Next Steps

At 12:58, I announced my arrival to Shelly, Joshua’s admin.

She raised her overly made up eyes and gave me a look. “You have an appointment with Joshua? Again?

Shelly was definitely the mother hen of all the admins, and had firmly established herself as the so-called head of all the admins, just because she had been there so long and was assistant to the president. Only the CEO’s admin was above her in the stupid hierarchy I paid no attention to, and the she was in another building so she never bothered us.

I was tired of her attitude, and had a damn long day already. Call me Captain Wimpy, but after running out of Minda’s and my office area, I was too scared to come back and face her. Instead, I walked around the skyways and treated myself to a leisurely lunch at a nice sit down restaurant. I figured if I was going to get fired, so be it, and that a 3 hour lunch wasn’t going to hurt my chances one way or another.

“Yes. He specifically requested that I come by at this time.” I made firm eye contact with Shelly and didn’t look away until she did.

“I’ll see,” she sniffed, clearly in disbelief that I, of all people, would have yet another reason to see Joshua. Punching in a number, I heard her say “Hi Joshua, yes, you have Minda’s assistant here…oh really? You sure? Very well then…I’ll send her in.”

I rolled my eyes internally. We were literally 10 feet from Joshua’s door, and we could clearly see him through the glass. Anyone else would have simply stood up and Joshua that I was here. In fact, just then I saw Joshua look over and wave me in with a serious look on his face.

Poking my head in his door, I gave him a tentative smile. “Ready?”

Joshua nodded in return, giving me a brief smile back that made my stomach turn. Normally Joshua was happy and in a good mood when I saw him. Today was definitely not the norm.

“Sit down, sit down, please.” He waved towards a chair opposite his desk.

I sat down on the edge of the chair, and he looked at his computer screen for a minute. Stomach twisting, I sat and stared until the pressure built up so much that I started babbling in a major word vomit. “I know why you called me in today. I’m sorry. I thought I was doing a good job for Minda, but between her feedback and me not coming to you earlier when I had my suspicions, I realized I didn’t do what I should have. I promise I’ll get a lot better. I’ll work with Minda to improve.” Please, please don’t fire me, I added in my head.

When I finally had the courage to look up at Joshua, I saw him his head. “Minda isn’t with us any longer, Maddie,” was all he said.

Wait, what? I jerked my head up.

“What, what?” I repeated, this time out loud, blinking several times. “Was it something to do with that sales rep and our ordering?” I couldn’t help but ask.

Joshua cleared his throat. “I’m not at liberty to say much, I’m afraid. But since you brought it to my attention, I can at least tell you this much. Minda was doing things that do not fall under our ethics policy, and as a result, she was let go.”

I nodded slowly. I had no way of proving it, but I thought somehow that Minda was doing something involving a bribe and kickback. What else could it be with the sneaky phone calls and modified sales reports?

Forget all that, I was absolutely thrilled that not only was the wicked witch of the company gone, but I was the one who helped bring her down! I couldn’t help smile to myself in glee, till I realized it wasn’t the right reaction.

Joshua saw me working it out in my head and smiled faintly. “Now there is just a matter of your job.”

“Oh,” I said, eyes wide and heart sinking fast. “Of course. With Minda being gone….” of course I was out of a job now when I didn’t have a boss, not to mention had a record of being a bad employee.

“Yes, now that Minda is gone, it does directly affect your job.” Joshua nodded in agreement.

“Ok, thanks for letting me know…” My voice trailed off as I fought my lip from quivering. There went my stability, tuition reimbursement, and ability to buy a new house. I felt the tears coming on and I swallowed hard. “I’ll go get my things now, I suppose.”

“Get your stuff?” Joshua’s voice was confused. “What do you need?”

“Yeah, I mean, I don’t have much, but I want to get my mousepad, and I need my jacket…” Did Joshua think I didn’t bring anything to work?

Joshua was shaking his head. “Maddie, you aren’t going anywhere. You aren’t fired.”

“I’m what?” I gasped. “What about not having a boss? And my performance report?”

Joshua shook his head again. “I took a look at that. I don’t agree with anything Minda wrote on your performance evaluation, and frankly the performance plan she put together for you was unrealistic, and in my mind, was a way to get you fired. Had I known about that earlier, that would have spurred me into action faster. As it is, I’m sorry it took me so long to talk to her, but I had to figure out a few things first.”

My head was swimming. I knew I wasn’t a bad employee, and I wasn’t fired, and I could buy my house, keep going to school, and…and….it was too much to put together in 30 seconds.

“So what do I do now for work?” was the only thing I could think of to say. “And,” I cleared my throat,” I mean to say thank you. Thank you for trusting me and figuring this out. I really appreciate it.” I swallowed a lump in my throat that was threatening me to tears for about the 10th time in 2 days. Make that 2 hours.

“Well, that’s the thing. I haven’t sorted it all out yet, but what I think I’m going to do is divide the work Minda’s team was doing and put it under different areas.” I nodded. This made sense. “Problem is, all those directors have admins already. So that leaves us looking for a place for you.”

He looked at me like he was waiting for me to say something. I couldn’t think of anything, so I just nodded silently.

I was just cursing myself for being lame instead of, I don’t know, suggesting some brilliant idea, when he went on. “Problem is, we’ve been in a hiring freeze for awhile now, and we don’t have a lot of open positions.” This was true, and I nodded again. “I have two options for you to consider. First, do you know a manager named Mallory who reported to Minda? I hear she could use a Project Coordinator and from what I hear, you’ve been doing some work in that area already.”

No. NO. NO. Mallory? Of all people to report to, I did not want to report to that backstabbing, man poaching Mallory, even if it was a step up from what I was doing. “Yes, I do know her. What’s the other option?” I asked hurriedly. Anything but working for Mallory. Even cleaning toilets would be better than that. I didn’t hate Mallory, but she was definitely in the frenemy category.

“Well, don’t say anything yet, but Shelly is going to be taking over for the CEO’s admin soon as she’s moving out of state. I’m going to need a replacement, and I’d like to find someone who can do more than admin work, someone who would really be half admin, half business liaison. You’d be doing usual things, such as scheduling my meetings and taking care of my travel arrangements, but also helping me coordinate projects and liaise with different business units. Usually I’d pick a more experienced admin, but I trust your skills.” Joshua paused delicately, and I could sense we were both thinking the same thing. “I realize that it might be…an…unusual partnership, given how we met, but I think we could get along well.”

“I…I don’t know. Can I take tonight to think about where I want my career to go?” My mind was spinning. On one hand, I could get a bit of a promotion if I went with Mallory. Problem is that she was a snake in the grass and I wasn’t sure it was the best idea to work with someone who made me feel undermined in every way.

On the other hand, working with Joshua wouldn’t be much different than what I was doing now, not to mention it would be working for my ex’s dad. I could just imagine the laughter from Nikki once she found out I was her dad’s assistant, and I didn’t even want to think about what Theo would say.

Joshua nodded kindly. “Of course. It’s been a rough day for you. Why don’t you think it over and let me know tomorrow morning?”

Thanking him profusely yet again, backed out of his office, utterly confused.

Pushing all work thoughts aside for the moment, I went back to my desk next to Minda’s now empty office. Fishing my phone out of my wallet, my fingers flew over the screen.

Hi Randy. Send the paperwork over. I’ll sign today.

As I hit send on my text, I let out a sigh of relief. Throughout the whole crazy day at least one thing went my way. I was going to be able to buy a place to live.

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