Occupational tomfoolery, hilarity & technology collide when two snarky co-workers, Nia and Harper, bond over the hatred of their oh-so-DREADFUL workplace. They’ve simply had it! Two successful professionals at different stages in their careers and from opposite sides of the track, they form an unspoken sorority which serves as the foundation to coping with higher-ups and colleagues in their zany workplace, Taking Chances! Nia and Harper’s friendship deepens when they discover that chatting with each other throughout the day via instant messenger makes their 9-to-5 more tolerable: no topics (or co-workers) are off limits. Having self-elevated to become the office’s Cool Girls, encounters with their lewd and lascivious boss, Milton, and an office brimming with brown-nosers are fodder for their virtual exchanges. Positioned as an anecdotal tale, Instantly! unveils whether dismay, ennui and entrapment in their cubicles are manufactured by Nia and Harper or do the duo really have the chutzpah to explore pursuits beyond Taking Chances!? Is the career path truly greener on the other side?
Instantly! can be purchased below, Swoozie’s, Amazon and at an Instantly! Book Soiree (check back for markets and dates often) near you! We’re hosting signing parties with the author in Atlanta, Birmingham, Charleston, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Columbia, SC, Dallas, Denver, District of Columbia, Greensboro, NC, Greenville, SC, Knoxville, Nashville, Palm Beach, FL, Savannah and more!
All content below is copyrighted and should not be reprinted, repurposed or used without the expressed written consent of the author, Shameeka Ayers.
Via Instant Messenger:
[17:12] Nia: “You there?”
[17:12] Harper: “Hellllllloooooooooo!”
[17:12] Nia: “I am clearly too brilliant for this place.”
[17:13] Harper: “Well…that’s a statement of the obvious.”
[17:13] Nia: “*Le sigh* I want out, but I’m riddled with burdens such as a mortgage, groceries, and a sick shopping habit.”
[17:13] Harper: “Oh yes…there is the matter of that last one. Your penchant for Louboutins probably can’t be satisfied if you quit.”
[17:14] Nia: “Why must you be so right?”
If Harper and I’d had this virtual conversation once over the past six months, we’d had it a million times. It had become our “thing”. You know…complaining about the old 9-to-5, our very own ball-and-chain which had nothing to do with our husbands—simply the J-O-B. Truth be told, we were the millennial versions of Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda rolled into two witty, cerebral and occasionally snarky co-workers who had become friends. Haughtiness in tow, somehow or another, we’d self-elevated to the pinnacle of the office food chain: the cool people.
Harper and I couldn’t have been more different if we tried. She was a suburban, newlywed WASP with a private school background and a fancy degree in Art History with honors, no less (think Charlotte York from Sex and The City). I, a BAP (you know, a Black American Princess), nearly 10 years her senior with a much more humble rural pedigree, was considered middle management and on my fifth stop in stuffy Corporate America.
When I arrived at Taking Chances!, our employer which managed the foundations of philanthropists and corporations, Harper had been there nearly a year. Assigned a cubicle in 1/6 of the depressing chunk of space that she’d already settled into, I immediately thought her to be adorable yet mysterious. Athletically built with blonde locks, she was the picture of J Crew perfection. Her cubicle was decorated “just so.” Pictures of her then-fiancee, high school chums and bow-headed sorority sisters peppered the putty-hued industrial walls of her space. Recently out of college, Harper was determined to make it seem that a decorator had surely fashioned the interior of her cube, so help her God.
I, consequently, was fresh from the devastation of a lay-off. Had you looked up the definition of “jaded” in Webster’s, my confused mug and furled brow would have stared right back at you. Why? So glad you asked. Before accepting the position at Taking Chances!, I’d been a senior account executive at a public relations firm. Man! I loved that job…the clients, the perks, the colleagues. While all of that’s awesome alone, the best thing about the former position was the luxury of telecommuting full-time. Oh, to have a commute that included a one minute “drive” from one side of my house to the other was glorious! You should have seen my litter of bunny slippers, the only wardrobe that I absolutely had to buy for four years! Le sigh, sure enough.
Though you likely won’t be surprised, let me opine about how much I absolutely, positively loathe cubicles. Who invented cubicles? That rat bastard should be choked! No…shanked! No…choked AND shanked! Seriously. Whoever said cubes are akin to a farm for lab rats was on the money. Ring that bastard up and give him a gajillion dollars. For I cannot think of anything delightful to say about cubicles; never have, never will.
If you never do another thing for me, please, please, please imagine my horror when the Taking Chances! office manager, Mona, escorted me to my square of space on my inaugural day as a TC! employee. Mona, a middle-aged woman deeply-rooted in the glory of the 1980s (Mom jeans, tweed blazer and all), had mastered the art of office orchestration and operations: phone lists, seating charts, office supplies and the like. It was apparent that Mona had earned the role as the office drill sergeant. Her gait was regimented and her head, burdened with the weight of an atrocious bun, held high.
“Nia, this is your cube! Welcome!” she said proudly as she flashed a grin.
“Yay!” I managed to say with half of my heart. For as swift as Mona thought herself to be, I detected her somewhat retarded nature quickly. “She actually thinks I’m glad to be here,” I thought to myself. Mental note: someone, please kill me. Now.
Mona began the formality of introductions to those who sat in my immediate vicinity: My “block” (Doesn’t it sound so….correctional? Right.) was comprised of Carla, the sweet, white trash girl; Elle, the free-spirited hippie; Lucy, the requisite Old Maid/Plain Jane (yes, she’s sadly both) and, finally, my dear, dear Harper.
What I loved most about Harper is that she wasn’t overbearing; I hate when people come on too strongly. Grrrr. For nearly six months she and I exchanged the occasional pleasantry and interacted only when professionally necessary; read: we were each watching the stylish moves of the other very, very closely.
Not much of a friend-seeker at work, I basically arrived on time, performed my duties and punched out directly at 5:30 p.m., all the while keeping to myself. You see, I’d learned through the office grapevine that the Divine Miss Harper had gained the reputation of being somewhat a snob (sorry if you didn’t know this already, Harp) and could be standoff-ish. Since it takes a snob to know one, I equally and occasionally snubbed Harper even whilst she planned her grand, Trump family-esque wedding from the comfort of her cube and fended off her minions who stopped by for all of the shower updates (because there were, like, fifty pre-wedding parties) and ceremony details. Who cares? I thought as she shoo-ed off her wannabe handmaidens. Do Harper and her crew ever do any work?, I just couldn’t help but wonder.
Truth be told, I did not see much of Harper for a couple of summer months after that. For one, she was off getting married on Nantucket and, secondly, she spent nearly another few weeks honeymooning with her newly betrothed, Kent, in (you guessed it) the South. Of. Freaking. France.