Lux Halifax v. The System

Art by Kirsten on PENUP/Snapseed

Waves of joy infuse the air in a collective hysteria; shouts from an adoring crowd rumble within blackness. They await with devices on standby; eager eyes, each desperate to consume and share on social media, where likes turned into cash. Lux imagined holding center stage before a sea of fans, all craving more, touching her growing ego, waiting for the famous squeal of her Black Diamond Elektrik.   

Her hands linger over the guitar strings as the cheers rise. Instead, Lux types away at a frenzied pace, dragged away from her daydream by the grip of life. She speculates about her money earned, notably after the overtime hours she contributed. Pay day was at the end of the week, the day she’s waited for to own the notorious guitar and pursue dreams she dared to turn into reality.    

Lux worked fast, long fingers speed with determination analyzing and inputting data as the rest of the week flew by. Once her check arrived, it was short. When taken up with the System, she was met with a listless response.    

“You did not complete your time sheet for Tuesday. I withheld pay for that day.” The System explains.     

“… But I worked on Tuesday, I did the volunteer overtime, there are emails with timestamps.” Lux protests.  

“You did not complete your time sheet. I withheld pay.”    

Lux goes to speak again, but the System accesses the Blacklist. An internal tall tale whispered from cubicle to cubicle now proven as true. Lux stared at a massive excel sheet with names of former employees listed. Soon after, the dreaded cardboard box appears, waiting to be filled. 

One more word and Lux Halifax would be in a cell.  

Powerless against the system, Lux stopped fighting, withholding her musical dreams for another day.

Misconduct at the Potluck

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I can’t believe it. 

Susan ate my food. Food made for a select group of people, not the entire hoard, not Susan. What gives her the right to dine on my baked macaroni and cheese? I don’t even think she contributed anything to the feast. There’s the cole slaw Mike brought in, store bought and soupy. There’s the homemade fried chicken Danielle made; hard work that paid off with its irresistible flavor. And here’s Susan, chomping on them all. Most of the mac and cheese is gone now. Didn’t she see the sign I posted? ‘For Mike and Danielle’s Taste Buds Only’. 

Not Susan. 

I bet Susan doesn’t know how to cook. How could she? She didn’t contribute, just about as worse as those who sign up to contribute napkins. Then there’s her poor taste in dress; those flimsy sneakers I could find for three dollars at any corner store she wears. Finer attire would be more appropriate for the workplace, I say. If I were in charge, things would be very different around here, and any potlucks we had would be selective. A slogan like: ‘If you don’t contribute, you don’t eat!’ 

Yes, that’s it, just like that. We need to be forceful to get the message across so leeches like the Susan’s of the world don’t muster up any bright ideas for a free meal. As a matter of fact… 

Kathy stomped over to her cubicle. It was a domain to tread lightly by. Everyone knew she watched and listened from this spot, waiting to catch any malfeasance, assumed or proven. While on hold for Human Resources, Kathy gazed over her ‘Ten Commandments of Kathy’s Workplace’ framed in rose gold.  

C’mon, pick up, I need to report Susan’s misconduct.  

Bottom of the barrel elevator music met Kathy’s ears, drowning out the sound of a gentle voice calling in the distance.  

“Kathy?… Excuse me, Kathy?”  

Bashful in approach, Susan was hesitant to speak as she tugged on her sweater, a poor attempt to hide the holes within its once vibrant gold fabric. Kathy’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, the phone still pressed to her ear.  

What does she want now? I hope she’s here to apologize for eating my food.  

“I’m so sorry to disturb you, this won’t take long. I just wanted to thank you for bringing in the baked macaroni and cheese. It was great, I haven’t had a decent meal in a while. I don’t know if you heard, but my family has been struggling as of late. My husband, Bill, I believe you met him at the team builder bowling event we went to last year? Well, Bill was laid off about three months ago and money has been tight. Any food we have goes to our kiddos, you know? I was so hungry… I was on day two of not eating much of anything until you, Mike, Danielle, and everyone else brought in your great dishes. I’m sorry I couldn’t contribute, I would if I could, it’s just, well, we all go through things, I guess. All I wanted to say was, thank you. I appreciate you Kathy, you really made my day.” 

Susan shuffled off, Kathy’s eyes remained fixed on the void where her enemy just stood. She put the phone down, just as Human Resources answered on the other end. Her eyes trailed to the mirror, staring at her reflection. Guilt painted her face, and the taste of hurt filled her mouth like doses of poison. She recalled her own journey where she walked a similar path as Susan once. 

…This was all a misunderstanding. 

Besides, who the fuck cares who eats what at a potluck?