The true fact of the matter was that despite the nearly seven minutes they had spent talking about the annoyances of Skype meetings rather than, say, a let’s-all-huddle-in-the-middle-of-a-sporting-field kind of meeting, despite that, despite those minutes, Brian copied him in to the email second to last with five other team leaders listed before him.
Brian wasn’t one to alphabetise his recipient list or anything like that. He had no system. Brian just added people to the TO: field in whatever capricious order the names came to his manila-folder mind.
Seven minutes. Productive minutes in the sense of being comradely? Of reputational augmentation? No. There he was. Only Janice listed after him. Janice was like sixty or something gaddamn it and one slip-on shoe out the door as it was. Definitely not moving upwards, trajectorally speaking.
Again. Again. Another of a thousand tiny gut punches. He couldn’t think of any one of his colleagues, peers, networks of supervisors or more altitudinous executives who copied him in to an email first. His name was near the start of the alphabet. Nothing Polish.
He was beige. Wan. Was that it? Forgettable somehow. Not assertive. Didn’t speak up. He was too fucking nice. That was it for sure. Part of it. He didn’t self-promote. That was it. He was no propagandist of self-virtues or accomplishments. Nobody noticed and why should they? They had their own virtues and accomplishments to boldly feather nests with, to ensure were enumerated in the monthly newsletter.
Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it.
When he was seven years old, just seven, he had found by the side of Moggil Road a small retriever puppy who had been hit by a car in passing. Just a glancing blow. The puppy was alive but red raw skin showed through its blonde shank and it limped horribly. And he had soothed that puppy, picked it up, brought it home, swabbed it with a moist towel, lay a hand on its flank, put it in a box made comfortable with towels and a Spiderman pillow, felt it’s pumping heart settle, sat by it until it began to glow, until it’s health replenished and it began to float, glowing, a meter above the bed, glowing and floating all calm and well like and he sat by it not allowing it to drift unpleasantly in any current of air until his parents came home, his praiseful parents, his proud pleased parents who saw the glowing happy healed puppy floating there and called the number on the puppy’s tag to summon, a half hour later, the puppy’s worried and welcoming and thankful, oh so thankful, owners. They gave him a twenty dollar bill and shook and shook his hand. And that was just one day. There were other golden days too. He was a good boy. Never any trouble. A good boy. That night his mother cooked roast potatoes just for him, shiny with butter. All the neighbors were told. All the relatives. A good boy.
He was too nice. He wasn’t boastful enough. Seven minutes. Second last. Fuck it fuck it fuck it.