Eddie glanced up from the spreadsheet that gridded his computer screen, speckled with obtuse numbers and company sanctioned cell colors. His desk clock said it was 3:27. It was time.
He stood up, not even bothering to lock his screen … or to save his work. There was no time. He slipped on his sports coat and as he strode from his small cubicle and down the hallway, he straightened his tie. He shot his cuffs. He glanced at his watch. It was 3:29. But his watch was one minute faster than his desk clock.
There was still time.
He walked past the break room. “Hey, Eddie,” called out his friend Hank, but Eddie just waved distractedly and slightly dismissively (though not rudely). He did not wish to be engaged in a conversation at this moment.
Past the copy room. Left … down the hallway past legal. Past Marketing. Then right, past the coffee kiosk. He walked purposefully, but not quickly.
There was the intersection in the hallway that led to Mahogany Row. He paused. Looked at his watch. 3:30 on the dot.
Then he suddenly started walking again with purpose.
Just as he got to the intersection, Edna turned the corner putting on her hunter green winter coat and clutching her purse awkwardly under her arm. There was a jangle of car keys somewhere within the coat as she slid it on her arm. They nearly collided as they both reached the intersection, but didn’t.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Pardon me.”
“Pardon me,” said Eddie, smiling disarmingly. If hats were in fashion, he would have touched his brim. But they had been out of style for half a century, as so many things were.
And then Edna was gone. 3:30 was her quitting time.
Eddie did not look after her as she departed. He just paused a moment in the middle of the intersection and smiled. The hallway was filled for a few moments with the fragrant medley of shampoo and perfume and springtime.
He sighed, adjusted his tie again, turned left, and made his way back along the circuitous route towards his desk. There were still three more hours of budget analysis in his gray office to get through before quitting time.