Sunday, June 22, 2008


I brushed my black pants suit down with a lint roller one last time before exiting my car. I nervously entered the PPG building and rode the elevator to the twelfth floor, where Christopher Fox, my new boss, greeted me.

“Great to see you again,” he greeted with a blindingly white smile and a firm handshake. “How about a tour of the office before you get started?”

Before I could reply he briskly walked from the elevator into a large room filled with a dozen desks. Ten were occupied by identical looking men in dark suits, at one desk sat a youngish woman who looked extremely pissed off at her computer screen, and one was empty save for a computer.

“This is your desk,” Christopher said, running his hand across the faux-wood top of the empty desk. He moved on quickly and pointed to a closed door. “That’s my office,” he unnecessarily explained. CHRISTOPHER FOX was emblazoned on the door in inch-high silver letters. “We have a meeting room here, and a supply and copier room here.” I peeked into the rooms and found them to be painfully ordinary. “Any questions?”

I shook my head, still too nervous to speak.

“Alright then.” He handed me a thick stack of manila folders and flashed me his superwhite smile again. “We'll start you off with this. If you have any questions, just pop in.”

I thanked him and took a seat at my desk, very aware of the eleven pairs of eyes that followed my every move.

Around noon, a tall, blonde man perched on the edge of my desk. “We’re going out for lunch. Wanna come?” he asked brusquely.

“Umm, sure.”

“I’m Brad,” he said, extending his hand.

“Karine,” I replied, purposely omitting my last name.

My eleven coworkers and I left the office and walked down the street to a tiny cafĂ©. “We usually just order in,” Brad explained as we waited for our orders, “but it’s not everyday we get a new girl.” I noticed how he put extra emphasis on the word ‘girl.’ When I had first entered the office and seen that I was outnumbered four to one, I hadn’t been very surprised. Everyone knew finance was a male-dominated field.

Lisa, my only female coworker, sniffed. “I would rather be eating in the office. I have too much work to do.”

“No one forced you to come,” Matt, a short, slightly overweight, man said with a dramatic eye roll.

“So you’re French, Karine?” Brad asked, ignoring his bickering office mates.

“Not quite. I’m from Montreal.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why are you in Pittsburgh?” I was sitting directly across the table from Brad, so naturally he was commanding most of my attention. Not that I minded—Lisa seemed like a complete bitch and the other men seemed generally uninteresting.

“My uncle lives here, so when I heard about the job opening I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s a nice change.”

"Your uncle...meaning Mario Lemieux?" Matt asked.

I faltered slightly and took a sip of my water. Apparently my reputation had preceded me. "Yeah," I admitted reluctantly.

"That's so cool. Could you get me Pens tickets?" Brad half-joked.

As we ate, Brad and I chatted about the city (he was a Pittsburgher, born and bred), the Steelers (I didn’t know a thing about American football but he filled me in on the basics), and my background.

"Is it weird being Mario's niece? He's a superstar around here," Brad said.

I shrugged. "I don't really think about it. He's just Uncle Mario to me."

"So do you know the team?"

"Personally?" Brad nodded. "Um, I've met a few," I replied evasively.

"Do you have a boyfriend?" Matt asked suddenly.

I smiled into my drink and fiddled with my napkin.

"That's an extremely personal question, Matt," Lisa said disapprovingly.

"Yeah, I guess. I'm kind of seeing someone." I kept my answer very vague, both because I wasn't sure if Sid and I were actually a couple, and if we were, I didn't want the entire world to know quite yet. We had spent most of yesterday together, but it wasn't what I would classify as a "date." It was more like two friends hanging out. We played a little hockey, then went back to Uncle Mario's and watched The Mighty Ducks—a personal favorite.

Brad's eyes met mine and I saw a small frown appear on his face. "So, what do you think of PPG?" he asked. In an instant the frown had vanished.


I returned home around five, feeling delightfully tired and happy. Although my job was somewhat tedious and rather unimportant, I liked it and generally liked my coworkers. Brad seemed like a nice guy and made me feel comfortable. As for the others...well, it didn't matter. They were only coworkers.

I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket and looked at the ID. Sidney was calling me.

“Hi!” I greeted him with excitement. We had just seen each other yesterday, but I was already missing him.

“Hey. How was work? Tell me all about it.”

“It was alright. The job itself isn’t anything to be excited about, but some of my coworkers seem cool. I don’t think I’ll dread getting out of bed everyday.”

We talked some more and made dinner plans for the next night. I snapped my phone shut and sighed happily.

No comments: