Why do they have to make these things so itchy? First day and I’m already in a monkey suit, oh if only my pop could see me now. He’d say something about how I was afraid to get my hands dirty, that I should have come and worked the shop with him. God why is this so itchy? I tug and pull on this confounded collar and it either chokes me or itches like crazy. Maybe that’s my fault though, I did wash it about fifteen times. Maybe some of the soap was still on it I don’t know. I just wanted it to look white enough if that makes any sense.
Yet once again I found myself musing on the past as I walked down the same old street, only difference is I had a suit on now. Putting the collar out of mind I realized that it was actually a pretty nice day. I swear there is nothing better than October in Atlanta. Warm enough that you don’t need to bundle up and cool enough that you can just relax and feel the breeze on your face.
Around this time Atlantic Station was busy, really busy. It truly amazes me that the people of Atlanta or any city for that matter don’t even look up at the towering office buildings, department stores, and high-rise apartments. Atlantic station was a maze of alabaster concrete, hydro washed glass, and massive overarching awnings. And yet here they are scurrying through the shadows of these monoliths without even entertaining the thought of looking up.
Me I always look up, I can’t help it. I know my pop would hate me for saying it, but I love these buildings. If nothing else they were progress. Shame I’m not doing more of that, at least my collar doesn’t itch anymore.
I reached the offices at around mid afternoon. How do they keep these lobbies so clean? The dark linoleum floor practically shimmered with this kind of ebony luster despite the fact that there were about fifteen people stamping all over it. Course there shoes were just as shiny so maybe that had something to do with it. Whatever the reason I walked over to the receptionist. I could already tell this wasn’t going to be pleasant. The receptionist was of course attractive; she had to be to work here. First rule of marketing always have a pretty receptionist preferably one with blonde hair, green eyes, and just enough visible cleavage to let your partners know that you keep things classy. She had all of that in spades except for one little thing; she had a look of angry boredom that put ice in my veins. And… my collar’s itching again, lovely.
“Yes can I help you?” she says.
“Yes, I’m… the new receptionist” I say.
“Finally!” She presses what I think was a call button. “Yeah he’s here, now piss off.”
I never saw anyone pack up as fast as she did, then again I never saw anyone shatter an office phone just by slamming it down. With only one sweep of her arm she packed up her entire office in two small bags and stormed out of the lobby, her footsteps echoing through the lobby as she left. I was so confused; did I just get someone else’s job? At least my collar wasn’t itching anymore. What else could I do in this situation? Its not like I stole this job. She left she didn’t want it, and this market you take what you can get. So I sat down, I guess this granite top desk is mine now.
Strange, our company just traded receptionists and no one seemed to care. No one looked up at the front desk; no one even made eye contact with me. It was all kind of snooty to be honest, three whole minutes had passed and I still hadn’t gotten one hello or welcome aboard. I tired to make things a little homier; I placed my Atlanta Falcon bobble heads around what used to be the phone, put a little Renuzit air freshener on the very top of the granite counter, I even placed put a little framed photograph of my dad and I at a game. I was content to just sit there fumbling with my collar waiting for someone to tell me what to do. If it wasn’t for air freshener I would have been completely stressed out, as it is I’m just mildly so. The admittedly sweet smell of raspberries kept me off edge, that is until a large shadow eclipsed my new desk. I shot up, still futzing with my collar and tie, I had to look for the boss I had to… who the hell is he?
“Hey bud you there,” he says waving a hand in my face.
God damn it, I thought it was whoever that lady called. Instead I get this grizzled chubby little man whose blue collared shirt and black denim jacket smelled of cigarette smoke and concrete. Better go through the motions.
“Um yes… hello sir and welcome to Wells Fargo Atlanta,” I say. “Do you have an appointment?”
“No” he says fumbling around with the pockets of his shirt. He pulled out a small piece of paper, looked over it for a second, and shot up looking like the hand of god had just flicked him.
“The wife said I should set up an extra savings account, our son’s going to college soon,” he says. “I was on my break so I figured now would be as good a time as any right?”
Unbelievable, this man was just so genuine. His chubby face seemed to light up with pride as he talked. Whether it was pride for his son or just that he remembered what his wife told him to do I don’t know. It almost hurt to answer him though.
“Sir” I say. “This is the Wells Fargo corporate office, you can’t set up an account here. Plus I’m just the receptionist I couldn’t help you out if I wanted to.”
Just like that I see the pride leave his eyes. He gives off a smoke smelling sigh as he rubs one of his chubby hands over his crumbled blue collar. My own collar was staring to feel a little tight and I soon found myself mirroring him, rubbing my collar in the hopes that it would miraculously stop trying to choke me.
“Tell you what,” I say. “Don’t do Wells Fargo. If you’re setting up an account for your son go to Bank of America. If you set up a student account they won’t charge you a maintenance fee.”
“Thanks” he says with a smile.
Just like that he leaves. I felt good, surprisingly good. My collar felt loose and I wanted nothing more than to get back to work, even though I had really no idea what to do. A balding haired man with black silk suit was standing by my desk though. He was constantly fumbling with his white collar under shirt and had a too wide a smile to be comfortable
“Hello” he says with a now wider toothier grin. “You must be Mr. Jackson
“Yes ” I say.
“Welcome to Wells Fargo,” he says. “Before I walk you through your duties here I must ask, who was that you were talking too?”
“Some poor guy who wanted to set up an account. I told him to go to Bank of America, better deal for a student,” I shouldn’t have said that.
“I always have to deal with you early twenty something’s don’t I?” He mumbles.
“What was that sir?” I ask.
“Noting” he says, now smiling even wider.
He fumbles with his collar before continuing.
“Now as much as I want to welcome you to the company I first need to explain how Wells Fargo works. You see we breed loyalty through open and honest communication with our banking trustees. We try to point them in the right direction for US to help them. We feel it would have been in everyone’s best interest if you just stick to your position and let our banking associates help out our customers. Now lets get you a new phone, so you can get back to work.”
“I wasn’t working,” I say.
“Then you better get started,” he says.
He frowned while saying that and all trace of forced warmth was gone; well that was rather quick. I didn’t expect him to drop the welcoming act so soon. I see him saunter away, fumbling with his collar again. It was pretty obvious that his welcoming was practiced and more credit to him for managing to throw in a reprimand at the same time. Still, it was all just going through the motions with him. Everyone had his or her place. He had his and first day of the job I’m reminded where mine is.
Returning to my desk I found it odd that the smell of raspberries didn’t greet me. He took the air fresher away didn’t he? Oh I see, it not business like to have a frilly air fresher sitting on top of the receptionist desk, no just a Falcon bobble head and a family photo are acceptable. I don’t believe this. I collapsed into my chair, my itchy pristine white collar now sullen and wrinkled. God it was like having two dumbbells’ curled around my neck. I almost didn’t reach up to scratch at it for fear that I would find metal instead of fabric. At this point I don’t even care, collar or not I just want to get that phone. I look up and some blonde guy is standing over me.
“Welcome to corporate,” he says, and walks away.
Funny, that was the second honest person I talked to today.