Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who I Am: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Loner

The next day Peter was early for work, Anna was already there waiting for him as he entered the building. “Good morning Anna” he greeted her. “Peter you are so early, just as I expected from you” she replied. “Am I early? You are already here so I think I am late already” Peter said. Anna laughed a bit as they walked towards the lobby and two security guards blocked their paths. “Your Identification cards please” said the taller guard. Peter did not have an ID yet so he looked at Anna. She brought out two identification cards from her bag and showed them to the guards and they were allowed to enter. “Im sorry its my fault, I forgot to give this to you yesterday so I had to come in early and wait for you” she said and handed over his identification card. “Do I have to wear this inside the building?” he asked her. “Once you are inside you don’t have to wear it, just don’t lose it or else you will not be allowed to enter even though you are an employee” Anna responded. “Wow, tight security but I think I have to wear this one since there will be two more guards before I enter the workplace” he said and he pinned his card on his chest.

“Tell me Anna, where will I get my work load from?” he asked her. “You don’t have to worry about that, there is a team who distributes those things, they are called the sorters. All instructions will be there so all you have to do is work on them. If you are done then you can go to the lounge and relax. Lunch break by the way lasts for an hour and if you have no more work to do for the day you cannot go home early, you have to wait for 5 pm so you can just hang out in the lounge” she added. “What if I want to do overtime, can I do that?” he asked again. “Yes, you just have to inform the sorters so that they can give you extra work. The sorters review each task and appropriate certain time period for an employee to finish one task, so they give you tasks based on an 8 hour basis” Anna answered. “So what if I work fast? I mean what if I can do the task quickly, can I ask for more?” Peter inquired. “Nope, so if you want to work some more then you have to inform then and wait for 5pm” she stated.

The two of them reach Peter’s work area and on his cubicle there was a laptop and several folders. Peter looked around and saw folders on each cubicle too. “So the sorters do come early, these folders I guess are tasks for the day. A laptop and a desktop, so which should I use?” he asked. “This laptop is yours, company issue; the accessories are inside the bag under your desk. You work using the desktop and yes those folders are your tasks” she told him. “Wow, so this is my laptop. So can I start working already?” he asked her. “If you want too, its still 30 minutes early for work. Would you like to grab a cup of coffee with me?” she asked him. Peter sat down in front of his desk and turned on his desktop. “I don’t drink coffee; I think I want to start work. Maybe I will see you later at lunch” he told her as he started to open one of his task folders. Anna quietly left him and stared back and saw him already punching on his keyboard, “Hey Peter don’t stress out yourself okay?!” she yelled and Peter didn’t turn around but he just raised his hand and waived.

Twenty five minutes passed and the other employees were trickling in the workplace. Everyone was surprised to see Peter already working. Melanie entered the workplace and saw all people looking at Peter. She walked towards Peter’s cubicle and everyone took their seats and started to work. Melanie looked over Peter’s shoulder and saw he had already finished two folders of work so she proceeded towards her cubicle and took a seat. “Hey Mel, can you believe this new guy he already finished two folders. At the rate he is going he might finish his tasks before lunch” said Lorna from the cubicle to her left. “I don’t think so, maybe the sorters just gave him easy tasks since he is new” she replied and stood up once more and took a peek at Peter.

An hour before lunch Peter stood up and brought all of his folders and proceeded to the sorters’ office. A few minutes later he and one lady sorter came back to his cubicle and the lady started to give him a lecture. Peter was scratching his head and continuously nodded, and a few seconds later he walked towards the exit. Melanie stood up and went to the sorter and asked. “Hey, what was that all about?” and the sorter shook her head. “That guy is amazing I tell you, he finished his work load for today and came asking for more. I told him he can come back at 5 if he wants to do overtime” the sorter said. “What do you mean finished? He did them all?” Melanie inquired. The sorter nodded her head and fixed the folders. “Well I guess you gave him pretty easy tasks since it’s his first day” Melanie added but the sorter shook her head. “He was given the same tasks as you guys, funny thing is I tried to access his records and they were locked” the sorter revealed. Melanie was irked and she immediately went back to her cubicle and got back to work.

Lunch break came and everyone proceeded to the lounge. Melanie was quick to enter the employees’ room and looked for Peter. “Hey Mel, look the newbie and he has a camera with him” Lorna whispered and there was Peter sitting in front of the window just staring outside. Melanie just walked towards the buffet table and filled her plate then proceeded to a table near the sofa where Peter was. “Hey Mel, what do you think is that guy thinking right now? He is a bit mysterious don’t you think?” Lorna whispered. “Shut up and eat, I don’t care about that guy, sooner or later he will feel the pressure” Melanie quipped and munched at her food.

A few minutes later Anna sat beside Peter and they started a conversation. “Hey Mel look, do you think Anna has the hots for the new guy? Come to think of it he is quite handsome you know” Lorna again whispered. Melanie looked over and saw Peter and Anna laughing, “I don’t care, I lost my appetite. See you at the workplace” she said and stood up and walked away.

Ten minutes before five in the afternoon and everyone was surprised to see Peter walk in the workplace. He proceeded to the sorters office and then went back to his cubicle. At exactly five almost everyone were packing their things and getting ready to leave. Peter was turning on his desktop and a sorter approached him and handed over several task folders. Peter started working on his first folder and Melanie passed by his cubicle and stared at him, Peter paused and looked at her and smiled. “You won’t last long I tell you” she tells him but Peter faces his desktop and continues to work. “Way to go newbie!” one employee yelled and the others cheered as Melanie rushed towards the exit and slammed the door.

One month has passed and Peter was standing in front of Anna’s desk. “Go ahead she has been waiting for you” she told him. Peter entered the door and Mrs. Jenkins told him to seat down.

“Peter let me get to the point; you have been doing very well but working 16 hours a day I don’t think is right. Don’t get me wrong but we do pay you a decent salary for 8 hours and you even told me you are fine with that. So why do you extend 8 more hours for overtime, do you need money that badly?” she asked him. Peter relaxed on his chair and took a deep breath. “It’s not about the money” he said and Mrs. Jenkins raised her eyebrow.

“Not for the money?” she repeated. “Yes, I don’t mind if you don’t pay me for my extra work. I just need it to keep me sane” he revealed. “You work for 16 hours a day, go home and sleep for seven hours and you are back here one hour before work time. Do you even have a social life?” she asked him. Peter smiled and shook his head. “I see. So why is that?” Mrs. Jenkins asked but Peter did not respond. “Ok then from now on I am instructing the sorters not to give you extra work” she stated and Peter looked shocked. “No madam please, let me work, I don’t care if you don’t pay me just let me work” Peter pleaded.

“I am sorry Peter but it is also my duty to see to it that you are mentally balanced, I know you are good, probably the best according to the sorters but you need balance in your life. Sources tell me that you only have one friend here and it is Anna. I want you to socialize or go get a hobby, spend the 8 hours on something else except work. It is company policy that you do not work for another company while you are working for us. About your salary grade well I can fix up something to make it higher since in 30 days you have accomplished your tasks with 100 percent efficiency” she added.

“So what am I going to do for eight hours then? Sit in my apartment and watch television? Surf the internet and bore myself to death?” Peter said. “Get a social life, enjoy and have fun. Stop being a loner” she told him and Peter bowed his head and shook his head. “That’s all for now, you may go” Mrs. Jenkins told him and Peter stood up and walked out of her office.

“Hey Peter, what was that all about?” Anna whispered. “She told me go get a social life” Peter answered. “So where are you going after work?” Anna asked. “To find a social life perhaps” he responded sadly and kept walking back to lounge.

Ten minutes before five in the afternoon everyone in the workplace started looking for Peter but he was nowhere to be found. Whispers were getting louder and even Melanie stood up and looked for him. “So after 30 days the newbie finally gave up” she said. “Maybe he is just late for overtime” Lorna interrupted. “Well perhaps that robot went for cleaning” Melanie said loudly and everyone started to laugh. At exactly five in the afternoon Anna arrived at the workplace and started looking for Peter. “Hey Melanie, have you seen Peter?” she asked. “No. He might be in the technical department having his oil changed” Melanie replied and bursts of laughter again erupted. “You should stop being mean to him, and for your information he is now the best, 100 percent efficiency in all his tasks. You are just now ranked second so think twice before you make jokes about him!” Anna revealed and everyone was stunned to hear that.

“Yeah you heard that right; Melanie is not the top dog here anymore!” Anna added and lots of people started clapping and cheering. “Melanie you suck!” shouted one co-employee and chants and rants started to fill the room and Anna smirked and told Melanie “You see nobody really likes you here, so if I were you start changing your bitchy attitude” and Anna stormed out towards the exit. No one bothered to console Melanie, not even Lorna. People just passed by her and stared at her. Melanie’s evil reign over the workplace has ended.

A couple of blocks away Peter was walking and decides to enter an alley and found a small bar. He enters and a tall man greets him. “Will you take a table sir or would you prefer to sit on the bar?” the man asked him. “I’d like to try and sit on the bar, I have never tried that yet” Peter replied and the man ushers him to the bar. “Hi I am George and I own this place, this is Harold my bartender” said the tall man. “I am Peter, are you two the only people here?” he asked. “Not really, we do have two cooks and two waitresses but they are still at the back. So what would you like to drink?” George asked him. “I don’t really drink but do you have any kind of soda or juice?” Peter politely asked. “Ah I think you will like my pineapple juice sir, wait a minute” Harold told him as he started to prepare the drink.

“I noticed you have a small stage, do bands play here?” Peter asked. “Used to play here, well nowadays only a few people do come here. But even though we still make ends meet. I wanted to close this down but what the heck maybe my fortune will come around again” George revealed and started laughing. “Do you have a guitar?” Peter asked and George points towards the stage. “There is one over there, its not been used for a long time. Sometimes costumers just go on stage and start singing when they want to and I don’t mind as long as no one complains” the tall man said. Peter stood up and went on stage and took the guitar and tuned it. There was a stool nearby and he dragged it towards the center and sat on it. “Do you mind if I play a couple of tunes?” Peter asked and George said “Go ahead do as you please” and Peter started to strum the guitar.

“It’s my dream to perform on stage you know. Is this microphone on?” he asked. George walked towards a small booth and turned on a switch then gave Peter the thumbs up sign. Peter started to play a tune with the guitar and soon after he started singing. George and Harold were stunned and seconds later the entire crew came rushing towards the bar. They all sat on the empty seats and listened to Peter as he sang. When the song ended everybody started clapping and Peter bowed to them and said “Thank you”. “Sing another one please!” Harold yelled and the whole crew started cheering one. Peter gave in to their request and started another song. While he was singing several people were peeking inside the bar and started going in and taking their seats. George signaled to the crew to man their stations and the waitresses started taking orders. Another song ended and George signaled Peter to play one more and he indulged delightfully. The bar was almost filled with suit clad people; George was smiling and was helping out serving. Harold was busy mixing drinks as he had his fair share of costumers in the bar. Peter finished singing four songs and he took a break and walked towards the bar and George greeted him.

“My God you are amazing! Look at this, the bar is filled. Hey can you work here, I am willing to pay you” George said. “Oh sorry I can’t take in another job, they will fire me if they find out” Peter replied. George was saddened and took a deep breath. “But I think we can work something out “Peter suddenly added and George was all ears. After listening to Peter’s suggestion George scratched his head. “I am not sure I can pay you the amount you expect since we are a small bar” he said. Peter took a sip of his pineapple juice and said “Let’s have it this way, you don’t have to pay me a cent just give me some of these every night and I will be fine” Peter suggested and Harold and George looked at each other. “Are you sure?” George asked. “Yup, this is delicious Harold; this will be enough payment for now. When your bar grows then we can renegotiate” Peter added and George hugged him and was filled with joy.