My Oppressed Life

A Masked Infliction

            It was two o’clock when she looked at her watch. “Where is this guy?” she said to herself in annoyance.  She started to get antsy as she moved her leg back and forward in anxiety as she sat at her desk, waiting for the problematic employee.  

            A knock came to the door and quickly opened as her assistant supervisor opened the door. “I’m sorry to interrupt you,” he said as he took a seat.  She took off her flashy mask she purchased from amazon that looked like the one Jennifer Lopez wore on a photo on last weeks’ article on BuzzFeed.  

            She looked at him with a disapproving look as she said, “Sure, what’s going on.”  

            He couldn’t shake off the fear that he had in his look, “It’s about Joe.”

            She looked at him in a disapproving look, thinking to herself, “Cut the dramatics,” as she replied with, “Yeah, he’s late for our meeting.”

            “He’s not going to make it,” he said in uneasiness. 

            “So he called you to have you tell me he’s late from lunch?” she said as she got up from her chair and looked out the window of her high-rise office in New York City. “No one respects me here,” she said in sorrowful disapproval.     

            “Can you stop feeling sorry for yourself and listen to me for a minute,” he said in sternness. 

            “Are you insubordinate?” she said in intimidation.

            “Joe has COVID!” he yelled.  

            “What?” she said as she turned to him in uneasiness as she grabbed the threshold of the window.  

            “Did you not know he called in today?” he asked in concern.

            “Well, I was but..” which Mario interrupted. 

            “You were too busy trying to tend to your husband’s ego,” he added. 

            She looked at him in anger as she said, “Are you spying on me? I knew you had a thing for me.” she said in pride. 

            “Get over yourself, Karen!” he said in disgust. “Everyone can hear you argue with him on speakerphone every morning,” he added. 

            “That’s why no one respects me,” she said to herself.

            “Are you listening to me?” he demanded. 

            She looked up at him as she said, “I need to get out of here!” she grabbed her things as she said, “I’m calling in sick for the rest of the day.” she said as she piled her junk on the desk as she shut down her computer. 

            “Why are you leaving?  We should send a memo out”, he said.  Adding, “You can’t just leave with no one knowing what’s going on.”

            “I have a family to worry about,” she rebutted.   

            “So do I, you selfish cunt,” he said in anger. 

            A hard knock tapped at the door as it opened. Thee CEO of the company came in with authority as he said, “What’s the commotion about?”

            “I am so glad you’re here, Sir.  I was just going to get you as I feel we need to fire Matthew immediately,” she said as Matthew’s eyes got watery. 

            “For what?” the CEO said. 

            “For insubordination and using sexual derogatory phrases at me,” she said in confidence. 

            He looked at Matthew in concern as he asked “What happened?”

            “Nothing, sir, she’s right,” he said in shame. 

            “These walls are paper thin, I can hear threw them,” he said as he gave him an empathetic smile. 

            He said in hesitation, “Well, Joe just confirmed that he had COVID, and I thought I would tell Karen about the situation so we could do something?” as he looked a Karen looking like a deer in headlights.    

            “I was about to send a memo,” she said in defense. 

            Mr. Romero looked at Matthew as he said, “You going to something about this?”

            He looked at Karen, giving him a hateful face, and he looked at Mr. Romero and said, “Sir, I feel that Karen’s act of shame might jeopardize our entire office in potentially contracting COVID.  I came to tell her that we might want to send a memo to the immediate staff that had contact, but getting with you first to see if we could pay for these COVID tests as we all can use a little help.  Considering that I feel that it was our fault that he went on a tangent disobeying the rules in the off, ice you established.”

            “I think that’s fair,” Mr. Romero said.   So where do you think you’re going?” he said, looking at Karen.  

            “I was going to go get tested?” she said. 

            “But you are going to leave the staff in suspense as the rumors are going to fly in this office, leaving Matthew to answer for you like always?” Mr. Romero said firmly.  

            She stayed stunned as she looked at Matthew. 

            “In all fairness, sir, it’s a shock for us all,” Matthew said in defense. 

            “But you still here, calming sitting in you, telling me your concerns.  Thinking about your other employees before thinking about yourself,” he said calmly. “Can you get human resources in here for me, please?” he said.

            Matthew immediately got up as he said, “Yes sir,” as he quickly walked out of the office uncomfortably.

            “What are you doing Karen?” he said. “This is not our culture,” he added.

            “You are threatening me?” she said in defense. 

            “I am trying to have a conversation with you.  Your personal life is getting in the way with your work,” Mr. Romero said empathically. 

            “Are you judging me?” she said. 

            “I’m concerned, Karen,” he said empathetically.  “Your significant other is causing some problems in you, and I want to try to help,” he said as he turned to see the door open, seeing Matthew and Julie from HR walking in. 

            “He sexually harassed me,” she said in defense.  “He tried to attack me,” she added. 

            “But the blinds of the window was open,” Julie said 

            “I didn’t see him come near you at all,” Matthew said.

            “He did when you left,” she said. 

            “I was outside this whole time,” Matthew added.  I texted Julie to let her know that Mr. Romero needed her,” he said. 

            “No, you weren’t,” she said. 

            “You looked straight at me,” Matthew added. 

            Julie looked at Mr. Romero and asked, “What do you want to do?”

            He looked at Julie and said, “I’m sorry, Julie, I think this is no longer a good fit.” He said mournfully. 

            “You will regret this, sir, I have people,” she said as she stormed out the door, stopping halfway through the exit saying I quit as one of the employees pointed the recording phone towards her.  

            “Don’t embarrass yourself,” Matthew said. 

            “Fuck you two face, Matthew,” she said.  “I am the best thing this company ever had,” she said as she turned to the opposite side and a voice that said, “Ding dong the witch is dead.” She began to cry and looked at the whole office, laughing at her.

            Matthew came out of the office as he said, “Let’s get back to work and not be jerks about this.”  Silence hit the office.  “Come on, I do not hear those keyboards clacking,” he said as he walked over to Karen.  He looked at her as he said, “You want me to walk you out.”

            She looked at Matthew for a long moment and slapped him in front of everyone.   “I hate you.”

            He turned around calmly as he bent over and said, “I think we need to add this to the termination as assault is not tolerated in the work place.”

            She looked at him in fear as she ran towards the opposite way to the escalators. 

            Mr. Romero walked towards him as he shook his hands and turned to the staff. “Ladies and gentlemen.  I want to introduce to you the new director, Matthew Rodriguez,” as the office clapped, and he led Mr. Rodriguez back to the office. 

            “So how do you think we should handle this bad news,” Mr. Romero said as he shut the door.  

            “Well, sir, our employees work hard, and they deserve to know,” he started. 

            “I agree,” Mr. Romero replied. 

            “Can we start by getting the office shut down, and everyone tested immediately,” he said as Julie nodded.   

            “Let’s do it, Julie, get Dr. Zamora on the line, let’s see if we can get them to come to the office to avoid any further exposure.  Let’s get a memo out asap to let the staff know and the things we are doing,” he said as he looked at Matthew. 

            “Anything else son?”  he said. 

            Matthew added as he said, “With the residual revenue, I feel we might want to put it towards the employees and anyone who gets tested positive.  I also think we should give those positive the option to work from home and those who feel they need to work from home for safely the option,” he added. 

            “Saves us the office space and money for renting,” Mr. Romero said. 

            “Why are you so calm,” Matthew said.

            “I’m immune to the virus, but I care about the wellbeing of the staff.  I’m glad you stepped up like always,” Mr. Romero said 

            “And I think we still should give Karen a free test,”  Matthew added. 

            Mr. Romero looked at Matthew for a pause and smiled while nodding.  And added, “That’s why your best suited for this job.”  

Published by Frieda Lopez at Frieda the Writer

Frieda López is the writer for Journey of an Unraveled Road who was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. Through her professional career in Customer Relations and Retail Management, she has utilized her experience and interactions with the behavioral patterns, which was used to start her personal journey with Journey of A Unraveled Road as her debut novel. She has completed philosophy, psychology, and theology courses at San Antonio College as well as creative writing courses. Frieda López has been a lifelong writer since 2nd grade. A survivor of childhood trauma, childhood abuse, and domestic violence, she wrote this piece, which started this book as her personal journey; works from home in San Antonio, TX.

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