Troubling Times

“Are you sure you didn’t do anything?” Nic’s voice sounded dim and I pressed my phone closer to my ear tto make sure I heard him correctly. Suddenly a horn blared right behind me and I jumped, almost dropping my phone.

“Nic, I gotta go. I’m not paying attention and I almost got hit by a car.” I told Nic I’d call him later and clicked the phone off and threw it in my bag. It was a cold day, but it hadn’t snowed yet this week so I decided to walk the 20-some minute home. I was so burning hot mad that I could probably heat the outside anyway.

My meeting with Minda earlier in the week did not go well. When I knocked on her door (one minute past the meeting time, in an effort to show I wasn’t waiting around for her), Minda had barked “Come in!”

“Hi Minda, how are you doing?” I smiled at her tenatively. I really had no idea what this meeting was about, though I could wager a guess that things weren’t going well for her.

“Fine.” Her answer was brisk. “I need to do a year end review on you.”

I gaped at her. I had literally zero preparation for this. “Wouldn’t I normally be doing, I don’t know, some kind of self evaluation or something?” I asked, confused. Minda had not once mentioned any evaluation, and being at the company for only a few months, I didn’t think I needed to do one this year.

“It’ll be informal,” she replied, flicking through a few pieces of paper in front of her. Settling one on top, she went on. “Truth is, I’ve been disappointed in your performance. I thought you’d get the hang of things better by now, and I’ve noticed a few mistakes in your work.”

Pushing the paper in front of me, she went on as I started to scan the paper in front of me. “I’m going to have to give you a 2 out of 5. That means there is great room for improvement, and…” Here she paused while I looked up from the paper that listed out several of my so-called infractions. When she was confident she had my full attention, she went on. “You’ll have to come up with a 14 day improvement plan. If things aren’t looking good by then, we are going to have to talk about  next steps.”

I sat there, stunned, and blinking. “Next steps?” I gasped. My head was swimming with this information. I had never heard once that I was doing anything wrong, yet this piece of paper listed out almost every tiny mistake I made, whether it was getting a meeting time wrong or coming in at 8:15 instead of 8:00. Things that wouldn’t even matter. Shaking my head, I went on. “And wait, isn’t 14 days for an improvement plan really short?”

Minda was already looking at her screen. “This is a critical position, Maddie. I need to make sure I have an assistant who can help me with my needs. Give me your plan by Thursday and we’ll go from there.”

With a nod of her head, she dismissed me. I immediately went back to my desk and fought back tears. After the whole hidden conversation, me going to Joshua, realizing that Minda was up to something shady, I was going to be fired over some stupid tiny issues?

That was a few days ago. Today I timidly brought my plan to Minda and we went over it. Within 30 minutes, she had totally slashed the items I put on, like “Get into the office by 7:30 every morning” and “Schedule daily 1:1s with Minda”.

Pursing her lips, her eyes narrowed at the plan. “To be honest, I expected more from this plan, Maddie. But take my suggestions and we’ll start the 14 day evaluation on Monday.”

I didn’t even bother answering as I immediately left her office. She had given me nothing, nothing, to go on. I didn’t even know what mistakes she was talking about!

Unfortuantely, Nic wasn’t being the most helpful shoulder to cry on. He kept on trying to dissect the issue, seeing where I could be better, even suggesting that I ask Mallory to be a mentor.

“Mallory!?” I had half shrieked. “She’d be the worst mentor ever!”

“Whoa, why?” Nic argued. “She’s smart, and intellegent, and really caring. I bet she’d love to help you get established.”

I inwardly sighed. No matter how many times I told Nic about Mallory’s behavior, he insisted that I was making it up, not believing that she could be shady.

Luckily Jessie and Tyler’s upcoming wedding was there to distract me. It was in 15 days, and I actually flew out the day I was supposed to find out about my job, as if I didn’t have enough to stress me out besides the wedding and waiting to hear back about the house.

Yes, I made an offer on the house. Randy had emailed me back approximately 2 hours that lasted approximately 2 days in my mind.

No offer yet, but the realtor said a couple looked at it for the second time yesterday and are getting their paperwork together.

That’s all the email said. No comments on other apartments, questions if I was interested, nothing. If Randy’s selling tactic was to let someone stew on their thoughts, it sure was working this time.

Let’s make an offer first then. I typed back after approximently, oh, 5 seconds of thought. I typed out what I thought was a fair yet low offer, and Randy had sent me the forms to sign that afternoon.

Good luck! he had typed out after telling me he submitted the offer. That was 36 hours ago and I had not heard anything yet. I tried to pacify myself by busying myself with work and looking at other condos on Zillow, but realistically it was on my mind every other second.

“Here comes the bride!!!!”  I started bellowing as soon as I opened the door, half to make a stressed out Jessie laugh and half to keep me from bursting into tears over the fact I was walking through the door to sharing an apartment with Jessie for one of the last times. She had been packing like mad lately, and was planning on moving her stuff into Tyler’s this weekend.

“Ha! More like ‘there GOES the bride’. To the looneybin.” Jessie came out, her curly hair in some sort of resemblence to a top knot. Curls were springing were poking out everywhere, and she had at least 2 pieces of packing tape stuck to her U of M shirt that I could see. “Don’t ever try moving and getting married in the same 2 weeks.”

I nodded solemnly. “Duly noted.” I paused. “Wait, what’s that?” I peered closer. “You have some sort of marks on your face….”

Suddenly I burst out laughing. “You have newspaper smears all over!”

Jessie ran to the mirror and started laughing too. “Ohmigod! I was so tired trying to study and pack and plan that I feel asleep on a pile of paper!”

For some reason, even though it wasn’t that funny at all, we burst into hysterical laughter, shrieking and pointing at Jessie’s face.

Collapsing on the sofa, I finally calmed myself down. “Thanks. I need that. Badly.”

Jessie snorted once more. “Me too.” She sighed and started twirling a loose thread from a throw pillow around her finger. “I’m going to miss this,” she said, not quite looking me in the eye.

I looked down at my lap too. “Me too,” I almost whispered, reflecting on the last year-plus I’ve lived with Jessie. “Can you believe I came here on a whim, over a year ago? And now I’ve got a car, job, enrolled in grad school, and maybe, hopefully a new house? You really turned my life around, Jess.” And it was true. I was doing fine and all in NYC, but I didn’t really  have a plan. Without Jessie’s insistance that I come out here, I probably would have floundered around in NYC, waiting for something to happen to propel my life forward.

“Now don’t you get all mush on my or I’ll start crying!” I snuck a look at Jessie, who already had tears running down her face.

I promptly burst into tears as well. “I’m going to miss you!” I blubbered. “Why do people have to grow up?”

“I know!!!!” Jessie wailed back, grabbing me in a bear hug.

We sat there sniffling for a few minutes until we heard a voice over us.

“I came over to grab a few boxes and was going to ask you guys if you wanted to grab a bite, but I have a feeling I’d be third wheeling it….” Tyler’s voice trailed off, bemused.

I pulled myself together and sniffed loudly, wiping my  hand across my nose. Tyler cringed and crossed over to the kitchen to get me a paper towel.

“Sorry,” I snuffled from under the paper towel, blowing my noise. “Bad day at work combined with sadness over Jessie moving out…”

Tyler nodded thoughtfully. “I get it. Tell ya what. I’ll do the moving tonight, and you two ladies have a girls night in. I’ll even order the Chinese. You game?”

Suddenly, my appetite, which was compressed over the last week came roaring back. “You’d do that?” I squealed like a pre-teen at a Bieber concert.

“Egg rolls! Egg rolls!” Jessie chanted from the couch.

Thanking Tyler gratefully, I grabbed my laptop from off the coffee table to look at the menu. Jessie was so lucky to have such an understanding guy, I thought to myself and smiled.

I opened my iMessage to text Tyler my order when I noticed a little red circle with the number 2 in it. Two missed text messages. Curiously, I opened it up.

It was from Randy. Saying that the sellers had a counteroffer for me on the house.



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