landed new employment all on my own. This is my ticket out. I took a moment, looking around, fighting a grin. Soon, I would only be a visitor here.
Glancing toward the stairwell door, across the spacious lobby entrance, I contemplated running up all sixteen flights. Vern acknowledged me touching his index finger to the brim of his hat “Miss Chanler,” he smiled.
I grinned, turning my gaze toward him. “I’ve got great news, but I have to get up there. I am already late.”
“I look forward to hearing all about it.”
Distracted by the empty elevator’s doors opening, I waved to him. “I’ll be back down later.” Darting in, touching my key card against the scanner and pressing my floor’s button. I shifted my weight side to side, working out the final details in my head, of how I would announce this.
I wanted to shove it in their faces. They no longer called the shots in what I was doing with my life.
The elevator slowed to a stop on the fifth floor, which housed high-end office suites, ending any luck that I would have this ride all to myself. If they were continuing up, it required a key card because living quarters occupied the sixth floor to the penthouse.
I had kicked out my fair share of passengers “forgetting” their key cards. Rules were rules, especially after that estranged wife incident a few months ago. They allowed no one to be neighborly.
The doors opened and, Mitzy Wellington paused her forward motion, making wide eyes. My inner voice grumbled. I did not have time for her snooty, better than everyone, attitude. My finger was in route reaching for the button. “Well? Am I moving on?” she had one second.
Mitzy, slumped her frown even lower, rolling her eyes as I spoke. Her collagen injected bottom lip stuck out like a ten-year-old that didn’t get her way.
Stepping in, she sneered the left side of her upper lip, swiping her bedazzled key card, pressing the number twenty-two. Stepping back, she snipped, “You moving on, Tiffany? We couldn’t possibly be that lucky.”
She then took her time, scanning me from top to bottom, her face frozen in that same expression. “I see you are still a six-week loser with no job.”
I laughed, elated by my change in news. “I have a job. It’s not as useless as yours, though.”
She swiped and tapped her phone, not replying. We were almost to my floor. I had a few seconds to get in another jab, “What are prostitution rates these days, Mitzy?”
“Ha! You’re just jealous Tiffany, that I landed the position as Mr. Emerson’s personal time manager.” She said that so proudly like it was the job of the century.
“Time Manager? What even is that? Oh, my God, do you have to time yourself with him?” I laughed at my clever spin.
The elevator bumped to a stop; I stepped forward with Mitzy shifting over toward where I was standing. She sounded like that ten-year-old’s attitude telling me, “Get a job, loser, and move. You don’t belong here. You never did.”
I turned, leaning in, making her back up a step, forcing the doors to stay open. “For God sakes, at least use protection. Not even Emerson deserves to share what’s been in there.” I said, pointing toward her crotch.
“Well, at least I like men. I heard you turned gay after doing it with Blake.”
Not worth it, not worth it, not worth it! “You’ve been misinformed as usual, but you had sex with Blake; it’s a miracle I didn’t jump ship, right?”
I stepped back from the doors to hear her protest, “Loser!”
Hearing Blakes name shot down every happy feeling inside me. I shivered, slowly letting out a breath, repeating my mantra not today, not any day. You are dead to me.
Growing up with the branded name, “Tiffany Chanler,” created a constant battle for my identity. My parents had substantial expectations for me right from birth in their high-society social status.
Only I was the little girl who jumped in puddles, seeing how big of a splash I could make, even though I was forced to wear uncomfortable puffy dresses that cost more than some kid’s braces.
Mother insisted I learn ballet. I argued that I wanted to learn karate, making me gain negotiating skills at an early age. Ballet enhanced my martial arts performance leading into one of those rare occasions where we both ended up content.
My father is the longtime CEO of Henshaw Logistics, a $500 million-dollar enterprise. He has been trying to mold me to work for him since grade school. This was my future in their eyes: only I didn’t want it.
I was shipped right from preparatory school off to college. They picked my business degree and the only reason I stuck with it was that my college was far enough away, giving me plenty of excuses not to come home. About the only thing Father and I have in common now is the transportation business.
The day I walked in telling them I had found my dream job was the start to my breaking away from their institutional high-society lifestyle.
I had turned down my father’s offer after graduation and now he wanted to know what I would do for a living.
I will never forget our conversation. I can still recall the feelings that were bubbling inside me, standing in the hallway, facing the door to the grandiose living quarters I grew up in, disregarding the conversation with Mitzy, when she called me a loser that day.
It was six weeks since my graduation. I was going nuts being back here.
I could now afford my own place and I knew exactly where that would be. My Fairy Godmother had sweetened the deal in favor of me accepting my father’s job offer, but when I turned him down, she gave me the ultimatum that she would only hold the condo for two months. Time was ticking.
I held the doorknob for a moment, pulling back my emotions to stay on target, repeating to myself just to play it cool. I stepped onto the carpeted, marble tiled grand foyer, knowing both my parents would be home and wondering why I was late. I was pushing the mandatory arrival time by twenty minutes.
It was nearly seven o’clock on Wednesday evening. We considered this “family night” in the Chanler suite, consisting only of cocktail hour and then a meal before being allowed to disappear to a separate room.
I don’t know why this was a requirement to be here; we did nothing special. We were all just under the same roof, one night a week.
I stopped, distracted by breathing in Mother’s savory roast, instantly activating my salivary glands, cueing my mouth to water, making me now realize that I was hungry. Mother is a fantastic cook. She studied in France the summer I went off to college.
I had to concentrate and focus my attention back on my announcement, not on my stomach.
Sounds of their conversation echoed from the living room around the corner to where I was standing. Mother talking about some new Martini recipe she had tried earlier today from her bi-monthly, cut throat, rich bitch, wives’ luncheon.
I knew exactly where they were standing, both at the bar area, drinks must have started.
Mother’s voice was now moving, emphasizing that Mary vowed it was the blueberries that gave this its special touch.
I have to admit, most women from her earlier lunch group made me cringe. Sometimes just hearing their names stirred bitterness in me.
They were spoiled, rich, meddling, shallow, condescending women who had nothing better to do than gossip, rip each other apart, and sleep with each other’s husbands, brothers and other relations.
My mother didn’t belong in this group. It forced her to conform when she married my father just like it forced me to grow up with all their rotten children like, Mitzy and Blake.
Two women in her clique had amnesty in my eyes. Mary being one. The other being my godmother taking her role to heart.
Mildred Jones, who I often referred to as my Fairy Godmother, made her fortune on her own in real estate. I knew where I stood with Mildred as did everyone else. I learned what I know today about commitment, self-assurance and motivation from her influence. She was the one standing strong through all my bumps, bruises, and frustrations.
My damp sneakers squeaked against the marble flooring, alerting them I had arrived. They watched me turning the corner, fresh from the gym.
Father’s monotone pitch called my name, “Tiffany.” Mother added to his sentence asking if it was still drizzling outside and why wasn’t I wearing a raincoat.
Then she went into sheer routine asking about my day, turning back to her drink. I think she had given up on any news happening in my life.
I heard them talking a few nights ago about sending me back to college. Their brief silence broke out into laughter at the idea that I could become a professional student.
Yes, that was just hilarious. I would rather pump gas for a living than go back to school at this point.
A six-week post Master Graduate still without securing a job. Well, I was until five hours ago. My college advisors were more concerned about my unemployment than anyone.
It was looking bad on their records that they had produced a business graduate who was still jobless.
Mother’s Wednesday luncheon meant that all the other women pulled out the brag cards on how their children, husbands, or relatives were succeeding, exaggerating the details. These women went out of their way to one-up each other. Unfortunately, my mother had nothing since my graduation, and the news I was about to drop, proved another move in my life they could not control.
I tied my thick mousy-blonde hair back in a ponytail. I sported my favorite T-shirt that echoed my college states logo of Live free or Die along with my running shorts and favorite pair of sneakers, fresh from my workout. I was fighting not to smile, my inner conflict battling between pride and self-assurance. I needed to stick it to my father. I didn’t need his money. I am doing this on my own.
I decided to role-play, mimicking one of my professors, a very serious and calculating speaker. He was well-known on campus and mocked by many. I used to copy him frequently, driving my friends crazy.
Morphing into character, thinking about one of his classic speeches, I began, “As you know, I have been diligently researching the market and posting my resume, just as my college advisors have suggested as they’ve been guiding me through the process.”
I paused a moment to hear any comments. Neither one of them spoke, but I had their attention. I continued, “Finally, I received the one call I was waiting for. This has been my pick for employment right from the start. They are expanding and hiring four new employees. I went to their interview today.”
My parents adjusted, Mother giving me more attention. Father asked, “And how did this one go Tiff?”
Mother raised her left eyebrow, as she studied me. She knew something was up.
I remember his tone, a little too wary for my liking. I smiled regardless because I already knew what they thought about the last four offers I had turned down, not including my fathers at his company. I knew our week-long argument about Henshaw Logistics still disappointed him.
I knocked off the act and answered in my voice. “They offered me the position, Father; this is my dream job. I know I will grow with this company. It is exactly what I have been holding out for. I accepted after negotiating an extra five-thousand dollars above their third-tier starting salary, which I am well-qualified for.”
That’s all I had to say. Mother lit up. My news had promise for something she could bring to her next luncheon.
“This is wonderful dear. Come, tell us about it. Let’s all have a seat. Tiffany, what is the name of this company?” She motioned toward the couches, touching my father’s arm, reassuring him that this was good news.
She signaled him to hurry, waiting, before they both took their seats.
Father took another weary sip. He did not smile. I could see the conflict he was projecting. I was certain he was thinking…what job would be greater than working for his company?
I was positive that he also thought I would cave and work. I knew he didn’t expect that I could do this without him. Mildred’s offer was about to expire, and he knew how much I wanted to be out on my own.
I joined them dropping my gym bag next to the opposite sofa, confidently removed my sneakers and plopped myself comfortably. I was positive Mother would address how I just did that. She hated bad posture and the way I could drop myself on furniture. I could make her eyes burn when I sat on the coffee table. Watching for the tipping point, I folded my legs to my side, answering Mother’s question, “Angel Wings.”
They both glanced toward one another, repeating the name having a small discussion back and forth between them, bouncing the name for any recognition. Neither one of them had heard of it. Father turned his head quizzically with one eyebrow up and the other slightly narrowed down, aiming right at me.
“What is Angel Wings, Tiff? I never heard of this company. Is it nonprofit?”
He was guessing; I think from the name.
I sank back into the cushion contemplating the category classification of my new employer, drawing out this moment for as long as I could for dramatic effect. I learned this in my speech class and right now seemed like the perfect time to test this method out. I was now tapping my chin with my right index finger.
My fingernail touched my skin. I examined my fingers briefly, noting it was time to trim my nail. I looked up, answering Father, bringing my attention back to them.
“You know, that was something that did not come up. Never asked. I don’t think it is. Had the impression it is the private sector. Going to find out. Anyway, it’s a transportation service, Father.”
He grinned. “Finally coming into the transportation business, are you? Why don’t you come work for me? I can teach you everything. In two years, you could run your own department, make good of that degree I paid for.”
I lowered my head snickering “Thanks, but I didn’t get hired for an office job. I’m a driver.”
I was watching, waiting for that to sink in. Boom, their expressions changed.
Mother went from joyous to discontent. She stood up with her hand on her hip, pointing to me with her other hand. “Tiffany! You are a Chanler. We hire people for those positions not fill them ourselves. You have an MBA. All those years of education! Why would you settle for this?”
My grin spread a little wider while watching my father calm her down. “I also have several black belts Mother; Karate, Jujitsu, and I’m training hard in grappling right now. You shouldn’t exclude those after announcing I have an MBA. I worked just as hard training and studying to earn them. Honestly, I think they were more of a challenge.”
My father said something to Mother; she reacted with a wave of her hand in the air assuring him she would have an open mind as she reached for her drink, taking a big sip and sitting back down.
He turned back to me. “What does ‘Angel Wings’ transport?”
Now, we were getting down to it. This was where the real fun began.
Mother let out a sigh of relief. Now, my job sounded like it had merit. Dad grew suspicious though; he knew logistics all too well and me even better. “Tiffany, what kind of cargo will you be transporting?”
I paused, wetting my lips; relying on the skills I have practiced with them for years. With a slight raise of my chin and a sudden unexpected playful grin, I at last answered. “Body