The Boss - a short story.
Amanda sat at her desk, rapidly typing and sipping on her strong black coffee as she ticked off the list in her head. Report for Cooper. Done. Email Mr Bourke. Finished. Samples from John… She frantically rummaged through the files littering her usually pristine desk.
“Charlotte…” She yelled loudly as she walked towards the wall of glass overlooking the skyline of Sydney.
“Charlotte!” she yelled repeatedly, the glass almost vibrating with her forceful voice.
“Are you there Charlotte?” she yelled for a final time as she heard a timid knock at the door.
“Come in” she demanded as her assistant stepped inside her office.
“Yes ma’am” She said hesitantly, looking nervously at her feet, like a guilty child.
“Where on earth are the samples John was supposed to send me?” She asked calmly as she paced along the edge of the window, peering down on those beneath her feet.
“He said they would be here last Monday, there’s really no excuse for this sloppiness is there Charlotte?”
“I’ll call him right away Amanda” she said hastily, eager to please her boss, as she hurried out of her office, slamming the door on the way out.
She listened through the thin wooden door, hearing Charlotte’s high-pitched, flirtatious giggles as she talked with him on the phone. He was always so smooth, so charming…so manipulative. She had seen all the women fawn over him in the lounge, admiring his charm… his good looks. She tried to avoid going down there. She knew the other women disapproved of her and the men didn’t take her seriously. Small talk was non-existent; no smiles or friendly eyes when she passed, no more friendly gestures. Since becoming boss she was alienated, isolated, alone. No more engagement parties, after work drinks. No more social events, no more friends. She was bossy. She was ‘demanding’. She was too big for her shoes. She wasn’t one of them.
She knew they thought she was selfish leaving her two young children at home whilst she ran the company. Why was she bossy and selfish when her male counterparts were not? They were in the same position as her. They knew what it took. But why did they have ‘leadership’? Why was their hard work ‘admirable? Why were they labelled as ‘motivated’ and ‘dedicated’ for doing their job? They left their families at home. In their eyes, the only way she could be dedicated was to dedicated to her children and husband. Would that make her a ‘proper’ woman? Would that make her ‘admirable’? She wasn’t a leader. She was just bossy.
‘Bossy’…’Bossy’…’Bossy’…Those words circled through her head. Was she bossy or was she doing what was best? She had always been called bossy but was it fair?
Amanda thought back to when she was her daughter’s age. Was she bossy then?
“Amanda please be quiet and let me answer the question” her teacher sighed in resignation.
“I’m sorry Miss but that’s not right.” Amanda answered with a smirk dancing on her lips as she stood with her arms crossed across her chest.
“Please leave the room Amanda, I will not stand for this kind of behaviour!” She said, her face growing red with humiliation.
“But Miss!” She whined but her teacher just shook her head
“I do not want you setting a bad example for the lovely ladies in this class Amanda” She tutted as she slicked her wiry cold grey hair behind her ears. “Nobody likes a bossy girl Amanda,” she said in her old wicked voice.
The boys added to what Mrs White was saying all the time so what was wrong with her saying it? She was polite. She was merely stating a fact. Instead old Mrs White’s knobbly fingers shook violently towards her face. She was a naughty little girl. Amanda could almost hear her cold and shakey voice ringing in her ears. She was far ahead of her year. But she was different. She was told not to do long division or cursive or use complicated language. She was told to stop showing off. She was told to wait for year 4. She was told to stop being so bossy.
When Amanda was 16, captain of the hockey team they called her bossy. They said it went to her head.
“Guys, this isn’t good enough. Next half we’ve got to pass it out to the sides then to the strikers up in the circle, they’re far too strong down the centre. We’ve got no hope just hitting it into their feet” she said breathlessly to her team as she stretched out her legs.
“But Amanda, our strongest players aren’t on the wings. There’s no chance they’ll make it up to the circle” One of her teammates argued.
“You’re right. They’re not” replied Amanda blatantly “But they’re unmarked and the oppositions strongest players are crowding around the centre. They have a decent chance of getting it in,” she said confidently. “We’ve go to give them a chance.” she argued “If we don’t play as a team. We wont win as a team,” she said as the whistle blew for them to enter the field again. The centre rolled her eyes in dismay. Amanda knew she was annoyed. She wanted to be the star, the centre of attention. She was the best player on the team but alone against the opposition she had no hope.
The girls walked on the field together and took their positions.
“She’s such a bitch” she could hear the centre whispering to the other girls behind her back “She’s so bossy and she doesn’t even know what she’s talking about” they muttered as the whistle blew to start.
At 18 years of age Amanda ran for president of the SRC, they said she wasn’t suited. Her principal said that nobody would like a bossy leader.
Smiling Amanda walked up towards the podium and took out her palm cards from her pocket, “Good morning teachers and fellow students” she said confidently as her eyes scoured the room. She was a natural at this, she always had been and she’d wanted this position since Year 7. Her speech continued, as the audience grew weary, she had great plans for next year and she knew she could implement them. As she finished the audience clapped her off the stage slowly, half of them with their eyes glued to their phones.
Jack walked up towards the podium, his head held high, smiling as he winked to the girls in the front row. He ran his fingers through his hair and began to speak.
“Hey guys” he said casually as applause and whistling erupted from the audience. Typical. Amanda thought, he barely even opened his mouth and they liked him. His speech continued for another minute of innuendo and charm. “Go Dragons” he shouted as the crowd cheered and whistled.
Everyone stood and walked out as her principal tapped her on the shoulder. “Now Amanda” he began in his deep husky voice, “I just want to make sure you aren’t going to be upset if you don’t get SRC president.” He said as she awkwardly, patting Amanda on the shoulder. “I do think you’re being a bit ambitious, don’t you?” he asked as Amanda’s expression dropped.
“There are plenty of other positions available, I’m not being unreasonable. Your skills would be great elsewhere” Amanda quickly interrupted, unable to bear his criticism any longer “But why don’t you think I have a chance?” she asked inquisitively. “I’m far more qualified than anyone here, realistically, especially Jack” she stated bluntly.
“Amanda” he said softly “ I just want to encourage you to go for secretary. They do most of the work, getting the hall organised for dances, planning the charity days. I just think that you’d be better suited for those jobs.” He said avoiding her questions
Amanda turned away as he whispered over her shoulder, “Nobody likes a bossy girl Amanda…Just remember that”
She was confused. She was just as qualified to be President, if not more. Why was she being bossy? Why was Jack a leader? Was she too ambitious? Why was she reserved for the menial tasks.
Amanda heard a quick knock at the door as she looked up from her screen. It was John. He looked up, adjusting his cufflinks and flashed a smile in her direction. “Hey Amanda, what’s up?” he asked casually, leaning against the doorframe.
“Where are the samples that you agreed to order after the last meeting?” Amanda asked inquisitively, raising her eyebrows at John.
“Samples?” he replied, as he shrugged his shoulders.
“Yes John. The ones for next week’s edition. This isn’t good enough, we needed them yesterday at the latest?” She said as her voice began to rise.
“Don’t worry about it Amanda, just do it without them” he replied casually as he walked along Amanda’s side table picking up her things as he went.
“No John!” she said furiously. “I asked you to do something, you had plenty of time and notice and yet you still cant get your act together!” She said banging her coffee cup down on the table.
“Chill Amanda, its not big deal. I’ll deal with it when I’ve got time” he replied oblivious to her frustration, laughing as he straightened his tie.
“No John. I cannot ‘chill’.” She said crankily as she paced towards him. “You are blatantly disrespectful to everything I do. If you can’t get your act together, I don’t think we’ll have a job for you anymore. End of story. I need those samples by this afternoon. If they’re not here. Forget it.” “Yeah ok” he said quietly as he left her office.
Furious, Amanda sat and started rummaging through the unopened mail on her desk. She could imagine him going back to his mates, telling them that she was “so ‘bossy’… so ‘demanding’…That she was such a ‘bitch’… That she was so ‘selfish’…That they felt sorry for her poor husband putting up with a woman like her.”
‘Was this justified?’ Was she worthy of such a high position if she was as bossy and selfish as they said? She’d been called bossy her whole life. Was she bossy and underqualified? She had tried to stand her ground over the last year. She had tried to earn their respect but they treated her like she was bottom of the pecking order.
Amanda took her silver letter opener, violently slicing through a company envelope. ‘Financial Year summary’. It would decide whether she could keep her job. Whether what they said was justified. She had only been CEO for less than a year. She had sacrificed everything to get here. She wasn’t ready to be undermined.
As she read the report, the smile on her face grew wide. She wasn’t bossy. She was a leader. She wasn’t selfish or demanding. She was dedicated and persuasive. Amanda stood and walked towards the wall of glass, her black heels tapping the floor. She looked down from the 98th floor on the miniscule people rushing through the narrow shaded streets as she heard three knocks at the door. She was revolutionising a multi billion-dollar company. She wasn’t the bossy girl in class. She wasn’t the bossy girl on the sports team. She wasn’t the bossy girl who didn’t deserve to be SRC President. She was a leader. She was dedicated. Her hard work was admirable. She wasn’t selfish for leaving her kids at home.
She wasn’t bossy.
She was the boss.