A Job

February 6, 2008
By Kristen Hadley, Mansfield, TX

She drums her perfectly manicured fingernails on the table restlessly.

“He’s late...” she thinks, taking a sip of her coffee.

Far across the city, he holds a newspaper over his head, doing anything to keep the rain from ruining his brand-new, cost-a-year’s-salary suit. It seems that no cab in all of New York will pick up a man who is already ten minutes late for a very important occasion. He pauses for a moment, hoping that maybe, just maybe that little yellow taxi isn’t taken–but as luck would have it, it is.

Letting out a cry of anger, he sprints down the slick pavement. Although he knows that Manolo Blahniks were not made to be running shoes, he treats them as if they were. It is growing

“I can’t do this...” he tells himself, eyes widening. “No, I have to. It’s my job. This is New York, Brian. The real world. Get a hold of yourself.”

The tapping on the table grows louder, the coffee in her mug gone. “Isn’t that just like him?” she asks the waitress while she refills the ceramic cup.

“Sure,” the waitress says politely, ignoring the woman’s question.

She reaches for her purse, a black leather Dooney bag. “Maybe he’ll answer for once...” she smiles, digging her small cell phone from the bottom of the bag.

The opening strains of a Queen song echo in an empty hotel room. And again. And again. No answer.

She curses, then closes her phone and places it on the table. There is nothing to do but wait.

The newspaper over Brian’s head is soaked. Why couldn’t he remember to bring an umbrella? The weatherman had said it was going to rain, and yet Brian always seemed unprepared in dire situations like this.

The woman keeps sipping her coffee, doing anything she can to calm her nerves.

Actually, though, the caffeine makes her wired, makes her all the more anxious for Brian to get here. The tapping on the table becomes louder and more rapid until suddenly–

A nail breaks. The curses flow out. There went another week’s pay.

Brian breathes heavily as the rain continues to pelt him on the head. He has given up on trying to keep his suit from getting wet.

“It can’t be too much farther...” he thinks, walking quickly.

Somewhere in the distance, Brian can barely see the sign. It is a neon blue coffee cup, a sign Brian has viewed all too many times before.

“Brian!” shouts Alana as soon as Brian walks in. She stands and goes to embrace him, but he refuses.

“This is no time for hugs, Alana. We have serious business.”

She nods. “Do you want something? Coffee, maybe?”

“No.” He clears his throat, reaching into the leather briefcase he has been lugging along the whole time. “Do you know why you’re here?”

“To meet with you, of course ” she smiles. The tapping on the table returns. Nervous habit.

“Do you know why you’re meeting with me?” Brian asks as he takes a manila folder out of the briefcase.

“To eat lunch...”

Brian shakes his head. “You ought to know that’s not why.”

She raises an eyebrow, playing with the heart-shaped pendant on her necklace.

“It seems...it seems we have quite a bit to talk about.”

“Like you not answering your phone?”

He sighs, rolling his eyes. “That’s not the point.” As he shakes the folder, a few papers fall out.

“Then what is the point? I’m here to eat lunch, and you don’t want coffee or anything else...”

“Do you see what this says?” He points at a line of bold text on one of the papers.

“Evicted?” Her voice is laced with terror.


The coffee cup in her hand drops to the table, shattering into hundreds of pieces. There is a collective gasp in the restaurant, not at her situation but at the breaking of the mug.

“How could you...why didn’t you...” she stutters, her words eventually becoming incoherent.

“Alana, I–“

”You said we were eating lunch! I dressed up nice for you, and now you tell me I’m evicted?”

“It’s my job, Alana. I’m sorry.”

She storms out of the restaurant in tears, not even stopping to pay for her seven cups of coffee.

Brian sighs. It’s just a job. It’s just a job.

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