I hold my blue ballpoint pen centimetres away from a rectangular notepad. The word “Oracle” blazes in large, red, angular letters from the top of the page. The slate-coloured office phone crams between my shoulder and my left ear and my eyelids droop.
“You have reached the offices of Axiom Telecom. Your call is important to us. All our operators are currently busy. Please stay on the line and we will be with you shortly,” says a robotic woman for the twenty-second time.
My elbow slips off the desk, my pen etches a long blue line on the notepad, and my head slams onto the keyboard. 5:30 a.m. isn’t a great bed time for someone with a nine-to-five day job.
I jerk awake a few minutes later. I realize that I’m visible to people in the hall through the office’s large glass window. I raise my head and touch the keyboard-shaped marks on my cheek. Hold music sings from the grey receiver still lying aimlessly on the desk beside me.
“You have reached the offices of Axiom Telecom. Your call is—”
I slam the receiver violently. I look up to see Mr. Mahmud with a clipboard outside my glass window. He stares, one bushy eyebrow almost touching his hairline. I pick up the phone, dial a random number without pressing “call”, and smile at him. His eyes follow the receiver to my ear. He slumps to the next booth, eyebrows joined.
I click open the window with the Sudoku game. I enter the last three numbers. Two columns and one row flash red. I exhale loudly, push my laptop screen down, and spin my desk chair around.
I’m bored as hell.
Businessmen and women rush from building to building outside my window. A white Audi backs into the last remaining spot and a bald, grey-suited man steps out and lights a cigarette.
I straighten up and slide out of my office. I duck into the pantry room and make myself some instant Nescafé. I pour in extra milk and lean against the counter sipping the coffee, thinking of ways to make this job less mind-numbing.
My job is to call company managers and directors and find out if their personal information has changed within the last few years. Naturally, when I call a company and ask to speak to the manager, I’m either refused, put on hold, or transferred to a secretary who of course won’t dispense any information to a random person on the other line. I say that I need the information for event-planning purposes. No one ever buys it.
I try to motivate myself. I try to remember that I’m making a good decision for my future by working over the summer instead of spending my days at the mall or the beach like everyone else.
An image of the sunny Dubai beach floats into the grey pantry room.
No, no, no.
I wipe the image from my mind and head back to my office. I try to stay motivated, or at least interested. I close the door, sit in my seat, and close off all windows on my HP except the yellow pages website and an Excel file. I put my cell phone on silent, close my eyes, and dial the next number on my list. It’s a cell phone.
No one answers. I try not to get discouraged. The guy must be busy.
I dial the number allocated to his office. It rings three times. A woman picks up.
“Hello, I’m looking for Mr. Mossad. I’d like to ask some questions regarding—”
“Who’s this?” says a woman’s voice in a thick Arabic accent.
“I’m an employee at Oracle. I just need some information about—”
“What do you want?” she demands.
“Well, like I said, I need to collect some data about—”
“Yes. May I speak to him?”
“Well, it’s best if we get the information directly from—”
“I know who you are!” she screeches.
“YES. I’ve smelled the perfume!”
“I’M HIS WIFE! I KNOW WHO YOU ARE! IVE SEEN THE LIPSTICK ON HIS SHIRT!”
“Ma’am, please, I’ve never even met Mr. Mossad before—”
“I KNOW IT’S YOU! IT’S YOU! YOU’LL SEE, YOU FILTHY SL—”
I throw the receiver at the holder. I roll away from the desk. I feel my eyes pop. I breathe in and out. The taste of the office coffee stings my tongue.
I snatch my navy blazer off my chair, pull my purse onto my shoulder, and clang my car keys out of the desk drawer.
Screw this. I need better coffee.