Janine was furious. She had every right to be angry. For four years she had offered her services to the Principal of her school. At the Christmas Party. Out the back room. Admittedly after a few drinks, but still.
And when it came time during the year for the Principal to promote a junior teacher, Janine was overlooked. He went for another teacher – obviously in a shorter and tighter frock. Well! Come the next Christmas Party and she’ll teach the boss a thing or two.
Roberta couldn’t but help feel pleased. She had been promoted. In fact, in the average-sized town art gallery she could not have been promoted higher. To put it bluntly: Roberta was at the top; at the pinnacle. She was in charge.
She was only thirty-two. If headway was to be made in her professional career, she would have to move to a larger town with a larger art gallery. She did just that, selling the house and upping and moving. Of course, she had to take a cut in pay because she had to start down at the bottom again. But rung by rung she could move so much higher. There were so many promotions ahead!
These days Roberta is one year off retirement and is still near the bottom. Whenever a job vacancy came up, an ambitious teeny-bopper city-slicker with a university degree would apply. After retirement, Roberta has no idea how she’ll pay off the rest of her mortgage.
There was no doubt that this was Homer Hamlen’s lucky day. There was no denying it.
First of all, his local supermarket phoned first thing in the morning to say he’d won the sparkling sports car because he was the lucky one who had purchased the secretly marked can of baked beans. He could pick the car up any time from town. It was a fabulous car. It could go from 0 to 110 in 10 seconds. What a lucky day! He would pick the car up after work.
His wife was so excited that she foolishly said he could have a dog. He’d always wanted a dog, and his wife had bickered about it for two years. Now she had excitedly relented. He knew exactly the breed of dog he wanted. It would be a Groenendael. In fact there was a breeder of Groenendaels quite local. He phoned. There was a puppy available! What a lucky lucky day! He would pick it up after work. The car first, and then the puppy.
When he arrived at work, his boss told him he’d got a promotion and a pay rise. A hefty one. Oh lucky lucky lucky day! Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh lucky day!
After work he picked up his new car. The excitement! Then on the way to get his puppy, he ran into a power pole and was killed.
Reggie had heard that the garden products company he worked for were setting up a “plant” overseas. It was a rumour, mind you. Reggie didn’t like to ask – it was none of his business – but he and his wife, Maggie, were keen to be given the experience. Overseas!
And then Reggie and Maggie were invited to the boss’s place for dinner. Was this to be it? Would the boss perhaps venture into a how-would-you-like-to-be-posted-overseas conversation?
The meal began with a salad, and Reggie could see psyllids crawling in it: tiny insects that sap tomatoes and potatoes and broad beans and the like of their strength. The plants wilt.
Reggie tried to ignore the bugs. He tried to eat the salad as if it wasn’t infested. It wouldn’t kill him.
“Are you keen gardeners yourselves?” he asked, between mouthfuls of psyllid, tomato and thousand islands dressing.
“Not really,” said the boss, “although we did grow ourselves what you’re eating now.”
“Delicious,” said Reggie.
The evening ended. No mention was made of overseas.
“That’s them out of the equation,” said the boss to his wife. “He didn’t even notice the psyllids in his salad. Let alone the worms in the apple pie.”