Thursday, July 20, 2006


Today, I'm starting a new story. It's brand new, and even I don't know how it ends. I hope that you enjoy it...if you have suggestions for how I can improve it (or if you have compliments :Þ), please leave a comment. Stay tuned for future installments.

When I wake up in the morning, I have a million thoughts in my head, ideas about how I’ll save the world, fix my life, find love and otherwise bring happiness to all. By the time I’ve fully woken up, eaten my bowl of Raisin Bran, dressed in something appropriate for work and climbed into my Ford Explorer, all of the ideas are gone. That can’t be a good thing.

I arrived this morning to a virtually empty office. Apparently, everyone else had something better to do than go to work. So, I turned on my computer, and low and behold, I found a job offer. This wasn’t even a job offer from one of those crazy African businessmen who want to put money into my bank account. It was a true to life change of scenery, staring at me from my perky Dell computer.

Of course, at that point, people began to arrive. Coworkers stared at my bright orange shirt (maybe it wasn’t actually appropriate office attire), my boss smiled and said, “Hi Tracy.”

I nodded back and stared at the e-mail on my screen. Someone thought that I, Tracy Margaret Lakofsky, would make a great stringer for a newspaper in Santa Barbara. The pay was the same as my own, but I would live in SANTA BARBARA instead of the steady, boring pace that is Elk Grove.

Since the day had just begun and since I’d cleared my desk of work the previous evening, I allowed myself the opportunity to consider the possibility of responding to this e-mail from a former J-school classmate. My school chum Mike didn’t like the idea of packing up his home and moving from Portland to Santa Barbara, but he remembered I had once talked of a love of Southern California one freezing cold night in Boston, and he remembered reading my work in the student newspaper. Now, what I could have really used was a date with hunky, Italian Mike, but I didn’t think that Lovely Wife, a former Miss California, would approve. So, I settled for a sudden and random job offer.

Mike couldn’t offer me the job directly, but he had been asked to find someone else for the position. Everyone else from our class had settled into professional journalism careers or left the field entirely. So, he thought of me. I paused, trying to decide whether I was offended or exhilarated that I was sort of a last option. I went with exhilarated at the opportunity and breezed through a couple of websites, searching for housing opportunities in Santa Barbara. Could I afford to live there? Would I really want to?

Another co-worker, dressed to the nines in a long denim skirt, Keds and a baggy t-shirt, stopped by my desk to mention that the copier had run out of toner. I told her that I would let the appropriate person know, ignoring the fact that the appropriate person sat on the other side of the office from me, a mere two desks away from this woman. The e-mail from hunky Mike sparkled at me from the screen, all the more appealing after this little reminder that my career had not exactly taken a direct path to success.

Rather then get lost in the Internet as I searched for a new life in Santa Barbara, I stood up, stretched my legs, and went to check the mail. My office is a long, rectangular floor of a two story building. My desk is at the opposite end of everything, far from the copier, the mail slots…the exit. I work as a secretary, and there are days when I hate every minute of it. If my job were as humorous as it is for the characters of “The Office,” I wouldn’t mind it as much, but it’s not. It’s deadly boring. My desk is a vast waste of wood, I don’t even get a cubicle, because I work directly for the president of the company. That means that unlike my co-workers, I cannot cover a bulletin board with pictures of my children and dogs, funny quotes from comic strips or flyers announcing department potlucks. I have no privacy, and I wonder each day how I wound up here.

I check the mail, grab the envelopes for my boss and walk back to my lonely desk. A few coworkers smile as I pass in the hall, but most have their attention fixed to their computers. Maybe they all got job offers from Hunky Mike today.

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