Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Great Whatever (blog story) 31

     For the next couple of months you throw yourself into your work. You have always presented an eager face, but now you are backing it up with action. You stay late when needed and always ask what more you can do. You work at home. You work on the weekends. You want your bosses to see the effort you are making.
     It is not that you are any more enamored of your job than you have ever been. What has changed is the recognition of your fate. If this is your future, if this is your real job, and your career then you are determined to succeed at it. Your father was a tireless worker and although you had spent the better part of your life in the pursuit of leisure you could feel those worker bee genes ignite within you. All his idiotic books were beginning to make sense to you. You were going to bring greatness with you to this job.
     A bit of a buzz began to surround you. Executives that you did not even know would come by your desk just to say hello and get a look at you. Your boss started inviting you out to lunch, not all the time, but every once in a while. You enjoyed the small talk about office politics and whatever juicy gossip was floating around. You paid attention when he would talk about your future with FTP.
     “I’ve got to say, Mark, everyone is really impressed with the effort you are making. Myself included. Even my boss’s boss mentioned you yesterday.”
     “Wow! I must be doing something right.”
     “When V.P.’s start talking about you then yes you are.”
     “It looks like I better keep it up. I don’t want anyone saying, ‘Whatever happened to that guy?’”
     “I just can’t get over the progress you’ve made.”
     “My father worked at Traft for thirty years. He started at the bottom and worked his way into the boardroom. I want to do the same thing here. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
     “That is exactly the type of attitude we look for. That’s the same way I feel. I started out doing what you’re doing. Five years later I got promoted. Hopefully, I’ll move up in couple of years and so on and so on. At the rate you’re going you’ll be the guy who replaces me when that happens.”
     “You better put in a good word for me.”
     “You know I will!”
     The idea of sitting at the same desk doing the same thing for five years takes some of the wind out of your sails. Even two years seems like a long time. For an hour afterwards you sit at your desk completely discouraged, not doing anything but sitting silently.
     You think about long distance running. At track meets they use a rabbit. He is a runner who starts out as fast as he can. He sets the pace and the legitimate contenders try to keep up with him. He’s there to make sure they don’t just save all their energy for the end. After a couple of laps the rabbit jumps off the track and watches the race conclude like any other bystander. You hope you are not a rabbit.
     Eventually, you shake it off and get back to work. The reality is if this is what you have to endure then this is what you are going to do. There is too much at stake to allow yourself to be swayed by a little frustration. You steel your resolve.
     Occasionally when you get home your father is in your apartment waiting for you. He is always in the living room watching television or asleep on the couch if you are very late. You cover him with a blanket or wake him up to say goodnight. In the morning the two of you talk over breakfast.
     Heather is always somewhere else. She is in the kitchen or already in bed. Sometimes she is out with friends. She was close to your mother. She does not have the same relationship with your father. It worries you, but it is a subject you do not know how to approach so you leave it alone.
     When you unexpectedly receive a thousand dollar bonus at work you celebrate by taking the two of them out to dinner. Over wine you toast your success and your father tells stories that may or may not be funny although he is sure they are. You laugh anyways and are having a great time. Heather says she has a headache and leaves early. The party continues long into the night and you walk home together. You are two of a kind, your father and you, but you feel that you are missing a third.

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