It's been a tough week in a tough month in a tough year.
Not normally a complainer, lately you haven't been able to shake off the blues or the feeling that there must be more to life than what you're currently doing. When you say as much to Lucy, your coworker and best friend, she just laughs.
“What?” She motions about the cramped lunchroom. “More than this? How?”
Even the chronically disgusting communal microwave doesn't bother her, although you have noticed she has started bringing salad for lunch instead of foods that need nuked—and she’s lost ten pounds. You vow to follow her lead—as soon as you finish up all the lovely comfort food you have stockpiled in your freezer at home.
Lucy picks up on the seriousness of your mood—just one of the reasons she's your best friend.
“Things will turn around, you'll see.” She pats your shoulder, then gets ready to return to her workstation. “Will has been gone for a year. It's a good sign that you're feeling frustrated and wanting a change. It means you're finally over his credit-card-racking-up, two-timing butt and you're ready to move on.”
Is that true? Is that the cause of your malaise? That you're ready to move on?
“You're a great person,” Lucy continues, “smart, fun, loyal—and super-hot, hubba, hubba.” You both laugh. “And while I can't guarantee this place will ever recognize what a treasure you are, I know there's a Mr. Right out there somewhere who will. I'm sure of it.”
You don't bother to point out the obvious flaw in her logic, that she is super smart, extra fun, plus extremely kind and loyal—yet is even more perpetually single than you are.
“Thanks, Luce. You're the best.”
“I kinda am, aren’t I?” She grins and bounces out of the room.
You head back to your little corner of call center hell too and change your status from “On Lunch” to “Available.” Miraculously, there aren’t a billion people waiting in the que. In fact, there are no incoming calls, no calls waiting on hold—and no numbers sitting in limbo in the auto callback list.
You use the free moment to check your personal e-mail, something Grant—your quiet, hunky boss—doesn’t frown upon, so long as staff don’t abuse it. You sigh a little, thinking about Grant. Besides Lucy, he’s the only thing that makes your office life bearable.
Your inbox is crazy as usual. It’s mostly spam—but there is an exciting newsletter from Ev Bishop, an author you think is sooo brilliant and wildly talented, not to mention hilarious, plus a cheery note from your mom asking if you want to do lunch on Sunday. (You do, but you’ll call her after work to let her know.) It’s two other e-mails, however, that really catch your attention: both come from senders you recognize—but neither have ever e-mailed you personally before.
One is from—speak of the cute devil—Grant Holton. Your boss has never e-mailed your private account before. You didn’t even know he had your address. The subject line reads, “Re: Special Project.”
The other is from your sister Diane’s friend Roberta—a travel agent. Its subject line says, “Congrats, lucky lady!
You read each e-mail—then, unable to believe your eyes, sure you must be dreaming—you click your call center status to “Busy” and re-read each letter again.
Grant wants your help on a special project that he’ll give you more details about in person and asks you to log out and come see him at your earliest convenience. He thinks you’ll enjoy the task and find it challenging, but asks that you not mention his e-mail to anyone as he and the management team want to keep it totally under wraps until all the details are set up. It’s time sensitive; they need a person in place by Monday. It seems super weird to you that it’s (A) a secret and (B) that it’s all rush, rush—but weird is sort of the norm at this place.
Roberta informs you that you won a raffle you entered at a tradeshow months ago: an all-inclusive 10-day vacation to a little place called River’s Sigh B & B in beautiful British Columbia. The only caveat is that you need to be able to fly out Monday—and it’s Thursday now. The dates aren’t transferrable.
Lucy is rolling back and forth in her office chair, chatting to someone about their bill. She sees your stunned expression and politely puts her customer on hold. “What’s going on? Are you all right?”
“I . . . I’ll . . . I’ll tell you later.”
She shrugs, readjusts her headset, and clicks a button on her keyboard. “Hello, I’m back. Sorry about that. Now about that disconnect notice—”
You tune her out and stare in complete bafflement at your screen.
On one hand, helping Grant with this secret project of his might be just the ticket you need to find a little joy in your job again—and who knows? It might even lead to a permanent advancement or pay raise.
On the other hand, you’ve heard about River’s Sigh B & B before and you’ve always daydreamed about visiting the wild beauty of British Columbia.
You want to go home and sleep on your choice, but you don’t have time. It’s already Thursday afternoon. If you’re going on a holiday, two days’ notice is really cutting it short—though thankfully, just last week you received a notice from HR saying you had to take your holidays before December. You’re sure they won’t decline your request even if they fuss a bit. And either way, you need to go see Grant ASAP, as requested. The question is . . . what on earth are you going to tell him? That you’ll take on the project or that you’re taking holidays?