Congratulations to Lauren Hargrave, the winner of our Workplace Disasters Essay Contest! Check out her winning entry, below.
He looked at me quizzically; I offered a shrug of the shoulders.
“My apologies, I must have misdialed.”
My boss hung up mildly frustrated and I sat frozen while he checked the email I’d sent to every attendee for the conference call. The list included two bankers, three attorneys, two clients, my boss (who we’ll call William), and our lovely deal closer and mother hen, Ms. Konnerth.
We were trying to close a loan on a commercial property and the call was to be an “all hands on deck” type of affair. Tensions were high, the attorneys were tired, and I was praying I didn’t do something to mess it up.
William checked the number, but this time he dialed the line was busy.
“That’s weird,” he said, looking at me like it was my fault.
Crap, did I give them the right number? It has to be the right number. I took it from an old email Ms. Konnerth sent me. It’s the right number.
Convinced it was not my fault; I just gave him another shrug.
As William dialed the number yet again, Ms. Konnerth entered the office in a huff.
“Have you two tried calling in yet?”
“Yeah, we’re just about—”
“Gary’s Chicken Farm, can I help you?” This time the drawl wasn’t so much lazy as it was lacerating. Gary was not happy. Neither was William.
“Excuse me, I apologize, did I dial 1-800-xxx-xxxx?”
“Yes, sir you did. Are you looking for that conference call too?”
“Why, yes I am.” William’s eyes fixed on mine and began to drain the soul from my body.
“Yup, it appears someone made a mistake because I’ve been getting calls for that damned conference call all mornin’! Makes me feel like I should getta piece a the action.”
My skin turned cold and clammy.
Just then, William’s other line started to ring.
“We’re terribly sorry about that. We’ll make sure no one else calls you.” His gaze was now fixed around my neck and cutting off my air supply.
“Oh that’s alright. Just make sure you give us a call if you want any chickens.”
“Thanks, will do.”
I began to wilt as the other line continued to ring and William looked at me like he was going to eat my heart for lunch. I tried to talk, to groan, Christ, I tried to breathe, but the lump in my throat wouldn’t let anything past.
It wouldn’t even let me swallow.
Ms. Konnerth gave me a protective pat on the knee as William cleared his throat and answered the other line.
“So, Dan, you wouldn’t be in the market for chickens now, would you?”
The guttural laugh that came through the line did little to ease my misery.
“Yea, that poor guy’s been getting calls all mornin’ apparently. When we called, he answered the phone, ‘Corporate America answering service.’”
A shrill and nervous laugh escaped my throat and before I could contain it, Dan and Ms. Konnerth were laughing too. William even cracked a smile.
“Dan, I am so, so, so sorry, I don’t know what happened; I’ll email everyone the right number right now.” My voice was shaky but I tried to maintain some composure.
“No need, dear, I’ve got it here on my notebook,” Ms. Konnerth said with a wink. “William, if you would be so kind as to send out the email with the correct call-in phone number.”
She handed over her notebook and William did as he was directed. I didn’t know what shocked me more—the coolness with which Ms. Konnerth delivered her orders, or the fact that William nodded and obliged like a 10-year old boy.
Something that didn’t shock me? The rubber chicken that arrived via FedEx two days later. The note read, “Lauren, It was either this or 10 pounds of chicken breasts (Gary only sells in bulk). Enjoy. Dan.”
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