The phone began to ring for the eleventh time but a golden glass of chardonnay demanded complete control of her mouth. Swiping her straight black hair away from slim shoulders, Melinda sipped at her 4:00 pm tension tamer. Settling back in her chair she crossed her legs and admired the gleaming high heels that peeked out below her flowing black pants.
“You could at least answer the phone for one in ten calls you know,” came booming from the next office over.
Chuck did not understand the difference between office hours and working hours. Office hours, 9-5, meant a physical presence in the office. Working hours, 9-4, denoted the actual time spent working. Therefore, 4:23 pm should tell him that while glad to be at her desk, Melinda had no need to do actual work. She reasoned that including Chuck was the best way to deal with him in these moods.
“You’ve got to try this Chardonnay Chuck. It’s the best I’ve had in weeks.”
“Well I suppose I can justify keeping you on the payroll if you pour me an occasional glass of wine.”
“Oh stuff it. Here, try this.”
Melinda passed a fragile glass of wine and waited for Chuck to agree with her.
After sipping he replied, “Of course you’re right. It’s splendid. Did they teach you how to pick out wine for your boss at secretary school?”
As the word “secretary” departed his lips, he began slipping down the hall with his trophy. Melinda detested any connection between herself and women in such a station. A hostile cork flew in silent protest, but only dropped to the floor.
If Chuck couldn’t fire Melinda, there was more to his reasoning than her excellent choice in wine. First of all, Melinda did not occupy a formal position at the Chiselville Chamber of Commerce. She merely occupied an office and received a modest stipend each week.
The second reason for Melinda’s job security tied directly into the stability of her marriage: Chuck and Melinda have been married since 1972.