I Didn’t Win . . .


. . . but the nice thing about writing a blog, is that you can “self-publish!”

The following is one of the two stories I submitted to a short story contest while I was taking my writing class.  It is based on an experience of one of our children.  I’m pretty sure you can guess which one!

Just Another Day at the Office, Phoebe Style

Phoebe awoke to the familiar buzz of her 5:00 a.m. alarm, but was momentarily confused because it was pitch black.  Then she realized why:  Tigger was laying on the pillow next to her, and his ample girth was partially covering her face.  A not-too-gentle push gave her some breathing room.  This was a familiar strategy of his, called don’t forget to feed the kitty.  He liked to eat first thing in the morning, so toward dawn his habit was to move very close to her as a reminder when she woke up that someone wanted to eat.  She knew that this was the high point of a day that would be otherwise devoted to resting, preferably, in a ray of sun.  It was hard to imagine that he was ever actually hungry when he expended so little energy, but, on the other hand, she knew he couldn’t possibly maintain a “physique” like his by only eating when he was hungry! 

So, she padded to the kitchen with Tigger closely following, meowing instructions to her all the way.  While he quickly dispatched his Friskies, she ate her “Breakfast of Champions,” i.e., cold pizza and Diet Coke, with a fruit yogurt chaser.  That was her favorite breakfast on big game days during high school and college.  And today definitely qualified as a “big game day.” She would be making a presentation to the senior Air-Tech management for the first time about her ideas for a new employee benefits package. When she was hired, it was made very clear that was to be her first priority.  

 “Move it, Phoebe. Big day!  ‘Show time’  in three short hours and you need to be totally prepared!”

Returning to the bedroom, she pulled her just dry-cleaned black suit out of the closet and laid it on the bed, with a tailored dark red blouse.  Then she headed for the bathroom to take her shower, and she took a little extra care with her make-up.  No anxiety-induced zits.  She saw that as a good sign.  A quick application of hot rollers made her shoulder-length blonde hair turn under a little.  The clock now said 5:45.  If she was ready by 6:00, that would give her an hour to do a few run-throughs of her presentation.  Even though she had used Power Point quite a bit, it still made her a little nervous; there was always a chance something could go wrong.

At 7:00 she would leave for her half-hour commute.  That would still give her a few minutes to breathe deeply and have a cup of coffee in her office before the 8:00 meeting.

She went back to the bedroom to get dressed.  Oh, no!  Her once-pristine black suit now lay crumpled on the floor, with Tigger the Hairy One in its place on the bed.  With a “Bad Kitty!” she quickly scooped him up and dropped him by the door, after which he sashayed, unrepentant, out of the room, in search of another comfy spot to sleep.

Phoebe picked up her suit.  It was absolutely covered in cat hair.  She fantasized, not for the first time, about having that cat shaved!  But there was no time to enjoy that mental picture; she had to decide what else she could wear.  She scanned her closet for the second-most perfect suit.  She settled on the navy pant suit.  She had passed it over before for the dressier black suit, but now it looked like her best alternative.  She would dress it up with pearls.   

She quickly put on the red blouse, the navy suit, her navy pumps with the pointy toes and a simple strand of pearls with stud earrings.  She looked in the mirror and was satisfied.  She looked good.

  Six-fifteen — she had 45 minutes to rehearse her presentation and still leave by seven.  Her briefcase was on the kitchen bar.  There was a plug there, so she could plug in her laptop to do her run-through.  But when she opened the briefcase, no laptop.  She immediately knew what must have happened.   She had started to put it into her briefcase before leaving work yesterday when a guy named Matt from Accounting had stopped in to introduce himself.  It had flustered her a little because he was very cute, and then they had walked to the parking lot together.  She must have closed her briefcase without putting the laptop in!  Rats.  Now what?  Okay, Plan B:  She would leave now, get to the office about 6:50, and then go over her presentation for 30 to 40 minutes, with time still left to relax a few minutes before the meeting.

So, she went out to her car, drove directly to work, and because traffic wasn’t bad, got there by 6:45.  But, as she pulled in, she saw there weren’t any other cars in the parking lot.  That was definitely a problem she hadn’t thought about.   She didn’t have a key, and she had no idea when someone with a key would come in.  The office officially opened at 8:00, so maybe 7:15, 7:30?  She could not wait that long.  She needed to find a way in, now

Then she remembered where there was an unlocked door!  She parked her car and walked around the building.  There it was.  The door opened into a yard with picnic tables, enclosed by a six foot high chain link fence.  She had eaten her lunch out there a few times and had noticed the door didn’t have a lock.  That was her way in. 

She quickly scanned the fence on the outside chance there was a gate: none.  Well, she could see the door; now all she had to do was figure out how to get to it — although there really wasn’t much to figure.  There was only one way: she’d have to go over the fence.  But that shouldn’t be a problem; after all, she was an athlete. She had played sports for years and still ran, for heaven sake.  This fence ought to be a piece of cake, although making the climb in high heels and a pant suit might complicate it a little!  But, she knew from playing sports that a lot of times winning was just a matter of refusing to lose.  And, she refused to lose this time.  She was going to get in there to her laptop so that she would be ready for her presentation, suit and heels or not!

She tossed up her wallet and car keys and they landed on the first try on the other side of the fence.  Well, the die was cast.  Her stuff was on the other side, so, now all she had to do was get herself over there too.  She slipped out of her suit coat and hung it on the top of the fence.  Then she rolled her wide-legged pants up to her knees to get them out of the way.  She kicked off her shoes next to lob them over the fence, but then realized that they, with their pointy toes, might help in climbing the fence, so she put them back on.  So, okay, here goes.

The shoes were great!  They allowed her to climb the fence like a mountain climber with ice picks on the toes of his shoes!  Just like that, she was sitting on top of the fence.  She enjoyed the view for just a minute.  The sky was quickly getting lighter and she was amazed that she could see the drivers so clearly in the cars on the freeway that was just down a grassy hill from her.  But, it suddenly occurred to her that if one of those drivers happened to glance up and see a woman sitting on top of a six foot high fence it could cause an accident or, worse yet for her, a 911 call.  Being arrested or even questioned didn’t fit into her timetable for the morning!  So, she quickly went down the other side, again using her pointy toed shoes.  The irony wasn’t lost on her, that she would have worn the black suit which had a skirt instead of pants and the black round-toed shoes if it hadn’t been for her “bad kitty,” Tigger. 

When she got to the other side, she rolled down her pant legs, fluffed her hair, picked up her wallet and keys and quickly went into the building through the unlocked door.  It was 7:10.  She had 20 to 30 minutes to rehearse.  It would have to do.  She went immediately to her office and started practicing. 

By 7:50 she was set; she had even had time for her cup of coffee.  She felt good about her last couple run-throughs, and now she felt ready to “knock ‘em dead” with her ideas. It was time to go to the meeting.  She picked up her laptop and turned to get her jacket from the back of her chair; not there.  Yikes!  She must have left it hanging on the fence!  She rushed out of her office and down the corridor, headed for the door.  That’s when she saw Mr. Guenther, the president of the company, coming toward her . . . carrying her jacket over his arm.

Mr. Guenther smiled at her, started to speak, and then stopped.  She could see him mentally matching the pants she was wearing to the jacket over his arm.  Realization and bemusement showed in his eyes — he had found the owner of the jacket.  He held it out to her and just smiled.  She returned the smile, took the jacket, said, “Thank you,” and then turned and walked confidently toward the conference room. 

As he watched her walk away, Mr. Guenther wondered why he had found the jacket of his new Director of Human Resources and Benefits hanging on the fence!  But that question could wait for now.  Phoebe was a young woman for whom he had high hopes.  She would be making a presentation to him and the rest of senior management in just a few minutes, and he had a feeling she would have some great ideas for them.  She just seemed like a great idea person. 

However, he did look forward to asking about the jacket later.  He felt sure there must be an interesting story there.

12 Responses to I Didn’t Win . . .

  1. Amy O says:

    Why am I not suprised? Love it. She really needs to write a book.

  2. Sandra says:

    Amy — LOL! Great minds think alike. I left this comment on DD’s post yesterday about firing people: “You should write a book. You are hysterical.”

  3. Linda says:

    Great story and well written. Love the mental picture of professional woman sitting atop six-foot fence, watching cars go by on highway below.

  4. karen says:

    LOL … I love the story. I was imagining all sorts of endings to it as I was reading … ripping her pants … almost getting arrested for breaking in …. and so on 🙂

    You have an extremely resourceful daughter !!!

  5. Sandra says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it Linda, since you had heard toe “original” at the time it happened. 🙂

    Karen — Yes, she is resourceful, as well as verrrrry “interesting.” 🙂

  6. Sandra says:

    Rats! Linda, you know I meant THE original — not TOE original, don’t you? I don’t know why but TOE original makes me laugh — must be too much coffee!

  7. Danielle says:

    Sandra..that is a great story and a wonderful start…I love the humour especially the shaved cat part…made a great mental picture…

    Well done…xoxox

  8. Sandra says:

    Danielle — Thank you. I was particularly happy with how my version of the cat came out. I thought he had just enough “sass” to make him seem like a real cat — the kind that wou;d inspire the “shave the cat “comment! 🙂

  9. Barbara says:

    Sandy….love this story! I like to start my day with your site. It makes me laugh… and sometimes it makes me THINK. Love your pictures! I can’t see an iron bridge without thinking of that shot you took of the top framework of one. (What are you shooting with?) Hope you have a great day.

  10. Sandra says:

    Hi, Barb — I’m drinking my cup of coffee too, so we’re kind of starting the day together, aren’t we! 🙂

    I’m using a Kodak Easy Share camera. I don’t know much about cameras, so I don’t know if it’s a good one, but it’s doing the job for me.

  11. Beth says:

    What a fun short story! I must ask either for a sequel, or for the “rest of the story” on how your daughter’s “real-life” presentation went.

  12. Sandra says:

    Well, Beth, it is a “fictionalized” version, so she wasn’t actually going in for a presentation. Truthfully, I can’t remember why she felt so compelled to get into the building when it was locked, but I do remember the guy that was in charge of security for the building was absolutely incredulous that she had gotten in “so easy.” I think that door got a lock soon after!

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