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Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Artiste

Alice got up from her desk and walked through the small office space, past Joan the typist, Chuck the salesman and Tom the accountant. She knocked at the open door, where her father stood talking with his partner Don, and Alex, the comptroller.
“Phone call, Dad.”
“Who is it?”
Alice shrugged. “He didn’t say.”
“Go ask who it is.” Her father turned back to Don.
Alice returned, passing by Tom and Chuck and Joan, smiling aimlessly, unsure of the pertinent office etiquette. She sat and picked up the phone.
“May I ask who’s calling?” She remembered the line from some TV show.
“Ed Duncan.”
“Ed Dunlop?”
“Ed Duncan.”
“Ed Duncan, just a moment.”
Alice got up from her desk and walked past Joan, who smiled, and Chuck and Tom. She tapped at the doorframe of her father’s office.
“Dad? It’s Ed Duncan.”
“What company?” he asked, without looking up from a flowchart.
Alice looked at him for a beat or two. Seriously? she thought. She turned away and walked past Tom and Chuck and Joan.
‘I’m learning the business,’ she mouthed to Joan who was typing furiously. Even in her head she could hear how weak it sounded. She still wasn’t even sure exactly what the business was.
She picked up the phone.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Dunlop. What company are you calling from?”
“Duncan.”
“Mr. Duncan, I’m sorry.”
“Comm Lighting.”
“Chrome Lighting?”
“COMM Lighting.”
“Com Lighting, thank you.”
Alice counted her footsteps as she walked past Joan, who stopped typing to gaze at her, past Chuck, who had yet to look up from the phone, and past Tom. She stood in the doorway as Don but not her father looked up.
“Ed Dunlop from Com Lighting.”
Her father turned, the phone to his ear.
“Ed Duncan,” he said. “Take a message, I’m on another call.”
Alice turned and walked past Tom, Chuck, Joan, her face burning a bright pink.
By the end of the summer, Alice had learned how to be a secretary.


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30 comments:

  1. You were a master at making this feel as awkward to read as it must have been for her to live. The repetition of the people that she walked past and their slightly changing reactions was exactly what someone would notice in a moment as excruciating as this one.

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    1. I guess I'm good at awkward...
      Thanks so much, Jennifer!

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  2. I could feel her awkwardness and embarrassment. Funny thing is, he could've probably taken the call and been done with it in less time than it took for the three interruptions :)

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    1. He could have, but he was "teaching" her...
      Thanks for reading, Janna!

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  3. Wow, how claustrophobic and uncomfortable. And I mean that in a good way! :) Excellent portrayal of Alice's learning curve as well as her father's rather tedious teaching method. Poor Alice. Like throwing someone into the water to teach them how to swim. Well executed, as always, Kymm.

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    1. Taken in a good way! I love your swimming analogy. yes.
      Thank you so much for your kind words, Steph!

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  4. My managers are like this sometimes. I'm not afraid to tell them off for it haha

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    1. Arg, managers. I have only briefly managed to work for bosses.
      Thanks for reading, Draug!

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  5. Wow, I could totally feel myself in her shoes. You've definitely communicated the struggle that is becoming acclimated to a new job. Cringe.

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    1. Cringe : ) Was definitely going for that.
      Don't know if I'm "glad" you could feel yourself in her shoes, haha, but appreciate the sentiment!
      Thanks, Jean!

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  6. Geez loweez! Give the girl a break! But, I spose, that is how one learn's the job, by making mistakes.

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    1. Geez loweez, lol, are you from my hometown???
      Glad you felt for her.
      Thanks for reading, Renada!

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  7. The awkward feeling of the first day at work, not knowing the processes, names, times, players etc... all comes back in this piece. :))

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    1. Haha, yeah I've been there often. I worked as a KellyGirl temp summers during college, so I was perpetually not knowing the ins and outs and who's whos...
      Thanks for reading, Jo-Anne!

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  8. Ah, poor Alice--her uncertainty is palpable. As Jo-Anne says, nice job of capturing the confusion and insecurity of a new job.

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    1. Glad it got across.
      Thanks so much for you kind words, Kallan Annie!

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  9. You have done a great job here! Poor Alice is learning the hard way but I'm sure she'll remember in the end.

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    1. Alice seems to have garnered quite a bit of sympathy.
      Thank you so much, Gabriella!

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  10. Oh my gosh, you perfectly described the first day of a new job. Feeling like an idiot all day long. Glad she finally learned. Thanks for linking up!

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    1. Glad you're glad she learned. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Tri!

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  11. I feel actively uncomfortable now; so realistic and well paced.

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    1. Haha, sorry about that, but thanks for your kind words, Sandra!

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  12. Perfect slice of life, Kymm! My face would be bright pink on a first day like that too!

    By the way, you rock, my friend. I appreciate you so much:)

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    1. My life is made up of lots of these kinds of slices, hahaha
      Rocking to your comment love - and feeling very appreciated.
      Hope the reciprocity button is on : )

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  13. I've been in that spot before. You're spot on with it!

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    1. Hope I don't know many people who haven't been there!
      Thanks so much, H.L.!

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  14. Oh, man! I feel her pain. It sucks when someone keeps sending you to do things that make you look stupid. I'm glad a few weeks of it paid off. Or did it?

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  15. That depends if you want her to be an artiste or a secretary!
    Thanks for reading, Alicia!

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