Hey. I know that I’m not supposed to be writing till winter’s over, but something made me write this. Probably the cucur ikan bilis I made for breakfast! :P Here it is. Sorry ‘bout the length of it!
“Crap. Crap. Crap. Sh**. Foosa!!!” she muttered under her breath at the damned scanner. “Work, dammit!” Her uttered profanities were said so softly that even the other lady watching her from a few steps ahead could not hear the exact words.
Mrs. H was forty-two and at her age, she had seen it all. She knew that the new intern was going to lose her job. She had known it the minute she had laid eyes on that girl – black wavy hair tied into a pony tail, dressed neatly but not stylishly in a grey blouse and brown slacks, chewed fingernails and big, mouse-like eyes. That new intern didn’t have the gumption for this job. She didn’t have the individuality to survive.
Mrs. H jerked her eyes back to the sheet of data before her. She had to know absolutely everything about that new umbrella design in order to win the game in the board room later. She smirked to herself. She usually left the potential clients with a big fat proposal stuck under her hands. She was the best at the marketing game.
”YOU! Newbie!” It was the HR officer. The girl at the scanner froze and looked up. “Where did you graduate from again? Why do they keep sending me uneducated imbeciles?” His every word was drawled out in such a way as to make the back of the girl’s eyes smart with tears of humiliation. “Move, girl. Geyet-outtatheway!”
Mrs. H did not care for the HR officer. He was the office bully – work below average, but loud. Too loud. But that was not her problem. Mrs. H only saw the girl once after that, cleaning out the small cubicle she had been given only 3 days ago. Fired.
Needless to say that Mrs. H sealed the deal. She walked into the office to give the good news to her boss later in the day.
“I don’t care how much it costs. Get it for L or she’ll be breathing fire.”
Ah. The Mistress. Everyone at the workplace knew that L was the Boss’ lover. That he was a cold-hearted monster who cared not tuppence for his wife of 12 years and two adorable brats. No one who had an extramarital affair could love his family, right?
Mrs. H took one step backwards, waited for him to slam the phone receiver down, then knocked.
“Ah, H, come in.” The smile on his face never reached his eyes. His exultation when he heard of the deal was clear in the gleam in his eyes. Everyone at the office also knew that the numbers were all he cared about besides L. “Go home early, H. Celebrate. Your husband will be pleased.”
Mrs. H hesitated. “It’s not such a big achievement, Boss.”
“No, no, with his condition, he would love the company. It’s an order.”
Mrs. H had never disobeyed an order in her whole life, and was not about to change that now.
As she walked past the just-vacated cubicle of the intern on the way to the elevator, something pink caught her eye. She stopped and stared. It was a piece of paper on the ground next to the cubicle. On it were caricatures of almost everyone at the office, very life-like and animated. Curious, Mrs.H glanced into the wastepaper basket. More caricatures on little crumpled up balls of paper, all the paper of that same horrid pink colour.
One of the Boss, with the phone cello-taped to his ear, one hand holding a rose and the other a teddy bear. A teddy bear?? And he was smiling. The girl had to be delusional to imagine something like that, let alone sketch it out!
Another had that HR officer who had just bellowed at her hours before. With horns on his head and a pirate eye-patch. With a speech cloud that read ‘Which a*** h*** stole my bloody pitchfork??’ Next to him was a Grade 3 Math test with a big red ‘F’ scrawled across it.
Mrs. H smiled. The girl did have gumption and individuality.
Thirty minutes later Mrs. H was home. Mr. H was snoring on the couch in his underwear, an empty bottle of gin and two crushed cans of beer on the ground beside him. She sighed and put her things away, ready to clean up the mess. As always. She was the best at the game after all.
If she had searched the wastebin a bit more, she would have found another caricature – one of a smartly dressed woman with a mike, singing to a mesmerized crowd. But on her head would be a judge’s wig and on her bosom a heart, with a scar running across it. Why? Because once, the newbie had heard Mrs.H sing in the washroom. She had been singing ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’ like her heart would break, and the newbie had merged that image with the shrewd, judgmental picture Mrs.H portrayed to the world.
There was one more thing Mrs.H would never know. The Boss went home everyday to a loving home, a wife he adored and two children with whom he played Lego and dress up Barbie with. L, well, that was another part of him. The part that the world knew about.
“Yes, honey. H is wonderful. And with a crippled husband, at that,” the Boss told his wife, looking deep into her eyes while they cuddled on the sofa in front of the TV. Her beautiful curls framed her light brown eyes; her wrinkles weren’t visible to him. They were 15 again, when they had met for the first time, she the ‘it’ girl and he, the tuba-player in the school band.
“I love you, baby,” he said and she knew that she was the only woman he ever looked at like that. She was completely certain that he could never fake emotion like that, even with L.
Oh, yeah she knew. She had known for months now. She just never let it show. She snuggled a little closer to him, on the verge of sleep now.
Yeah, we never really KNOW a person do we? We just take them at face value, judge them and decide to either like/dislike/ignore them… Makes life a bit more interesting when we realize just how little we know the people we meet each day. Confusing though… eek!
No, this post has no real purpose except to highlight the fact that one should never judge a book by its cover :) coz I’ve been there, done that and lived to blog about it .. hehe!
*any similarities to persons alive or dead AREN’T purely coincidental. Deal with it! ;)