With little choice, I’m heading back to Central. Easily the last place I wanted to go. Gonna have to face the music, and I’m certain it won’t be a favorable tune. I called ahead to tell them what happened. I didn’t want to fess up in person, and then have to wait for them to decide on a course of disciplinary action. Hoping they would also have time to cool off before I got here, if necessary.
As soon as I step through the doors, everyone notices. Some are laughing and shaking their heads, others mock having lost things, some just glare. You know how word travels fast? Well it’s especially true inside a messenger service, whose business is just that. I try to move quickly through the sea of hecklers, assuming this is probably the highlight of their day. I only make it halfway to the dispatch booth when I’m cut off by Supervisor M.
“You stepped in it again bro,” he says. Apparently he does know who I am. Huh, he just didn’t see me that time on the bus I guess. Although he was on the bus. “So where did this happen?”
“On the South side,” I respond, dodging the actual question. I’m unsure of how much he knows.
“I went through your file, and this isn’t the first time you’ve lost a package in the short time you’ve worked here,” Supervisor M says.
“The last one was stolen. That’s different.”
“You know what’s not different? Greenbacks bro, money. What it costs to replace that package, not to mention win back the client?”
“So how much?” I ask, trying to wrap this up.
“I’ll tell ya how much, $489.”
“Fine, break it up and take it out of a few of my commission checks. Like last time.”
“That’s not it though bro. You’re gonna have to be put on probation,” he says, like there’s no other choice.
“I’m already on probation,” I mutter, walking away.
“Well the ice is getting thinner!” Supervisor M shouts, obviously having heard me.
To hell with him, he has no real power around here. Typical middle management. Just enough occupational authority to make him feel important. What a douche. Call me bro a few more times why don’t ya? That makes you so relatable. I can still hear Supervisor M talking when I reach the dispatch booth. I resist the urge to flick him off. Because I’m a professional. I’m in the booth and closing the door before she can remind me to.
“Close the door,” Carol says anyways, and most likely out of habit. “Boy, you’re a real dumbass, aren’t ya?”
“What gave it away?”
“I hope you’ve started looking for a new job.”
“ I still have this one,” I remind her.
“For how long? You haven’t even been here a year, and already coming up on your third strike.”
“I was just reminded of that Carol.”
“What else did he say?”
“Have to pay for the package. Oh, and I’m on probation, again.”
“Well I’ve got more bad news for ya.”
“Rumor has it, he’s been seeing the girl you like.”
“I hear things, over the radio.”
“Carol, I know you’re trying to motivate me, but that’s ridiculous.”
“I’m just the messenger,” Carol says, and throws her hands up cackling.
“I’ve gotta get back out there,” I say, opening the door.
“Clean out your goddamn mailbox!” she shouts after me.
Over at the mailboxes, I notice Myra’s is half full. This is today’s silver lining, and it briefly fills me with hope. My mailbox is overflowing, the usual. So tightly packed, that when I pull on a single envelope, it starts an avalanche. I catch the cascading paper and assist most of it into a nearby waste basket without looking at any of it. In one quick motion I’m on my way again.
Back out into the open office, I start across it, heading for the door when I’m impaled by the sight of Myra canoodling with Supervisor M in the corner. It doesn’t stop me in my tracks, but I’m definitely moving in slow motion. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want them to see me watching them, I don’t even want to watch them, but I can’t look away for some reason. I’m managing to continue towards the door, and I start to feel a binge of epic proportions coming on.