Sunday Paper (500Words, Round 3, Day 2, 2/13/18)
“Why are you still buried in that newspaper? I imagine you’ve had ample time to soak up every single word.” Ann wiped the counter around Fred as best she could around the mass of pages. His obsession with the newspaper had been a little endearing during the week so she’d humored him. Today, with all the extra sections the Sunday edition had, he was taking up three spots at her station and making the other diners uncomfortable. She didn’t want to admit that he was making her nervous, too, so she had been doing her best to hurry him along for the better part of an hour with no sign of success. Calling attention to oddities wasn’t usually the best path to a good tip. She’d done the math enough to see that if she didn’t get him moving along soon all her other tips were going to suffer, and she didn’t think he was likely to make up the difference.
“Ann. A minute?”
After an imperceptible pause, Ann turned around to face her boss with a smile. “You bet, Stan. Let me just do a round of toppers.” She kept moving while she talked, this time heading for the coffee maker. As she passed Fred without filling his cup she muttered to him under her breath, “You’re going to get me fired. Please – tidy up.” Ann was praying that, by the time she’d topped off everyone else and had A Talk with her boss, Fred would be gone when she returned.
She took a moment for a deep breath before heading into the back room.
“What did you need, Stan?” Ann held onto the door jamb and poked her head into the office, stopping just shy of really entering the room. It would be fair to say that most of her shifts were spent working towards not being called away by Stan. He was a big man with a small conscience who liked his position of relative power – a dangerous combination. He was half sitting on the edge of his desk with one foot on one of the two chairs on the visitor side. His arms appeared to be trying to break free of his shirt as he folded them across his chest. He looked Ann up and down.
“Have a seat.” Stan nodded to the empty chair.
Ann glanced at the chair noting that she’d be staring at his crotch if she did as directed. “I’m good standing, Stan. I’ll have food coming up any minute.” She held her breath hoping he wouldn’t push his agenda.
Stan’s eyebrows went up slowly as he unfolded his arms and leaned back on his desk. “Alice will cover your station.” A smile slowly spread across his face as he nodded towards the empty chair again. “No worries there, though it’s good to see how committed you are to your job.”
Ann looked at Stan while she took stock of her options. She could refuse to sit and either call his bluff or lose her job, possibly both. Or she could sit and, if she was reading the cues correctly, sign herself up for a dose of sexual harassment.
* This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *