Company Ink – Deleted Scene 2

The following is a deleted scene from Company Ink. It has not been edited or proofread so please excuse its rough nature. If you haven’t read the book, the scene may contain spoilers.

I have never been called into the principal’s office. Nerdy girls like me weren’t frequent visitors there. But if I had to imagine what that experience would be like, it would be very similar to being called into the HR office at SOAR.

I’m sitting in one of the cheap plastic chairs lined up outside of Sharon Poplinger’s office waiting for my turn to be called. HR has chosen to decorate their wing with framed posters that may have been motivational in the ‘80’s but are now just irritating. I’m currently staring at picture of a group of sky divers holding hands with the words Team Work! underneath in big letters. I’m imaging the SOAR sales team in that scenario and I take some perverse pleasure in picturing myself with a knife between my teeth sailing down towards the straps on Jonathan Lamb’s parachute.

Sharon’s door is closed and there is a sound machine whirring outside, but it does nothing to cover the conversation happening within. Someone is reporting a sexual harassment claim against one of the Sales Executives. I try to distract myself from the voices inside, try not to listen to the disgusting story unveiling behind the door, but short of covering my ears with my hands and chanting la-la-la-la-, it isn’t much use. I note that everything I say in that office will be heard.

My turn comes soon enough as Sharon escorts a red-faced assistant out of her office and ushers me inside. She motions to a chair in front of her desk and I sit, prepared to do battle.

“Thank you for coming in Danielle. Do you know why I asked to see you?”

“No.” I feign ignorance.

“Well there have been some reports that you may have entered into a personal relationship with a coworker. Are you familiar with our personal relationship policy?”

“Yes, I am. I’ve read it each of the seven times you have sent it out over the past month.” I give Sharon my sweetest smile and she beams back at me. I make a mental note that subtlety isn’t Sharon’s strong suit. I will need to lay it on thicker if I intend to make my point.

“Great. I thought we could review it again together and you could let me know if there are any of the policies that you have questions on or that you feel you may be in violation of. Does that sound good?”

“That sounds absolutely terrific!” I lay it on thick this time, still nothing. Sharon adjusts her reading glasses and opens a binder to a carefully labeled purple tab. She proceeds to slowly and deliberately read all twelve pages of the personal relationship policy to me, complete with the numbers and letters of every clause, and the full text of every foot note.

I sit politely in my chair and bide my time. Fifteen minutes later I fully believe that the magic of Sharon Poplinger is wasted in HR. With her love of rules and regulations and her almost fanatical adherence to said rules, she missed her true calling as an auditor for the IRS. She would also make a fantastic remedial reading instructor.

“Now, Danielle. Were there any sections where you had questions or where you felt you may be in violation, specifically with your relationship with SOAR’s Vice President of International Sales?”

“Well…” I pause and I can see the glee in Sharon’s eyes. She practically rubs her hands together in anticipation of her ‘gotcha moment. But then I continue. “I did have a few questions.”

“Yes?” she asks expectantly and I think I can see her rise out of her chair by a full two inches.

“I guess I didn’t realize that I reported to Mr. Kelly. But now that I know that I should probably ask him for a raise, you know just to bring my salary in line with what the male sales representatives make.”

“Well you don’t report to Mr. Kelly. But there is a perceived reporting relationship between you two. Do you understand?”

“I really don’t, but that’s ok because I have other questions. Could you please define SOAR’s definition of a romantic relationship?” Sharon opens her mouth to answer but I cut her off “I mean does it need to be a flowers and chocolate type of relationship, you know, like sky writing and boxes from Tiffany’s? Or can it also be straight sex? Because if it is just sex, but no flowers, it’s not really romantic is it?” Sharon opens and closes her mouth like a goldfish and I continue. “You can probably see where I’m confused.”

“Well SOAR has left the definition purposefully vague. Are you saying that you have entered into a sexual relationship with Mr. Kelly?”

“Well now I’m also not sure how SOAR defines a sexual relationship. Again the policy is kind of vague. Does oral sex count? And what about anal? And I know that some people have a thing for feet.” Sharon is beet red now. And I shouldn’t be taking so much pleasure in this, but I am fed up.

“I would say that yes, those… acts… would be considered sexual. Again I have to ask does this involve Dan Kelly?”

“No. And I hope this is the last time I need to have this discussion with anyone. Either way you define it, romantic, sexual, co-dependent, BDSM. I am not in a relationship with Dan Kelly or anyone else at SOAR. Now, given the multitude of times I have been asked this question, I suspect that you still don’t believe me. So will the next step be for me to submit to a vaginal exam? Because I have a plane I need to catch. I should also warn you Sharon, that my hymen is no longer intact. I hope that won’t be a problem.”

Sharon has finally caught on to my sarcasm. I had to apply it with a fucking fire hose, but she got it. It goes over about as well as I anticipated, but still it feels good to let the old Dani loose and not worry about the consequences.

“That won’t be necessary.” she says tightly. She rises to show me out the door. And that’s when I see the dusty suggestion box near her desk. Right below a poster of a snowboarder jumping over a crevasse with the word Achievement! underneath.

I can’t help myself. “Sharon, do you mind if I submit a suggestion without writing it down and putting it in the box?”

“What is your suggestion Danielle?” she says, clearly irritated.

“I don’t envy you your job. We all know the staff is miserable. The amount of turnover alone will tell you that, let alone the employee surveys. I can only imagine what you deal with day to day. But if you spent half as much time ensuring that staff were paid the market rate as you do trying to figure out if there is a personal relationship between two consenting adults, morale would be a lot higher.”

I don’t wait for her to respond. I pull open the door to her office and the first thing I see is Dan squeezed into the plastic chair, his face beet red, the way it gets when we play our movie game and he is trying not to laugh. The red of his face only serves to set off his eyes, they have never looked more blue.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kat Colburn. All rights reserved.