Tom felt as if his brain were on strike. Overworked and under-stimulated. Time for some coffee. He pushed his chair back from his desk and made his way to the break room, pinching the bridge of his nose in a futile attempt at preventing an oncoming headache.
“Hey! Tom!” He recognized his project supervisor’s voice, and pretended not to hear. But Jim was nothing if not persistent. “Tom! Long time no see! How’s my favorite lead engineer?”
“Oh! Hey. I’m doing alright. And you?” He waited for Jim to catch up before entering the break room.
“Great! I’m great. How’s that little assignment coming? Hope it’s not giving you too much trouble!” Jim laughed.
Tom forced a smile. “No, no, of course not,” he lied. Never let the enemy see your weakness. He dumped the old grinds from the coffee machine, silently cursing his co-workers. What kind of savages don’t refill the pot after they drain it? He talked as he filled the machine. “There were a few bugs in the legacy code, but nothing I can’t handle.” He wondered how long his nose would be if he was Pinocchio.
“Good man! That’s what I like to hear.” Jim checked his watch, and they stood in awkward silence for a while before Jim spoke again. “These machines take forever, don’t they?”
“Yeah.” Tom’s headache was really kicking now. He hated small-talk.
“Say,” said Jim, “how’s your wife doing?”
Tom imagined smashing the coffee pot on the counter and slashing Jim’s face with it. It brought him no joy. “She’s fine,” he said. “She’s gonna go visit her mother this weekend.” He failed to mention that she had already left that morning, indignant and dragging the kids behind her. She understood why he’d been so busy lately, but that didn’t mean she was happy about it. She deserved a break. Maybe after this weekend he would pay for her to visit a spa and get a good massage. Maybe he’d make her a nice dinner. Get some good wine, light some candles, put on some mood music. Maybe he’d buy her some new lingerie, too. Something sheer. Something red.
“Visiting her mother? That sounds nice,” said Jim, breaking Tom’s train of thought. The coffee finished trickling into the pot, and Jim poured himself a mug with cream and sugar. “Well, it’s good catching up with you,” he said. “I look forward to seeing that finished code Monday morning!”
“Of course,” replied Tom, privately dreading the prospect of spending the week-end at the office. As Jim left the break room, Tom poured himself some coffee. “I should have been a writer,” he muttered, as he returned to his desk.