Things at work have been puttering along. The staff has been under a lot of pressure for deadlines because the news lately has almost been non-stop since January and now with the earthquake in Japan and the stuff happening in Libya….I feel bad for the staff. So to boost morale I had a brunch catered for everyone in the big conference room.
Stormy walked in and started spreading cream cheese on a bagel and he looked ragged. Veronica has successfully pushed back meeting with him at least three times and every week he just looks more and more overwhelmed. It’s starting to show on the news broadcasts, as well. The make-up team can only do so many things for the bags under Stormy’s eyes and I’m starting to think I might have to step in on behalf of the well-being of our employee. I don’t even know if he’s being paid overtime like he should be because that’s technically the responsibility of the station’s head of HR, not me. The paper is supposed to be a side job for Stormy to add a sense of familiarity to the readers that also watch the broadcasts but it’s pretty obvious it’s started taking up more and more of his time.
“Here,” I said handing him a cup of coffee, “You look really tired.”
“Thanks, I know I look like hell.” He gulped the coffee down and shoved the bagel in his mouth, “Gotta get back to work.”
I decided to go back to work and not bother him. He was already stressed out and me butting in and asking him about how he was feeling wasn’t going to help him, really. I ended up catching up on some work I’d put off until the very last minute and ended up staying at work until almost 8. I put my coat on and grabbed my bag in my office and headed out. I got in the hallway to my office and noticed someone’s light was still on. When I turned the corner Stormy was sitting at his desk looking tortured. I smiled sadly before walking up to him and throwing his jacket on his lap.
“Come on,” I said, “I’m going to take you out for a beer. You need food, too. Let’s go.”
“I can’t, I’ve got to finish this by the end of the day.” He sighed.
“The end of the day was three hours ago, dude, let’s go. I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“Fine but I’ve got to come back here right after.” He said grabbing his jacket and following me to the elevators.
“Deal.” I said.
We went to the bar across from our building and I bought us both two beers and cheeseburgers with fries.
“When was the last time you slept?” I asked.
“I’ve been up for 36 hours and counting.” He sounded miserable.
“Why don’t you ask for some time off?” I suggested.
“Because Veronica can fire me from being a writer but she can’t fire me as a newscaster. I’m still on contract. The one job I want out of would need to be negotiated with her and if I take time off she’ll fire me from the job she knows I want and keep me as a newscaster.”
“You can’t be fired for taking two days off from work, Stormy.”
“It’ll still look bad or when the time comes to actually talk about this with Veronica. Come on Faith, she’s cancelled this meeting constantly, she knows what I’m going to ask for and she doesn’t want to deal with it so she’s just stringing me along by rescheduling it. You know it, I know it, and she definitely knows it.”
“Is waiting until your contract expires and then not renewing it an option?” I asked.
“It doesn’t expire for another two years. I can’t do this for much longer let alone two more years.”
“Okay, look. I’ll talk to Veronica to see if we can get your deadlines reduced, at least for now so you don’t die from some sort of stress-induced ulcer. That will buy you some time before spiraling into a breakdown until she talks with you. I will also ask her to meet with you soon.”
“Thanks Faith.” Stormy said.
“It’s what friends are for.” I said smiling at him.
We ate in silence for a little while before Stormy spoke again.
“So it’s true, huh? The rock is huge.”
I looked down at my engagement ring and laughed.
“Yeah, it’s true.”
“So he’s your guy?”
“He’s my guy.”
I laughed at Stormy.
“You’ll find someone, it’s just not me. It never was.” I touched his arm to comfort him.
“A guy can hope, right? Don’t kick me while I’m down, Faith.”
“Fine you can hope but it’s never going to happen so you should move on.”
We joked around and laughed some more before we finished eating and Stormy looked like he had at least a little more energy than before. I said good-bye to him outside of our building before he left to go work some more. I feel bad for the guy and avoiding difficult subjects just doesn’t seem like Veronica to me. I’ll have to figure out what the problem is when I talk to her about him soon.