Restraint

“How are you today, Charles?”

Mr. Kozloski asked in a voice reserved for addressing 8 year olds. He always spoke in a measured rhythm and took a very long time to say nothing. He knew I was shitting in my pants for the simple fact that I’d been called into his office.

“I’m fine, sir. Thank you for asking.”

He nodded his head accepting my humble response as appropriate. “Do you happen to know why you’re here?”

That patronizing tone of voice was maddening. I’d rather listen to someone grind their teeth together than hear him make another speech. He is working up to firing me but instead of just saying that he will probably take an hour to describe his reasoning behind the decision. My boss loved the sound of his own voice.

“I guess it’s getting close to the time for my annual review, sir. So I thought you might want to talk about that.” I knew he didn’t want to talk about that.

He paused, leaned back in his chair and pondered my response. Again, he took his time answering. I was almost ready to walk out and quit. Being a lowly security guard with my twenty-five years experience as a Detective for Chatham County was insulting enough already, I didn’t need this drama.

“You’re right in a way, Charles. I do want to talk about your performance but it will be a short conversation I’m afraid. No breaking out the rubric this time.”

I couldn’t say anything. I was equal parts rage and fear. I wanted to reach across the desk wrap my hands around this skinny punks neck and squeeze until his windpipe cracked just so he could never say the word “rubric” again! I was eleven years his senior and I had work experience that was relevant. Mr. Kozloski had no work experience prior to the the Gender Flu riots.  If half the country hadn’t died from the virus and the other half gone to complete shit, this man would have been lucky to find employment as a coffee shop barista.

“So no annual increase then?” Of course I already knew the answer.

Kozloski had the hubris to laugh. “Actually Charles I’m afraid I have to inform you that today is your last day of employment with S.A.F.E. There have been two many violations of company policy and I can no longer overlook them.”

“Do you mean because I was late a couple of times?”

Kozloski gave me a look. “It was more than a couple of times, Charles.” He opened a folder that contained printed photos of me entering the building. They were time stamped. “I have the photos to prove you were late 3 times in the last six months alone. I’m afraid we can’t over look this any longer.”

My palms began to sweat. “Mr. Kozloski, it’s just that I ran out of fuel credits a few times toward the end of the month and I had to walk from 52nd street to the compound. It’s quite a hike.”

“Did you try calling a cab any of those times?”

“No, sir, I simply can’t afford a luxury like that.”

“I see, so you want us to violate procedure by not having appropriate coverage at the compound and risk the safety of our females because you can’t manage your finances properly?”

I wanted to punch him until his face caved in. I imagined the satisfying sound of his pointy little beak crumpling under the weight of my fist. I was fifty-five but I kept in shape. I held my anger in check because I would never work again if S.A.F.E decided to give me a bad reference.

I stood and thanked Mr. Kozloski for giving the opportunity to worth with him. I nearly gagged on the words but I said them because they had to be said. He wished me look and shook my wet palm. He made a face when the moisture from my sweaty palm soaked into his precious callous free hand. The man had likely never held a gun in his life but held the title of “Head of Security.”

“Before I go Mr. Kozloski I’d like to ask if you’ll be able to give me a favorable recommendation if a future employer calls?”

The skin on his hairless cheeks gathered into a smile.

I doubt he even needs to shave, the twat!

“Of course I’ll give you a good reference, Charles,” he said in a sarcastic voice that let me know in perfectly clear terms that he had no intention of doing that.

“Thank you, Sir,” I said and managed to leave without punching a hole through Mr. Kozloski or his office door on my way out.

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