You would expect that this sort of thing would faze our hapless hero. It doesn’t. He toys around with the idea of calling in sick and then stops in his tracks. It occurs to him he has used up his “sick quota”. Usually as a result of binge drinking. Never as a result of this. In retrospect, this is not the kind of thing you can expect to happen, so it goes without saying, you never really plan for it.
Cedric hasn’t and he accepts the card fate has dealt him. It’s a stack of cards, but that’s not really important. He dresses up and rues the fact that he is without any credit on his mobile phone. He would like to think that’s the reason he isn’t calling in sick. He picks up a tie that coincidentally spreads out in a user friendly way, and places it delicately over the stain on his shirt. For good measure he empties the can of deodorant spray on himself. It may be an old shirt, one that he wore yesterday, but, if he smells good he can get away with just about anything.
He refuses to accept that life has actually turned on him so he lingers around a little longer, hoping that the people at the power company will accidentally switch the power back on.
They don’t. They are steadfast in his resolve to make life hard for him. He realizes that now so he stumbles out of his house.
For a fleeting moment he expects to find his car rendered immobile, suspended on some building bricks in such a way as if to suggest that we are in fact back in the Stone Age and Fred Flintstone is the lead character in this tale.
He lets out a sigh of relief as he acknowledges that he is being overly paranoid. He jumps into his car and as he revs the engine makes sure that he is in fact tuned to a listener friendly station.
He moves on without incident. Aside, perhaps, from stopping and picking up a pack of strong mints. The attendant behind the counter seems to sympathize with him. He can tell. Its in the look she gives him as she hands him his pack from a distance…it’s a cross between holding her breath in the hope that he will leave or at least stop talking before she passes out and genuine disbelief that anyone can possibly have morning breath that bad.
There’s a terrible traffic jam up ahead, but that doesn’t matter. Cedric has used public transportation before and he knows his way around these things. He knows of routes that even the guy that plans the roads of the city doesn’t know about. He is, without a doubt, in his element…until he gets stopped for driving without using a seat belt.
The traffic officer, for that is the preferred title for these individuals, is clearly pleased with himself. He wears a smile that can only be duplicated on the face of a pubescent horny lad that has lost his virginity to the goody-two-shoes in the class above him. It may also be similar to the one worn by a politician that has survived close scrutiny in a case involving misappropriation of funds.
So with his “I did the headgirl” look, the traffic officer proceeds to strike up some idle chit-chat with Cedric. Cedric is bored, but he is afraid of letting this show on his face lest the rather inarticulate officer catches on and fines him. He endures this for a bit until, probably bored with the one sided conversation that has stretched into 20 something minutes, the officer lets Cedric off with a warning.
As Cedric mutters his thanks (and under his breath his conviction that traffic officers are really chimps still trying to come to terms with the whole concept of evolution) the cop leans over, so close that Cedric can almost feel an eyelash making contact with his skin, he ‘advises’ Cedric to pick up a toothbrush and some toothpaste from the nearest shop.
It’s advice that goes unheeded.
Cedric makes it to the office an hour late. Actually, that’s a lie. He drives through the gate that leads up to the office building an hour late. The look on the gatekeeper’s face is not very reassuring. For all his hard ups and possibly the misery that he has suffered in his life, he seems to be looking at Cedric with pity. If he had the capacity to read thoughts (as his teachers seemingly did) Cedric would know that the gate keeper really does sympathize with him and is now pleased with his own job. He is convinced that if he too was working inside the building he would look haggard and fraught with misery.
Cedric walks into the building and heads towards the stairs…his office is not really on the 12th floor par se…Then he reconsiders. He remembers all the looks that he has been getting and he figures that he should use the elevator, if for nothing else to avoid more glances and possibly avail himself an opportunity to look at himself in the elevator that was installed in it for such situations.
As the door closes, Cedric begins to make a self-assessment and tries to believe the worst is behind him. Fate hears that and laughs a nasty little laugh that only fate can…then puts a call through to its accomplice at the power company.
The line is busy!
The doors open and Cedric steps out.
He walks into the office and makes a dash for his cubicle…