stand off

“Elise, we meet again. How unfortunate,” the woman said through gritted teeth.

She narrowed her eyes as she surveyed her adversary.

Both women wore dark suits and heels that clicked with importance when they walked on the tile floors of their office building. Six floors and different schedules was still not enough to keep the two from the occasional encounter.

“Rebecca, it’s been too long. How have you been?” Elisa smiled: white and flashy, with the easy schmooze of a salesperson.

Not long enough, Rebecca thought.  She swallowed down the bile that rose in her throat. She felt nothing but hatred which caused a rather unusually strong physical reaction in her body. Her stomach churned and her chest burned from the seething, hot hate. Rebecca stopped for a moment of clarity and considered that her current symptoms might actually be from acid reflux. In any case, this woman had no business on the fourth floor.

“My key doesn’t work on this floor, anymore. Not to worry, I didn’t have to wait long. One of your kind colleagues let me in.”

“I warned you to stay away from my employees,” Rebecca said, clenching and unclenching her fists at her side.

Elise pushed a pair of cat-eye shaped glasses higher on the bridge of her small nose and raised her eyebrows, “Are you talking about Fresh Meat and Easy Pickins’?”

Blood rushed to Rebecca’s face; she felt a vein start to pound against her temple. She took a deep breath and willed herself to remain calm. Breathe in, breathe out. She practiced the breathing exercises from a stress management class that she just attended. Blood began to pound in her ears; the calming exercise was not working.

“They already told me what I needed to know,” Elise said. She looked down at the files in her arms and flipped through a few pages from a note pad on top.

“There isn’t much I don’t know about your operation now. Tell those two dummies, thanks for the meet and greet,” Elise snickered.

Rebecca stepped in front of Elise, “Whatever happens now, you have brought onto yourself.”

The tension was so thick in the air that after a file clerk scampered past the two and she had to schedule an appointment with her therapist for a mental health tune-up as she started to feel a breakdown was imminently on the way.

They stood like that motionless for a second, directly in front of one another; it was an old fashioned stand-off that would almost certainly end in death and/or serious injury. Rebecca was on the edge of lunging at the other woman to throttle her skinny neck while Elise felt and looked smug. She stood back and crossed her arms, knowing that she was safe. After all, they were professionals in a professional setting.

Rebecca dropped her hands to her side and Elise did the same after setting her paperwork and files down, they both suddenly understood how this would be resolved. It would depend on who had the fastest draw and most accurate dial.
They both grabbed at the only weapons they knew how to use, their Blackberry cell phones. Elise struggled with the clip at her belt and got past the passcode lock. She glanced up to see that Rebecca had already placed the call.

“Yes, I need to report an unethical employee.”

Her smug face fell and her spirit deflated. That was not the call she expected Rebecca to make.  Everyone knew about the report first, report early rule. It wasn’t written in any handbook or on a list of procedures. It just was.

Elise was defeated. She never thought that Rebecca would go to HR.  She didn’t think she had it in her, especially after the last time.

Rebecca covered the speaker of her phone and whispered, “You might want to put in a transfer request. I hear the Michigan branch needs help.”

Laughing quietly, she thought of the skinny woman dealing with the freezing temps and heavy snow.  She tried to imagine her in a snow suit with her perfect hair and heels sticking out of either end.

Rebecca whispered, “Good luck with the lake effect.”

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