Funny stories in under 500 words.

Getting to know you

I was brought in to manage the company’s tech support staff and was holding a series of one-on-one interviews to assess each employee in the group. It certainly was an eclectic mix.

There was the chain-smoking Lucinda, who started off by saying, “Sorry if I seem distracted. I just found out I’m going to be a grandmother and I’m only thirty-four.” I learned she was sixteen when she had her daughter back in Tennessee and now at eighteen that daughter was pregnant.

Next was the classic overachiever, Joan. She knew the systems cold; could manage multiple accounts successfully; and, told me flat out she had wanted my job. Joan was either going to be my strongest ally or fiercest competitor. Immediately, I asked her to be my liaison on the team. Glad I chose friendship because Joan would go on to become the CEO of a Silicon Valley tech firm. We stayed in touch.

Then, there was the resident cat lady, Tess. She was single; lived alone with two cats; and, had a heart as big as the sky – for animals. Tess was honest to a fault. A client once asked if our system could handle eight-digit product numbers. She replied, “Yes. But not more than twelve.” Afterwards, I asked why she didn’t just say, ‘Yes.’ Her answer, “They should know.”

My one o’clock meeting was with Tess.

A perfect June day, the brilliant lapis sky was dotted with white clouds. Rather than grab a prepackaged sandwich from the cafeteria downstairs, I decided to stroll to the supermarket across the parking lot for something tastier. Besides, it would be a nice walk.

I brought a fresh tuna salad back; ate it at my desk; and, relaxed for a few minutes before the meeting. Being on the south side of the building, my office warmed quickly and stayed that way throughout the day.

Tess arrived precisely at one. Like many techies, she was not particularly fashion savvy. For her, a new black sweater and polyester pants were haute couture. Let’s not even discuss the layer of cat hair on those clothes. At times, one could pick up the faint scent of felines. But, today, it was different.

As the temperature in the small office climbed, the odor got stronger. I thought, ‘Can’t she smell that?’ Apparently not. I wondered if I should say something, but didn’t. By the end of our meeting, I knew this needed monitoring, because it could be a real problem when she visited clients.

Tess left my office and I pushed back on my chair wondering how to handle the situation. I brought my leg up and crossed it akimbo over my other, forming a perfect triangle. The odor, which should have subsided with her departure, only grew. I looked down and there it was: a flattened patty of excrement wedged against the heel of my Bostonian wingtip.

That’s when I realized she was probably thinking, "He smells like dog crap."

Michael Anthony is a writer and artist currently living in New Jersey. He has published fiction, poetry and illustrations in various literary journals. Cappers Magazine has serialized two of his novellas.

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