There are two things that can instantly unite a gaggle of disgruntled poorly paid office cogs such as my colleagues and I, scandal and cake. On the topic of scandal, we always snap out of our zombie-like malaise whenever juicy gossip warp-speeds its way up to our floor. Unit cohesion is also guaranteed to wipe the scowls off our faces when we stuff ourselves with a delectable frosted baked confection that we did not have to finance personally. The rest of the work-week-month-year, we’re toiling away quietly, a mural of sheer misery until quitting time rolls around on Friday and we’re awarded our Get Out of Jail Free passes. We always wear our Happy Faces then, and whenever one of us is taking time off for a vacation, that person dons his or her Simultaneous Orgasm Produced with a Companion As Opposed to One’s Own Hand (which isn’t so bad, either except when that hand falls asleep) Face. But I digress …
Recently I learned that my colleague Ling’s new charge, Under Ling, is celebrating her birthday this weekend. Under Ling started barely two weeks ago, but somehow during the course of conversation this nice young woman informed me that her birthday is July 11th. To throw her off the track of what I was thinking (“oh happy day!”), I gave her my fierce why are you telling me this? look. This look is similar to my regular frown that screams, “If I’d been born a dog, I’d be dead multiple times already, I’ve yet to do a single thing of worth with my thus far entirely misspent life, and my pay sucks out loud!” In response to Under Ling’s candor I mumbled, “Uh-huh, okay.”
When Under Ling was away form her desk, I spilled my guts to Ling:
Me: Under Ling’s birthday is this weekend. You know what that means!
Ling: Hell yeah, cake!
We shared a brief moment of pause since Elsbeth, our department head, was not in the office this week. Our boss approves the cake purchases.
Ling: You think Elsbeth will be okay with it?
Me: Email her.
Ling: What should I say? Under Ling hasn’t worked here that long.
Me (thinking): Angle it in the direction of Under Ling’s morale.
It took Elsbeth and Ling months to find Under Ling. Elsbeth had promised Ling that they would only hire someone they both agreed on. This magnanimous offer is possibly one of the greatest regrets of our Lord & Master’s professional career since Ling absolutely loathed a candidate Elsbeth absolutely loved, and Elsbeth was icy to Ling’s preferred choices. In addition, there were a few clairvoyant candidates that seemed willing to work anywhere but our company after interviewing for the opening. For example, one accepted a position scrubbing floors with a toothbrush in Rabbit Hatch, Kentucky because the salary was higher. Finally, for an instant, time froze and both Elsbeth and Ling were in sync about Under Ling who expressed enthusiasm for the position. Elsbeth would feel beaten with a bat if she had any hint that Under Ling already wants out. Within nine seconds of receiving Ling’s email, Elsbeth replied, “Get that cake immediately.”
Awarded our superior’s seal of approval, Ling climbed into our department’s Acme brand rocket ship and jet propelled herself to Duane Park Patisserie, which is coincidentally also walking distance from our office.
She ordered a delicious 6” chocolate blackout cake that was so rich, moist and dense, the five of us could only eat half of it. Greg, my sidekick, who I periodically pester to quit smoking, remembered to bring his lighter, or as he said, “I need to pollute my lungs and light candles.” The Quiet Man thinks that since management is in no hurry to return our 20% in cut wages, the least they should do is let us have cake every Friday. It would be welcome if Managerial Aristocracy said, “Let them eat cake!” We’d say, “That’s fine with us, but you do the buying.”