The low hum of air conditioners filled the room. No talking or laughter could be heard. If you closed your eyes, the only sign of life from a room full of people was the click-clacking of fingers on keyboards. The paint on the ceiling and walls was an efficient and completely nondescript colour. Stale coffee smells filled the air.
Garth let out a deep, anxious sigh. He wondered how long it was until lunch. Lifting his head he stretched his neck to peer over the top of his cubicle. Rows of people at desks, wearing collars and pretending to be interested in what was happening on their computer screen. The coffee cups at their sides, a last ditch effort to get a buzz from the day. A corporate drone army.
How did it come to this? What made it even more unbelievable was that Garth knew he wasn’t alone in his disengagement from daily life. In a recent survey the company had found that only four out of ten employees knew what they were selling. And yet they stayed at their desks.
Garth wondered what Mandy was doing. He had noticed her new haircut this morning when she arrived at work. She seemed chuffed to hear his remarks. Or maybe that was annoying for her?
As if prompted by his thoughts, Garth saw a familiar brown hairdo rise from a cubicle at the other side of the room. Mandy was on the move. She walked purposefully down her aisle and then, Holy Cow! She turned down the aisle that Garth was sat in. She was headed straight towards him!
Garth panicked and ducked back down in front of his computer. What to say? Another hair comment? No too much. A joke of some sort? No…..Oh please dear Gods give me something to say to her!
Garth looked up again. As she passed his desk Garth managed to let out a small sound that somewhat reminded him of a stray cat living on his block. Mandy smiled and kept moving. Garth resorted to holding his head in his hands and beating himself up in his mind a million different ways.
Breaking the moment of exasperation, Garth heard quick footsteps coming back towards him, and then a little piece of scrunched up paper landed on his desk in front of his face (which was still in his hands). Garth looked up to see Mandy trotting away, disappearing round the bend.
It’s from her?!! Garth’s heart pounded like he was running a marathon. His palms secreted a layer of fine sweat. Must open it.
Uncrinkling and unfolding the paper, Garth saw her smooth hand writing in green ink. The sweat layer doubled up on his palms.
There in front of his eyes a little message lay: “Let’s leave here now and go get an ice cream…xx M”