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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)

By Gloria Grenada


“Who has ever heard of a name like Bumphry ?”I thought sarcastically.
He stood politely a few feet to my right, just within my line of vision and bowed. ‘How irritating...’

Perfectly polished brogues shone in the glare of sunlight filtering through my office window.

“I am your private secretary, Maam” he said.
I cringed. ‘I do not need a private anything’ I thought to myself.

His expressionless grey blue eyes followed my nervous hands and he seemed to read my thoughts;
“Your pen is under the blue folder Maam”. He was right of course.

Day after day he arrived at the office before me.
My tea would be made.
Fresh fragrant flowers in the blue Delph vase on the window.
“Oh Lord, why me?”

He chatted with no one. He just waited on and served me.

On the morning of the Annual Charity Budget meeting, Bumphry came into my office. He hurrumped quietly, “Maam” he said “I took the liberty of rechecking the final figures on the yearly budget and I am afraid there are some discrepancies”.

My face flamed hot with fury as I spluttered
“How dare y....
Then I looked at Bumphry, his head was bowed, his hands were crossed behind his back and his perfectly polished brogued feet placed close together.

“Who told you....,who gave you permission to check my figures ?”
“It is my job Maam to make available to you and this charity all of the skills and abilities that are mine. I stayed up last night Maam, to recalculate and I found serious errors”.
He paused and extended a white folder saying
“Here are the amended figures”.

I gasped in unbelief.
I grabbed the folder he handed to me and hurriedly left the room.
I sat huddled in my private bathroom on the sofa and read the ‘amended’ report for about ten minutes. The areas of correction were stickered in pale blue post-its.

In the end all I could do was relent...
He was right. I had blundered again.
This was a bitter pill to swallow.

“Bumphry’ I said later, “ Have you ever considered seeking promotion?”
You do my job better than I do”.
His eyes glowed softly with pleasure for a brief second, than he bowed and said without guile,
“Oh, but Maam, I am better at helping than helming.
When you shine, so do I”
He inclined his lower jaw slightly as he left the office.

The bitter sweet truth is that Bumphry is invaluable to me and the charity company. I may be at the helm but he is the rudder.
Over the past five years he has saved my bacon many a time. His character and persona have never altered.

He has never defrosted and maintains his ‘perfect’ private secretary demeanor even at staff parties. I now know that he has elderly missionary parents, older sisters and a small vivacious wife who adores him. I daily thank God for Bumphry.

My ire at him gave way to sweet gratitude, since without him, my ‘efficiency’ would be seen to be the lesser thing that it is.

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This article has been read 601 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Stacy Wells 06/05/09
I think this was very well written. It takes a lot to swollow our pride and admit when we are wrong especially to those we think are inferior.
Sara Harricharan 06/08/09
WOW! I think I'd like a Bumphry-lol. This is very well written, in terms of good characterization, you made me connect and identify with him in a short story that could be expanded. This is very well done!
Rachel Lerch06/11/09
Good job. You caught me with the first line.
Deborah Porter 06/12/09
Hi Gloria. I just wanted to leave a quick note to congratulate you on your Highly Commended award in Level 1 (you placed 4th), and to let you know you also did extremely well overall, ranking 31st out of all the entries for the week.

Once again, it was a big week of entries, so you really deserve an extra pat on the back. If you would like to see the highest rankings for yourself, you can find them here:

The highest rankings are posted every Thursday evening on the Message Boards.

Hope to see you at the FaithWriters' Conference in August. It’s going to be an amazing time of inspiration, information and encouragement. (If I’ve already mentioned that to you, forgive me. We’re just so excited about letting members know about this great gathering.)

With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)