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I watched with surprise as Rachel stormed up the stairs and went to her room. Part of me wanted to celebrate, as the candidates for CFO had dropped from three to just one by process of self elimination. I was about to say something glib when Angie stood up.
"I happen to agree with Rachel," Angie declared, doing her best to make it sound believable.
I was watching her with awe and even though I wanted to interrupt her, there was another part of me that knew she had already made up her mind. There was nothing I could say at that point that was going to stop her, so I said nothing and just listened.
"I don't want the job this way either." Angie said, even though I didn't honestly believe it. "It doesn't seem right to treat our future like a game show, and we deserve more respect for all the hard work we've done for you and your company."
With that said, Angie also left the table and took the exact same exit that Rachel had only moments before. I tried my best to not look surprised, but odds are I was failing to convincingly hide the truth. She had stunned everyone with her response to Rachel's departure and I was unable to hide my reaction to it. Seconds later we all looked back at Mr. Parsons who was still standing at the head of the table. He was uncomfortably quiet.
"Excuse me, gentlemen." Mr. Parsons said, "I need a moment."
I watched as Mr. Parsons took what was left on the table and retreated into the kitchen. Mrs. Parsons was taken back by his departure as well, following him into the kitchen to check up on him. I was tempted to follow him into the kitchen, maybe even apologize for being a stubborn ass, but his wife beat me to it. I felt it as best to let her do the talking to Mr. Parsons, rather than myself. She knew her husband far better, and how to get his mind to a better place. So I remained at the table and looked at the only other two men left, as Nicholas and Jimbo looked back at me.
"Well now," Jimbo started, "That escalated rather quickly."
"You think?" I asked him, almost laughing. "I had no idea that's how it would end."
"At least he can't fire us for what we said," Jimbo added.
"Speak for yourself," Nicholas said, "I can still be let go."
"You still might be," I added, "That was one hell of a firecracker you set off in here."
"I'm not that worried," Nicholas said, "I get offered jobs all the time. This company needs me far more than I do them, but I really don't want any more changes in my life. That's why I don't want this damn promotion!"
I sat up in my chair as I heard a tone that sounded eerily familiar to me.
"How long has it been?" I suddenly asked him.
"Since when?" Nicholas asked.
"Since you separated from your wife." I replied.
Nicholas shifted in his seat, not really wanting to answer but to me that was his answer. It was still pretty fresh cause he didn't want to talk about it.
"Not that long I take it," I said, sitting back in my chair. "I've been there man. I got divorced several years ago and it took a very, very long time for me to get anywhere near over it. That's also after countless hours with a shrink and even group sessions."
"See," Jimbo said as he sat up and pointed, "I told you the group stuff helps."
"He's right," I concurred, "It doesn't matter who you talk to as long as you have someone to unload what's bothering you off your shoulders. It will not only make you feel better but your other stresses like work will feel lighter too."
"Thanks guys," Nicholas said, "but unless you want to join me in the land of the dumped... I suggest you check on your better halves before you join their shit lists."
"That's a good idea," Jimbo said, standing up. "I'm outta here. Later dweebs!"
I stood up but I didn't leave as Jimbo was already halfway up the stairs.
"You alright, man?" I asked Nicholas.
"No," Nicholas honestly answered, "I'm a damn mess."
"Makes sense why you don't want a new job," I said, "That job right now is the only stable thing you have going right now."
"It is," Nicholas agreed, "And I very much prefer to keep it, and hopefully I haven't buggered it up after tossing my boss under the bus."
"He'll be fine," I said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "And you will be too. No matter how fucked up the break is, patience and time will make it better."
"How long did it take before you got over it?" Nicholas asked.
"I didn't," I honestly answered, "And I never will. You might not either, but the key is to accept it and learn from it. Use it to make yourself a better man. Accept the lesson, not the failure. I realize how cliche this shit sounds, but it's the honest truth. You're just not ready to hear it, let alone accept it... but you will eventually."