Claudia was scooping the last of the mint-chocolate-chip out of the ice cream carton into her bowl, thinking how silly it was to dirty the bowl when she could have finished off the ice cream in its carton. Boy, she needed this ice cream!
Once again she’d had one of “those days” at work. Her boss was the kind who wasted his day yakking on the phone, shuffling papers from one side of his desk to the other, and making his own photocopies, humming tunelessly as though he hadn’t a care in the world.
They both knew the budget figures were due to the CFO first thing tomorrow morning, and Mr. Peter Procrastinator Watson was busy using his best talent: procrastinating.
Along about 3:53 (nah, she wasn’t watching the clock or anything), Claudia stuck her head in his office doorway and said, “Got anything for me yet?”
“Oh, Claudia,” he said, rather absent-mindedly, “Yeah, I need to get these papers sorted out; wanna come on in?”
She sat in the guest chair across his desktop, notepad in hand, file folders tucked under her arm. “Is this for the budget?” she asked hopefully.
Peter looked up at her, appearing startled, said: “Budget?” like she’d just told him a blizzard had struck right here in Phoenix in the middle of July.
Claudia’s heart sank. She made a point of looking at her watch (not a glance, mind you; a full-on look, long enough so he’d get the idea).
“Ready,” she said, not hiding her frustration.
Each year at budget time they went through this. And each year he would assure her that he would begin earlier the next time so that they weren’t both of them wrung out at the end of the project.
But last year she decided that whether or not he began early, she would. And she had, this year. So when she said “Ready,” she really meant it. He had a surprise coming.
Peter cleared his throat, “Ah-hmmm,” and opened a file folder. “Staff,” he said.
Claudia pulled a folder from her lap, opened it on his desk. Without saying a word, she placed her papers in front of him and gave him time to read.
It was very quiet. Interrupting Claudia’s counting of the holes in the sound-proofing ceiling tile, Peter said: “Where did this come from?”
“I’ve been working on it. I took the figures from last year, juggled them based on what you’ve said regarding staffing and what Human Resources was advising, and just filled out the form they sent over from Mr. Kent’s office. I hope it helps.”
Peter stared at her. She couldn’t tell from his expression whether he was going to praise her, or throw one of his titanic tantrums (which he wrongly supposed scared everybody, but which just amused Claudia).
“Okay, thanks, let’s move along,” he said, reaching for his next file folder.
“Continuing Education—have you got anything on that?”
And so they continued through the Budget list, until by 7:15 or so (who’s counting, it was really 7:19) they were finished, and Claudia had a neat stack of folders to take back to her desk and use to finalize their department’s budget for that year. She knew it would take only another half-hour or so to have everything ready for Peter to present first thing in the morning.
At 7:30, with his satchel slung over his shoulder, Peter walked steadily by her desk, saying over his shoulder, “Thanks, Claudia; see you in the morning,” just as he did every night.
Yep, he’d take the credit for all the work when he made his presentation in the morning, and other than the “Thanks, Claudia” he just threw at her, that was the last she’d hear of it, except for next year when he would expect her to again come through for him at the last minute.
There wasn’t enough mint-chocolate-chip in the world!
Claudia was of two minds: anger at her boss, yet knowing that preparing the budget ahead of his last-minute rush kept her from working until midnight. Hmmm, good lesson there, she thought: use my anger for a good result for myself. That works.
Next morning, she arrived a half-hour early. And stopped on the threshold.
A huge bouquet of burgundy roses sat in the middle of her desk. She hurried to read the card: “A million thanks to the best Assistant ever! Look for a raise for you in our (your) budget.” Signed, Peter.
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