IN THIS TWILIGHT
By AL BRUNO III
Six months in
Not only was Trinity Advance generous with its pay and benefits it was also generous with food. Once every month the company would cater something, be it breakfast in the mornings or full fledged outdoor cookouts in the spring and summer. Two months later Mike was still astonished at the size of the spread they’d brought out for the folks working on Christmas Eve. Today was free pizza and soda and that was fine by Mike, especially since he’d forgotten his lunch.
Lucky me. It’s been my year so far. Debts almost paid off, a job that doesn’t suck and if I play my cards right maybe I can get a date for Valentine’s Day. Mike thought as he waited in line with his co-workers. The cafeteria was about half the size of the call center itself, with chairs arranged this way and that around a series of picnic tables in the shape of a T.
At one end of the room was a widescreen TV tuned to either ESPN or LIFETIME depending on who had control of the remote. A separate picnic table had been set up and there were pizza boxes piled eight high on it. There was plain, cheese and broccoli, cheese and pepperoni, cheese and sausage and Hawaiian style to chose from. Several dozen bottles of different beverages sat in a bucket of ice nearby.
“So you get a chance to watch Enterprise yet?” Jimmy was ahead of Mike in line, he grabbed a paper plate and helped himself to two slices of pizza.
Mike shook his head while he got his own slice, “No. Sorry. I’m not much into science fiction.”
Jimmy shook his head and got a soda, “Star Trek is not science fiction, its future history.”
“What?” Mike thought about getting a soda of his own but decided to just go with the bottled water. Even if he had to eat like a rabbit he was going to avoid going up another pants size this year, especially now that he had his eye on the receptionist Christine.
They both sat down at a table near the cafeteria doors. Jimmy explained, “Think about the original series of Star Trek…”
“You mean the one with Shatner right?”
Jimmy rolled his pizza up like a taco and took a bite, “Yes. But think of all the technology that was in that series, super fast desktop computers with color monitors that play video. Compact disks that hold whole libraries. Little communication devices that flip open that you can carry in your pocket. It’s all there man.”
“I suppose.” Mike scanned the room, searching for Christine; she was a redhead and his mother had always warned him that redheads were trouble. Well, Mike thought, a little trouble would be perfect. In fact Mike thought that if he didn’t get a little of the right kind of trouble soon he might go insane. “but we don’t have spaceships like that yet.”
“Within our lifetime man,” Jimmy said, “within our lifetime.”
A pair of men stormed into the room, one was fat with a harried expression and a clip on tie, the other was skinny and wearing a hockey jersey. They jostled their way to the front of the line, snickering and laughing like they were the only ones in on a practical joke. From the way they laughed it looked to Mike like it was a mean one. Once they got to the pizzas they helped themselves to four pieces each, stacking the food high on their paper places. Then they stuffed two soda cans into each pocket and walked back out the way they had come.
“Who were those guys?” Mike asked.
Jimmy nodded, “Executive Support, they work upstairs and make the big bucks.”
“Those guys?” Mike thought of the one Executive Support call he’d received, it almost made sense.
Jimmy laughed, “Yeah, its crazy isn’t it? Those guys are like idiot savants. The fat one? His name is Eugene. Back when he worked nights in our department he was surfing to places on the web that he wasn’t supposed to be and they had to disable his internet access because of it.”
“Cosmos swears it’s true.”
“What about the other one?”
“The skinny guy? That’s Raymond, he used to work in H.R. and then he moved to the technical support workgroup,” Jimmy finished his first piece of pizza and got to work folding up and eating the next one, “there used to be a problem with someone stealing the lunchmeat from people’s sandwiches in the break room fridge. Once he moved upstairs that stopped.”
“Stolen lunchmeat?” Mike looked at his pizza trying to salvage his appetite, he took a drink of water instead, “Why would anyone… And for that matter why would he stop just because he transferred upstairs?”
“Because,” Jimmy explained, “if you work in Executive Support you get free food every day. It’s to make up for the sixty hour work weeks. I hear they make like thirty bucks an hour but you have to be fully vested to even test for the position.”
“Then why did they just show up here and gorge themselves on our pizzas?”
Mike excused himself, he’d just seen Christine walk into the room.