Working: Friday Flash Fiction Post



I juggled my cell as I maneuvered eight dog leashes. The pooches, all regulars, were good dogs but each one wanted to smell something in a different direction. “Mr. Malony, I have an opening for an interview between three and five pm.”

I jerked Fluffy away from a discarded food wrapper. The fat little Pekinese would eat anything, then puke it up once she got home and her owner would call and ream me a new one. “Yes, sir. At the moment I have appointments up till three.” I rolled my eyes. The appointment was another job. Not this one, this one was the first job. Six in the morning till eight, walking dogs. The same gig, would that be job three or four, between six and eight. The second job was barista at a coffee shop who could only pay me for four hours, five days a week. Between noon and three was ticket seller at a downtown theater. Not the best theater, by the way, but the manager thought that a pretty girl in the booth would sell more ticket in the slow period. So that leaves three to five for my interview.

I jerked Sammy away from an oncoming owner walking her husky. Sammy was always eager to prove his dogliness to any passing dog. “Yes, sir. I’ll be there.” I clicked off. I really wanted the job. A real, eight hours per day, real pay and holidays and benefits. I could give up all these pitiful make do gigs to pay the rent.

My share of the rent, that is. Six women in a three-bedroom apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of them but there is always a fight for the bathroom and paranoia over the food in the fridge. It would be so great to be able to have my own place or at least a share with just one other person.

My phone rang. “Hey, mom.”

“Hey sweetie. How’s it going?”

I pulled a doggie waste bag from my pocket and scooped up Freddie’s contribution. While I tied the bag shut, I said, “Great mom. How about you?”

“Great, honey. Your father and I booked a cruise to Tahiti for next month. Can you go? We’d love it if you’d join us.”

I sighed. “I don’t think so, Mom. I’m going for an interview this afternoon. I don’t want to commit to anything in the future till I know if I’ve got the job.”

“That’s great, sweetie! I’ve been wondering why you’ve been doing those make shift jobs.”

I had to shake my head. They refused to understand that it wasn’t 1950 any longer. Dad’s corporate job lasted thirty-five years. He did the whole promotion every other year, gold watch on retirement, the climb up the social ladder. Mom, of course, was the socialite on dad’s arm. She’d held a job just after college, where she met dad, and that was her entire working life. They were disappointed in me, not getting a big corporate job right out of college.

Dad got me interviews, of course. But the new corporations were all about the “contractors”. People they could hire short term, pay a salary agreed to on a contract, then they wouldn’t have to pay retirement or benefits. No one was interested in a career path for me like the one dad had. That was way too expensive.

“Doing my best, mom. I hope I make the new job.”

“We do too, hun. Well, let us know, would you?”

“Sure, mom. Sure.”

She hung up and I clicked off with a shake of my head. She seemed to think this was a lifestyle choice. Who would want to be on a constant hustle for enough money to pay rent and eat? But it seemed the majority of the people my age were doing exactly that. It wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity. Businesses just didn’t want full time employees. They cost too much. Stockholders wanted bigger and bigger returns. CEO’s wanted bigger and bigger paychecks.

I tugged Maybelle away from a parking spot that had what looked like a transmission fluid puddle. Then stopped the whole procession to pick up Raylar’s droppings. Very glamorous, being a dog walker, but I did appreciate the exercise. The ticket gig was creepy. The barista job was hardly better. Every would-be self-appointed ladies man made a pass. Why couldn’t they just order their coffee and move along? And none of their lines were original or clever. I liked the dogs better and the happy owners tipped well.

At three-fifteen I was at the office building, tugging my skirt straight and smoothing my hair. I took a deep breath and went in. Oh. My stomach dropped. A panel interview, three people. I smiled at all three of them as I entered. They had me sit and introduced themselves. At the end, I thanked them, left them with my resume, references and my card.

It didn’t feel like they liked me. I thought about my mom and her invitation to cruise. Oh yes. I’d like to cruise. But that was not in the cards. My last day off was six months ago, only because I’d lost an earlier job taking tickets at a parking garage.

I went home. There was two hours before my evening dog walking gig. I changed and ate a can of ravioli as my supper and ran the interview through my head over and over.

I was in the middle of the night dog walk when my cell rang.

“Hello, Mr. Donnah.”

“Ms. Roman, the panel loved your interview. Would you be interested in starting Monday?”

It felt like my heart had stopped. “Yes, sir! I would!”

“Excellent. We’re emailing some basic information for you. See you Monday.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you and the board.”

“You’re welcome.”

I did a little dance right on the sidewalk. Finally! A way out.

Flash Fiction Friday Story: The Drive Home

Do you ever get those days where it’s all going wrong? You wonder why, and even more, how you got to this point in your life? Ever ask yourself, is this all there is? So do I. Here’s a story about it.

The Drive Home

Pat stood in five inches of snow beside her car. Once the car was unlocked, she tossed in her purse and grabbed the snow brush from the floor of the back seat. Snow was sliding into her pumps. She’d already started the car and turned on the defrosters. By the time she finished brushing off the five inches of snow, the windows would be clear and the car would be warm.

Perfect, she stepped into the pile of snow she’d just brushed off of the rear window and trunk. I might as well be barefoot. It wasn’t supposed to snow today. Damn forecast.

The wet snow was soaking through the leather gloves she had on. Nothing’s gone right today, why should the drive home be any different. And what was with the programmers today. Sheesh, did they think I was going to swallow the excuse their computer has been down all week so they couldn’t get their assigned tasks done? All they had to do was call the trouble desk. She brushed the snow off of the side windows so hard it flew in a spray, sparkling in the parking lot lights, ten feet.

And the Financial Officer, my God, it’s a computer development company, yes, I need more servers. He needs to let go of a nickel now and then. She finished cleaning off the windshield and threw the brush back into the back seat. Once in the driver seat, she turned the heater vent onto the floor. Her feet were wet and half frozen.

The parking lot hadn’t been cleared yet so she had to back up carefully and creep slowly out of the parking lot. She breathed a sigh of relief when she reached the road.  Thank God the plow has been through.

It was an hour after the standard 5pm quitting time but the snow had delayed everyone in the city. Roads were slushy and the snow was still falling. Getting to work in the morning is going to be a treat. She maneuvered through the traffic lights and to the on ramp of the cross-town highway.

The four lane highway was bumper to bumper, delayed motorists anxious to get home. At the toll booth of the New York State Thruway, only a few lanes were open causing cars to criss-cross in front of each other to find an open booth. Pat saw several cars sliding uncontrollably, miraculously missing other autos as they all jockeyed for the booths that seemed to be moving the fastest.

She slowly moved through the chaos until she was on the Thruway. The three lanes were all clear, at least here, close to the city. Plows must have started clearing as soon as it started snowing. Pat could relax a little, driving in the middle lane, so the people with no sense could race along the fast lane but out of the way of the people getting off on these near exits.

She didn’t turn on the radio. She wanted quiet, time to decompress. It was an hour and a half drive home on a good day, so she had time to try and get over the frustration, anger and tension of the day.

After most of the motorists had left the highway she could relax a little more. She cranked the heat up another notch, her feet were still cold. Taking a big breath, she let it out slowly. The Chief of Operations had chewed out her boss that afternoon in a meeting with her, because the project was behind schedule. She shook her head. Why is it always the project manager’s fault the programmers didn’t do their jobs? Seriously, I told them the schedule was too compressed at the start of the project. And the building manager, what’s his problem? Why snipe at me in a meeting when I asked how long it would take to install the electrical for that room? That’s his job!

She glanced at the clock on the dash. Six thirty, I’m still fifty minutes from home in this weather. Why do I bother? I could just keep driving. Just keep going, all the way to Buffalo, across Ohio, all the way to California. I’ll bet it’s not snowing in San Diego. I wouldn’t have to put up with the building manager, the programmers, the crazy clients. I could sell the car and live in a camper on a beach somewhere, tending bar for a living. I did it in college, I could do it now.

She glanced at the road sign for the next exit. Two exits to go. I could just speed on by. I could use the credit card to get some cash, sell the car, buy a bus ticket. No one would know where I went. Nobody yelling at me. No responsibilities. No 4-H club meetings to plan, no more worry about the dog’s arthritis, just me; relaxing on a beach. No more snow shoveling. No more refereeing arguments between my brothers.

The road sign for the last exit before hers went by. I wonder if I could change my name? How hard can that be? Do you need a new Social Security number? How do people disappear anyway? They make it look so easy on TV. Bill would worry, I’d have to give him a call, just to let him know I was OK. It’d be unkind to take off and not at least let him know I was OK.

Pat passed the road sign warning that her exit was in two miles. She sighed. He’s making me spaghetti for supper. The other women are envious, a husband that makes dinner every night. She flipped on the turn signal and pulled onto the off ramp. Spaghetti’s my favorite, that’ll be good, I’m starving.

The End

964 Words

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