ROOKIE

Five minutes to 8 on a wintry morning, the elevator opens up to a vestibule. A bubbly receptionist sits behind a counter, phone sticking to her ear. You take in a lungful of air, exude a heavy sigh and amble to a glass door with a golden shingle, pulling it towards you. Naught. On the inside, a clean limbed lady gestures at you to push the door. You do so, its weight revolting and fighting back at your alien hands, exerting, it relents and prices open.

Virtually everyone cocks their head to take a glance at you. Their faces, some genial. Some, cunning and intimidating like they had drunk virgin lime juice. One chap chortles at you. He must be a prick, every office has an ass. In this one, he appears to take the quintessential office prick crown or rather tiara. His overbearing aura reeks, a conspicuously pompous bloke.

Most folk are huddled together in clusters – office cliques, making gab and catching up on grapevine. A few forlorn persons cast lonely figures, faces pegged on their computer screens. You cut an insipid awkward grin, that grin people make when being sang to on their birthday and know not what to do with their hands or face. They thrust their hands in their pockets and stand erect like a pole, eyes zooming the room and wait out for the plume of discomfort to alleviate. I can’t fathom what women do in awakward situations sans significant pockets, where do your hands go.

Softly, your head casts down in mortification as your legs shuffle to an empty desk you were instructed to take at the far end of the room. The distance between feels like miles. Your bearing flickers. Your gait degenerates into a flimsy poise. You are like a demure lass walking past a pack of cat-calling blokes shooting breeze by a corner store. Every force seems to conspire to make your advent fraught with first day qualms. Miniscule beads of perspiration pop on your forehead. Angst churns in your gut.

Waif and lanky. Wallowing in an oversized plaid dress shirt. Dark skinned. Novice. Bashful. Tenuously out of your depth in this new pursuit. Intent to learn the ropes. You are a small fish waddling amongst sharks in an uncharted open-layout sea of office as an intern writer.

Perched on a swivel chair, the colossal clock’s arm hits 8 and it’s crunch time, promptly everyone scatters to their desks like a fleet of disturbed birds. Relative silence descends. The office mien is imbued with incessant clicks, folk fingering their keyboards. You begin banging an assignment you were tasked with. Eyes oscillating between the keyboard and monitor. This you are adept at, with it the plan is to make your bones and possibly strip the byline ‘intern’ off your tag.

A shadow casts over you, looking up you meet his eyes and lofty frame. His budding paunch sticks out. He is clean shaven, a slight moustache sits below his nose. He doesn’t utter a word for a minute, you don’t either. He stands there in tumultuous silence, simmering you in his condesendence. The aforementioned prick is at it again. He wears good cologne and that’s just as far as his attributes run. Sacharrine whiffs are doused by his domineering stance. He makes an ass effortlessly. He is one of those folk you might deservedly loathe for no reason. Someone with a proclivity to derive gratification from belittling others to atone for his inadequacy. Someone who projects their own trauma on others.

“Intern. What’s your name?”

“Sax”

“Ass?” He asks melodramatically. A guy breaks out in laughter.

“No. Sax. S-A-X”

“Sex?” He quizzes, again, dramatically.

More people snicker. Your knickers are getting in a twist. A vein pops on your temple. If it were outside of work you’d have taken him on man to man regardless of his size. Occasionally, people of his ilk need to be taken to the back of the class and pummeled. Solving things the old school way might be the only recourse to their bloated egos, retrograde but at times necessary.

“Your tie, I love it. Are you queer?” You quip – abrasively – pointing out his colorful tie.

Folk chortle. You got him. He reels aback, shoves your chair and recedes, tail tucked in, waltzing the shame to his desk. That was cathartic. Belonging seeps into your station. You feel more comfortable. You’ve put a kibosh to tolerating his claptrap and revert to your work.

Beside you is this femme; a beguiling lassie in short blonde hair, caramel colored skin, black doll shoes bedeck her feet, a dark blazer, a silk shirt and matching dress skirt. She is cloaked in serenity and black. Sitting pacifically. Trika, reads the name on her pendant tag. It sounds exotic, her name. It sounds like a name that was fostered on blossomed flowers. A name that has a heart of his own. She catches you staring and you briskly avert your eyes. You don’t want to be the pervert that gawped at a co-workers cleavage for a tad too long on their first day. She pivots to face you and holds out her tag, a gracious smile sufficing.

You do the same, sticking out your unremarkable name to her. You might just as well be the only 23 – year – old christened Peter. Your namesakes are hurtling down towards their pension if not living off them. Then there is you, an outlier. A young blood with a dated name. A name spotting a biblical beard (pun intended). A name that makes his bones casting nets in the lake.

Neither of you mutters a word. It is this non-verbal connection. You feel a spark in your chest and envisage a future office romance. Classic rookie mistake. Overthinking and gushing over unassuming acts of kindness. It is nothing more than just someone being congenial. Furthermore, there must be a troop of eyes on her. An army of eyes compensated with hefty salaries. You stand fat chance in this jungle as a meek dude. The best you can pull off is be a platonic friend, the saddest possible tag you can be conferred by an enchanting woman. You’d be that guy she vents to when she her boyfriend comes home late and whatnot. You’d be that guy that watches over the cake but gets none of it. You my friend would be that guy that is told ‘I wish I had a guy like you’ yet you are the best version of a guy like you. If you watch The Office, you’d be Jim and her situation with Pam in Season 1 or if you are a Friend’s guy you’d be Ross and her Rachel. The ultimate friendzone.

(Let’s broach this a tad, what’s up with girls anyway. Disregarding good chaps before them for the obnoxious ones with conflicting commitments? Only to revert to the good blokes later in life after getting their heart bruised like a race track. What is it the good guys are destitute of that makes them not deserve your youth, the thrill? A woman you used to like will text you years down the line and obliquely ask you out. I needed you like five bad boys ago but you dismissed me, I’ve since moved on Mercy, damn. The maxim ‘good guys finish last’ might just be true.)

Anyhow, I digress.

The day wears out and it’s time to leave. You clinch your sling knapsack and walk out.

“Hey Ass, that girl – Trika. Steer clear,”someone says.

You shake your head and laugh it off. Apparently he isn’t queer, well, maybe a little which is a bummer. The day isn’t half bad.

Image Source: Pinterest

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