Fiction Fridays, “Finding Time,” Chapter 2

When he returned to the office the next morning to find that the little wheel was still spinning, Matt went straight in to see the boss without even setting his bag down first. “Patrick? I need to talk to you for a minute.”...

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When he returned to the office the next morning to find that the little wheel was still spinning, Matt went straight in to see the boss without even setting his bag down first.  “Patrick?  I need to talk to you for a minute.”

“Not now.  After lunch,” Patrick said without looking up.

“Ok.  I’ll just go home, then, and come back after lunch.”

Patrick looked up and paused.  “You aren’t kidding, are you?”

Matt shook his head.  “Right now, Patrick, if the next thing you say isn’t exactly what I need to hear, there’s a chance I’m not coming back after lunch.  Or at all.  I can’t do this anymore.”

Patrick’s posture instantly improved and his eyebrows furrowed.  “Matt, what’s wrong?  And what ever happened to, ‘Patrick, I’m kinda having a bad day?’  What’s this starting with an ultimatum thing?”

“Because we’re well beyond bad days,” Matt said a little louder than he had originally intended.  He took a breath and lowered his voice.  “This isn’t just not fulfilling, it’s not just tedious and frustrating, it’s driving me insane.”

“Clearly,” Patrick said pointedly.  “But there was a first day—the first time you went home and thought that you didn’t like your job.  Why didn’t you come to me then?”

Matt paused.  It was a good point.  “I guess because I didn’t want to disappoint you.  I don’t know.”

Patrick stood up.  “Well, I’m pretty disappointed that my friend just told me he’s quitting—no warning or anything.”

Matt’s shoulders sagged.  “I’m not saying I’m quitting.  I’m just frustrated.  But we have to do something—I can’t keep watching the progress bar make no progress.  My workstation is a doorstop until it finishes rendering, and with all these changes…”

“Tell me about it!  I’ve never had a project take so many people so many hours,” Patrick shook his head.  “I think I’m going to have to put in an overtime clause or something, and we will not be working with this particular client again.  This won’t happen again.”

“It’s not just this project, it’s everything.  The system can’t keep up with the workload, I can’t keep spending every waking hour here to make up for it, and I know I’m supposed to do more than corporate videos and dog food commercials.”  Matt looked him in the eye.  “I need more for my life.”

“Hey, I get it, man.  You’ve been here late every day—I’ve seen it.  I hear you, I feel you, and we’ll iron some things out after this project is over so things get better.”  Patrick smiled.  “You know what?  Go ahead and take the morning.  Come back after lunch and I’m sure your computer will be ready for you.  You’ll feel much better if you go get a cup of coffee or something—do something for yourself.  Just don’t rip the rug out from under both of us by doing something stupid and rage-quitting.  Ok?”

“Ok,” Matt answered sadly.  “Thanks, Patrick.”  He left the office and walked back to his car, not entirely sure what had happened.  Patrick said there were going to be changes that made things better eventually, but nothing had really changed.  They might improve the work conditions if they upgraded the system, and they might avoid the most annoying aspects of high-maintenance clients with some strategic edits to the boilerplate contract.  That would likely give him more time.

But it would still be corporate videos and dog food commercials.  There was no fixing that.

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