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FEATURED STORY / SPRING 2013 ISSUE
Lucy glanced at her watch.
She called out, waving her hand frantically, trying to get a small yellow cab’s attention. She was so desperate for a ride that she was not only attempting to make eye contact with and gesture toward a driver, but having to yell out for it. Working in New York City wasn’t so easy, especially considering the horrible traffic that employees like Lucy had to endure every day. Not only the amount of people in the city, bustling to their jobs just like everybody else, but how quickly everything seemed to move around her. She had been standing on the dirty sidewalk for about ten minutes now, desperately in need of a ride, just like several other people around her wearing blue and black business suits, and of course not one taxi was kind enough to stop.
The words Lucy’s boss had said to her, one week prior to today, played over and over in her head:
“Our presentation and meeting with the CEO of the company is scheduled for next Tuesday morning, 8 A.M. sharp, so don’t be late!” She most certainly could not afford to be late; she had something to prove.
“Taxi!” Lucy nearly screamed as one zipped past her, and she looked down at her watch a second time.
It’s not like any of these empty taxis have somewhere else to be, they should be picking people up! She thought, frustrated.
This was typical New York City. All she wanted was a simple ride, and not even a taxi driver, whose job it is to transport people, could help her out. There were at least a dozen bright yellow taxis that could easily pick her up right now, but of course none came her way. She let out a big sigh and was ready to give up, just as the old Lucy had always done. At this point she didn’t have time to stand around and do nothing anymore; she would sprint to that office building if she had to. This was ridiculous, and she was growing increasingly impatient.
“TAXI!” Lucy screamed one last time.
This time she finally got the attention of a gentleman in a driver’s hat. She swung the bright yellow door open and hopped into the cab as quickly as she could.
“103 on 6th Avenue, please. I have a meeting to get to as soon as possible,” she said.
Lucy took another quick look at her watch.
Lucy looked out the window and up at the colossal buildings hovering over her and everyone else in the city as the cab driver hung a left and sped down the newly paved street. Her leg started shaking nervously in the back of the cab as her heart nearly beat out of her chest. She could not miss this meeting. She had maintained this job for a few months now and everything had been going smoothly, but this one instance could already mess up her future. She was given the privilege of presenting a new idea to the top dog, alongside her boss, but she couldn’t do that if she showed up late! Or even worse, missed the meeting entirely. It was her dream job and so far everything had been just about perfect, until this morning.
I can’t believe I actually slept in, Lucy thought, regretting her tendency to want to sleep a little longer after that buzzer goes off in the morning. That was, of course, one of the bad habits of hers that apparently was not completely broken. Her mind began to wander as she continued to stare out the window at the mass of people fast-walking to their jobs, suit jackets making many individuals suddenly look like twins, briefcases in hand.
Her taxi was finally speeding up. It was clear that the driver was doing everything possible to get her to her destination on time, which made her feel a little better than when she hadn’t even found a ride yet. She was terrified she would have to run through all of New York City to get to her office.
Okay, at least I’m in a taxi, it could be worse, she thought.
But Lucy began to think of what might happen even if she did make it to the meeting on time.
What if my presentation isn’t strong enough? I mean, I did the research, I think I prepared as much as possible... or did I? We cleaned the meeting room on Friday before leaving. I’m dressed professionally. The PowerPoint and charts are all at the office already... but, there’s no time to make them better. I knew I should have stayed that extra hour last week to add more to them! What if I get nervous and mess up the pitch when it’s handed off to me? Ugh, how do I always manage to make things go wrong! This is not happening…not now.
Lucy didn’t want to be the same person she was in high school, she knew she had to break the bad habits now and get her act together, but it seemed near impossible in her mind. She needed to break away from that. She tried so hard to think that she had become a better person, but considering the situation at hand, it was difficult to keep a positive mindset.
Okay, this light needs to turn green, now! Alright, so two more blocks down this way, then we cross the street with the small green coffee shop and the newspaper stand, and six miles until I’ll see the guy that paints and sells his own landscape paintings outside the office building.
She continued to glance down at her watch several more times, but with greater frequency. Now, it seemed, time wasn’t even changing when she looked down.
Lucy was at least fifteen more minutes away without traffic. Less than five minutes until the most important event at her new job was supposed to begin. She had really done it this time, and she was fully aware of how bad this would look. Her eyes closed and she lowered her head in self-disappointment.
What am I supposed to say when I walk in? All the excuses Lucy could think of were whirling through her mind. “My dog ate the files that were essential for the meeting this morning, I had to track them down and print them out again.” Or, “The cab I was in broke down halfway here, I’m so sorry I’m late.” Or, “I saw an elderly man on the side of the street choking and had no choice but to give him the Heimlich.” Or maybe, “I’m sorry, the weather is crazy this morning, the wind was so strong it nearly carried me five blocks in the wrong direction!” She scrambled to think of the best one to use.
Lucy was afraid to look down at her watch this time, but just barely managed to muster up the courage.
Lucy could do nothing but let out a sigh. The meeting had very likely already started. Without her.
How could I let this happen again? She thought.
She wanted nothing more than to be able to prove everyone wrong—her boss, who was hesitant in giving her this responsibility in the first place, and her coworkers who constantly gave her judgmental looks. Even those teachers from high school that thought so little of her back then. To them, this was just typical Lucy. She thought back to how many mistakes she had made in high school, the constant self-disappointment, and how that feeling was slowly creeping in again. “Never-on-time, unorganized, can’t-do-anything-right, Lucy,” was what her teachers would say.And her parents were never of much help either, echoing those same words almost every day. Lucy never developed a good relationship with her parents; she felt that they always viewed her as not being good enough. She had finally been given another chance with this job and promised herself she wouldn’t mess this one up too. But her teachers forgot the “can’t-keep-a-promise-if-her-life-depended-on-it” part in that description.
Her mind wandered off remembering past events, old habits that seemed to be coming back to haunt her. She could remember it all too clearly.
Her junior year of high school, when her trigonometry teacher had kept her after class to speak about poor performance the past few months. She sat in a desk in front of Ms. Carey as her eyes immediately locked with Lucy’s as she gave her the classic disappointed look.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself, Ms. Miller?” Her teacher asked as she placed the result of Lucy’s last test displaying a prominent red “F” on the wooden desk.
“I promise I’ll do better next time, Ms. Carey, don’t worry about it...” Lucy said apathetically. She had been known for making empty promises like that.
“You don’t get it, do you? Not only have you been handing in failing work like this, and handing in your regular assignments late, but you continue to promise to do the work to improve, and I haven’t seen any sign of that result yet. I see you come in tardy consistently and you’re disengaged during class, which explains this grade,” she said, gesturing toward Lucy’s test, “but the worst part of all of this is that I’ve spoken with you, and I know several other teachers of yours have, and you won’t even make the effort to get your life in order so you can succeed.”
“What do you want me to say? I know I’m struggling; I just need time.”
“Haven’t your parents told you, you should probably be getting your life in order right about now?” Ms. Carey asked.
“No. They don’t exactly speak with me about that. Never have, probably never will,” Lucy admitted.
Ms. Carey let out a loud sigh. “How are you ever going to make it out in the real world, Ms. Miller? You’ve got some serious work to do, in school and out. But I can’t force you; it’s all up to you.”
And day after day, events similar to this would continue to occur. Lucy couldn’t seem to pull herself out of her own rut, and no one was trying to help her either, only lecture.
Lucy kept track of how many minutes she was losing now.
The cab finally came to a stop. Lucy threw the money at the cab driver and nearly sprinted down the street to her office building. She flung open the surprisingly heavy double doors of the giant square and silver office building, breathing heavily and panting like a dog on a hot summer day. She ran through the bright main lobby covered in expensive glass windows. She turned her attention over to the elevator but immediately decided it would take too long. There were at least thirty people staring at her as she sprinted through the lobby like a crazy person, but at this point she didn’t care what they thought of her. She hung a right to the staircase and up all seven flights to get to her floor. She pulled off her heels and hurried down the hallway to the meeting room.
So many thoughts raced through her head as she ran to the door, face red, sweating like crazy. Her heart was beating so loud and practically jumping out of her chest. Her hair flew everywhere as she ran as fast as her legs would allow. She was given the privilege of sitting in on this meeting by her boss and wanted so badly not to be fired. She figured she might as well break down crying and beg to keep her job already, what else did she have to lose?
She slowly turned the knob, opened the door to the meeting room and was shocked to find…
No one. No one was there.
All Lucy could think was, What? Since when is the meeting being held in a different room? Great, so now I’m not only late, but in the wrong place!
Confused, Lucy slammed the empty meeting room door shut, raced down to the other end of the seventh floor to her boss’s office and barged straight in. The thoughts in Lucy’s head were going wild and she couldn’t even begin to think straight. She yelled out the first phrase that came to mind as her heart was still beating out of control.
“Mr. Jenkins, I’m so sorry I’m late, don’t fire me! I know I screwed up again but please let me explain that it won’t happen again,” Lucy panicked
She was surprised to find her boss sitting in the large black leather chair in his office, eating a bagel and drinking coffee, while staring at his laptop screen.
He took a moment to put his coffee down, adjust the long red tie on his neck, and understand why Lucy was so panicked. He was just as confused as she was as he asked, “What are you talking about, Miss Miller? Our meeting isn’t until tomorrow.”
Lucy’s face dropped as her tense muscles began to relax, but from confusion rather than relief. She looked down at her watch one last time.
It was Monday.