APAGear II Archives Volume 5, Number 2 April, 2003


Suits and Overalls

P. J. Coombe

For the tenth time that day, Marik swore under his breath, cursing whoever it was that had just barged through the front door, bringing in a swirl of rain and a blast of icy wind. As if he didn't have enough work to do, without people coming in here and disrupting him.

It wasn't like he was open to the public, either. The only people who came here were those who had business to, and unfortunately that invariably meant some pompous bureaucrat demanding impossible results in an unreasonable time. And they always seemed to do it when he was busiest.

Muttering quiet curses directed at officials in general, and politicians in particular, he stomped into the front room, hardly large enough to be called a reception area, and certainly not classifiable as an office.

Standing there, looking wet and annoyed, was some mid-level secretary, from appearances. She was perhaps 25, dressed in a formal suit skirt that was carefully tailored to hide none of her femininity yet still give off an air of executive authority. Her face was not girlish but a sophisticated handsome, fitting her attire well. The scowl on her face did nothing to detract from her appearance. For a moment, Marik actually thought of taking it easy on her, until she opened her mouth.

"You, there, you're the mechanic here, are you not?" the woman asked imperiously. "Well, you need to have a look at my car, it's not running right and I've got important things to do across town. I can't afford to have it break down, not in this weather and not with this task."

For a handful of seconds, Marik just stood there, staring at her. It was just this sort of arrogance he had been suffering ever since he'd scored what he'd thought was a lucrative contract to run the car pool. Granted, he didn't have to worry about chasing accounts, paying bills, or the million and one other little tasks required to run your own business, but there were times he thought that would have been preferable. And now, with his temper already frayed, he lost his grip on civility.

"Look, lady," he snarled, "I've got more jobs active at the moment than I can handle, and a backlog a week long. Already I've had three 'priority' jobs dumped on me today, with no hope of being able to get them done, all on some seat-polisher's whimsy. If you want me to look at some little squeak or rattle, it'll have to wait. If there really is something wrong with your car, leave it, and pull another one from the pool. And if this is your personal set of wheels, which you think you can get me to tinker with and charge it to the pool expense account, you're way out of line." With that, he just stood there, glaring at her, waiting to see what the reaction would be.

The secretary was apoplectic. In her fury the sophistication fell away like a mask, leaving a feline rage born of the elements. She seemed about to blow, until she got herself under control, and with a coolness that made outside seem tropical, retorted with a sharp voice, "I will not forget this inconvenience." Grabbing one of the keys from the pool rack, she signed it out and marched out into the parking area.

Marik shrugged. He'd called her bluff, and she hadn't liked it. Although it was a little surprising she had reacted the way she had. Obviously she'd been too used to her power getting everything she wanted... probably some spoilt rich girl whose Daddy had political connections, and had gotten her a good job. He wasn't overly concerned over her threats... he was valued here by those in charge, and had treaded on more important toes before without any real consequence.

With this latest interruption gone, he returned to the important things; namely, trying to get the jobs he had finished, and getting the cars back into the pool.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 5, Number 2 April, 2003