Alandra Nickels slammed on her brakes, her nose nearly hitting the steering wheel. She jammed the heel of her hand into the horn. “Holy crap! Use the damn turn signal, that’s what it’s there for!”
The other driver, an elderly man, waved and continued on his way.
“Oh for….” She glanced in the rear view, the driver in the car behind her was mouthing profanities, she could tell. Alandra waved in the same way the elderly driver did and stepped on the gas. As she drove she counted her lucky stars that her car hadn’t been smashed from both ends but she was shaking. “I hate that,” she mumbled. “Why the hell people can’t let other drivers know what they’re doing is beyond me.”
She was still stewing about the turn signal when she stopped at the light of a major intersection. A car pulled up in the lane beside her, sound system turned up so loud her ears hurt. She turned to see who was in the rusting car. Four young men, stoners from the look of them, playing something that only resembled music because instruments were involved. She shivered with the pain of the blast and wondered how their teeth stayed in their heads. Alandra was glad when the light changed and the boys roared off, a good fifteen miles an hour faster than the speed limit.
At work, she cruised the parking garage for a spot. A spot finally was found on the top level, in the sun, of course. That’s what I get for coming in late. I should just take the day off after a doctor’s appointment.
“Alandra, you’re here!” Her boss, Nathan Wills, called out through his office door as she passed. “Glad you made it. Your presentation has been moved to three o’clock.”
“It’s scheduled for tomorrow at two, Nathan. They pushed it back an hour?”
“No, no. Grab your stuff, it’s today,” he looked at his watch. “In half an hour.”
Her stomach rolled. “But, I’m not prepared! I was going to clean up the slides this afternoon.”
“No time, you do good work, Alandra. They’ll be fine. The VP is going out of town tonight and wants to see the presentation before he goes.”
“OK. Meet you in the board room.” She hurried to her desk, a cubicle just down the hall. Oh, crap. My brain isn’t into this right now.
As she stuck a thumb drive into her computer to download her presentation, a co-worker stuck her head around the partition. “Alandra, Thank God you’re back. The Mason account computer vendor just emailed me that the order is going to be delayed a month.”
Alandra stared. “Jean, I’ve just been called to the board room.” She swallowed, those computers had to be on site in a week. “Call them and tell them that if the computers aren’t here in five business days we’ll sue them for breach of contract?”
Jean blinked. “We can do that?”
“Of course not. But tell them that anyway.” Jean was her least reliable team member. “Be convincing. Be firm. You don’t want to be the one to tell Mason that we can’t move forward on their project do you?”
Jean’s head shook. “No, Alandra. No, not me.”
“Good. Get on it.”
She grabbed her print copy of the presentation and the thumb drive and headed to the board room. No hard copy to hand out, I haven’t reviewed the presentation, Jean is about to sink the whole Mason project and I’m still ticked about the drive here. That’s what I get. At the board room she stopped out of sight and took a few deep breaths. It never did well to arrive looking flustered and panicked.
Alandra stepped into the room, her boss, the VP, the secretary, and the CFO were already at the table. She went to the other end, plugged the thumb drive into the projector and adjusted the focus. Her boss poured her a glass of water which she sipped immediately.
“Good Afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for taking the time to hear about the status of the projects we have on our plates.”
When it was over, the VP shook her hand. “Well done, Alandra. I like that you didn’t waste paper on handouts. The information is in the database. If I want a hard copy I can download it. Good cost cutting move and fine presentation.”
She nodded and smiled and wondered at her good luck that she hadn’t had time to print out the documents. Nathan grinned when the two of them were walking back to their desks. “That went well. You were as prepared as always.”
Alandra accepted the praise. She’d remember that when the next review rolled around.
At home that evening she poured a glass of Riesling as she told her husband about her day. “One problem after another, every one of them a pet peeve.” She sipped the wine. “I thought my head would explode.”
Her husband stopped stirring the marinara he was making and leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. “Sorry you had a bad day, Sweetie. You shouldn’t let things like the turn signals and loud music bother you so much.”
“Yeah, but those things just ratchet up my stress levels.”
“Well, now you’re home and safe and the car is whole.” He sprinkled fresh oregano into the sauce.
Alandra grit her teeth. She hated oregano. She sighed and sipped more wine. “Yeah. I guess so.”
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