Mr. Barnes could just see the edge of Ms. Collins’ arm as she sat at her desk out front. Charles watched it appear and disappear as she worked. He imagined moving his desk so he could see more of it, but how could he explain the move, should anyone ask. The imagined embarrassment crushed the idea on the spot. What if Ms. Collins herself asked! Charles shook and returned to his work.
Ms. Collins glanced at her vertical sorter. She always kept the side free of tall items so she could glance there anytime Mr. Barns was at his desk. The light created a reflection. She couldn’t see his face clearly, but, clear enough to tell what mood he was in. He seemed calm, a perfect moment to ask for a raise. She picked up her notepad.
“Did you want me to take a note Mr. Barnes?” she asked.
Charles looked up, surprised. “Ah, I didn’t call you, Ms. Collins,” he said, feeling the heat rise up from his collar at having to speak to Ms. Collins without preparation.
“Oh, my mistake,” she said, “ah… since I’m here, can we speak a moment?”
“Certainly.” He answered, now feeling heat creeping into his face.
Ms. Collins took the chair opposite. Looking back, she jumped up, “Mr. Barnes! You don’t look well at all! Are you all right?” She put her hand on his forehead causing Charles to start hyperventilating. She rang for the company nurse.
Charles was mortified, he actually went home, feigning real illness for lack of being able to explain. Ms. Collins decided to try again tomorrow to discuss her raise. This was definitely going to be a bad week for Charles.
Ms. Collins, on the other hand, was eventually going to get a very substantial raise.