All Good Things
With the applause still ringing in our ears, Mary and Nermin
held visions of on-site childcare to support our work
when my baby was due and we celebrated the day I told KGH.
The company, after all, offered many perks to improve the
productivity of the chiefs. Feeling that we had demonstrated
the significance of our contribution to the company's bottom line,
it seemed the right time to feel out what KGH would think
of our dreams. Our enthusiasm about our desire to have
our children close by as we worked brought his smiles but no
indication of any possibilities of company interest. In fact, the
subject took on the air of pie in the sky so I made arrangements
for my baby to stay at the on-site daycare center that City Hall
had established for their employees. It would be close enough
that I could spend my lunches there with my baby but the
waiting list we were on was long. This was worrisome but worse
was the fact that KGH began spending his lunches with the
actuary. I wondered how Mary and Nermin would feel when
they realized that this was becoming the usual situation. But I
was already using my empty lunch calendar to prepare for my
baby's arrival. Expectant mothers have a new joy to hide
The days until delivery were quiet. With careful
planning, I expected to return to the office shortly after the
baby was born. Feeling we really didn't need to rush to wind
down my projects, the days seemed more leisurely as we
continued to monitor the results of our last rescue mission for the
chiefs. But one day, early on in my pregnancy, as I was
peacefully working alone at lunchtime, I was gazing into space
puzzling through some problem when, with a surge of delight,
the most pleasant image of a beautiful little baby momentarily
appeared in my line of vision. I considered the possibility that
I had been daydreaming or that some memory had surfaced but
the image did not match anything I could recall. It hadn't felt
like a daydream, certainly not something I had engineered; in
fact, I had felt so elated to see this baby. I discounted the
possibility of an hallucination, since I had no sense of anything
wrong, no connection. I decided that it must have been my
imagination. Being an atheist at the time, I had no way of
explaining it or even discussing it but now I think that I was
experiencing my own personal epiphany.
I took my leave when the baby arrived, wanting to be
back soon, for Mary and Nermin's sake because we were a team
and I would miss them. But this was not to be. The problems
began and my return was delayed, again and again. While I
was out, my ever-resourceful friends inadvertently gained
access to confidential information.
The day that I made the emergency trip into the office,
I was feeling very apprehensive after Mary's phone call...
... As I studied the contents of these
papers, the one that seemed most explicit was the
chart that claimed to be the payscales of the systems tribe.
The thing that struck me was the progression.
As you moved up from level to level, the salaries rose
by a constant factor, making this scale rise exponentially
because when numbers increase by a fixed percentage reapplied
at each stepup, the further up the scale you go the larger each
step becomes, making the top unimaginable. Since the scales for
the company were determined by personnel, there was no
escaping the conclusion...
... Two days before the end, I finally
revealed my plan to KGH. Even though my heart was
aching to explain or even ask, I only told of my own personal
troubles, knowing that our strategy of attachment and
concealment, as his protege, would be a danger to him if he even
suspected the full extent of my treason. But since our tribe had
become an expense and not an asset to the company, I harboured
only one shadow of guilt, knowing that our future together could
have been so significant if the senior chiefs had not been
seduced by Personnel´s hypocrisy. Since there now was no
honorable alternative. I finally knew that I could do it.
Intently studying the emptiness of our department,
KGH´s last comment was that he had thought he had seen a
glimpse of my terror the day he had described his daughter´s
reaction to a domestic violence scene and he wondered at the
time if I had been hiding something. Perhaps he was somehow
asking if I was hiding something again but I doubt it. I don´t
think he ever guessed. He gave me leave to pack my things and
finish the details of my plan with time on my side. My nerves
were shot but somehow we carried off the act. The morning
Isaac left on a business trip, the movers came and we stepped
through the door and across the border to home in the South.
I love my daughter. She is so dear to me and I never
could have done it without her. She was the one who saved me
from becoming involved any more deeply in the personnel
tribe´s own uncleanness. You see, it had not been long before,
that I had learned my own tribe´s abysmal salaries.
Administration had not been one of my responsibilities as office
wife. Unrealistically hoping that things would change, it was
now inertia that kept me going. She convinced me that stubborn
persistence was just futile. She was my Last Straw.