Friday, December 03, 2004

A little more of my novel for those so inclined

I'm going to have to start sharing parts that don't involve my main character crying all the time.

This is just before she gets a job offer with another tech company (which actually turns out to be about the same, but she doesn't know it then). She's looking for some help from HR to get her obscene work-load reduced.


I walk into the HR office. I’m a bit early for my appointment, but the HR Co-ordinator’s door is open and she doesn’t appear to have anyone else in there. So, I knock tentatively and walk in. As usual, Karen is dressed to the nines in tailored clothes and costume jewellery. Every time she moves she either glimmers or makes a metallic tinkling sound.

“Oh, hi Mel!” she squeals in a delighted tone. She grabs my right hand in both of hers and gives me a pretend half hug.

I haven’t been to HR a lot, and I was hired before we really had an HR department, but it seems like whenever she sees anyone, it’s as though they’re her best friend in the world, and she hasn’t seen them since they moved to the coast. “Sit, sit!” she commands, gesturing her sharp red nails towards the stylized chairs in front of her desk.

I take a deep breath. I’m composed and determined to deliver my case to her without emotion or tears. “What can I do for you?” She asks, fluffing her giant mass of orange hair.

I start crying almost immediately. “I can’t take it,” I stammer, “it’s too much, what they’re asking me to do. It’s stupid there’s so much work, and not enough time, and no one is giving me any resources to help my clients resolve their problems. And they’re all yelling at me. It’s just ridiculous! I need help! I need a job description! They’ve got me flying all over the place selling stuff and kissing clients’ butts, and it’s not what a project manager is supposed to be doing! No one can handle this many projects and then sell stuff and renegotiate contracts, and shmooze people at trade shows. I don’t think that’s what I should be doing, not when I have all these projects to finish. I’m so stressed right now, I can’t think straight. I think I’m going to lose it very soon.” I sort of half smile in attempt to regain my emotional control.

She sits and stares at me. I’m guessing that I’m not her best friend in the world after all. I sniffle loudly. The tissues are out of reach, and she doesn’t seem like she might pass them to me, so I casually wipe my nose with my sleeve.

She gazes at me steadily, her red claws entwined in one another. She’s quiet for a moment, then takes a deep breath and says, “Have you considered Tai Chi? I’m told it can be very relaxing.”


At 11:14 AM, Blogger Kate said...

Wow, great characterization in just a few words. I already can't stand that woman.

So you said a little more, will you please point me to the other parts? I'd like to read that too.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Carmi said...

I love it. Suspecting what I do about the context within which this occurs, I feel compelled to mention that the previous firm at the very least had an HR function. I do believe the subsequent firm found its iteration of this discipline in a box of Alpha Bits.

BTW, my wife laments the total waste of a babysitter last evening.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Dean said...

This is good.

I know that HR hag. Internal PR hacks, almost (almost!) to a person.

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Diva said...

The funniest part about it is that it is so accurate. And universal.

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Diva said...

Wait a minute though. Is the fact that it's accurate and universal really funny?

I guess in a Dilbert kind of way, it is... because it allows us to laugh at something that would otherwise drive us crazy.

But I like your writing much more than Dilbert.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Trillian said...

Hi Chellee - I must have somehow erased my archive links! You can see some more at:

I wrote it during NaNo... so you were likely very busy!

Carmi - tee hee. This isn't based on my current job - in fact, it's just a compilation of a lot of HR people I've met in my life. Thanks!

Dean and Diva - I think it's funny 'cause it's true. I love that I don't have to really make up my characters - I meet them all day long! Thanks for your kind words!

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Amelia said...

I just love your main character, she is so real and human. You have an excellent way of creating scenes. Please, let me know when you get published.. I, for one would love to read the whole novel.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Well done! I like the framing of the passage. You finish strong.


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