We were in the break room staring at our paper coffee cups in silence. Curtis was fidgeting. I could tell he was having a rough day. I saw the general manager in his office reaming him a new one earlier. Financing is a rough job. One minute you are the company hero, next minute your head’s in the guillotine. I had to ask.
“So what happened with you and Jerry today bud,” I asked.
Curtis was silent for a moment. He looked into his coffee.
“Do you know what he said to me man,” he asked, “He walked into my office, shut the door and started going on and on about how we need to get better at cleaning up our deals this year. He told me that I was either getting sloppy or I didn’t give a fuck. ‘Which one is it?’ he said. I just stared at him. I mean, we had a record year last year and this motherfucker has to come into my office and bitch about finding little mistakes in deals last month because he has nothing else to bitch about.”
Curtis paused again. He was getting worked up. He inhaled and exhaled slowly, taking a sip of his coffee.
“You know what man,” he continued, “it doesn’t matter if you’ve been here one year or ten years, you never know with these guys, it’s never good enough. I mean, ten years I’ve been here and I have to hear this shit. You know what I wanted to say to him? He said that I was either too dumb to realize I was missing funding papers or I just didn’t care enough to do my job properly. You know what I wanted to say back to him?”
Curtis leaned back in his chair. He took a deep breath.
“I wanted to tell them that I appreciate all the money and the time that they invested in me but I’m not about this life anymore. I just can’t do it. I can’t come in here every day and just gouge people’s eyes out over interest rates and product sales. I can’t take any more of their bullshit. I just can’t. So I quit. But I can’t say that to them. I’m in too deep. They pay me too much, I can’t just walk away. I’m in crippling debt. I can’t afford to not have this job.”
“Yes you can,” I said. “You just have to figure out a way.”
“That’s easy for you to say. You drive an old piece of shit. You don’t have car payments. You don’t understand the debt I have.”
“Well, why are you in so much debt, dude? Sell it all and see where you can go with it.”
“It’s not that easy. See that’s how they get you, they pay you an enormous amount of money and then you’re in the club. Then you begin to live a lifestyle that is comfortable. I don’t even care if most of the debt goes away. I don’t need the fucking house, it’s too big anyway. It’s the lifestyle that’s got me. I like eating out at restaurants whenever I want. I like Kali being able to be a stay at home mom. I like being able to afford buying my daughter whatever she wants, man. I can’t just give that up.”
“I get that dude but how often do you even get to see your daughter?” I asked.
Curtis looked out the window. It was raining. The heavy rain started coming down a few minutes ago. He stood up and threw his coffee cup in the trash.
“I don’t know what to do man. I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I guess I’ll figure something out.” He stood up. “You got any hash, dude?”
“Yeah, in my drawer. The key’s in my cubbie.”
“Thanks man. I’m going around back.”
He walked into the hallway and back into his office. Leaving me there to sort through my own future. I’m about one promotion away from getting into the finance office where Curtis is. That has been my goal for the past three years.
I walked out the back door and got into my car. I sat in the driver’s seat and stared at the back of the building. I looked at my watch, it was three o’clock. Cambria would be getting home from school soon and I would be getting off at eight. If I was lucky I might be able to kiss her goodnight tonight before she goes to bed. Quite unlikely though. It’s rare when that occurs.
I started my car and began to drive out of the parking lot. I called Ann and put the phone on speaker. She answered on the second ring.
“What’s up babe?”
“Just picking bear up from school. What are you up to?”
“I’m on the way to the house to meet ya’ll.”
“Oh yeah, you got off early? How did you pull that one off?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Yeah, just been a rough day at work. I want to talk to you about something.”
“It can wait until we get home, my love.”
“Okay, everything alright?”
“Oh yeah, everything’s going to be fine. Just need to make some changes is all.”
“Okay babe, well I’ll see you at the house.”
“See you soon.”