True to form, Catherine walks into the office visibly bristling.
I watch her discreetly from my desk as she empties her laptop bag onto her desk rather noisily.
Her dog must have done a do-do on her shoes again.
No, it must be her husband; he was being a jerk about picking up the kids. Ah, that can’t be it, the poor guy is in Dubai building a hotel.
Surely, it must be the lack of parking spaces in the business park today…
There is something or the other wrong with Catherine most mornings. Whatever it is today, one thing is sure: she is not pleasant to deal with at the best of times, and grouchy mornings are the worst of times.
Lucky me, I have a meeting with her this morning, and she’s the lead stakeholder. The person I have to convince that the shambolic project my manager has assigned to me is just that – shambolic, and not to be pursued. Hopefully, my diagrams and charts will stand me in good stead. I know how much she loves visuals. I glance at my watch. It’s 9:15; I’ve been working for an hour and a half. I need a cup of Earl Grey.
I get up and smooth my brand new beige pencil skirt, adjust my glasses, arrange the books on my desk, and walk towards the kitchen just as Catherine’s backside disappears around the corner. Timing is everything.
We happen to be in the kitchen at the same time.
‘Oh hi Catherine, did you have a good weekend?’
‘Fair to middling’
‘Is that good or bad?’
‘I’m not sure, to be honest. My dog had puppies…’
‘That’s lovely!’ I gush ‘How many?’
‘My husband wants us to take a break from each other…or should I say he wants a break from me’
I am dumbstruck. I never know what to say to bombshells like that.
‘I’ve not told anyone else, by the way. I’m not even sure why I said it to you.’
I look down and notice that she’s stirring her mug of hot water.
‘You know I won’t tell anyone’
‘I know. I just didn’t want to tell anyone.’
‘I’m so sorry. You guys can work it out, right? At least he hasn’t asked for a divorce’
She gives me a look that’s almost pitying before fixing her gaze on a spot on the wall above my head and saying rather absentmindedly.
‘I don’t even know what’s there to work out. We’ll talk about it when he gets back this weekend I expect.’
She stops stirring the hot water and starts to make her way out of the kitchen, then suddenly turns around to heap two spoons of coffee into her mug.
‘See you at 10. Are we in 302a or b?’
She nods and walks out the door as she lifts the mug to her lips.
I throw a bag of Earl Grey into my ‘I love Mondays’ mug. It’s only 9:20am.