a collection of steps

Posts Tagged ‘office’

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 3

In death, fear, fiction, office on May 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Rachel must place a call to the widow of Mr. Stone who passed away late last night, but she can’t pick up the phone. The conversations she had just weeks ago with Mrs. Stone are still churning in her gut. It would be great if she could just extricate herself from their strange story…

The tidbit Mrs. Stone shared with me about spending her entire marriage as a celibate servant to her husband lit the fuse in the bomb that’s been sitting dormant in my heart for the last 15 years. I thought I had dismantled that thing and was angry to find it still threatened my plans to be free from Steve.

Anyway, I couldn’t pick up the phone. All I had to do was inform Mrs. Stone that her husband died this morning at 1:03 a.m., offer condolences and politely pass her along to our after-death staff who handles the final paperwork and subsequent ceremonies.

But I couldn’t, not today. Today I had to focus on the final hearing of the divorce of my marriage that is taking way too long to die. Death never bothered me until I met the Stones. I’ve been in this business for 18 years and death-related things don’t even phase me. It’s not that I don’t feel; I just don’t fall to pieces. Neither do I dwell.

“Kevin, get Angie on the phone.” She will call Mrs. Stone or I’ll fire her for insubordination. This is technically her duty.

“I’m not here—I took the day off!” Kevin barked back through my intercom. On no other day would he do this to me. Angie’s toxic tales of Mr. Stone had infiltrated my whole staff—including my assistant and now there was no one left in the entire facility who would call Mrs. Stone.

“I’m not paying you for this day, Kevin,” I threatened. He didn’t retort, which was also unusual, but I knew he heard me, I could hear him outside my door fiddling with the fax machine. I reached for the envelope; inside was Mr. Stone’s watch and his wedding band. I looked twice to make sure there was nothing else, but it was empty.

I tilted the ring to read the engraving: Till death; strange choice for newlywed.

“Call her.” I jumped at the bark from the intercom and dropped the ring.

“Kevin! Either leave or get Angie on the phone!” It was 7:20 a.m. and as angry as I was at Kevin, I knew he was right, I couldn’t keep stalling. I grabbed the phone and dialed the number he had scribbled on the envelope.

“Hello?”

“Mrs. Stone? This is Rachel. I’m sorry to wake you so early.”

“No problem Rachel,” her voice was odd, feathery.

“Russell left us early this morning, just after one. I’m so sorry.”

“I know Rachel, he’s at peace now.”

Her response took me off guard. Had someone else called her? She thanked me and said she would be in soon, declining my offer to come get her. I hung up and stared blankly at my wall of sticky notes, wondering what it was about this man that garnered such devotion. He seemed as normal as the rest of us. I pushed aside my thoughts. Mrs. Stone could be a saint if she wants, but not me. I have no patience for that. My almost Ex needs to grow up and take responsibility, and I need more from a man than he can give. I pressed the intercom.

“Who called Mrs. Stone?”

I popped out of my chair at the silence and yanked the door open. “Kevin! Who – ” He was gone. I marched down the hall and punched the elevator button, seething under my breath. I didn’t need this today.

Read Part 1

Read Part 2



Like Mom, Like Me

In career, Children, Moms, office on May 1, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Mom drifted off to sleep long before bedtime most weeknights. As a child I remember how she got up early every day, dressed up real nice and went to work. My brother and I got home before she did, and when she arrived she wasn’t up for much conversation.

Paperwork Overload

One day Mom told me she could use some help at her office, something about a machine that folds letters and stuffs them into envelopes going haywire; it folded hundreds of letters the wrong way.

I was thrilled to go to work with her.  She was the Office Manager at a Christian magazine and it was cool seeing her orchestrate the circulation department. The day I sat in the office with her to refold all those letters and stuff them in envelops was the day I got the bug.

Not sure if that’s the right word for it – some days I would call it the disease, but whatever it was I got it. Now, I get up early, dress up as nice as I can and work in an office!

I’m not saying I dreamt of becoming an office professional, I didn’t. It just got into my DNA that day and now the mundane, monotonous tasks that so many loathe, I love.

I was only 12 when I sat at that desk in my Mom’s office, but I was old enough to understand that she and her staff were indispensible and could never be replaced by machines.

As a 20-year veteran in the administrative profession, I now know why Mom was so exhausted when she came home.  I fully respect her efforts and endurance in a career that without question can try the very soul of the most stable personalities.

One must possess incredible patience and skill to sit behind a desk all day, magically complete their tasks and dodge bullets of gossip, condescension and backstabbing – not to mention staying clear of dueling egos. The workload alone is not for the faint-hearted.

Mom is now retired from the office world and I’m still plugging away at piles of paperwork – though my office is wherever I want it to be – as long as I have my laptop and a strong Wi-Fi signal.  Technology aside, the work is still the same, and still rewarding.

Sometimes I wonder how I can be so much like her in that respect and yet so different. She could cook circles around me in the kitchen and had a wonderful flair for decorating and entertaining.  I’d rather be at my computer plucking away at these keys, cooking up stories, and entertaining readers. ‘To each his own,’ as they say.

I love my Mom. She is kind, thoughtful and generous. And, while I’m proud that I share her skill set professionally, I’m still working to earn the profitable wages of a life lived with a mother’s heart.