Clutching my metro card, I tried to angle it just right to avoid a bottleneck and read the unfriendly instruction on how to feed the machine. “You did not. God, you will claim credit for anything. Bye.”
“Call me after the meeting.”
I moved to the far side of the platform to wait for my train back to Brooklyn. “You’ll be teaching.”
“Fine. Text me when the meeting concludes. And, if you wear one of your many Old Navy knit tops with a pair of straight-legged slacks that you purchased online, I swear to God, I will kill you myself.”
“Bye, Derrick. Thanks for your help with directions.” I was reaching for the end button when I heard him yell ‘again’ into the phone.
The truth was, I wasn’t ready for this once in a lifetime meeting, and no outfit was going to change that fact. Scoring a seat by the door on the train, I removed the notecards of my presentation for my wristlet and began flipping through them. How do you prepare for a meeting with Graham Morgan? You don’t. Instead, you hope you don’t get thrown out for even being there.
Returning the notecards to the safety of my bag, I focused on the people around me. All the blank faces. Each trying their hardest to not make eye contact. Would I be able to make a difference in a place like New York City? As I watched people push their way off and on the train at each stop, my confidence diminished.
An alert chimed on my computer. I opened the action item my assistant, Martin, had entered into my calendar.
Meeting with a potential client in Graham’s conference room at ten.
Checking the clock in the corner of my computer, my attention returned to the report I was reading. A second alert popped up on my computer, and my phone began to vibrate. Turning off the alarm on my phone, I opened the alert on my computer.
Leave now, or you’ll be late.
Shaking my head, I read the same message on my phone. Martin was nothing if not thorough. As I made my way to the conference room, I contemplated how he could set an alarm on my phone while on vacation.
Opening the door to the conference room, I checked my watch. I made it a point to be the first to arrive for meetings, not last. What the…? The appointment was scheduled for ten, and it was two minutes before. The privilege of being late was not one that I indulged in. It was a lesson handed down from my father at an early age: all the money in the world won’t change the color of our skin. We walked a much different path than our sisters and brothers living paycheck to paycheck. But we most certainly had to deal with the discrimination that still pulsated through our city.
Creating a coffee community within the space where folks spend the majority of their time was written in green marker on the large dry erase board. An attractive woman in a fitted pencil skirt and a sheer white blouse stood at the end of the table holding something.
Are those notecards?
Taking a seat, I nodded at Graham and turned my attention to the presenter. When our eyes met, the color drained from her face. I glanced at Graham to see if I missed something, but he was scribbling some notes. He looked up and cleared his throat.
“Time is limited. Let’s get started.” He snapped.
That was Graham Morgan. I’d worked for him for a little over a year, and he started every meeting indicating time was limited. Requiring everyone that he allowed into his orbit to respect his time was just one of the skills contributing to his multi-billion-dollar company’s success. I was working hard every day to learn what the other qualities were.
The woman spoke about a coffee shop that would focus on removing the blank stares of today’s New Yorkers. Her idea was to place a coffee shop on the bottom floor of an office building. Hello, that’s been done. Why are we here? She continued. I only vaguely paid attention, as it was clear this was not a project Graham would be interested in.
Her voice is familiar. Could I have slept with her? She’s hot.
She turned toward the screen. My gaze landed on her perfectly round ass. I have definitely not had sex with her. Yet.
“Do you have any questions so far?” It was the first time she had looked up from her cards.
Graham looked over at me before he spoke. Shit, this will not be good.
“Who are you?”
I cringed as she looked at me and then back to Graham. He was going to flip out on the woman. I almost felt sorry for what was about to happen.
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