by P. Orin Zack
"And that's all there is to it?" the gravelly voice in Rahila's earpiece chortled.
"That's right, Mr. Preston. I'm glad I could help."
"And I'm glad," he said earnestly, "that you were there to take my call. I was just about to throw this thing through the window. Thank you for making my day."
After tapping her earpiece to end the call, Rahila typed a brief comment into the incident report, closed the dialog, and clicked over to her queue window. Where a few minutes earlier there had been details about the next few callers, now there was nothing.
"That's odd," she muttered, "what happened to--?"
Her curiosity abruptly turned to fear when a message window popped up, telling her to report to her supervisor's office.
She stared at it for a few breathless moments before forcing herself to calmly rise and cross the cubicle farm towards her supervisor's glass-faced office. A few coworkers glanced up as she passed, caught her eye, and quickly returned to their duties.
Following company protocol, she carefully tapped three times on the empty doorframe and waited to be permitted entrance.
The severe woman behind the desk closed her eyes briefly, but did not look up. "Sit down, Rahila."
There were two reasons for being asked to report to a supervisor's office during a work-shift, but only one for having your queue cleared. Rahila nervously stared straight ahead while wracking her brain for the reason she was being fired.
"I'm really disappointed in you," her supervisor said quietly, fingers primly laced behind her keyboard.
Rahila slumped, and remembered how much time she'd just spent with Preston, far more than was allotted if she was ever to meet her call quota. "You're right," she said, "and I really don't have any excuse for taking so long to--."
"This isn't about your job performance." The words were flat, devoid of the irritation Rahila had expected. "It is about your moral character."