She was working late for the third night in a row that week, and it was starting to show. In all her life, through college finals, all nighters and all the nights she stayed till last call and still got up and dressed-up first thing the next morning, she had never been so exhausted as she was now.
At the end of her first week, she went to happy hour with her coworkers and had to go home at 9 p.m. because she couldn’t stop yawning. The adjustment to a working a full-time career job was a hard one, in ways that no one warned her about. She just didn’t think she’d be this tired.
She didn’t expect to feel pulled in competing directions on a daily basis. Between trying to maintain college friendships that were starting to drift apart due not only to distance but also differences, trying to keep up with her family and trying — albeit mostly failing — to make it to the gym at least a few times a week, while also doing her actual job—it was just a lot. But it wasn’t really something she felt she could talk about because everyone in the world does this.
She didn’t know it yet, but within a few months she would be focusing all her attention on her workplace, and the people in it, and she wouldn’t mind at all. But she wasn’t there yet. And she certainly wasn’t there today.
Today had been a day. It was the first day they were letting her leave the office for client meetings, shadowing one of the experienced advisors. Despite all her preparation, it hadn’t gone well.
The senior advisor’s name was Chad, and he fit every stereotype that name comes with. Million dollar smile, slicked back hair, he was probably prettier than half the girls in the world — and twice as charming. He had a young child, divorced though. Surely he got married too early; he was trying to make it work until his wife caught him cheating with his secretary in their driveway. And now he was just making up for lost time.
As much as she wanted to not like him, as soon as he opened his mouth her opinion of him completely changed. Despite being a complete tool by all definitions of the word, he was also incredibly intelligent and thoughtful and kind to everyone. He took so much care with all of the clients they met with that day. By the time the day was over he had won her over, but she wasn’t sure she could say the same for him.
For one of their meetings, she had messed up the copies and copied a two-sided document as one-sided. A blunder that was only salvaged because he knew everything that was on it by heart. In another meeting she asked a question about a clients’ children, and unbeknownst to her, Chad had just asked the same question. She had just missed it because she was still struggling to write down the note from the previous thing he had said.
She couldn’t figure out how it was possible that she could be working so hard and still be making stupid mistakes. She also hated her high heels. Had she known she would be standing through an hour-long powerpoint presentation, she would’ve worn slippers. Like, was wearing heels this hard for everyone or just her? A serious question she was starting to ask herself on a daily basis. Or was it just another thing she hadn’t really figured out how to do yet, like curling her own hair. Both things one should know by 23.
By the time the meetings were over, she was grateful to be going back to the office to process paperwork by herself and sit at her desk and not have to talk to anyone.
When she got back she had to force herself to stop being so negative. It really wasn’t that bad of a day. And she really was glad to be working there. Everyone she worked with was really fun, but when they would leave the office a carefree air took over. As if they had to go out and drink and act stupid and laugh — laugh really hard — and smile and forget that they were taking care of people’s precious assets all day so that they could come back and do the same thing the next day — and do it well.
The only thing that was really bothering her was her desk mate. When she sat down with her tall stack of paperwork, she was happy that he wasn’t at his desk. Mr. Big Shot was actually rarely sitting at his desk. She still didn’t know what he was doing all the time, but after hearing everyone else talk about him, she knew he was doing it well.
She knew it was in her best interest to get to know him better, but every interaction they had so far felt forced and awkward. Even the way he greeted her sometimes was awkward.
He would just say “Hello” with a little too much emphasis on the ‘o’ and put up a hand as if he was waving, but he wouldn’t actually wave, all while he was only two feet away from her. It was how she imagined you would greet a hired driver if they were standing on the other side of a train platform and you were mentally preparing yourself to have to talk to them in the car.
It was just so weird and disappointing. Out of everyone to not take to her right away, of course it had to be the person she was sitting right next to. It was borderline rude actually. She had done nothing to make him dislike her, and she was growing tired of making so much of an effort to just be cordial.
Two hours later, and it was pitch black outside. She was crossing that threshold, the one she was becoming all too familiar with. The point in the day where she had already been working for twelve hours, and was now slowly becoming delirious. The point where any inflection of speech or the drop of a pen could make her laugh hysterically.
She realized she was now on the clock and had maybe one more hour where she could really get some work done. After that she would really just be there to be there, when she really should just be going home to get some sleep.
She took a pause to take a lap around the office and see who all was still there. After she got up she saw the top of someone’s head walking through the cubicles. She walked toward it and turned the corner just in time to almost run into Mr. Big Shot. As she stood in front of her, he opened his mouth, paused and said “Hellooo.” .