1st Floor Please

By Loria Davis

“Hold the door! Hold the door, please!” she yelled.

            No way! After the way Stephanie embarrassed me in our staff meeting, I didn’t want to hold anything for her!  Everyone warned me that she was cut-throat when I started working here, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to form my own opinion.  I should have listened.  What a two-faced bitch! 

Stephanie shoved her umbrella in the elevator doors just as they were closing.  The door sensor picked up and opened.  There she was, in all her glory: stiff, wafer-thin, and in desperate need of some sunlight.  I wondered if she knew that no one liked her.  She probably didn’t care. It took everything inside me not to cuss her out right then and there, but I needed my job.  So, I resolved to shake my head in disgust.

“What a long day,” she said.

            Was she trying to start a conversation with me?  I pretended not to hear her.  I didn’t want to talk to her.  I just wanted to go home, get out of those clothes, and hug my baby.  On days like these, I need the reminder of why I put up with that nonsense.

Stephanie went on to say, “I think with a little more tweaking, we can nail the winter campaign.”

Lady shut up.  Slither back to wherever you came from.  I didn’t want to hear anything that she had to say.  I remember thinking that maybe if I turn and fac the wall, she’d get a clue.  I noticed that it was taking a long time for the elevator to reach the ground floor. Suddenly, I felt a hard jerk. Then a hard stop, like a ride at the county fair. I turned to Stephanie and said, “Whoa! What just happened? Why aren’t we moving?!”  My heart started racing.  “No, no, no, no, no!” “This can’t be happening,” I said.  I ran to grab the lifeline in the corner.  I picked up the receiver and said, “Hello. Can somebody here me?”

“Hey, Izzy,” a friendly voice on the other end replied. “It’s Bryan. Are you ok?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” I answered. “What happened?”

“The storm tripped the breaker.  We’ll have you out in no time,” Bryan assured me.  Bryan was one of our safety officers, a nice guy with a caring heart.  I turned around and filled Stephanie in.  “Settle in because it’s going to be a minute.”  I took off my coat and placed it on the floor.  I slid down to the floor under the weight of exhaustion.  I felt utterly depleted as I took my cell phone out of my pocket and texted my mom.  She watched my son for me while I was at work.  I didn’t call because I didn’t want Stephanie in my business.  I wished I had gotten stuck in the elevator with someone decent.

After what felt like forever, Stephanie wanted to explain herself.  “Look, I know you think I ambushed you today, but I didn’t.  You have to be fully prepared when you make full-pitch presentations.  You weren’t.  It’s just that simple.”

“Stephanie, I am going to be very honest with you.  I felt blind-sided in that pitch meeting. We are supposed to be a team.  And I came to you last week to go over my talking points. We never discussed any of the concerns that you brought up today.  But there you were, leading the charge, questioning me. It was belittling and condescending.”

            “Isabella, that was your presentation, not mine.  You should have not only anticipated the questions but had answers to them too.  It’s not my job to hold your hand and walk you through a pitch. I don’t know why you think I should.  I see so many young women come through here, thinking it’s supposed to be easy.  And then when it gets tough, or they don’t get a promotion, they leave.  Six months later you see them as some exec’s arm candy.”  Stephanie took a deep breath and exhaled out her disappointment.  She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “If you want to succeed in this business, then you better wake up and toughen up.”

            A single chirp broke the awkward silence.  The elevator doors opened, and I gathered my things and left.  We had nothing else to say to each other.  Recycled cold air never smelled so sweet.  Bryan was there to escort me to my car.  He was explaining what happened, but his words faded to the background.  I just wanted to get into my car and go home.

END

Loria Davis is an undergraduate creative writing student at Full Sail University.  This Texas native enjoys the performing arts and interior design.  You can reach her at:

www.linkedin.com/in/loriardavis

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