the sedan in the driveway, too anxious to maneuver into the tight garage spot
amidst bikes, roller skates, and hula hoops. The air is trapped in the car
having been heated from sitting in the un-shaded parking lot from 9 to nearly
5. I drove home without rolling down the windows to release the dense, still
air. I turn off the car. The radio continues to play something I can't
back seat is a box overflowing with years of stuff that personalized my office
space. There are the framed photos from our trip to Disney World, 10 years ago.
The girls proudly twirled in their princess outfits after their breakfast and
pampering with Cinderella. At the time, I rolled my eyes and reluctantly
allowed the indulgence. Now stamped in time is a picture of my then 3- and
4-year-old daughters in complementary dresses with ruffled pink and purple
skirts. Oh, how my mom shook her head at this, having raised me better.
charming is a booby prize for women," the bitter housewife repeated
throughout my childhood.
wanted to raise an independent woman. Romance was something foolish girls
pursued. She insisted I get an education and use it for something other than
coming up with intelligent cocktail-party conversation.
radio times out. The glow of the digital clock numbers fades leaving no way to
track the time. As I sit with self-inflicted paralysis, my husband and
daughters likely are preparing a baked or grilled variation of some boneless,
skinless chicken recipe. Because of my mother, I resolved to have a career and
turned up my nose at stay-at-home-moms. I lived in a family with reversed
roles, my husband the primary caregiver.
straight ahead, years of posture lectures have me trained to avoid a slouch no
matter how defeated I feel. Through the rearview mirror I see the couple next
door walking their pair of Shepherds, Jack and Jill — pets to replace the void
of children that never came.
It was 4
when I was called back to meet with our district manager Bob Teebone. He has
manicured square fingernails and wears a thick standard gold wedding band.
nice to see you," I said trying to hide my suspicion of the unannounced
call me Mr. Teebone," Bob said.
blushed and mumbled, "Yes, of course."
with my legal pad folded across my chest hiding an elongated tear-shaped coffee
stain on my white blouse. He reported the sales records for the month of June,
which I had compiled for him.
need to make drastic changes in the way we do business in this market," Mr.
Teebone said. "While we cannot afford to subsidize this location any
longer, we think it’s premature to close."
of relief released from my chest. Since the Family Dollar opened in the strip
mall across the street our sales had steadily declined. I thought with time the
customers would return to Shopko's store aisles. I thought we could beat them
with customer service, but with staff reductions customers are waiting in
longer, slower-moving lines. I thought a redesign would set us apart as a more
upscale shopping center. Turns out the redesign just pissed off our regular
customers who had to relearn the location of their favorite products.
can turn this around," I said.
decided we need someone to competently move us forward. We have hired your
replacement," Bob said. "I need you to sign these termination papers.
You will find a generous severance package, the options for continuing your
health coverage, and the procedures for payment from your paid-time-off balances.
Questions can be directed to Tina in HR."
my mind reeled back to high school chemistry, the tendency for an object in
motion to stay in motion. This action, unbeknown to me, started long before our
conversation took place. I was unable to argue, debate, or plea.
need you to sign and date here," Bob said sliding a document to my side of
accepted defeat and scratched my first and maiden names.
identity is gone; I carry the copy paper box past our rose bushes, which are
remarkably healthy, much to the jealousy of one particular neighbor who
haughtily said they would never survive a Wisconsin winter when she saw me
planting them last spring. These plants have survived; they are defiant and
bloom without reserve, against the alleged odds.