Dead End Job: A Louisa Hallstrom Novel(14)

By: Ingrid Reinke

Martin was thrilled with this response. “I am pretty sure I am too! Beotch!” He finished it up with a high five and a wink.

Although our banter was fine with me most days, at my latest performance review it had been mentioned by my supervisor that I was a bit “casual” in the office, which I think referred to the inappropriate sex/drinking/celebrity conversations that I had regularly with Martin. Or rather, that he had at me, since he was usually the instigator and was not exactly a quiet man. Knowing that the conversation was going to go completely south at this point, I quickly tried to change the subject to avoid hearing about the sexual adventures of Martin and the “German Viking” before he got me fired.

“Do you want a Diet Coke? I have some in the fridge,” I said lamely. He rolled his eyes, knowing that I was avoiding the conversation.

“Anyways, no. But…do you have an Ativan? I am SUPER hung over, and I would love you forever!”

“No probs.” I was used to this request and even though it was frowned upon (or maybe illegal?) I shared my prescriptions with Martin on certain occasions. Last year, after I had confided in him about my struggle with anxiety and depression, he had suddenly developed a tendency towards rampant and inexplicable anxiety. I wasn’t sure how much of this was medical, but I had a suspicion that some it was at least partially due to Martin’s habit of mirroring the behavior of his friends. I’d seen this type of behavior once before with another woman whom Martin had befriended at the office. She had a problem with shoplifting, and a few weeks after their burgeoning friendship fell apart (due to a dramatic fight about cat ownership) Martin tearfully admitted that he had stolen a hat and scarf set from the GAP and a pair of sunglasses from Macy’s during their friendship.

These days Martin was all about Louisa. Although I didn’t think we really looked alike (Martin being gigantic, pale-skinned and red-headed with a beard, and me being bleach-blond and stubbornly California-tanned), Martin was convinced that we were secretly long-lost twins and soul mates. I liked Martin, but found his constant complaining and general flair for melodrama a little bit off-putting, so even though he pushed me on a weekly basis to “hang out” outside of the office, I usually refused, making up lame excuses. Add the complaining to his penchant for dramatic fights with friends, and I figured that spending time chatting him up at work was adequate for me.

“Just have some coffee or something, because this stuff will make you sleepy,” I warned him, reaching for my purse. As I opened it, Martin let out a very gay gasp.

“Oh My God! I forgot to tell you!”

“What?” Lord, I can’t put up with a Dancing with the Stars recap right now. I took a deep breath and handed him the pill.

“There’s a position on the internal job board I’m posting next week that I think you would be perfect for. I’ll totes send you the details after I take this little baby. It’s a new coordinator position for the big merger with NorCom PR. You would be able to work out of our office part of the time, but most of the work would be down in Portland. You love travelling! It’s totes perfect for you. It’s hush-hush, though, so don’t say anything until it’s actually posted. I’ll send you the email.”

“Uh, K thanks, Hon.” I had serious doubts that I would be considered for the position. Admins were always looked over for promotions and raises. I’d discovered over the past eighteen months that being an admin was the kiss of death for someone who wanted a career in consulting. If you were hired on as an admin, it didn’t matter what your contribution was, you were not going to get a promotion. Most likely, a twenty-three-year-old fresh out of university would be brought on for the job you applied for and paid 30% more than you with bonuses.

When Martin walked away, and I went back to my aimless internet wandering, this time looking at the five-day weather forecast for June sixteenth through the twenty-first. Rain and 63, partly-sunny 62, partly-sunny 64, rain 61, scattered showers and 65. This not-so-sunny outlook matched my mood. When Martin emailed me the job description a little while later, I just rolled my eyes, choosing to not open the email. I preferred instead to browse my favorite gossip site and ignore the phone calls that I kept getting from Elaine, our psychotic department head, who had flown out to Manhattan the night before. I didn’t know if I should be complimented or insulted, but Elaine’s narcissism made her assume that I always knew exactly what and who she was talking about, often without any key facts or explanations offered. I didn’t have the energy this morning to push back, so I went along with Elaine’s email, which, as always, lacked clarity and detail of any kind: