In the days leading up to her annual review, Cindy shuts down in a very specific sequence. First, she stops watering her plants. Then she eliminates her daily shower. Years ago, she did this and her annual review was nearly stellar which is how these behaviors became part of her early December ritual. On the final days leading up to the dreaded appointment, sleep evades her and her appetite wanes until all she can tolerate is cottage cheese on Melba toast. Mind you, Cindy has never received a negative annual review. She is in some sense the ideal employee. Conscientious. Personable. Always willing to stay late. But, it’s those ill-considered corrections that get to her. Where is it written, she wonders, that there’s always room for improvement? What if I’m perfect just the way I am, she wants to ask at the end of the interview. But she never does, because then she’d be accused of demanding the last word. And next year, she’d be told that she tends to hog the spotlight or something equally inane.