“Just chillin’”, said the message. Mr. Strauss read the private message on Facebook. He liked Katie’s commitment with the job, but he wasn’t 100% happy with her way of working.
The air was nice, a soft Caribbean breeze that made the warm environment even more pleasant. There were thirty swimming pools gathered in groups of five, each five pools around a bar; all six groups forming a perfect hexagon with the luxury hotel in the center.
Their CEO worked non-stop to have the whole complex clean and perfect, and the board of directors would do anything their workers asked them for: from preparing margaritas to highly elaborate meals. There were only six bars, but they had nine directors and they would work extra hours for free just to enjoy being there serving better their poor workers.
Among the thirty base workers with high salaries and all the benefits imagined by a grad school stoner, there were ten departmental bosses making sure that the company was doing well.
Mr. Strauss hated doing something like that, but it was his responsibility and he was barely earning twenty grand a year, so he had to do it. He walked from his tiny booth without air conditioning to the comfy pool.
She was probably too relaxed to pay attention, or maybe she was only faking it. Strauss walked into the pool, not diving so he wouldn’t bother the worker. He walked with much effort and talked very quietly next to Katie’s ear. She was lying down on a pink floater, on her yellow bikini and sunglasses. Her company phone simply lying on her belly.
“You see, I’m very sorry for bothering you now, I know it’s so nice there…”
“But?” she asked showing apathy and discomfort.
“Buuuuut…” you just send reports too often. And you used a private message! That’s too formal. So don’t send so many texts, and if you do, please, do it on my wall or add a picture or something fun. Why don’t you have a san francisco or a sex on the beach? Maybe then you could post on my wall how much fun you’re having…”
“Yes? Good. We like you very much, we don’t want to lose you, you’ll understand”
“Thank you, Katie, carry on”
“Yes, Mr. Strauss”
Strauss was walking back to his booth when she sat up and looked at her boss’ back. Then she looked at the bar, the marketing director was making french fries and hot dogs for her coworkers Steve and Lisa, maybe even for Lucía too; they sometimes met in a pool and chill together, it was much more efficient.
“Sun of a beach… you just want to become a director, hell! You wouldn’t doubt in giving any of us a massage just to become the CEO!” Strauss turned around to show he had heard it, he looked ashamed.
Katie started playing some relaxing music on her phone and lied down again. The sun felt so good, especially combined with the fresh breeze. She had also had a magnificent lunch of Turkish Kebab, some chicken nuggets accompanied of sixteen different sauces, watermelon, tangerines and a few cups of sangría. She lived in the hotel, with the best sunrises and sunsets over the ocean. After work she could only choose to go horseback riding, scuba diving with dolphins, play videogames alone, go dancing or bowling or ride the mechanical bull. There was also the option of playing billiards, darts, air hockey, table tennis or movies. Something was really wrong in her life.
Katie was making plans in her head; she was literally deciding what she would do after work. There was no limit for minimum or maximum of work per day, but she had a weird tendency to doing a minimum of eight hours, and only from Monday to Friday. Working involved doing literally nothing, but she just wanted to get a computer and type until she broke the keyboard. Suddenly she remembered when she made some graphics and charts of random stuff, then Strauss came and made her remove them before any director saw them, claiming that it was absolutely inappropriate.
She forced herself into going back to work, she cleared her mind and focused in pleasant feelings, she needed some booze. She got her phone and pressed 2 for a while to get a direct line with the bar.
“Mr. Jenkins, Marketing bar. How can I help you?”
Katie forced her most informal slang:
“Hey boy, it’s me, Katie”
“Hi Katie, what can I do for you?”
“Hit me really hard, what can you gimme?”
“Anything you ask”
“What’s your recommendation?”
“Long island is pretty popular”
“Is it long enough?”
“Yeah, it’s very long”
“That’s what she said!!!”, she said!
She waited for him to stop laughing, while she was wondering why all the hot shots on black suits and ties loved those jokes. Then she continued:
“Okay, bring me a long island ASAP, got it?”
“Thanks dude, you’re awesome!”
She tried to relax and stop analyzing things in her mind, but it was hard (that’s what she said). The phone had unstressed her a lot, but not enough. She lacked an inspiration, a reason to do her job. Katie then wondered if she had achieved what she wanted in her life. She found herself in the wrong place, her job was not good at all, and revised all the decisions in her life that had taken her there in that same spot in that same moment. When she had all those moments in her mind, she analyzed all the options she had rejected.
She was frowning, and Mr. Strauss was passing by her pool.
“Are you chillin’?”
“Yeah, sure boss!”
“You seemed to be thinking…”
“Oh my! Why would I?”
“I don’t care why, only matters what you do, and you were thinking!”
“No! I wasn’t!”
“Well, stop thinking and relax!”
“I can’t –she thought of an excuse-… there are some tree leaves in my pool!”
She went down from her floater and walked to the pool’s curb right between the waterfall and the stairway.
“What the hell are you doing, Katie?”
“I’m cleaning the Goddamn swimming pool, Mister Boss!”
“Stop! Call the fuckin’ CEO and make him clean it!”
Strauss had his hands on his waist, looking down to Katie, who was taking the leaves with her own hands.
Mr. Jenkings then came with a very elegant white suit, a tray and a huge tube glass of bright colors and an umbrella. He was puzzled of seeing Katie not sun tanning and listening to music:
“What’s going on here, Strauss?”
“Katie is cleaning her swimming pool by her own!”
Jenkings was freaking out, he had never seen a subordinate doing any manual task at all. After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence he just crouched and extended the long island to Katie.
“Okay Katie, let’s do this. You take this delicious beverage, you go back to your floater or to that hammock over there… or even go to someone else’s pool and chat a bit about shoes or sports or anything you want, okay?”
“Are we cool here? Are you going to do your job, Katie?” asked Strauss. Katie simply smiled, looked at both at their eyes, grabbed the glass with her left hand, and then, with her right she took the little umbrella from her drink.
The bosses were happy with that. Katie brought the umbrella to her mouth and tasted the liquor from it without stopping smiling. Suddenly her face turned red and her expression showed unlimited rage and like an Amazon warrior she screamed loud and long and stabbed Strauss’ leg with the little umbrella.
Both men were frozen before such a horror scene. While they were looking at Strauss’ wound Katie had time to walk out of the pool and then pushed both to the water.
Katie was in her room when she received the call from the Human Resources director. They asked her to meet the board of directors at the bowling area. They all dressed and acted informally due to the extraordinariness of the situation. She of course, had a bikini and flip flops to dress appropriately. Mrs. Smith, HR director started:
“Dear Katie, we have agreed that you should take some vacation. We know you’ve been under so much relaxation and it’s no good for anyone. We’ll give you a month, you get analytical, rational, logical… just go play some chess or write a review of Ulysses. We can give you some fliers of stressing things to do”
“We like you –intervened Mr. Sushima, from Research and Development -, we really want you to stay with us, but if you prefer to quit, we’ll understand”
“Also –added Smith-, Mister Strauss is very sorry and humbly asks you not to sue him for stressing you out. You’ll understand that he was trying to do his job the best he can according to the company’s policies”
“Right” answered Katie.
Two days later Katie was landing in London Heathrow, happy to finally take a vacation and forget about her job. A man with a sign with her name was waiting for her. She introduced herself and he drove her to the office. As soon as she left her things in her cubicle, she asked the receptionist for a pile of paperwork. They gave her a foot and a half high pile of papers, a stapler and the password for the intranet. The sound of the printers and phones, the flashes of the copier, the smell of coffee and the touch of the office chair finally made her smile. Then her phone rang.
“Johnson talking” answered Katie.
“This is Adams, I want the sales report for yesterday”
“Aye sir”, she hanged and closed her eyes, enjoying a river of endorphins running through her body.