Good Narrative Principles

Things That Stick


The copier keeps jamming and I’ll be damned if I will get ink again on my cream colored suit that I just picked up from the cleaners having gone back not once, not twice but three times to remove the former stain caused by that very sticky ink they use in the cheapest copier in God’s universe. I won’t do it. I’m going back to my seat now and comb the Internet for the best buy I can find on Elizabeth and James boots. I have a hankering for them. Crazy, right? Is it worth the equivalent of two months salary? Maybe if I employ the old adage “the poor buy many times, the rich once” to justify this crazy expenditure I’ll feel better.

First it’s in my virtual cart and now I’m weighing the comparative cost of shipping the boots. The grand total makes my head spin. But that doesn’t stop me.

I click and it’s done. And now I’m excited. I don’t believe in buyers’ remorse. Buyers’ remorse if for losers.

But I digress. My boss expects the completed budgets on his desk, bound (he was very specific about that) in Levingers leather folios with the cover letter and his business card tucked neatly into the right hand pocket before three pm when FedEx comes for the last pick up of the day.

I can’t complete the assignment if the printer is jamming. I can curse, flirt with the IT guy but no one is stupid or motivated enough to jam their elbow way into the bowels of the copier and reseat the roller which is what is needed. I can tell them about it — “them” being the IT guy or Pretty Boy Bob who sits at the adjacent cubicle, is technically an intern and has a famous Mom who used to be an actress on a sitcom I watched religiously when I was in Middle School. He’s got a thing for me I can tell, but his thing for me isn’t big enough or deep enough to inspire him to get on all fours and rummage around the innards of the copier.

I should be all about anything for the job. I should be willing to go to any lengths to finish the task and let nothing stand in my way. I should be using this rare opportunity to prove my worth by tackling an obstacle and emerging successful, triumphant.

I should, shouldn’t I?

But instead I’m preserving my very dear to me cream-colored suit that now thanks to swimming every weekend and eating a salad for both lunch and dinner hugs my waist perfectly. No pinching. No holding my breath as I draw the zipper closed.

I could feign ignorance. Hold my bosses gaze firmly as I insist that the assignment was to be completed tomorrow not today. I’ll create an imaginary quote. Spew it back to him while blushing. Not that I can make myself blush on cue, I’m not that good. But I know myself well enough to know that outright lies make me uncomfortable. I sweat. I blush. I never look away. All signs of a true liar.

I like my boss as much as anyone can like their boss. I mean he still tells me to do stuff and I have to do it or else. I have to stay late and wait for the job to be printed, the budget approved. All the trivial stuff that because he’s old and I’m young my time is therefore more expendable. I know the job that he’s bidding on is important. As a member of the team, I should feel a part of it. I should feel a sense of ownership. Camaraderie. All for one.  But I don’t. I don’t have the big picture. The big vision. The hunger in my belly to be him when I grow up.

The truth is I don’t see positive models of how it’s all supposed to work out in the end anyway. It all seems so dreary — an endurance test. A thing you’re supposed to get through until the workday ends and the night begins.

There’s graduate school. There’s moving to a city like New York where I can simply stroll down the streets and be assaulted with bargains for beautiful things like Elizabeth and James boots. Probably there are boots even more beautiful and sumptuous. Boots that mold to the inner arch of my foot and hug my heel. Where the leather is soft, pliable and made to last forever like my Mom’s jacket that I wanted so very much and that my older sister inherited.

If she were here, she would remind me of the bigger picture, the broader perspective. The fact that this job is just the first of many and that the goal is mastery of something.

But she’s not here.

And in her absence I pout, I lie and I stumble in my new pretty boots that cost too much.

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