Number Nine

“Did you get a chance to meet Doug’s new secretary today?” Tim asked his colleague Joel as they were heading towards their cars in the parking lot shortly after finishing work.

“I did. She seemed nice,” Joel answered. “I didn’t catch her name, though.”

“Does it really matter?” Tim then asked.

“I suppose not. She could be called Marion, Carole, Susan, Bonnie or Beverly, and you and I both know we’re just going to refer to her as Number Nine. By the way, I think the term nowadays is Administrative Assistant,” Joel said.

“Again, does it really matter? She can give herself any fancy job title she wants, but at the end of the day she’s still just the person who has to put up with someone else’s crap for very little money.”

Tim was right on that last point. Secretary, Administrative Assistant, Dry Cleaning Fetcher Extraordinaire…it doesn’t matter what you call them, they are the people – a woman usually – who get treated the worst at work. At least, those who work for Doug Chandler are.

That’s why Tim and Joel can’t be bothered to learn any of their names. Not out of disrespect, but because they’re always in and out of there before anyone else at the office gets a chance to form a real bond with them. The most recent hire is the ninth Administrative Assistant in the last nine years to be tasked with the nightmare commonly referred to as Doug.

“What do you think will be the straw that breaks the back for Number Nine? Doug’s unwanted sexual advances, the demeaning language he will inevitably end up using towards her, or the steady after-hours phone calls about matters that can wait until the following work day?” Tim then asked.

“Gee, I don’t know,” Joel said. “H.R. has warned him before about workplace harassment. If he has any brains in his head, he’ll behave himself on that front.”

“Dude, this is Doug we’re talking about.”

“True. I give it three months until he starts with the gentle shoulder squeezes, ten months until she can’t take it anymore and leaves the building in tears.”

“Should we warn her what’s in store?”

“And risk Doug bringing the hammer down on us? No way! Again, Number Nine seems nice, but having a steady paycheque is even nicer. See you tomorrow.”

“Yup, see you.”

Tim and Joel did see each other the following day. They saw Number Nine also. They continued to see her everyday after that as well because unlike Numbers One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight, Number Nine had the strength to stick it out and see to it that Doug got fired.

Her name was Tricia, by the way.

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