George sat there not wanting to talk. It wasn’t because he couldn’t, but because he thought it would amount to nothing. He had misjudged his peers, thinking they were smart, when those in the room were the farthest thing from it. He called them nuisances, pond scum, crickets that wouldn’t shut up at night when he was in the privacy of his home.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t grateful to the company he had worked for the past thirty years. He had fond memories of the days when he was fresh out of college, and thought the whole world was his oyster to not only catch, pry open, but to admire the pearl inside. As the days turned into years that turned into a decade, the pearl had been lost and the chance of finding it again was gone.
He looked at his co-worker sitting across from him. He believed her name was Cindy, but wasn’t sure. If it was Cindy, he thought it was a stupid name, as no parent should be naming their child such a girlish name. His name wasn’t original either, but at least it wasn’t as bad as Cindy. His co-worker who sat to his left was named Meredith. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body and mainly kept to herself. His co-worker who sat to his right was Tom. He had a butt that kept giving long after he sat down. It was an unwritten rule that sunk in chair belonged to him and only him. He was a fat, millennial jerk who thought he had his life already figured out.
There were a handful of others in the room, but it was these three that George focused as his boss called his name.
“George, come up here, please.”
A combination of confusion and anticipation appeared on Cindy’s, Meredith’s, and Tom’s face along with everyone in the room.
His could care less stance had been replaced with this better not be what I think it is.
“If anyone knows the value of greatness, it’s this man. He started out a grunt at this company and worked his way up the ladder,” his boss said, patting George on his back. “He’s the epitome of what a person can achieve. His knowledge and leadership over the years have led to many valuable contributions. With this said, it’s my pleasure to present to you this achievement award.”
He watched his boss remove a glass plaque from a box and offer it to him. He wanted to grab it and throw it against the wall. He decided against it. There would be time to tell his boss how he really felt. When the plaque was in his grasp, his co-workers clapped long enough for him to feel dizzy. Half the room knew about the hidden meaning while the other half were too stupid to realize he was being forced out by someone he considered his friend. He hadn’t been sure if his boss wanted him gone, but it was clear now.
“Is there anything you want to add, George?”
“Not at the moment.”
“Alright, you heard the man,” his boss said. “The fun’s over. Everyone back to work. Empty seats are waiting.”
A short burst of laughter erupted.
George watched his co-workers file out of the room. He still thought the same about Cindy, Meredith, and Tom. They offered little to him in the last five years and would offer him even less in the next five.
His boss and himself were the last ones to the door. George almost let him go, but at the last moment, blocked him from leaving. He nudged him back into the room and shut the door.
“I’m ready to talk now.”