“Look, there’s good days, and then there’s bad days. On good days, nothing explodes, patient zero does not spontaneously combust, and nobody dies,” Mr. Kinder said while locking his office door behind him. Sam stared at the man like he’d grown an extra head.
“And…” After a line like that, Sam was scared to follow-up on what exactly his new job would entail, but he was determined to not fuck up this opportunity like he had his last 4 jobs. “And what happens on a bad day, Sir?”
“On bad days,” Mr Kinder said, “we manage.”
His serious expression broke with a small smile. “Don’t worry kid, we hardly ever have bad days any more.”
Sam wasn’t sure he liked the sound of that, but he dutifully followed his new boss as he set off at a quick pace down the hallway, pointing out landmarks along the way.
“…and this is the copier. Damn thing is always broken, that’s why we put it right next to our IT department. Say hello, techies.” Three non-descript men wearing band t-shirt’s and jeans waved to Sam in unison from over computers. Sam barely had a chance to wave back before Mr. Kinder was moving onto the kitchen. “…Coffee is free, just be sure to make a new pot if you finish the old one. If we run out, leave a note with Rachael at the front desk…”
Sam took a sip from the styrofoam cup of black liquid that was thrust into his hands before rushing off to wave hello to a woman who’s name he missed sitting in the HR office. Finally, Mr Kinder stopped at an empty cubicle, gesturing to the computer. “And this is your new desk. IT should have set up your email already, I’ll just leave you here for now. I’m sure you have plenty of information to digest.”
“Uh… Thanks, sir,” Samn sputtered, but the man was already gone, his sharp suit disappearing into the cubicle farm. Sam sat down at his new desk, staring at the thick packet of papers on it labelled “New Computer Setup.”
He was most of the way through page 4 of 12 when he was interrupted by a woman poking her head into the office.
“Hey!” she said cheerfully. “You must be the new guy. I’m Connie.”
“Sam,” he said, sticking out a hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too! I thought I’d come rescue you from the starting paperwork with an offer of lunch.” Sam glanced at the computer clock in amazement.
“Wow, I had no idea it was 12:30 already. I thought I’d just sit down.”
“Oh this place will do that to you,” Connie said cheerfully as Sam got to his feet. “They put something in the coffee.”
“Oh no,” he said with mock dismay, shaking the empty cup. “I’ve already been infected.”
Connie stared at the small white cup and her smile dropped for a moment. But it was only for a fraction of a second before she was laughing again. “Oh noes! We’ll have to bring that up to HR on our way to lunch.”
They laughed and joked on their way over to the small lunchroom, and Sam felt like he was already at home. The water cooler already looked familiar, and the IT department waved and smiled as he walked by their room. In fact, everything seemed so in place that he barely noticed the ringing in his ears until he was sitting in the lunch room with Connie. Not until it reached ear splitting levels and he felt himself falling forward onto the off-white table. He thought he could see Connie jumping to her feet, and soon he was surrounded by people milling about. And then everything was black.
The voice pierced through his unconsciousness, and he found himself slowly blinking to wakefulness. Mr Kinder’s face came into focus before him.
“There you are, welcome back,” he said smiling. Sam struggled to form words.
“What… What happened?” he asked, his tongue feeling too big for his mouth.
“Oh, just a little emergency, nothing to worry about. Doctor’s said it must have been stress related.” His boss sounded reassuring as Sam raised one hand to gently touch his pounding head. His fingers traced the distinctive feeling of stitches and came away sticky and red.
“Oh, you bumped your head when you fell. Nothing to worry about at all,” Mr Kinder said with a wide smile. At that moment, Connie came bursting into the room.
“Oh thank goodness you’re alright. I’m so sorry, I was hoping I could get to you first but-”
“Now Connie, don’t you have work to be doing?” Mr Kinder interrupted, and Connie quickly stopped talking.
“Yes sir. I’ll go back to my desk now,” she said, leaving the room. The door swung open and Sam recognized the painting hanging in the hallway as the one that hung over the copier.
He turned back to his new boss. “What was she talking about?”
“Oh, I’m not so sure, you know how women are in a crisis,” he replied dismissively.
“She seemed rather upset,” Sam said. Curious that she was, he was already feeling much better.
“Well, like I was telling you, Sam. Working here, there’s good days, and there’s bad days.” Mr Kinder said, helping Sam out of the bed.
“And what was this?” Sam asked, vaguely remembering something along those lines.
“Today was a good day.”