The cart lay on its side, the trough now empty, papers, envelopes and assorted supplies scattered across the carpet as though an office tsunami had blown through. And indeed, one had. A tsunami by the name of Volk.
“JOE,” Volk barked, “haven’t I TOLD you not to park that damn CART in the middle of the AISLE? HAVEN’T I?”
“But Mr. Volk, I was just giving Ms. Ackerman her m..”
“DO I LOOK LIKE I CARE WHAT YOU WERE DOING? Pick this stuff up and GET LOST.” Volk stomped off, placing his size 11 footprints on as many papers as he could without veering off course.
Joe righted the mail cart and began scooping pens and paperclips off the floor. He took deep breaths and kept his head down, lest any nearby cubicle dwellers spotted the dampness of his eyes. A hand squeezed his shoulder.
“Let me help you, Joe.” Ms. Ackerman got off her swivel chair and stacked the papers into a neat pile. “How were these sorted?”
Joe took the pile and tossed it into the trough on the top of the cart. “Thanks Ms. Ackerman. I’ll sort ‘em back in the mailroom,” he said. Where you can’t see my humiliation, he thought.
The other CD’s kept their eyes on their monitors. Having seen the wreck happen, they didn’t need to slow down and gape at the carnage. Besides, it wasn’t the first time.
Joe knew better than to deliver the mail at 11 am. He tried to always be done and gone before Volk returned from his 10:55 smoke. But an unexpected delivery had interfered with his schedule. Unwanted delivery, actually. He’d tried to refuse it but the UPS guy wouldn’t take it back.
“I’m not signing for that,” Joe had told him.
The UPS guy shrugged his brown-clad shoulders. “Whatev,” he’d said, scribbling a phony signature on his handheld.
Joe had followed him down the hall, arguing, to no avail. “What am I supposed to do with this?”
“Don’t know, don’t care,” UPS guy said before slamming the door of his truck.
By the time Joe got back to the mailroom and prepped his cart, it was 10:58.
“Joe? Joe, you ok? Don’t let that creep get to you.”
Joe looked up, realizing he was still in the cubes and Ms. Ackerman was trying to console him. “No problem,” he said, wheeling the cart away.
Shuffling through the footprinted papers on the mailroom table, Joe’s self-pity turned to anger. Leaving the trashed mail and the unwanted delivery where it was, he grabbed his jacket and headed for the elevator.
“Where ya goin’ Joe?” Albert. Security guard.
“Why did you let the UPS guy in with that thing?” Joe demanded.
Albert’s eyebrows went up. “What UPS guy?”
Joe threw the door open and stormed through. “Sorry,” he muttered to a woman nearly knocked over by his heedless progress.
“Young man,” she called after him, “young man! Is this the Payaso Building?”