I woke up. It was just another day. The place didn’t matter. Minneapolis, Hawaii, it was all the same. Would today be the day? Frank would have to slip up one day. And when he does I will be waiting. I didn’t get so high in the company at only 32 by sitting idly. He will make a mistake, give into something, and when he does I will be waiting to take his job. I opened my eyes.
The room was a large open space adorned with palm fronds and colorful flowering plans. The walls were a light wood, which amplified the sunlight, giving the room a welcoming yellow hue. Sounds of the ocean could be heard through the wooden blinds. Many birds could be heard chattering in the foliage outside of the suite.
Though I had been there nearly a week, nobody would have known. The room was pristine. The only indicator that the room was occupied besides my actual presence was the large suitcase in the closet next to the door. I got out of bed, walked to the closet and retrieved both the suitcase and the residing iron and ironing board. I set up the latter and then retrieved my clothes for the day, talking to myself, “this will me perfect for the big meeting.”
While the iron heated up, I returned to the bed, making it with the precision of a private in boot camp, then back to the ironing board. I pressed my navy business suit and light blue blouse, unplugging the iron when I was finished.
I spent no time dawdling in the shower. Moving slow in the morning would be a sign of weakness. I have no weakness that anyone can exploit. Weakness is in other people. I quickly dried off, grabbed my, comb and checked the iron. Still warm. I quickly combed my shoulder blade length light brown hair before it became unruly and got dressed. As I picked up my toothbrush I checked my watch, gave my teeth the regulation three minutes, and gave myself a final look in the mirror.
Before leaving I checked all the doors and windows, then the iron, and made my way to the front door. On my way out, I locked the door and double checked that the Do Not Disturb sign was in place. After taking five steps, I returned to the door and jiggled the handle. Satisfied that it was locked, I made my way to the breakfast buffet.
The hall was busy with people. There were two clear groups in the room, those that were surrounding the buffet and those surrounding the coffee machines. These people loved their coffee and the machines just couldn’t keep up. I headed straight to the buffet, grabbed a plate, and began to look at the spread. There were all the usual suspects, scrambled eggs, pancakes, fruit, and breakfast meat. I would never eat any meat from a buffet, but I was always intrigued enough to look at it. Sausage gravy, sausage links and patties, and some undercooked bacon. I wonder how many pigs were on the buffet at this moment. I chose a grapefruit half and looked for a seat.
There were no empty tables. Looking around the room, a large man raised his hand, waving my over. I sighed to myself, spitting his name out under my breath, “Frank.”
Frank Smith is my boss. He was as run of the mill as bosses came, even his name was generic. He was overweight, not to the point of excess, but just enough to show that he always ate well and never missed a meal. I reluctantly made my way to his table and sat at the chair which faced the door.
“Morning Frank.” It was the best that I could muster. My hatred for him knew no bounds and I think that everyone back in Minneapolis knew it except for him. No matter how simple a man he seemed to be, he was different from my previous bosses. All of the others were sloppy. Even those who were careful slipped up. I was always able to use these errors to either take advantage of them or take their jobs, but Frank was not like the them. He was infinitely more careful. He even ignored my come-ons. He seemed to have no interest in anything, even work, but never did anything notable, good or bad.
“How did you sleep Miranda?” The words came quickly as he shoveled another over sized bite into his mouth. The conversation was obviously secondary to his heaping plate of food.
“Not bad, you?”
“Well enough. I love these breakfasts. I can never get enough. What meetings do we have for today?”
“We have three and then packing for our flight tomorrow. The first is on delegation, the second is commanding respect, and the third is with the CEO.”
“Right. Fun stuff.”
i finished my grapefruit while Frank still had a quarter of his heaping plate and stood up.
“I’m going to get more food. Do you want me to get you more bacon while I’m up?”
“That would be great.”
At the buffet, I grabbed two plates. On the first I put a few pineapple slices on, then proceeded to the bacon. I filled the other plate with it, making sure to grab the less cooked pieces and then picking through to find the crispiest piece in the pile. The crispy piece was placed very specifically at the bottom of the pile with a bit of it sticking out by my hand. Desperate times called for desperate measure. I returned to the table and set the plates down. Frank’s eyes got wide as I got to the table
“Wow, that’s a lot of bacon, have some,” Frank said while staring at the plate with pure delight.
I can’t recall the last time I gave Frank a genuine smile but this one was. I reached to the bacon plate and grabbed the edge of the crispy piece, which Frank couldn’t see, took a small bite, placed the strip on my plate and moved on to my pineapple. In the next thirty minutes, Frank ate the whole plate. He downed the rest of his coffee after looking at his watch. Our first meeting was in twenty minutes.
“We gotta run.” He led the way out of the buffet hall. weaving through the tables of execs. Half way to the conference room, he stopped at the bathroom.
Fifteen minutes later Frank emerged. He was white as a ghost and slightly hunched over. My heart jumped. He’s sick, really sick. There is no way that he can make today’s meetings.
“Hey Miranda, I’m not feeling well. I’m going to lay down. Take some notes for me.” The words came out sounding like a long groan, lacking any inflection or punctuation, but the point was there.
“No problem Frank. Feel better.” Turning around, I smiled wide and walked off confidently.
I walked into the conference room and took a seat facing the door. The room was a token conference room. Wood paneling, projector, large round table. I didn’t hear a word the speaker said. My mind was occupied with planning the rest of my day. I finally had my chance at Frank and wasn’t going to lose it.
The second meeting was in the same room. Since I had figured out my course of action, I was able to relax a bit. The speaker droned on. He was amusing to watch, but not very confident. After realizing that I knew more about commanding respect than the speaker ever would, my mind wandered to Frank. Frank. The thought of him spending the day on his bathroom floor hugging the toilet brought a smile to my face.
After the meeting ended, I made my way to the executive conference room. Sitting outside at a makeshift desk was a young woman. She looked up as I approached.
“Ms. Jacobs?” she said, looking at an appointment book, “Isn’t Mr. Smith with you?”
“I’m sorry, but he hasn’t been at any of the meeting today.” The truth was always the best policy. It didn’t have to be the whole truth, just enough to make it sound smoother than a lie ever could.
“Oh, excuse me one moment.” The woman stood up and entered the conference room, closing the door behind her. Muffled voices could be heard through the door, but nothing was clear enough to be heard. A minute later, the secretary returned.
“Mr Takashi is ready for you. Go right in.”
The executive conference room was unlike all the others. There was wood paneling, but it was a fine mahogany. Also the wall across from the door was all windows, giving the room a much brighter look and letting those inside have a beautiful view of the ocean. Mr Takashi was sitting with his back to the windows, causing his face to be slightly shadowed.
I smiled as I entered. This may be the one person here who I may be able to learn from. He definitely knew how to use the lighting to his advantage. I reminded myself that I was here on business and that there would be no second chance for this. Mr Takashi greeted me with a firm handshake and gestured for me to sit down.
“I did not expect that you would be alone.” His english was good. He articulated every word so as to offset his accent.
“Yes, it was a surprise to me as well.”
“From what I have heard, Frank did not attend any meetings today. Is this correct?” I could see that he was upset. The company was very strict about attendance at these conventions, especially when they were in tropical locations. Frank was in trouble.
“I’m sorry, but if he was at them, I didn’t seem him there.”
“That is troubling news. I planned on speaking mainly with Frank, so I apologize for my unpreparedness.”
Mr Takashi was upset. He was not a man known to show emotion, but being unprepared was not something he was used to and it did not sit well with him. This was my chance.
“There is no need to apologize. I know everything that Frank is working on. If you continue as if he were here, you will find that the meeting should go as planned.” Mr Takashi smiled.
The meeting went extremely smoothly. I was able to answer all of his questions without any issues. I played Frank’s role better than he ever could have.
“Is there anything else we need to discuss?” I knew this was my last move. If it works, I have Frank in checkmate, but if it doesn’t, I doubt he would ever know about it. It was a no lose situation, my favorite.
“Mr Takashi, I believe I have shown you that I can do this job. Frank is not interested in furthering the company. If I were in his position, I would be able to make the changes we talked about. I want us to grow, not lay stagnant.”
“Today you have shown me that there are two of you doing the same job. This is a waste of resources and since you are the one sitting in front of me and he is not, I agree to your request. Frank shall be notified by the end of the day.”
“Domo arigato.” It was the only japanese I knew, but very appropriate in this situation. At this I left the conference room.
I let myself think about Frank one more time, knowing that after we were stateside I would not have to again. I have way too many hours on a plane with him tomorrow. I am not looking forward to that.