The meeting started promptly at 2:30, unfortunately half of the staff were absent from their seats. On the wall, the minute hand moved towards 2:31. With each ticking that did not produce another staff member through the doorway, the manager grew more irritated.
He cleared his throat and looked around at those who were present with disgust. What is punctuality if no one can tell time? The empty chairs taunted him whispering of his incompetency. His face turned red; the flush started from his neck and spread outwards like blood in a puddle of water.
“Where are your colleagues?” he demanded of the women sitting at the table.
His blue eyes pierced through the faces in front of him one by one with a laser focus that could have sliced through steel. He looked at the clock on the wall and then at his wristwatch to confirm the time. He wanted the room to know that his time was important and currently being wasted on them.
Jill sheepishly volunteered, “Debbie and Jan are off today. I think they sent you an email about it.”
Straightening the stack of remaining agendas by lining up the edges, Jill looked down, sensing that eye contact may result in an atomic explosion and not wishing to see anyone without a head, she fiddled with the papers until he moved onto the next distraction.
“And Bonnie had to leave early for a doctor’s appointment,” Linda offered with a smirk that nearly gave away the delight that she felt from conflict.
“I knew about Bonnie,” he replied sharply and mumbled to himself as he scratched something down on his notebook and underlined it three times with his red pen.
“Well then, I guess we will start without the others. They will have to wait to find out that I was able to get the pen request approved.”
He cast his gaze around the room, expecting a round of cheers. Of course, he wasn’t surprised at the blank faces of his team. They were all ingrates. This is what they wanted. They don’t know what they want, he reasoned silently.
There was one other man in the room, he unsuccessfully tried to catch his attention for a shared eye roll at the lackluster response of the women. He was disappointed to see the man tipped back in his chair and staring at the ceiling with a blank expression as though just recovering from a stroke.
He’s as bad as the rest. Women, he shook his head and snorted. He would have to continue his campaign against female pushback another day. He ran through the rest of the agenda items at full speed, without allowing for questions or breath.
“Ok and that’s a wrap. See you next month.” He grabbed his notepad, two pens and coffee mug and rushed through the door before the first woman had time to stand.
Jill laughed to herself doubtful that there would be another meeting. An atomic explosion was averted only for the moment and maybe the day, but he was still a man on the brink of certain disaster without a clue about his fate.