“Oh, man, I’m sore as shit,” Barry said, walking up to Lester at the construction site they were at that afternoon. Lester ignored him as he finished measuring and marking the piece of wall he was working on, then removed his goggles and turned to his brother.
“Not sore, but tired. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the day,” Lester said, lifting one leg, then the other. “This morning I felt fine. Good, even, you know. Refreshed and rejuvenated. But since lunch I’ve just been floored. I could crawl up right here and take a nap.”
“So, do it, mate,” Barry said with a wry smile. “I’d love to see old man Frank react to that one. Seriously, though, we may need to rethink this.”
“What? Running before work?”
“Yeah. If it means we’re going to be this tired, then maybe we should go after. At least then we can go home after, eat, drink, and sleep.”
Lester shook his head. “William’s not going to like that.”
“What? Fuck him,” Barry said. “But why do you assume that?”
“It’ll cut into his drinking time,” Lester said, cracking a smile. The two laughed until their boss, Floyd Frank, a slight man with black hair that was beginning to thin on top, interrupted them.
“Hey. You two. Stop wasting time.”
“Piss off, old man Frank,” Barry said as he and Lester continued to laugh. “We’re not wasting time.”
“Yes, you are,” he said holding his old man clipboard. “And stop calling me ‘old man’. I’m two years younger than either of you.”
“Yes, and you’re the boss man. Which makes you old man. Do you really need me to explain this to you?” Barry said, patting old man Frank on the shoulder. “We’ve been over it about a hundred times. And you accuse us of wasting time.”
“You are wasting time. You’re standing around chatting when you’re supposed to be building this…” Old man Frank paused for a moment, looking through his papers and partially unfolding and glancing at the blueprint. “Pub? That doesn’t seem right. Damn it. I brought the wrong damn plans again. Anyway, you’re supposed to be working on this whatever the fuck it is we’re building and instead you’re chatting. That’s a waste of time.”
“No, it isn’t,” Barry said insistently. “We are discussing and planning a new fitness regime. Wasting time implies that we are frittering away the time. Spending it on something frivolous and unproductive. We are not. We are discussing the pros and cons of a new morning workout we’re trying, which I contend is a very productive use of our time.”
“It’s not what you’re being paid for.”
“If we’re being given money for a service, and failing to provide that service in exchange, it would seem to me that’s stealing.”
“So accuse us of stealing.”
“Alright, then,” Barry said, nodding his head. “Just don’t accuse us of wasting the time that we’re stealing from you.”
“Yeah, we can’t really argue with that, after all,” Lester said, shrugging. “We are stealing the shit out of you.”
“All that juicy, juicy hourly wage. Accumulating in our paychecks in exchange for absolutely no services being rendered on our part,” Barry added, practically drooling.
Old man Frank rolled his eyes. “Get back to work you two. I need to head back to the office and get the right plans. Barry, you’re in charge until I return.”
“What was that about?” Norman asked William as the chubby middle aged lady waddled quickly out of the office.
“Nothing. It’s nothing,” William said, turning around in his chair to face Norman. He sighed. “Ms. McGregor just cancelled her account with us.”
“I see,” Norman said, dropping his head and staring at the ground solemnly.
“Which is good, because she was a pain in the ass.”
Norman chuckled to himself. “It certainly looks like you frightened her out the door pretty quickly.”
“It wasn’t so much that…” William began.
“Which is good, because she was a pain in the ass,” Norman said with a smile and another chuckle.
“Glad we’re on the same page,” William said, winking at Norman and turning back to his desk.
“On the other hand,” Norman said as William, with his back to Norman, cringed, “it is one fewer account we now have.”
“Yeah, well, got to lose money to make money, or whatever,” William mumbled under his breath, quiet enough that Norman couldn’t hear him.
“Tell you what,” Norman said in what William found to be a superficially friendly manner. “Why don’t you give me five minutes, then meet me in my office?”
“Because I don’t want to and I can’t imagine I’m going to like what you have to say,” William said, spinning his chair back around to face Norman and looking up at him with a smile. Norman smiled back at him.
“I’ll see you in five minutes,” Norman said as his face fell serious. William dropped his head and stared at his watch, waiting for the five minutes to be up. After three, he couldn’t take anymore, and so braced himself, slowly rose from his chair, and walked gingerly into Norman’s office.
“William, have a seat,” Norman said, looking up from his computer and gesturing to the open chair for guests.
“Uh, you aren’t hiding Chris Hanson in here somewhere, are you?” William said, smiling a meek, toothy smile. Norman laughed.
“Don’t worry. You’re safe. You didn’t even bring a Happy Meal,” he said, pushing himself up in his seat, then leaning back. “So, I pulled Ms. McGregor’s file, as well as your portfolio.”
“Okay,” William said tensely.
“But obviously I don’t have the cancellation report from you regarding the McGregor account yet, so why don’t you just tell me what happened?”
“Alright,” William said, sitting up straight in his seat. “So, she came in.”
“She walked through the door.”
“She walked through the door, entering our building.”
Norman nodded. “I get it. She came in to see you.”
“Right. Then she walked up to me, or to my cubicle, or workspace, or whatever the fuck we’re calling them these days.”
“Right. My productivity…productivity spheres?” William said with a combination of shock and disgust on his face. “Really?”
“No,” Norman said quickly. He shrugged. “But it might be something equally as stupid. I don’t know. Just say your desk.”
“Right, so she walks up to my desk,” William said, leaning over and lowering his voice. “And she says to me…”
“What?” Norman asked, leaning in closer to hear William.
“I’d like to cancel my account,” William whispered before leaning back with a self-satisfied look on his face. Norman started at him, waiting for him to expand, and the two sat for a long moment in silence.
“And?” Norman asked eventually.
“She left,” William said matter-of-factly.
“Do you have any idea why she cancelled her account?”
“Yeah,” William said, nodding his head. “Because she’s a bitch.”
“Because she’s a bitch?” Norman asked, seeking clarification.
William held his hands out and smiled. “There you have it.”
Norman leaned back and rested his head on his hand. He slowly nodded his head. “Well, I’m sure that’s it.”
“She probably got up this morning and thought ‘Gee, how can I be a bitch today?’”
“Probably before she even had her tea.”
“Then she pulled out her insurance policy and thought ‘This is a good policy, and they’ve always taken good care of me, but it sure would ruin someone’s day if I were to cancel it’.”
“Yup. That’s definitely what happened.”
“Then she did just that, because her entire life revolves around figuring out how she can be the biggest bitch possible.”
“It’s her sole motivation for existing.”
“I’m glad we’re in agreement,” William said, leaning forward and struggling to slowly rise. “Now if there’s nothing else.”
“Sit down, William, I was being sarcastic,” Norman said, pointing William back into his seat.
“You were?” William said, gingerly returning to his seat. “I never would have guessed.”
“Now, do you want to tell me what really happened? Because I can’t keep having you lose accounts like this without bringing new ones in.”
William nodded and paused for a moment, gathering both his thoughts and his courage. “Her son opened his own insurance company, and she’s switching over to him.”
“Oh,” Norman said, sounding pleasantly surprised. “So that’s why she left?”
“Yeah. Apparently she loves her son and wants to support him, or some other retarded bullshit. I don’t know.”
“I see,” Norman said, leaning forward onto his desk and resting his chin on his closed fist. “Of course we’ll follow up with Ms. McGregor, but if that’s the case, I don’t see how that’s your fault.”
“However, it still puts you an account down. I would like to see you be more aggressive bringing in more accounts.”
“What more do you want from me?” William asked. “I’m posting a new tweet about this place almost every day.”
“And certainly using the company social media is important.”
“Yeah. The, uh, company’s account.”
“But, well, tell you what. Why don’t you go ahead and talk to the other salespeople? See what they do. John brought in three new accounts already this month. I think they can probably advise you better than I.”
William grimaced as he stood and left the office. “Sure thing. Thanks.”