The Office Wife, May 5, 2017, Issue 5, Olivia Gaines
Marjorie Hellman- Quality Control
Again, some evil, nefarious, heartless person stopped by the donut shop and picked up two dozen, sugar glazed circles of delight. Light, airy, and nearly melting in a warm mouth, the punctured circles of doom mean happiness on the lips but hell on the hips for all who partake in the accompaniment of morning coffee along with the heavenly treats. From what Vicki could discern from her team, a great number of them needed to spend a few hours in the company gym.
Instead, one by one they wandered in, pouring liquid cups of brain fuel as they collected one sugar coated circle, wrapped carefully in an American Conglomerate branded napkin, squirreling themselves away at their desks, nibbling away at the sugary treat. If she listened closely, she could almost hear them, like little chipmunks stuffing their cheeks with sugar, and chirping away about the course of the day. Very seldom did Vicki partake in the morning ritual since Summer was right around the corner and a red bikini had her name on it.
It wasn’t every day in which the well-skilled Executive Assistant to the Board of Directors had so much discipline. Most days, if she could get her hands on a bag of chips, an icy cold soda and a bag of peanuts, she considered herself as having eaten from all of the good groups. On days like that, Vicki made a point to have a large apple for dinner. She didn’t know if it kept the doctor away or not, but it kept her tummy placated. A hard lesson learned when she was 25 years of age about her empty stomach and horrific effects of peanuts on her body.
Knowing what to eat and what time to eat it had been a saving grace for her during a very difficult time in her life. Eating her way through her emotions resulted in oily, pimpled skin along with an expanding waistline. Lifestyle changes had been in order. A hard-fought battle ensued between her thighs and her mouth, but her thighs won. The rash on the inside of them from fat friction on her inner gams changed her eating habits quickly.
This was also the reason she wanted to take a chance and approached Marjorie Hellman, the board member who represented the quality control team. The first time she made a step towards her in the breakroom, she’d caught Marjorie stuffing extra donuts in her purse. Taneeka stopped her from saying anything.
“Pick your battles, Vicki. You have no right to approach that woman about her eating habits no more than I have the right to question you about your sex life,” Taneeka James, a board member representing the procurement department told her.
“Yes, but if I were about to drown, and eating one more donut, bear claw, or cinnamon roll was going to make me sink, you’d better say something,” Vicki replied.
“I know what you are seeing, but truthfully, it is none of your business,” Taneeka told her. “Honestly, if it were me, I would resent the hell out of you for saying anything at all.”
“If it were me and I was struggling with an addiction, as my friend, I would want you to at least try. Then, I would know you cared,” Vicki responded.
“Can’t I care from the privacy of my office?”
Vicki watched Taneeka’s face. Maybe she had a point. However, when a person was at the point of hoarding free donuts, someone, anyone, needed to step up and say enough.
“Maybe you are right,” Vicki said.
“I am right,” Taneeka told her.
For now, Vicki walked away and said nothing more.
The subject was brought up over lunch with Manigault. Each month, the eccentric heir and member of what could easily be labeled as Hollywood royalty, he took her to lunch, parading her about on his arm as if she were his latest honey. Vicki didn’t mind. She, in turn, received a really great lunch at a country club or some exclusive venue she normally, most likely would never be let inside to even clean the building.
Manigault was a gentleman who never had a hair out of place or a wayward facial expression. In the last two months, she’d begun to learn his tells. Each month, he also spoke more, allowing her more insight into his world and thoughts. In an effort to not waste so much food, he’d brought to the office a tray of petite fours, leftover from a function he’d attended the night prior.
Marjorie was the first one in the breakroom loading up a napkin with one treat in each color. By lunchtime, the entire tray was gone after the woman made four more trips, each time loading up a fresh napkin. Vicki felt something was wrong. There was no way she could be hungry, but emotionally eating due to some life change.
“My word,” Manigault said. “I do believe Ms. Hellman inhaled the entire petite four tray I brought in this morning.”
“Manigault, I want to help her, but I don’t know how, ” Vicki said.
“Place a ban on sugar in the break room,” he told her. “Bring in a fruit tray, and keep the breakroom loaded with fruits and veggies. It will deter the culprits who bring in all the sugary treats to stop doing so while encouraging Ms. Hellman to make better dietary choices.”
“Do you think that will work?”
He sat quietly for a moment, holding his steak knife. The normally stoic face, showing emotions as the thoughts he were having, displayed across his face.
“Vicki, do you have a gym membership?”
“I don’t have one right now,” she told him. “I sometimes come in early to use the company gym.”
“Good to know,” he said.
Manigault said nothing more to her over the meal as they continued dining in silence. She took on her normal role of looking at him in between bites with googly eyes of admiration, while staff members of the exclusive facility gawked at them. As she returned to the office, the token ring he’d given her to wear on their special outings was placed back in the office safe, until the next luncheon.
Several times she had been tempted to have the ring appraised and insured, but instead, she left it at the office secured in the company safe. Leaving it at work versus taking it home made her life easier in more ways than one. It would be difficult, to say the least, explaining the tokens given to her by Manigault after each luncheon date as she pretended to be the doxy in his life.
Vicki liked Manigault. He had a way about him that said he cared without banging a person over the head with his wealth. She truly appreciated although he didn’t talk much, but when he did, that the gentleman never talked down to her. That was worth its weight in gold in her opinion.
The next morning, in the break room, standing high and tall sat a banner, being installed by Nathan Ridgeway, a board member who represented consumer services. A colorful, truly delightful upright banner which encouraged each person to build a better you sat next to the counter which normally held donuts and goodies. The banner also promoted American Conglomerate’s new organic food line. Vicki didn’t care, as long as the team stopped bringing in so many sugary treats.
Marjorie stood in front of the signing looking sorely disappointed.
“Hello Ms. Hellman,” Vicki said, offering a genuine smile.
“Oh, hey,” Marjorie replied. “I guess, everyone is going to try and go healthy huh?” She said looking like a small child who just dropped her last lollipop. She eyed the banner with almost distastes in her mouth.
“It won’t be so bad,” Vicki said.
“Yeah, easy for you to say,” Marjorie said, turning to leave the break room. A second later she came back, grabbed one of the shiny apples from the bowl on the counter. Nathan Ridgeway added a second bowl with trail mix bars, small bags of nuts and cheeses and low carb snack bites. Marjorie grabbed two of each.
“Girl,” Taneeka said. “You lucky you didn’t sit your purse on that counter, she probably would have grabbed that too.”
“Unhappiness,” Vicki said to her office friend. “A person who eats like that is unhappy.”
“Hell, so am I, but I am not eating my way through my emotions,” Taneeka said.
“Then what are you doing since you are no longer shopping your way through your feelings?”
“Screwing,” she said with a flat expression. “My husband has never been happier.”
“See…you need to go on back to your office,” Vicki said with a smile.
“I’m just saying, Vicki. It is the best way to please two birds with one bone,” she told her winking and walking away. Taneeka used her hands to indicate a very large bone, her tongue poking between her teeth in a cheeky reference to the size of her husband’s happiness maker.
Taneeka didn’t seem unhappy.
Vicki pondered the idea as she walked back to her office. Endorphins. Exercise and sex release endorphins to get the brain to trigger the opiate sensors in the body. Marjorie’s sex life was none of her concern, but a good work out always made her feel better. It had also helped with her self-esteem during one of the lowest points in her adult life. Through exercise and getting back in school, Vicki was proud that her confidence level had come up enough to give her the courage to apply for her current position.
Confidence helped secured her new job.
Confidence would also help Marjorie.
But how do I convince her to go to the gym with me?
Manigault had the answer. On her desk were two certificates to an exclusive spa and fitness center close to the office. The package deal he’d given her included in one envelope, two sessions with a personal trainer. The other included a year’s worth of sessions with a personal trainer and nutritionist. Vicki slipped the gifts into the safe, leaving them for a day or so.
Two days later, after carefully looking about her home, she located two old photos of herself. Arriving at the office, she went to the break room to check supply levels. In the breakroom, stood Marjorie at the counter which formerly held sweet treats and pastries. Now, it only held part of her regrets, fresh fruit and snack packs of healthy goodies.
“I know right? I could really use a donut right now,” Vicki said under her breath.
Marjorie glanced at her sideways, giving her an eat shit and die you skinny little celery snacking heifer, look.
“It took me nearly two years, but I did it, Marjorie. I lost over a hundred pounds,” Vicki admitted. She laid a photo on the counter of the old her. The second photo of a shot of the back side of her along with the three asses which used to be attached to her body. One more picture was shared of a younger Vicki with three chins.
“How did you do this?” Marjorie asked, blinking back the tears.
“What is important was how I got there. After my mother’s death, I saw no reason to go on, so I ate my way through the pain until one day, everything on me hurt. I couldn’t completely wipe my own butt, and the thigh rash which hated me had become infected. So, I got my stinky butt up, turned on some tunes and I worked out. Then I gave up carbs, sugar, soda, and basically anything that had a taste. I will admit it was hard, but once I started losing, I never wanted to go back to this look ever again, not because of vanity, but my health. I was teetering on diabetes, my cholesterol levels were ridiculous and I didn’t feel good,” she confessed to Marjorie. “Plus I smelled.”
“I wouldn’t even know how to start to do something like this. I know I need to, but the stress, my husband Bobby who loves to cook fatty foods, my kids, this job…some days, I just try so hard to get through each hour. Most days, it is a struggle just to get up,” Marjorie said.
“Maybe this can help,” Vicki said handing her the envelope. “Granted, these were given to me by an admirer, and I thought I would share one with you if that’s okay?”
Marjorie’s eyes misted.
“You’re doing this because you feel sorry for me,” Marjorie said.
“No, I’m doing this because when I felt sorry for myself, no one came to my side and said they cared about me. I am doing this because I care about you. I see you are struggling with some personal issues and I don’t have any desire to get all up in your business, but I can be there for you by meeting you at the gym before work or during lunch, or after work,” Vicki said with a smile.
“Besides, I needed an excuse to buy some new workout clothes,” Vicki said with a wink. “Let me know when you want to get started.”
Turning she left the break room with Marjorie holding the envelope in one hand, the apple in the other.
“Vicki,” she called to her.
“Yes, Ms. Hellman?”
“Thanks for caring,” Marjorie said.
“We take care of each other here, Ms. Hellman. I can only hope that when I am struggling, that someone throws me a lifeline,” she said. Walking away, Vicki didn’t know what to expect, or if she would hear from Marjorie, but she did.
They started working out that Friday. It began slowly, but it began. Vicki offered no comments and limited the conversation to Netflix shows, and Marjorie responded. Finding a common ground on a new series, each workout, they spoke about characters in the shows they were learning to love.
Vicki enjoyed her workouts with Marjorie. As personal as the weight loss process could be, it was more enjoyable to talk to a lover of a good series plot than anything. It worked for them both.
A thank you card was left on the desk of Manigault with well-crafted penmanship scribbling out, “The lifeline came just in time. Thank you for seeing that I was drowning. – Marjorie.”
It didn’t take her long to add two and two after several sessions with the trainer and diet coach. Manigault’s name came up twice in the conversation. He’d bought the sessions. Marjorie didn’t care who bought them. She was simply grateful that two people noticed she was drowning and threw her a lifeline.
She couldn’t ask for anything more that genuine people who cared.