‘Let’s be productive with our time today,’ Lucy’s manager said during the weekly staff meeting.
Lucy sighed, annoyed at the irony. These WIP meetings were a waste of time. If the team weren’t forced to meet once a week to discuss how their workload was progressing, then the work would surely progress more quickly. Or was it only her that saw things this way?
‘Lucy,’ said Mary, her manager sharply. ‘Got something to add?’
‘No, Mary. Thank you, though,’ Lucy responded. She’d already shared her progress, twenty minutes, one sub-standard coffee and two danishes ago.
Mary’s eyes narrowed. ‘Where are you at with…’ she looked down at her papers. ‘…Bennett and Hopper?’
Lucy cleared her throat, stalling for time. She’d purposely omitted any details regarding Bennett and Hopper when she had the floor. There had been a glitch, a huge mistake, that Lucy’s co-worker, Kate, had caused. Lucy was still trying to make amends, but by discussing it here, she’d have to throw Kate under the bus, in front of the whole team.
Lucy smoothed the papers in her her clipboard. ‘Um, well there’s not much to update. Nothing’s really moved since last week.’ She glanced at the minutes from last week’s meeting, for confirmation. ‘We’re waiting for Bennett to respond to our last email contact.’ Lucy smiled at the team, willing them to help her. She sensed what was coming.
‘Phone them,’ Mary barked. Priority number one. As soon as you’re back from this meeting. In fact, leave now. Make the call now.’
Lucy stared. She didn’t know if Mary was sincere. But at least she hadn’t forced more information from her. Lucy glanced nervously at Kate, expecting to see her with her head bowed avoiding eye contact. Instead, Kate was grinning, content and wholly ignorant of the fuck-up she’d caused and that Lucy was protecting her. For a brief second, Lucy toyed with spilling the beans.
‘What are you waiting for?’
Lucy stood and rushed towards the door. Once back at her desk, she played with a puzzle game on her phone. She figured she had another ten or fifteen minutes before everyone came back from the WIP meeting.
The door opened; Lucy shoved her phone in a drawer. It was Kate, her eyes red and moist, her cheeks blotchy red.
‘What’s wrong?’ Lucy asked.
‘I’ve been sacked.’
‘What! Why?’ Lucy asked somewhat redundantly.
‘Bennett and Hopper. They phoned Mary last week, told her all about it.’
‘Gosh, I’m sorry,’ Lucy said.
‘Thanks for not chucking me in it.’ Kate smiled gratefully as she packed up her desk. She grabbed her pot plant just as security arrived to walk her off the premises.
Lucy picked up the phone. ‘Mr Bennett,’ she said when a voice answered. She swung around on her chair, feeling lighter, and she smiled as she negotiated the next steps with Bennett.