Fiction Fragment Friday

Today’s story is a simple slice of life tale. It is not Science Fiction, Fantasy, or any kind of larger than life story like my usual works. I of course was tempted to add in twists or elements of the fantastic, but I resisted those urges. I wanted a true slice of life story that did more to build the main character of the story than anything else. I fill like I achieved that and have presented something that feels very real to me while also being entertaining. I hope you all agree.

     “UGH, why does this always happen?”  I gripped the steering wheel tightly as my car slid to a stop at the red light.  I jerked my hands up in frustration only to hit my knuckles on the roof of the car.  They were still throbbing in pain when the light turned green again.  It always seems like when I’m running late, I get all the red lights.  I tell myself that logically I just notice them more when they have a greater impact, but I’m in no mood for logic.  I have a meeting in two minutes.

     As I pull into the parking lot at work, I realize I have another problem.  I forgot my badge at home.  There is a process for getting a temporary badge to get through the doors, but it takes at very least fifteen minutes and is a real hassle.  I look at the clock and see that it is time for my meeting.  People always trickle into these big meetings so being a few minutes late is not terrible.  It doesn’t set the right image, but by the end of the meeting no one will remember.

     It is not difficult to get into the building without my badge.  I sit there in my car and wait for my moment.  Then I see it, someone is taking cardboard out to the dumpster.  I grab my laptop, my coffee, and make a point to not put my keys in my pocket.  I want my arms to look as full as possible.  Getting out of my car I make a point to look overwhelmed like I am trying to avoid dropping anything.  Without saying a word to each other the person who was taking out the cardboard is holding the door open for me and nodding.  It is ingrained courtesy and I doubt they will ever wonder if I actually work here or not. 

     I am late for my meeting, but no one really notices.  There were technical difficulties with the conferencing equipment and I’m able to slit into a chair at the table while they are still trying to figure out how to get the power point up on the screen.  This was more than I could hope for.  After a morning of everything going wrong finally things are looking up.  I wait until a few more people come in the room before I step in and help them.  I want to be the hero who saved the presentation, but I don’t want to draw attention to myself until I’m no longer the latest one in the room.  The meeting goes fairly well, but as expected no actual decisions are made. 

     I sit at my desk staring at my monitor.  I have eight tabs open in my browser.  Five of them are work related, one is a news site, one is social media, but the one I’m actively looking at is a search for the perfect meme to reply to a chat message with.  It needs to be funny, not too weird, can’t offend anyone, and most importantly it needs to be rare enough to seem original and not overdone.  That is a hard mix to achieve, and I only have minutes or the moment will have passed me by.  Finally, I find one and copy and paste it just moments after someone else replies with one.  I sigh to myself, hit the like button, and go back to a work tab. 

     Lunch time comes around and I shoot a message out to a few of my coworkers asking if they want to try the new Thai place.  I don’t actually have much of a preference for work, I just want to get the conversation started to make sure I’m a part of it.  I watch the lunch debate go on for fifteen minutes replying back with one word answers or gifs occasionally just to keep a part of it.  Finally, somewhere is decided on so I lock my computer and stand up.  I look around at my coworkers who are all within about fifteen feet of me and ask the most important question.  “Who’s driving?”  This starts the debate about moving car seats, capacity, and who drove last time.  I smile as I walk out with the team. 

     Going to lunch with my teammates has many advantages.  The first one is that lunch tends to be longer.  As everyone is talking, we lose track of time, but we don’t have to worry about looking like we took too long a lunch because we are all there.  Team lunches also build rapport with coworkers and help me fit in a bit better.  The reason I started the conversation today though is because even though I could have easily managed to get back in the building without my badge it just makes it so much easier to be part of a group and just make sure I’m not the first person in line to go back in.  I try to be the second person.  The first will badge in and I will hold the door open for the rest.  I will be associated with holding the door open so no one will wonder if I had my badge on me or not.  This has the added bonus of people being more likely to hold the door open for me in the future because they are subconsciously returning a favor. 

     My afternoon is full of meetings.  Looking at my calendar I only have one thirty-minute break so I plan out my afternoon bathroom and phone game time.  Most of the meetings are in conference rooms, but one is with a remote vendor so it will be at my desk.  I much prefer meetings at my desk not just because I am an introvert, but because with my multiple monitors it is easier to work on other things while attending the meeting.  I can also research what is being discussed and provide more definitive answers without everyone seeing me type away and knowing that is what I’m doing.  I just feel far more productive taking meetings at my desk and it is easier to fight off the after-lunch food coma sensation without anyone seeing me. 

                I start shutting my laptop off as the workday comes to an end.  I have a few brief moments to feel a sense of satisfaction despite how my day started out.  Nothing broke today, no one realized I had forgotten my badge, and I was the only one who knew I was late for my first meeting of the day.  I made some progress on a few projects and closed five support tickets.  I tell myself that despite how my day started it turned out to be a pretty good day.  The I put my car into reverse and back into my manager’s brand-new car.  The car he has been talking about how much he loves for the last week.  “Ugh, why does this kind of thing always happen to me?”