Chapter 5 — Winner Takes All

We’re getting close to finalizing this book. Yeah baby! So that means you’ll be able to devour the entire thing at once, if you want. Here’s Chapter 5. Enjoy.

Chapter 5 – Considering All the Options

Tina was seriously considering walking right up to Ben Taylor and telling him he could go fuck himself. A major I QUIT flame-out that would be played all day on YouTube, and talked about as the way everyone wished they could quit their job. Sorta like that Alaskan TV reporter who quit during a live broadcast so she could continue her marijuana farming.

 Only, Tina didn’t have a safety net. No booming marijuana business or trust fund to help. She had to be practical.

A year and a half ago, her account had enough in it for nine months of living expenses. Then, her grandmother had gotten sick and needed nursing home care. Even though her grandmother was eligible for state aid, the state was so far behind in approving cases, the nursing home wouldn’t take anyone expecting state aid unless a working person agreed to be on the hook. She had. And her grandmother had done well for about 4 months before dying suddenly. Before the paperwork was done. Tina was on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars for her grandmother’s care and there was no way she could quit with that hanging over her head.

At the moment, Tina had enough in savings to cover two months of mortgage, and zero months of food. She’d have a place to stay, so long as she didn’t eat. She’d kept telling herself she needed to lose a few pounds. That was one way to do it.

She sighed and shook her head. She looked at the clock in her office. It was 9:52 and the meeting would start soon. They’d be introducing some namby pamby fuckwad from New York.  Asshole. Mark Thompson, a partner in the company, had told her last week that they were eyeing her seriously for the VP position. He said he’d likely have good news for her this morning. When he’d called her into the office, she’d tried to look cool, and had managed it until she’d seen his face. It looked as if he’d just sucked a lemon.

“I’m sorry,” he’d said, his ebony face the picture of regret. “I just wanted to let you know, personally, before the meeting started that we’re not going to fill the VP position any time soon.”

“Why not?” she’d demanded, realizing her voice sounded too desperate.

“Ben wants to wait, and he’s made a few decent arguments for it, including the fact that Rick took two of our biggest clients when he left. We should make that up before we start adding VPs.”

She straightened her back, looked confident. “I can do that. I can make that happen,” she said.

Mark smiled. “Tina, that’s what I love about you. You sell,” he said. “I think you can make it happen, but Ben is right. As a company, we need to be cautious until we bring in a couple of new clients. Otherwise, a few more flights could leave us vulnerable. We’re going to revisit the VP position in six months or so. We’re hiring a new person to help pick up Rick’s smaller clients. I’ve cherry picked a couple of his better clients for you. But if you want the VP slot, work your ass off the next few months, and I promise you, I’ll make Ben see reason. It will be yours.”

Tina felt like she’d been slapped. She’d been at this damned company for eight years, and she couldn’t believe she was getting so royally screwed. She stood up from her desk chair and paced her office. She looked around. It was a big office. Ben and Mark had done everything to get this marketing firm looking good. They could sell clients with the spacious decor. And they did pretty well for being a mid-sized firm. At a bigger firm, her office would be a quarter of this size and she’d meet with clients in communal conference rooms. But here, she got her own space. And she generally liked the people.

The firm’s clients also tended to be nice people. At least, Mark’s side of the business. He’d made his name courting mom and pop businesses and marketing the hell out of them. He’d taken on Tina right out of college and taught her so much. She hated that she was getting dicked over.

She was walking the length of the office, a good 15 feet of unencumbered space, when her cell phone rang. Finally. She ran back to her desk and scooped her Google Pixel to her ear.
“What’s the 9-1-1 for?” her best friend Nikki asked.

“I didn’t get it,” she said.

A sigh of disappointment from the other end, or perhaps it was a sigh of outrage. “I don’t understand,” Nikki said. “I thought you were a shoo-in.”

“I was supposed to be,” Tina groused quietly. She was in her office, which provided a certain amount of soundproofing, but nothing was perfect. She probably shouldn’t even have called from here, but she had to talk to someone. “I’m thinking of jumping ship. If they don’t appreciate me, why stay?”

“Don’t do that yet,” Nikki said, and Tina could imagine her shaking her head, her twists bobbing as she did. “Who got the job and why?”

“No one got it,” Tina said and explained what her Mark had said.

“Tina,” she said. “I know you’re disappointed, but I don’t think now is the time to jump ship. The company is going through a transition. If you stay, your rewards will be so big. If you go, how long is it going to take you somewhere else to even be considered as a VP?”

Tina sat on the edge of her desk, closed her eyes, sighed. Nikki was right. That’s why she’d called her. Nikki always saw reason. Perhaps that’s what happened when you married a member of Congress. You learned how to speak reason to unreasonable people. Tina breathed out. “Girl, thanks for calling me back. I mighta just walked out and ran right to my war chest.”

Nikki laughed. The war chest was a list of people Tina had met from other firms, people she knew who thought she was alright. People she could drop feelers to to see if they had a job. The only problem was the market was tight now. Getting a job wouldn’t necessarily be easy and leaving when she didn’t have the financial war chest, meant she couldn’t wait it out.

“Chin up,” Nikki said.

“Is that what white chocolate says?” Tina teased. She liked to call Nikki’s husband, a Midwest native who looked like a classic farm boy, white chocolate. While Tina really liked Mike and especially appreciated how great he treated her best friend, she didn’t appreciate the lingo — chin up, for example — he’d introduced to her vocabulary.

“Sometimes,” Nikki admitted. “And it’s a good attitude to have.”

“Yeah, whatevs,” Tina said.

Nikki sighed, and Tina could imagine her shaking her head at Tina’s incorrigibility.

“Listen,” Nikki said, “I haven’t got the boxes unpacked yet, but if you don’t mind the clutter, I’d love to see you. Why don’t you come over tonight after work. You can tell me about it, and I’ll make you dinner. Mike’s working late. Just us girls.”
Tina smiled. A girls’ night on a Monday. Then she remembered Javier. Generally, “chicks before dicks” was a good saying, but it had been too long since Tina had had a good dick, so she’d have to pass on Nikki’s offer. “Ohhh,” Tina said, trying to sound disappointed. “I’ve got a work thing tonight. How about tomorrow?”

Nikki laughed. “I’m pretty sure Mike is working late tomorrow, too, so you’ve got a date.”

Tina filed that one away. Was Mike abandoning her girl now that he was serving as a U.S. Representative? She didn’t like the sound of that. “Alright, I’ll call you later.”