I hope I have not made a big mistake, but I was on my way to a much more interesting time at the office. Ron had put my new desk in a roomy cubicle facing the conference room. I once had one of the few cubicles on the second floor, though not quite as nice as my present one.
Downstairs the workers were lined up, row after row in a large work place, with two large screens in front of them. That was how they were able to pack over a hundred and fifty people on one floor.
As I looked around my new digs, a quick thought, which I quickly dismissed, said no wonder everyone is revolting.
Having a cubicle like the one I once had was a cushy luxury, indeed.
Not on the third floor, however. I can see now that I would have never made it as a novelist, and was thanking myself for turning down Count Eric’s more than generous offer for me to write a novel he had already entitled The African Gentleman, and the Plot to Re-establish the New World Order.
Great title, and I guess, without being a know-it-all, that I was “The African Gentleman,” although I have never stepped foot on the soil of that precious motherland. But it was time to back off.
I glanced over at Gladys, the real novelist. The three of us were having lunch at The Met in its lovely garden. No booze, just tea; black for me, green for Gladys, and “Anything!” for Count Eric.
I thought I saw a look of relief on her face that said, one novelist in my bed is enough.
“Sorry to hear that. I think it would have made a hell of a novel,” Eric said.
For the first time, I saw a real look of disappointment on his face. It was then that I started to realize just how much of his inner self was invested in what was going on with all this anti-New World Order stuff.
I knew I had a strong sense of story and a deep understanding of the inherent human drama that we create just by waking up in the morning; I also knew I missed too much to be a real novelist. We spoiled actors are amply provided for. Witty, insightful lines are eagerly offered to us. All we have to do is find the human element to make what we have been given, work.
Writers have to discover so much more, as no lines are given to them; their words and language must come from somewhere buried deep inside of them, which is why I adore Gladys.
I respect her more than she will ever know. I consider what she does sheer magic, and have often told her so.
As many times as I have been up here, I had failed to notice, or didn’t care to notice, that most of the spaces consisted of large, individual offices.
Ron, obviously, had the largest, but the one Julius had, was no shrinking violet.
The PR director also had a fancy office, as did all of the many assistant directors and Vice Presidents. The poor drones downstairs had little personal space, with not even room for family photos, while the people upstairs were living large.
From where I now sat, I could watch the marketing people and Vice Presidents enter and exit the conference room, which they did quite often. It seemed that all they did was attend endless meetings.
As I sat before my screen looking for the was that should have been the were, with all these interesting looking people milling about, including that big peacock of a marketing director, passing before me day after day and not even bothering to look in my direction, I started to feel left out, a non-entity, a faceless nobody, as black as I was in this all white and Asian world.
This was a strange but growing feeling that, try as I may, I could not suppress. I say strange, in that I was always bored at the little time I had spent at these meetings when I was downstairs. I was only invited once every few months.
Now, the third floor looked exciting and interesting. The people all seemed so intelligent and highly animated, and while not quite as well turned out as Count Eric, they were all nicely dressed, and in great physical condition.
There was almost something sensuous, even theatrical, with this collection of brain- power and presence of power.
In fact, it made me seriously think about ditching my old look, and seek out the wise counsel of my wise friend Eric on how to dress to impress folks like this as I watched them laugh and joke with each other and chatter away.
This was a far cry, and in sharp contrast to the silent, mirthless, droning world of the engineers.
One day I could barely contain myself, and I felt my body fill with envy and want as they walked past me into the conference room and closed the door, yet another time.
Later that day, I purposely ran into Julius in the small break room filled with free drinks and snacks. This was standard for all four floors of our company.
When I first started working there, I thought, how generous. It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was a good way to keep us in the building, and not far away from our desks. Once inside the building, we never saw the light of day, until we left some nine or ten hours later. It is little wonder that I couldn’t wait to get to my bar in The Village.
“You know,” I said to Julius, “I don’t know if Ron told you, but I have an MBA in marketing from one of the best graduate marketing departments in the country, the Bloomberg School of Business.”
This was no idle boast. The University was renowned for its ability to attract the best students and faculty to that department.
All six foot four of him stared down at me with a thoughtful look. “You know, Ron did mention that. In fact, just yesterday he asked if I had a chance to sit down with you yet. I really must apologize to you. I have been so busy lately. There is so much going on.”
He sighed deeply. I saw a genuine look of frustration on his face. It seemed as if he was undergoing a serious strain. But still, after all, he was now my immediate boss, and he was right, he should have at least sat down with me at least once, not that I needed him to tell me what my job was all about, but for more of a courtesy sit down.
“Say,” he said, “Do you have time to sit in our weekly staff meeting tomorrow? This meeting is extremely important, and we need as much input as we can get. I really would like it if you could make it. I don’t have time to brief you, but just come and take some notes and we can get together later and I can get your thoughts.”
“I knew that if I sat at this bar long enough, an attractive, sexy, loose woman would soon wander in.”
Gladys smiled widely at my remarks, touching me gently on my back, clearly happy to see me as she settled in on the stool to my right, normally reserved for the opinionated white haired white man, now deceased.
“Well handsome, what have you been up to since I have been away?”
Gladys and I were sitting in our bar in The Village. It was Thursday, always the quietest night. Gladys had been on a Western tour for her novel. She had just gotten back from Santa Fe, and I was as glad to see her, as that warm smile on her face always said to me, “Hello friend.”
There was no one else but us, and the drunken white lady down at the far end of the large, rectangle bar. I tried to stay as far away from her as I could. She was a professor at The University, and an interesting person to talk to, that is, until her third drink. Then she could get extremely belligerent, and become an obnoxious know-it-all.
It was truly amazing to watch her go from gentle looking, fairly attractive, soft spoken and eager to please, to someone full of hate, and ready to kick some serious ass, especially to men in general.
Madison, the young bartender, told me once that that was the most interesting part of her job.
“I tell you,” she said at the time, “I am going to go back to school and get my degree in psychology. People are something else, and the booze often brings out all kinds of hidden identities. You should see what I have to put up with.”
Whatever. I didn’t have to put up with the professor’s crazy behavior. The drunken lady, no matter how wonderful and smart and witty she was when she was sober, was not someone who could hold her drink, and allowed all her demons to pour out when someone like me had the misfortune to be sitting next to her after her third drink.
Gladys and I had one thing in common: booze rarely got the best of us. We both could sit and sip all night, and knew when to put the glass down. I think that much of this was because when we got in bed with each other, the sooner the better for us, as we considered it the best part of the day.
All the booze did was chill us out and make both of us mellower.
“Not much, just work” I lied to Gladys, in answer to her question.