Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SKULDUGGERY (09/01/16)
TITLE: Genesis of a Job
By Jody Day
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A trickle of perspiration intensified the itching sensation on her back. She found the nearest restroom as soon as the elevator doors opened and ripped that stupid tag off the dress. The fragrance of lavender pump soap calmed her a bit, and she breathed it in deeply. A few minutes of primping and praying later, she found the meeting room for orientation. Half a dozen new employees turned and seemed to stare as she took a seat.
She breathed a sigh of relief as Mr. Gardena entered the room. He’d been the one to interview her through the grueling series of meetings that resulted in her new position. His friendliness helped get her through those days, and the sight of him gave her a bit of confidence. He led the group through a two-hour orientation, and then dismissed them for lunch.
“Be sure and clock out during lunchtime, even if you stay in the building. We’re generous with overtime, but just be sure you’re working if you don’t clock out.”
As Marie left the room, a handsome man with a big smile extended his arm to her. His rows of perfect, white teeth flashed brilliant in stark contrast to his pomegranate colored designer suit.
“Marie Firstman? I’m Lucius Cobra from P. R. I’m supposed to show you around.” His strong cologne made her a bit dizzy.
“Oh, well, thank you. I just need to go clock out for lunch.” Where was the time clock, anyway?
Lucius’ voice lowered to a whisper. “Did Gardenia really say you had to clock out?”
“Actually, that’s the last thing he said before he dismissed us for lunch.” Marie looked around for the other employees.
“You don’t really have to. He’s required to say that, but nobody does it. Can’t hurt to get paid an extra hour. The computer doesn’t know the difference when those cards are fed through it.”
Lucius showed up often to take Marie to lunch in the weeks following that first day. He always brought a nice lunch for the both of them to eat in the break room. “This way, we get more time together. It takes forever to get anywhere downtown.” Lucius always insisted she didn’t have to clock out.
Marie never felt totally comfortable about it, but Lucius’ mesmerizing presence and air of authority overruled her thoughts.
“You won’t get in trouble, I promise,” he said.
After three months, Mr. Gardena scheduled an appointment with Marie for her first evaluation.
“We’re quite impressed with your work, Marie. We especially like the names you’ve given to all the new project systems in the office. Efficient and innovative! I see working through lunch has really paid off for you,” he said, looking over her file.
“Thanks, but I rarely work through lunch.” An uneasy knot formed in her stomach.
“So, you’ve not been clocking out?”
“Lucius Cobra said it wasn’t really necessary. He said nobody else does it if they stay in. I thought he would know, since he’s been here longer.” She swallowed the big lump in her throat. The sense of shame covered her face in red.
Mr. Gardena shook his head. “Lucius is the nephew of the owner of this company. His uncle demoted him months ago because he wants all the benefits of his company’s name, but doesn’t do any real work. He applied for the job you received, and I’m afraid his revenge is to get you in trouble with his lies.”
Marie learned her lesson that day, but Lucius continued to cause trouble for her. He seemed on a mission to make her break the rules. Finally Lucius’ uncle cast him out. Marie never shook the reputation she garnered, and “not punching the clock” became synonymous in the company for “not doing a good job.”
Mr. Gardena’s son, Adam, bought the company after the owner died. He married Marie and her bad reputation was lost in Adam’s good name. He ran the company in peace and goodwill, with Marie by his side.
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