Chapter no 12

The Coworker

To: Seth Hoffman From: Dawn Schiff

Subject: Refrigerator Cleaning Schedule

To Seth,

I have created a schedule for cleaning the refrigerator in the break room on a twice-weekly basis, with each employee assigned a designated date to clean. With your permission, I would like to post this schedule on the refrigerator. Also, I have attached an information sheet about common bacteria that grow at cold temperatures.

Sincerely, Dawn Schiff

To: Seth Hoffman From: Dawn Schiff

Subject: Refrigerator Cleaning Schedule Follow-Up

To Seth,

Did you get my email about the refrigerator cleaning schedule? Please let me know ASAP!

Sincerely, Dawn Schiff

To: Mia Hodge From: Dawn Schiff

Subject: Re: Greetings

Dear Mia,

I had a great day today. I came up with an idea that will save the company a ton of money. You’re going to be so proud of me.

I had considered talking to Seth about it privately, but he never seems interested in meeting with me. The only times I ever manage to catch him are when he comes to Natalie’s cubicle to talk to her. I tried to talk to him last week, but he was on the phone. I waited in his doorway for him to get off, but then he pulled the phone away from his ear and said, “Jesus, Dawn, I’m talking to my wife. Can you come back another time?”

So the meeting seemed like as good a time as any. The meeting was to talk about how sales are going with a new product that was just released by Vixed. The product is called Collahealth. As far as I can tell, it’s some sort of collagen product that is supposed to help your hair, skin, nails, and joints. At least, that’s what it says on the sales pamphlet, although once again, the research studies are noticeably lacking. Also, it’s an advanced formula. I don’t know what the

non-advanced formula is, because this is the only formula they seem to have.

We all gathered in the conference room—Seth, his secretary, our sales team, our marketing team, and me. He sat at one end of the conference table, and Natalie sat next to him like she always did. It made sense, because she always seems to be a large part of these meetings.

Everybody kept their eyes on Seth expectantly while noshing on the croissants he always brings. Or at least, his secretary brings them. Even though these meetings are largely useless, because we never really decide anything or figure anything out, he always tries his best. People find Seth likable, for the most part. There’s nothing objectionable about him, I suppose, although he’s not nearly as charming now that I’ve gotten to know him.

I’ve heard some of the female salespeople remarking that they think he’s sexy. I’m not sure why they would be talking about that though, since he’s married.

Seth was talking about how Natalie is “killing it” with her sales, which is true. He likes Natalie, but objectively, her sales numbers are superior to everyone else at the company. He joked around with her, asking her secret. And she just smiled and said it’s a great product.

I wonder if Natalie uses collagen supplements. Her hair is very healthy and shiny, and her skin always has this immaculate glow, like she’s an angel. And her nails are always perfect. Today they were painted dark purple, without a scratch or defect on them. They were the most perfect nails I had ever seen.

Remember that time when my mother dragged me to get a manicure? After five minutes, I left in a panic because the fumes were so toxic that I was scared to breathe. She was furious with me, saying I humiliated us both. These days, I keep my fingernails extremely short, like my hair.

“As for the rest of you,” Seth continued, “most of you are not meeting quotas. I’m not going to point fingers, but we could be doing a lot better. A lot better. The Syracuse branch

had twice as much profit as we did this quarter, and they’re in freaking Syracuse. What are we going to do about it?”

I was nearly sitting on my hands as people around the table spitballed ideas at him. My idea was so simple. But I wanted to wait a little bit, because at the first meeting, Seth told me I talked too often. He told me to “get control of yourself, Dawn. Jesus.”

The ideas were pretty much what you would expect. They all involved a large amount of spending. My idea was the exact opposite of that. When I was satisfied nobody had anything brilliant to say, I raised my hand and waited for Seth to call on me. (Of course, then he got annoyed that I was raising my hand. He made a comment about how “this isn’t school,” which made everyone snicker.)

That’s when I dropped the bombshell.

I’d been going over the numbers in detail for the last two weeks. And our sales are decent. I took the liberty of obtaining the expense report from Syracuse, which is a much more profitable branch, and that’s where things really differ. Our expenses are much higher, as I told everyone at the meeting.

“Dorchester isn’t Syracuse,” Natalie spoke up. “Of course our expenses will be higher.”

So I showed everyone the folder with all my numbers. The biggest expense is all the perks we give to customers. Food is a big one. On lunches alone, we have spent half of our expense budget. I found one lunch receipt that cost more than twenty-five cases of Collahealth! Twenty-five. Isn’t that ridiculous?

Natalie was flustered, which I could tell by the way her long eyelashes fluttered. Her eyelashes are nearly twice as long as mine and much darker in color. Also, she doesn’t hide them behind glasses the way I do. She started babbling about how she could make that money back easily, and that it’s an investment.

But it’s not true, and I said as much. I have carefully collected data. I love numbers because numbers don’t lie.

And the numbers show that most of these lunches don’t result in twenty-five sales or more. The stores usually agree to stock a small amount of the product to see if it sells. On average, they purchased one case, which is sixteen bottles. So every lunch loses money for us.

When I finished talking, Seth was stroking his chin. He’s always clean-shaven at the beginning of the day, but by the afternoon, he always has some hair on his jaw. As he stroked his chin, he kept saying, “Interesting, interesting.”

Natalie wasn’t convinced though. She started talking about how in the short term, the sales might not justify the expense, but in the long term, it does. Except that’s just wrong. And I told her so.

“Well,” she said, “maybe once you’ve made a sale, you’d be in a better position to weigh in.”

I didn’t understand what she meant by that. I had a good idea to save the company money. I could tell Seth thought so too. And anyway, how could I make a sale? I’m an accountant.

So I suppose it wasn’t a complete success. Natalie didn’t seem to agree with me, but that was only because she hasn’t looked at the numbers. I tried to show her later, but she waved me off. Seth told me he was going to think about it though. I reminded him that he could save the company tens of thousands of dollars.

Of course, you’re the first person I want to tell about what a great job I did! You’re the only person who gets it. Even my parents didn’t really care about any of my achievements. When I first moved out of their house, I would sometimes call to tell them about how things were going for me, but I don’t do that much anymore. And then of course, that heart attack took my father, and now that he’s gone, my mother has become even more critical of everything I do. You think she was bad before? She’s much worse now.

For example, if I told her about the meeting, she would probably agree with Natalie. She would say that Natalie knows what she’s talking about better than I do. So I should

keep my mouth shut because nobody wants to listen to me anyway.

You’re the only one who doesn’t criticize me. When we were in high school, every day my mother would pick on me. Why did I wear clothes that looked like they belonged to an old lady? Why did I always cut my hair so short? How come I never smiled? But when I showed up to school and saw you, you always had something nice to say about me. For example, when I got that turtle charm for my backpack, you were the first person to notice it and tell me how much you liked it. You never asked me why I never smiled, because when we were together, I actually felt like smiling.

I wish you would come to visit soon. I miss you.

Usually, I love being at home at night. I do live alone, but you know me—I appreciate quiet. There’s nothing worse than too much noise. I live in a small two-bedroom, one-bathroom, single-story house in a quiet neighborhood in Quincy. Remember how much my mother hated my room when we were kids? Yet another thing she loved to pick on. She hated my turtle figurines and turtle posters. She thought I should put up posters of boy bands “like normal kids.” But in my own house, I can do whatever I want. When you come here, I’ll give you the grand tour.

For the most part, my furnishings are simple—a sofa purchased at a discount furniture store, a coffee table, a television. I have two bookcases, one of which is filled with books, and the other is filled with turtles. Turtle figurines, stuffed turtles—you name it. The centerpiece is a large ceramic turtle I purchased a couple of years ago that’s about the size of a basketball. You don’t have to worry about me being burglarized because if I had an intruder in my house, I could clock him on the head with that turtle and do some serious damage.

Also, I don’t live entirely alone. I’ve got Junior. Well, her full name is Mia Junior. Yes, that’s right, I named her after you! She is a Mississippi Map turtle. Turtles make great pets, and you know I’ve always wanted one.

Every night, I feed Junior a few of her turtle pellets. That makes up most of her diet, although sometimes I’ll purchase some dried crickets to provide her with a little variety. Three or four times a week, I’ll add in some leafy greens. Junior isn’t a big eater, but I want her to have a well-rounded diet. I can’t wait for you to meet her. I think you two will really hit it off.

Sincerely, Dawn Schiff

To: Dawn Schiff From: Mia Hodge

Subject: Re: Greetings

I’m so proud of you for kicking butt at that meeting. George is excited for you too! Don’t let yourself get intimidated… you are way better than that!

And don’t worry—I will be there to visit you before you know it. Let me check my calendar and get back to you about some potential dates.



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