did, and that was a mistake.”

She nods and smiles tightly.

“You’re a good employee, Denise. The customers like you, and your employees learn a lot from you, and you’re very valuable to this company. I hope that you’re with us for a long time to come,” I say, smiling.

Her eyes are tearing up.

I know I’m good, but I’m not THAT good, am I?

“You ok?”

She sniffles. “I was very… emotional that day. I- I- almost didn’t even come to work, and when you yelled at me, I almost broke down…”

“I was really harsh, I know.”

“It’s not that. Remember how I missed a few days the week before last?”


“Well, I- I had a miscarriage.”

Hello, God? Steve here. Could you please send an errant steel rod from the nearest construction site directly through my forehead and out the other side of my skull, please? Thanks.

“Oh, God.”

She weeps softly. I hand her a tissue.

“Denise, I had no idea. I’m so sorry to hear that.”

I just want to die. I want to make myself screwdriver-thin and shear my head off in the pencil sharpener. I know there is a downside to being such a hard-ass, but I’ve never run into anything like this.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005, 11:30am
Steve’s office

“This is Steve.”

“Steve! Brian here!”

“Hey there, Brian! How goes it?”

“Very well, thanks, you?”

“Great. So what’s on your mind?”

“Well, Susan’s school is putting on a play this Friday night. Just a little thing the kids are doing for Easter. We were wondering if you and Steph wanted to come, and then we could do dinner afterwards.”

“Brian, there’s something I need to talk to you about.”

“OK. THAT sounds serious.”

“Steph and I heard you guys….boinking.”

Long pause. “Ahh, shit.” He says softly. “She’s gonna fucking kill me.”

“She’s gonna kill you?”

“Susan told me you guys were gonna wake up. I told her we’d be quiet. And I was, but…”

“I appreciate you offering to let us stay, but it was pretty awkward hearing that.”

I don’t actually give a shit about hearing them screw. I didn’t really mind; if anything, it got me off. The thing is, they didn’t KNOW that when they did it. It wasn’t respectful of them, and to let it pass without saying anything would set the tone for the rest of our friendship.

“Steve, I am so sorry. I apologize. I would understand if you guys didn’t want to see us anymore.”

“Don’t worry about it. Just remember, the next time we’re asleep in the same room, we WILL take revenge.”

“Ha ha ha! I’ll remember to have my video camera handy.”