Judgment

by Timothy S.

The boss walks past the new employee whom he hired to take care of the new applications. The employee looks at him and back at his computer monitor.

The employee remembers that one time last week.

***

The boss walked by, turned around, and told the employee to sit up straight.

“It’ll give you more energy and your mind won’t wander as much,” said the boss.

“Sorry,” said the employee. “I was concentrating.”

“Okay,” said the boss and walked away.

***

For the rest of that afternoon, the employee remembers his report cards, his chores, the official notices of termination, his dad shaking his head, the breakups with girlfriends, the phone calls to the bank. The divorce.

“Sorry, I forgot.”

“Sorry, I forgot.”

“Sorry, I forgot.”

“Sorry, I forgot.”

“Sorry, I forgot.”

“Sorry, I forgot.”

“Sorry, I forgot.”

Five minutes to five, the employee reviews how many new applications he processed that afternoon. Not many. The employee starts feeling his chest sink in, and then the boss steps out of his office and starts heading for the door.

The employee sees the boss glance in his direction. The employee straightens his posture and looks down at his desk, rearranging some pieces of paper, pens, sticky note pads, folders, and other things that don’t need to be rearranged.

The employee looks up as the boss is near. The boss nods his head at the employee, and the employee notices the boss’s eyes surveying the desk.

“Have a good night, Mr. Sorrenti,” says the employee.

“Likewise,” says the boss, averting his eyes towards the exit door. The boss steps outside.

The employee stops fidgeting at his desk and stares at it instead. He wonders how many months until new employees get performance reviews. He wonders if the boss can monitor his desktop as he processes new applications. He wonders if the company keeps a count of how many applications they take care of in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year. Maybe even every hour, every minute.

The employee remembers his boss’s eyes looking down at his desk. The employee remembers that he said goodbye first, not the boss. The employee remembers the boss only said one word in reply. The employee remembers giving short replies when his girlfriends annoyed him. The employee wonders if this job will last longer than the previous one.

***

Tomorrow, the employee goes in a half hour early to complete seven applications before the start of his regular day to make up for yesterday. He only does four.

He hears a door shut outside followed by the beeps that accompanies the locking of doors in cars nicer than his. The employee sits up straight and keeps his chin down, keeping his eyes on the grey of his desk. He doesn’t realize that he hasn’t done anything for two minutes straight, only thinking of the boss later calling him into the office and showing him a printed report of how much he didn’t do.

The boss walks in the front door of the office and says good morning to everyone within earshot. The boss walks by the new application entry employee and sees a half-filled-out application on the monitor. The boss enters his office, closes the door, and turns on his computer.

The boss looks at his computer’s startup screens and thinks about the new employee he hired sitting at his desk. The boss thinks, “He seems like a nice guy.”

The boss looks at his calendar to see if he has any meetings today.

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