They reassigned me from the chemical sales group to a new one, in a different building, the main office where the CEO resided. Here in the lobby was a gallery celebrating the company’s history, through oil paintings of all the men who had come before: white and balding, glasses, stern, arms crossed.
The new group dealt in Applied Mathematics, Computational Chemistry, Computational Fluid Dynamics and other numerical methods. I was their new temp, doing secretarial work.
They gave me a schematic that showed all the men’s offices, with a clipart stick figure representing each of them at their desk. Some had Indian or Asian names I couldn’t pronounce. I noticed the secretary, Kelly, didn’t have her last name listed on the sheet. The men’s names were all spelled out, but Kelly was just Kelly.
I got to work: passwords, office supply locations, the bathroom. That was about it. I was shown where to park, which was well off in the distance through the trees, with an emphasis on not parking in the marked spots just out front.
Each of the engineers had their pictures in the hallway, all awkward-looking men (“don’t look at me!”), all serious, some attempting a grin. Their mailstops were etched below, and looked like grave markers.
Unlike my last temp job in the chemical sales department, I really didn’t have anything to do here. The engineers seemed too busy to notice me, and distributing the mail each day only took about 15 minutes.
They also had a cute intern from France, and someone was always at her desk asking if she could help them out.
So I wrote a lot. I wrote letters, detailed journal entries, and short story drafts. I fantasized about the intern when I saw her in the hallway, and I looked through the phone book on the off-chance I’d discover something unusual. I pulled song lyrics off the Internet for a band I liked and tried to decipher their meaning.
All the while, I carried a dark secret with me: it was mid-April, and in six weeks I had a one-way ticket to France, and would be leaving them with little notice.