It’s 7:35 It takes 15 minutes to get to her house using the highway. Cool, 10 minutes to spare. Then, traffic. There had been an accident. I tell her to call her mom immediately and let her know in case we were late. We connect her phone to my car bluetooth, and she calls. Mom answers, Emma says that we’re on our way but there’s an accident up ahead and that traffic is nearly stopped. She asks where to be specific. I speak up as I know the area and exits well, I give her a specific point behind an exit and even a damn mile marker. I say that I’ll get off at the closest exit and take a back road from there.
I had a great job for about seven years. It started out great and I was an entry-level employee on the worst shift possible. My work and skill were recognized with promotions and raises, even a transfer to a project which was the gateway to a position in regional management, a job that would take me out of the retail world of nights, weekends, and holidays with benefits that would have set up a nice career and life for my family.
At the end of the project, however, the numbers they ran to measure our success were analyzed and found lacking. After a year of work, my upward trajectory stalled and I was forced to relocate back to the store where I was hired. I took a job as an assistant branch manager in an area of operations I didn’t exactly enjoy or perform well in. On top of that, the store had turned over most positions and I knew very few people or their abilities. My boss was someone who took my failure on the big project as a sign I wasn’t as big a deal as people told him and so began treating me like shit.
I was depressed about it, unhappy with my job, but motivated to stay and work at it because my wife had become pregnant. But every month, it just got worse. I hated waking up on work days. Every few weeks it seems by “regular schedule” would change. We went to some ridiculous 10-hour days that were broken into first and second shifts. I put in for jobs at the regional office that I knew I could do well, but I was never interviewed. Eventually, the regional office laid off most of its staff sending a message that office locations would be suffering the same “belt-tightening”.
It got to the point all the employees either didn’t like me or trust me. And it was a fair assessment. I wasn’t fair or impartial or even competent. It was a rough pregnancy at home and I wasn’t prepared for the temp job I’d been assigned. If I had the savings tied up or could count on unemployment upon quitting, I would have left, but we lived paycheck to paycheck and I was nothing more than a shell of a human being coming to work, speaking in business terminology, hemorrhaging business because morale in the store was an open wound.
Mom barely acknowledged my statements, speaking directly to Emma again that she “knows what happens if she’s late”. Not even gonna ask. Emma says okay, they hang up, I get off at the exit and drive as fast as I can while still being safe. Thankfully there were no cops on the road. We finally reach her house, clock reads 8:02. Emma had a petrified look. She says that I don’t need to go inside, but I insist on at least going to the door and apologizing for bringing her home late, even if it is by two minutes.