HER FATHER DUTIFULLY PROVIDED for his family in Australia, and had done so for as long as Mag could remember. Acquiring employment as a pilot for an international airline. He remained at the same company since her birth. Over the course of ten years, climbing the corporate ladder to the level of Director.
During senior year of high school, she received confirmation he’d been offered a CTO position for a private airline in Sacramento, California. Dad’s dream job included a tempting salary raise and impressive benefits. When her parents asked how she felt about moving to the U.S., Mag cheered the proposal. Having already visited the U.S. as an exchange student during sophomore year, she attended a suburban Chicago High School at the time. The following summer, returning to work as a nanny for a family in Wisconsin.
Assisting her family’s management of moving arrangements and helping transport all belongings to their new home in Sacramento. She experienced a whirlwind of action, but relished the transition. Afterward, successfully relocating to a picturesque suburban California neighborhood. She adored the location’s finely manicured lawns, and raised a curious brow toward her neighbors who maneuvered four-wheel drive vehicles across manicured miles of pavement to-and-from work. Mag pondered… why do they do that?
SHE ATTENDED THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA in Davis, only a half-hour drive from her family’s Sacramento home. The college resided within commuting distance, but Mag thought… where’s the adventure in that? Wouldn’t it be more fun to live on campus? What better way to experience U.S. college life? Focusing hard on her studies, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance. Next, venturing further from her parent’s home, she attended the Graduate Finance program at the University of San Francisco. After living on campus for a year, Mag moved into an apartment with friends.
She enjoyed the excitement of single-life in the heart of San Francisco and appreciated all the city had to offer. Its music and nightlife. Its people and variety of cultures.
By the time she’d completed her masters, her father had acquired notable clientele connections at his company; one of whom recommended she apply at his corporation, ADKAR.
PASSING TWO STAGES OF INTERVIEWS, she gained full-time employment. Since then, ADKAR’S top-ranked reputation afforded the luxury of recruiting new employees from only the world’s most prestigious universities. Their hiring filter became so stringent, merely two years after employment Mag accepted… if I were a new graduate from my university with my grades. There’s no way I could get a job here.
ADKAR’s innovation was groundbreaking. Besides coveting the company’s technology, potential employees desired ADKAR’s world-renowned benefits, which Mag already enjoyed.
Among them; free weekday gourmet food. Complimentary coffee and other beverages. Free shuttle service to-and-from work. On-campus laundry facilities, and state of the art exercise equipment. In office sleeping pods. Flexible work-from-home policies. Outdoor soccer fields, basketball courts, and other fitness facilities.
For these reasons, and for the status of having ADKAR’s name appear on their resumes; most job seekers wanted a piece of the ADKAR pie.
SHE PARKED, THEN RUSHED OUT THE CAR. Five minutes late for breakfast with Rebecca… leaving fifteen minutes to eat before her team meeting. Rebecca stood at the café entrance and waved as Mag approached. She’d gained employment nearly three years after Mag and both reported to the same manager. Sharing similar disdain for her. More importantly they’d constructed their working relationship around food. Having compared cuisines across all ADKAR’s cafés, they created a mental list of the best offerings at each location.
The quad had the best burgers. The café on Waterline Road, best Chinese food.
ADKAR Ave. had the best buffet, and Main Campus had best breakfast. Their own building’s café missed the cut, but the duo settled for its breakfast today due to time constraints. Rebecca spoke while Mag approached her.
“Good morning. How was your drive?”
“Horrible! Someone cut me off and made me spill cappuccino all over the car. Is there any on me?” Surveying Mag’s full-length gray skirt. It’s frayed, dingy bottom wedged beneath white flats. Rebecca scanned up Mag’s untucked white dress-shirt, spotting a nickel-size coffee stain, nearly hidden beneath unkempt bleach blonde hair. She pointed at the splotch. “Yeah, right there.” Mag followed the direction of her friend’s finger, glancing down her shirt. She grabbed it, pulled the location into view and sighed, “Wonderful. I don’t think I have another shirt. I have to check the car.”
Walking to her vehicle, she unlocked the trunk, then shuffled among bags of scattered clothes, shoes, half open suitcases, and an array of dog toys. Rebecca gazed at the clutter, “I thought you were gonna clean this thing out?”
“I did! This is mostly Drew’s stuff. He took the car to Portland two weeks ago and never removed his bags. I’d do it. But it’s a pain in the butt to carry stuff up our stairs. Besides, he put it here, and I…”
“No need to explain.” Rebecca interrupted, “My husband does annoying stuff like that all the time. I’m always cleaning up after him. I hate when he does it too.” Blushing, Mag wondered why Rebecca constantly referred to her husband as ‘my husband.’ The pronoun made it difficult for Mag to remember the guy’s name. She recalled… is it Babeer, or Bameer? I always refer to Drew as ‘Drew.’
After searching her trunk and finding nothing acceptable to wear. She dabbed bottled water on the coffee stain, then entered the café. Her eyes engulfing a buffet of food, triggered her stomach to rumble instructions to the arms… load our tray with oatmeal, an omelet, fruit, eggs, toast, hash browns, coffee, and bacon!
REBECCA SELECTED A BAGEL with eggs and coffee. Never putting more on her plate than she could eat, she was puzzled by Mag’s propensity of piling her tray with mountains of food. Even more disturbing was her habit of only consuming small portions of each mound. The duo sat as Rebecca arched her lip and brow. Pointing at Mag’s plate, “Are you gonna eat all that?” Mag chewed hash browns and looked down.
“I’m super hungry.”
“You never finish everything on your plate.”
“Really?” She recalled the last few times dining with Rebecca… I have no idea what I finished. “Yes!” Rebecca laughed, “I’m pretty sure you never eat all your food.”
“Maybe not?” Mag shrugged. Smiling, “Honestly, I don’t remember.”
“I just hate to see us waste food.”
“I eat most of my food, don’t I?” She frowned with guilt.
“Well, you’re not the worst offender. At least neither of us bring our families here to eat.”
“I know! I wonder how much money ADKAR lost before food-services sent that email?”
They recalled, one year ago ADKAR management distributed a company-wide memo…
Hello Adkarians, A gentle reminder from food services... ADKAR meals are strictly reserved for employees, contractors, consultants, and registered guests only. Please refrain from entertaining meals with anyone who is not included in the list above. Thank you for your assistance in this regard, Jolanda Jemison Director of Food Services @ ADKAR Awareness > Desire > Knowledge > Ability > Reinforcement
They assumed the note was directed toward employees who brought spouses and children to dinner at ADKAR. Having witnessed throngs of extended families raiding the cafés for supper. Toddlers chasing each other around tables. It was like Chuck E. Cheeses, everyday. But after receiving the memo, Rebecca and Mag noticed a sharp decline in the family free-for-all.
UPON COMPLETING THEIR MEALS, they rushed to join the remainder of their team; just in time for the nine o’clock meeting. Fifteen minutes into it, Mag listened as the New York division provided month end financial status. The team’s leader examined key performance indicators, and noted specific markers of valuable interest. By the time the group’s discussed an unfavorable alignment of forecast budget analysis versus actual quarterly results, Mag caught herself falling asleep. Her head-lunged forward and her chin rebounded off her chest.
She prayed no one noticed.
But as hard as she tried to stay awake, her body pursued sleep. She pinched her thigh and forced her eyes open. Then swiveled her head, scanning the room for anything attention-grabbing before repeatedly pinching herself again, four times. Each succession resulted in two minutes of attentiveness, followed by the overwhelming weight of ten-ton eyelids again.
SHE IMAGINED HER CAREER OPTIONS with wide-eyed enthusiasm before attending college. As a teen, Mag took piano lessons and considered majoring in music. She adored artistic expression and debated majoring in dance, but eventually followed her dad’s advice and pursued finance. As her father put it… ‘All companies require well-balanced financials and this major will lead to a job that’s both high paying and secure.’ Years later, Mag admitted…
Dad was right. My job is high paying and secure.
It’s also boring as hell.
She had zero motivation to complete daily tasks and no desire to attend daily meetings. She lacked incentive to track quarterly goals and trends, and couldn’t help but wonder… how did I end up in such a boring profession?
I should be doing something more fun.
She wanted to speak with Drew about her feelings of entrapment, but chagrined… he never listens; who would?
Not my parents...
they helped me get this job. They’ll think I’m ungrateful.
we talk about a lot of things. But discussing dissatisfaction in our profession? That’s too risky. What if she doesn’t understand? Or worse, what if she tells someone else?
Each day Mag determined…
I can’t tell anyone.
I have to keep this to myself.