‘Marissa,’ Peter, her boss, said, interrupting her conversation with Zara. They were standing in the work kitchen while Zara warmed her lunch in the microwave. Dirty dishes stacked in a wonky tower on one side of the sink; clean, dry dishes on the wooden draining board, with a stained tea towel over the top.
Peter continued, ‘Tomorrow there’s a management meeting. We’re going to be banning all overtime.’
‘Costs us tens of thousands each year in wages. Plus, there’s been some evidence that staff are using it just to plump up their own income.’ He shook his head.
Marissa froze. Busted! Over the past few months, Marissa had felt she was onto a winner. She was busy, sure, but not inundated with work. She used overtime as a means catch up on all that she couldn’t achieve through the day.
‘Your presence is needed at the meeting,’ he said, before turning on his heel and leaving.
‘Oh no! Zara!,’ Marissa said. ‘What am I going to do now?’
‘Maybe it will be OK,’ Zara replied. The microwave beeped. Zara opened the door and took out her container. She stirred it with a fork, and Marissa watched the steam rise and swirl up into her friend’s face.
‘I doubt it. Plus I really need the extra in my pay each fortnight.’
A hot chocolate was needed. Right now. Marissa reached for a mug in the cupboard. Empty! All the cups and mugs were on the sink, waiting to be washed, dried and put away.
‘Aaah, stuff this!’ Marissa said. ‘Let’s go downstairs to the cafe!’
‘Meet you there? I’ll just finish my lunch.’