“Seriously?! You did not just say that.” Gloria was red-faced and working up a good head of steam. Embarrassingly enough, a bit of spittle had flown out of her mouth with her last remark. Timothy, Timmy to his friends, just sat there with a silly little smile on his face. The situation had been building to this end for some time and he was not at all certain how it would all work out.
The two of them had acquired quite a crowd. Their office buddies had been aware of the tension building for months now and many had found some excuse to hover near. The big windows of the 14th story office were letting in bright sunshine because the rain clouds of the past few days had finally moved on. But despite the sun, the mood was dark and somewhat foreboding. They were all anxious to see how this would play out.
The world of sales can be very cutthroat. Advantages are sought and held miserly to the breast. Secrets are kept as best as possible and even in the best of atmospheres, sharing is not usually even remotely anticipated.
That Gloria and Timmy were rivals for sales champion of the month, pretty much every month, in many ways liberated the rest of the staff. The remainder could do their work, meet their goals and not have to worry about the extra mile, the 110%, or any of those other ways that employers have of saying that they want you to work your butt off. Timmy and Gloria so far outsold the rest that there was never any question. The others were happy to leave that battle to the two combatants.
But this year was going to be different. Their employer had offered a big year-end bonus for the highest producer of the year. This would be on top of the monthly half of a percent bonus on their total sales that went to the sales champion of the month. Timmy wanted it badly because he had big plans for the cash. Gloria wanted it equally as badly, but primarily to keep Timmy from getting it.
It was the middle of October and they were pretty much neck-in-neck for the year with Timmy slightly ahead for the month. Gloria could barely stand it. She agonized over it late at night. She pushed her contacts to the limit. She bought a new program for her computer to make it more secure. She kept paper-only records of some of the most sensitive information that she never let out of her sight. Well, almost never. Locks can be picked, but not always easily or quickly and bringing her lunch and eating it at her desk helped to keep the possibility of prying fingers out of her private stuff.
Timmy had a bit more faith in his fellow man, and woman, than Gloria. Even so, there was one thing he kept on his person lest Gloria stoop to the very thing she, herself, feared the most. It wouldn’t do to let that little trick out of the bag too soon. Besides, he liked it right where it was. He could take it out and have a nice little look at it in private moments and it always made him smile.
There is a saying that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. And while Gloria had never heard this, she was smart enough to figure it out for herself. Timmy, on the other hand, had been told this very thing by his father, a man famous for engineering hostile take overs.
So, in the course of their “hostilities” and vying for the same rewards, both Timmy and Gloria had begun to see each other outside of work as a way to get to know the weaknesses of the other (as well as the strengths) the better to compete. Timmy had been the first to ask to meet after work at a local restaurant. Gloria had looked at him for a few minutes, doing her best to determine his true motives and so into the silence he had said, “It wouldn’t be a date. I just wanted to pick your brain a bit and thought that maybe I’d have something good to offer you in return.” Over the years, Timmy had found that blunt honesty could sometimes be very disarming. The appearance of “weakness” can often relax those who think that you are being foolish. So Gloria agreed.
It was not long before they had acquired a standing date for Friday evenings at Finnegan’s Pub. Occasionally, some of their fellow employees would also show up there and they would all talk for a while. In truth, it was just grist for the rumor mill. Their fellows simply could not understand what drove those two to associate outside of work given their apparent animosity toward each other.
Thus, we find ourselves on this particular day in the middle of October in the lunch room of the offices on the 14th floor with the sun shining brightly through the floor to ceiling windows. A couple of co-workers were hanging around the coffee maker. Another couple were standing in front of the fridge. One young woman was waiting at the microwave for her frozen meal to heat. An older man was rummaging in a cupboard looking for a new canister of coffee creamer.
Because both Timmy and Gloria had begun also taking their lunches together about a month and a half ago as well as meeting on Friday nights, they were already seated and enjoying the sandwiches that Gloria had made for the both of them and the pumpkin muffins that Timmy bought.
We make no claim for the presence of what one might call psychic abilities within the human race. But on this day, with so many co-workers having found cause to be present, one has to wonder. Timmy had not told anyone of his intent, and yet at the very moment that his hand went into his pocket, near silence reigned in the lunch room. The only noise was the hum of the fridge, the running of the microwave and Gloria, noisily slurping up the last of her canned soft drink through a straw.
Into this almost silence, Timmy said, “Gloria. Would you marry me?” And he presented her with the ring.
Gloria stood up suddenly and said, “Seriously?! You did not just say that.”
Breaths were held and all motion ceased. Timmy held his breath as well. The microwave finished and dinged four times in quick succession. Time then seemed to stand still.
Yet standing, Gloria looked around the lunch room. Several of her co-workers were smiling. But they were shy little smiles that she could see bore no malice. Suddenly, her knees would no longer hold her and she plopped back down into her chair. Timmy still sat opposite her, holding out the ring to her and waiting patiently for her answer.
Timmy and Gloria have never kissed. They have never even held hands. Their knees have never inadvertently bumped beneath a table or while sitting at a bar. And yet, somehow, Gloria perceived the rightness of it … the inevitability of it and she said the word that Timmy was waiting to hear, “Yes.”
There was cheering and clapping and slaps on the back. There were smiles all around.
We won’t say it was an easy marriage to maintain, but they went about it as they would anything that either of them might do … with a determination to succeed. And the small worry their employer had that it might spell the end of their tremendous sales production was completely unfounded.
I like happy endings. I always have. Even as a child I was always trying to smooth over disagreements or fights. If someone had a problem, I tried to fix it. As an adult, I’ve learned that people aren’t always looking for a solution, so I’ve also learned to meddle less.
In any case, my stories will probably always end on a happy note. It may not be realistic, but it’s how I like it.