“TGIF,” Marge proclaimed as she walked into the office.
“Good morning to you, too,” Kim said, not bothering to look up from the papers she had spread out in front of her.
“Don't you dare try to tell me you're sorry to see Friday arrive,” Kim said as she sat at her desk.
“Definitely not.” Kim made a correction to the document displayed on her computer screen then pushed the print button. “I can't wait to get home tonight, change into my jimmies, and spend the weekend flaked out on the couch.”
“It has been a long week, hasn't it,” Marge said as she turned on her computer. “Especially with Kapin pulling another one of her disappearing acts for most of it. I sure hope Mr. Gilroy doesn't ask for any rush jobs; Mr. Eyler is going to skin me alive if I don't get the Hansen report finished today.”
Kim stood and walked to the printer. “Wonder where she is?”
“Who knows? Who cares? We get more done when she's not popping in here to tell us what to do.”
“Don't you think it's odd we haven't seen her since Tuesday morning?”
“I think it's odd when we see her, not when we don't. You want some coffee?”
“I'd love some. If you want I can go after I give this to Mr. Jackson.”
“That's okay,” Marge said retrieving Kim's empty cup from her desk. “I can use the exercise. Besides, I need some caffeine before I tackle that report.”
Kim laughed as Marge rushed out of the office. She walked back to her desk, grabbed a folder and placed the freshly printed pages inside. Then she walked to a door across the room, knocking before she entered her boss' office.
Dorthea walked through the doorway that led to the company's offices. She walked past her supervisor's closed door and continued down the narrow hallway to an open door at the far end of the building.
“Good morning, Dorthea,” a woman in her thirties greeted her.
“Good morning, Sharon.”
“Come on back to my office. We can talk without being interrupted.” Sharon unlatched the half door at the end of the counter that separated the front of the personnel office from the office staff's desks and file cabinets.
Dorthea followed Sharon to her office, smiling a silent greeting to the other two women in the office.
“Did you have a chance to read through everything?” Sharon asked as she closed her office door while Dorthea sat in a chair opposite the large desk in the room.
Sharon walked around the desk and sat down. “Any new questions?”
“Then all we need is to have you sign the papers. I thought you might be in this morning so I went ahead and put together your packet,” Sharon said pulling a thick folder from her desk drawer. She opened the folder and removed a few pages. “You need to initial the first three pages then sign the fourth. These are the same as the ones I gave you to read—I just added today's date and the special request you made.”
Dorthea nodded as she accepted the papers and a pen Sharon slid across the desk to her. She glanced at each page before adding her initials and signature. Then she slid them back across the desk.
“Any plans?” Sharon asked as she placed the papers aside and removed more from the file.
Sharon smiled. “Any plans for how to spend your days? You're going to have lots of time on your hands.”
“Oh, yes. I have lots of plans.” Dorthea grinned. “Sometimes, I think I have too many. But, I think first, I'm just going to get used to doing whatever I want.”
“I envy you,” Sharon stated as she made a notation on one of the papers. “Okay, here is the breakdown of your benefits. How much you'll receive each month and the taxes, etcetera, that will be taken out of it.” She slid the page over to Dorthea. “Here is the information on your insurance. This gives contact names and phone numbers if you have any problems or questions. And you can always come in and talk to me if you prefer.”
Sharon smiled. “Part of my job. Any questions, so far?” She asked pulling the final items out of the folder. Dorthea shook her head. “Okay, that just leaves this.” She pushed a pair of checks across the desk. “Your final paycheck; and as you requested a check for your accrued vacation.”
Dorthea smiled lifting the checks off the desk. “Thank you.”
“Are you sure you want your vacation payout in a lump sum?” Sharon asked. “You know you have enough accrued to get paid for several more weeks. It might help you adjust to retirement.”
“I think I'll adjust just fine. And,” Dorthea held up the checks, “I have immediate plans for these.”
“It's your money,” Sharon said as she placed all but one of the papers back into the folder. “Once you sign this acknowledging that you received those checks, I'll make copies of everything and you'll be on your way.”
Dorthea signed the paper then leaned back in the chair while she waited for Sharon to return with her copies. She smiled as she thought about what she planned to do as soon as her business with the personnel manager was finished.
“Ah, Kimberly,” Mr. Jackson said when she placed the file on his desk.
“This is the final project left over from last week.”
“Thank you.” Jackson reached for the file. “Please sit. I was just about to call you in.”
“I'm sorry it took me so long to catch up,” Kim said anxiously as she sat.
“I'm not concerned about that,” Jackson said casually, closing the file and pushing it to the side of his desk. Leaning back in his chair, he pulled off his glasses and tossed them onto his desk. “Actually, I'm very pleased that you managed to catch up so quickly. I know you and Marge had more on your plates than normal this week.
Kim relaxed. “Thank you. I appreciate your understanding.”
“I let it pile up while you were gone so I couldn't really expect you to catch up in a day, could I?”
“We could have called the secretary pool.”
“Yes, but you can blame that on me, too. It was expected that Mrs. Kapin would be more of a presence in the office this week. But, as I'm sure you noticed, that did not occur.” Kim nodded. “Which brings me to the matter I wanted to discuss with you—by mutual agreement, between Mr. Gilroy and Mrs. Kapin, she has decided to resign effective immediately.”
“I… ah, I had no…” Kim stammered, surprised by the news.
“I'm sure this comes as a shock.”
Kim slumped back in the chair. “A very big shock.”
“But not an unpleasant one, I'm sure. No need to respond,” Jackson added when he saw the mixed emotions on Kim's face. “I've always admired your reluctance to speak against Mrs. Kapin.” He chuckled. “I never understood it but I've admired it. Mr. Gilroy will make the official announcement this afternoon.”
“Although, Mrs. Kapin did not contribute much to the work flow, her leaving does present us with a problem. As capable as you and Marge are, you cannot carry the full weight of Mr. Gilroy's, Mr. Eyler's, and my demands. Nor can we expect you to function in your current positions and cover what few duties Mrs. Kapin performed. Therefore, it has been decided that Mrs. Kapin's position will not be left vacate and, as Senior Vice President, Mr. Gilroy has placed me in charge of finding a suitable replacement.”
Kim grinned knowing how much her boss disliked choosing staff. “Lucky you.” She laughed at the mock glare she received in response. “Anything I can do to help… as always,” she offered.
“I'm glad to hear you say that because I already have someone in mind for the job.”
“Yes, I'm hoping you'll take it on.”
“Why not you? You've covered for Mrs. Kapin for years and managed to keep up with your own duties.”
“But the office manager works directly for Mr. Gilroy. Don't get me wrong, I like Mr. Gilroy. It's just that I like working for you.”
“Wait. Before you talk yourself in or out of anything, let me explain the whole situation. What was Mrs. Kapin's position will be changed. For one thing, Mr. Gilroy is scaling back his level of day-to-day involvement so he will no longer require an administrative assistant. Second, the office manager will serve more in that function as we will be adding two more secretaries to this office. They will not be assigned to any one vice president but will receive their daily assignments from the office manager. This will be more of a challenge since Mr. Gilroy's functions will be spread between Mr. Eyler, Mr. Martin, and my self. We'll need someone to take charge and make sure the work gets done. And, just so you know, the office manager will report to me.”
Kim thought over the possibilities of accepting the offer of a promotion. It would mean more work but would also mean a generous boost in pay.
“Well?” Mr. Jackson asked after several minutes.
“I'm flattered,” Kim started. “I really am and if you had presented this opportunity to me a couple of months ago I would have jumped at it.”
Jackson looked quizzically at Kim. “Don't tell me there's a but at the end of that.”
Kim nodded. “I'm sorry but I don't want the job.”
Jackson frowned. “I have to admit I'm as confused as disappointed. Can I ask what changed in the last few months?”
Kim smiled. “My priorities.”
“Well, I guess that's as good of a reason as any. If you're sure…”
“Then you better ask the personnel office to send over any resumes they might have.”
“I have a better option.”
“She deserves the chance and she'll be better at it than I would.”
“I doubt that.”
“She's earned it.”
“So have you.” Jackson studied Kim for several moments. “I can't change your mind?”
Kim shook her head. “It's a wonderful opportunity but it'll mean more hours in the office and I'm just not interested in doing that.”
“Well, I doubt Mr. Jackson will have any objections. But it will be up to Mr. Gilroy to give the final say, so please keep this under your hat for now.”
“I'll be back at six. Are you sure it'll be ready?” Dorthea asked the man standing in front of her making notes on his clipboard.
“I promise. We'll get it nice and shiny for you.”
Dorthea grinned. “Thanks. I'll see you in a couple of hours.”
Kim pushed the apartment door open then kicked it shut after walking into the apartment. Dropping her purse on the coffee table she headed toward the kitchen.
“Hey, cute stuff.”
Kim spun around to find Dorthea walking out of the bedroom. “Hi,” she said as she retraced her steps across the room. “I thought you'd be in the kitchen,” she told Dorthea just before wrapping her arms around her. “How was your day?”
“Much better now that you're home.”
“Did you do the deed?”
Dorthea nodded. “I am completely and officially retired.”
“Plan to be a kept woman, do you?” Kim asked with a grin.
Dorthea chuckled then pressed her lips to Kim's. “Absolutely,” she agreed breathlessly moments later. “I have a surprise for you.”
“Yes.” Dorthea gently pulled out of Kim's embrace. “So go change into something comfy so we can get going.”
“That's part of the surprise. Go on. We need to get moving.”
“Give me a hint.”
Dorthea pushed Kim toward the bedroom. “You'll like it.”
“That's not much of a hint,” Kim grumbled unbuttoning her blouse.
“Hurry up. You're moving like an old lady.”
Kim stopped then slowly turned to face Dorthea. “I'll have you know that I am an old lady,” she said as indignantly as she could.
Dorthea laughed then smiled sweetly at her pouting lover. “Please… for me.”
“Anything for you, my love,” Kim said then spun around and skipped into the bedroom.
“You turned it down?” Dorthea exclaimed, sitting next to Kim on a seat near the middle of the bus.
“It would mean more work.”
“And a big raise.”
“And more hours at the office.”
“Oh. I guess I didn't think of that. But,” Dorthea lowered her voice, “honey, we could work around that.”
“No. I want the time with you. And Marge really should be the one to get the job. She's been there longer and she's worked just as hard as I have. Plus,” Kim paused grinning. “It's a form of poetic justice in a way. Mrs. Kapin wasn't very nice to her and now she'll have her job.”
“She wasn't very nice to you, either.”
“It was worse with Marge.”
“Well, as long as you're happy…”
“Then I'm happy, too.”
“And I'm really happy that they're going to bring in two more secretaries. Then I won't feel so guilty about asking for time off and we'll be able to take some long weekend trips. As long as we can borrow the station wagon from Thomas, that is.”
“Here's our stop,” Dorthea said reaching up to pull the cord to alert the driver they wanted to get off.
Kim looked out the window. “What's here?” she asked recognizing an area of town they generally didn't visit.
“Your surprise.” Dorthea stood when the driver eased the bus to the side of the street.
Kim used the seat back in front of her to pull herself upright then she moved toward the front of the bus to catch up with Dorthea.
They waited for the driver to open the doors then they stepped down to the sidewalk.
“This way,” Dorthea said as she headed down the street with a bewildered Kim following.
After they had walked almost three blocks, Dorthea came to a stop. “We're here,” she announcing excitedly.
“Dorthea, this is a car dealership.”
“I know that.”
“What are we doing here?”
“You are so impatient.” Dorthea took Kim's hand and led her through the multitude of cars parked on the property. She walked up to the doors of the showroom and pushed them open.
“Ah, Miss Sanborn, right on time,” a silver haired man said as he rushed to meet them. “We have everything ready for you.” He led the women back outside to where a brand new 1988 Chevrolet Caprice station wagon sat shining in the late afternoon sun. “Here are your keys,” the salesman said with a smile. “I'm sure you'll enjoy your new car.”
Dorthea took the keys then dangled them in front of a stunned Kim. “Care to drive?” she asked temptingly. “It's ours.”
Kim said at the car. “Is this a joke?”
“All those years of never taking a vacation finally paid off.”
“I'll explain later. Now, are you going to drive this or do I have to try.”
Kim snatched the keys out of Dorthea's hands. “I'll drive,” she declared and slid into the driver's seat when the salesman opened the door. She twisted to look behind the seat at the large cargo area then turned back to check out the dashboard. “Damn, this is nice,” she told Dorthea as soon as she settled onto the passenger seat.
Dorthea grinned. “And it's all ours.”
Kim put the key in the ignition and started the engine. “Where would you like to go?”
“I have a list of places as long as this wagon is… but, tonight, I'll settle for dinner.”
Kim slipped the car into gear then eased it away from the showroom. She carefully maneuvered it across the lot and onto the street. “Any place in particular?”
“As long as you're with me, I'm happy.”
“Then Jack-In-The-Box, it is.”
Dorthea laughed. “I was thinking more along the lines of someplace with cloth napkins.”
“Ah, me lady is wanting a fancy diner. All right, I know just the place.”
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