What Ann Likes About her Job (new fiction)

Never marry into a family that used to be something.  They’ll never be anything again and all the financial support will be up to you.

Wow.  That sounds a lot bitchier out here than it did inside my head.  Sorry. It happens like that sometimes.

It’s good advice, though.  See, I made that mistake.  Fell in love with a lovely man.  Good looking. Confident. Kind. Has a really nice sister. Their Grandfather had a lot of land and factories and stuff.  And then something happened (it’s a family secret – they won’t even tell me) and all that went away and now nobody seems to know what to do with their lives.

My husband’s name is Odin.  He’s named after the King of the Norse gods.

My name is Ann.  When I met Odin’s mother, she told me that my name means “God has been gracious to me,” while looking significantly at her son. This maybe gives you some idea of the dynamics in this marriage. I guess being identified with an ultimate deity makes it hard to settle down to normal life.  He’s had twelve jobs in the ten years we’ve been married.  He’s always getting fed up with crap bosses and needing to try something else.  Of course, when I say crap bosses, I mean actual criminals or just so odd that no one could put up with them.  He’s bright and personable, but his inability to keep a decent job is making it hard for us to get ahead. If things keep on like this, we’ll never be able to afford those babies his mother wants us to have.

I love Odin.  Our marriage is happy in other ways, but the lack of forward motion is starting to bother me.

And, if I’m being perfectly honest, sometimes he has entitlement issues. By which I mean he feels the entitlement and I have the issues. He’s working on it. He knows the way he grew up is not normal and he is constantly trying to be a better man. It leaves me breathless sometimes, the lengths he will go to.

And, of course, to be fair, it’s not like my career history is all that stellar.  It’s not like I’m head of neurosurgery or any other kind of glamorous profession.  I worked for a bank for eight years and now I’m working for a non-profit.  It’s called “Blankets for Botswana”.  It used to be “Blankets for Bosnia” but, as my boss explained during my interview, the children in the photos really didn’t resonate with the donors.

No one working here is really sure what the charity is for.  But Lucy, our boss, assures us that it’s about more than just the blankets.  The blankets are a metaphor for the warmth of our care, the warmth every needy child needs.

We do send some of the money we collect to an orphanage in Botswana.  I’ve seen the thank you letters they send.  With photos.  Those kids are so darned cute, it would break your heart.  Lucy says that next time she makes a site visit, she’ll take me with her.  That’s likely why I haven’t been too eager to look for something else. I’d really love to give those kids a hug.

I hate working here, I’m embarrassed by it.  There have been a couple of stories in the news, reporters asking questions about the validity of the charity, so now people look at me funny when I tell them where I work.  But I can’t find anything better and with Odin’s volatility, I feel like one of us needs to have a stable job.

My title is Director of Development and Outreach.  And, honestly, I’ve had the position for nearly two years and I still have absolutely no idea what that means.  I think I’m really just Lucy’s personal assistant.  But every so often, I get to write some copy for the fundraising materials.

I’m also encouraged to talk to the donors when they call.  Rachel, our Office Manager, refuses to.  She feels like we’re lying to them, conning them out of their pension money and she flat-out refuses to be part of it.

So why doesn’t she quit?  It’s the economy, stupid.  Rachel is a single mother and needs to keep regular hours.  Just as soon as things pick up, she is out of here.  She’s been saying that since I started and probably every day for the three years she was here before that.

When I arrive at work Monday morning, she’s at her desk, checking the job boards.

“Anything good?” I ask.

“Chicken catchers.  Administrative Assistant in a nursing home.”

“Why don’t you try for that?”

“It’s in New Liskeard.”

“Oh.”

“My kids would never go for that.”

“Well, why do you search that far away?”

“No one around here would hire me if they saw this place on my resume.”

We have a variation on this conversation at the start of every day.  Rachel is convinced that nefarious deeds are afoot here.  No, those are her exact words.  The money comes in, the money goes out and we really don’t know what kind of good is actually being done.  Lucy assures us that it’s none of our concern.  I tend to take her at her word.  Rachel sees conspiracy wherever she looks.

“How was your weekend?” Rachel asks as I settle in to the chair in front of her desk for a chat.  The pace here is relaxed, to say the least.

“It was good,” I say.  “Nothing too interesting, but we did go out for dinner Saturday night.”

We hadn’t been able to do that for awhile, what with Odin’s employment history, but he’s been getting regular paycheques for nearly a year now, so we figured we could handle a treat.

“It feels kinda weird, actually.  I mean, it’s weird just how weird it feels when everything’s settled and good.  I think we keep heading back in to some kind of crisis just to avoid that weird feeling.  You know?”

“I totally do that,” Rachel told me.  “My kids, my divorces, my car accidents… I totally do that.”

She thought for a moment.  “I grew up in total chaos.  I got really good at handling it…. Maybe a little too good.”

Not, possibly, the best subject to start the week with.  Fortunately, the phone rang.  Rachel perked up and I was able to make my way to my office.

One of the things I actually like about my job is my office.  It’s mine.  It has my name on the door.  It has a door!  For eight years, I was crammed into a cubicle under artificial lights, right next to my boss’s cubicle.  She talked to herself all day, every day.  Chattered away like an angry squirrel.  I was expected to ignore that, unless she was actually talking to me.  Then I was expected to respond. Immediately and intelligently.  It was hell.  I went home most days with a splitting headache.

Coming here felt heavenly.  An office! A door!  A window!  And until Lucy gets here, or until she starts emailing me incoherently, it is still nice.

 

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One Response to What Ann Likes About her Job (new fiction)

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