Michelle: Aditi. Hey there. Glad to catch you online.
Aditi: Because I should be writing, I know, I know. I am, just taking a break.
Michelle : I didn’t say that. Only wanted to check in and see how you’re doing.
Christina: Because you’re so easy-breezy, sis?
Taneesha: Busted, Miche.
Michelle: I don’t think it’s unreasonable to check up on my friend and author to see if she needs any help.
Aditi: I’ve already turned in a post to Pam for the day and I’ve got some time till she says the others are due.
Christina: It’s nice that you put “friend” before “author,” but let’s be real—you totally have your editor hat on right now.
Michelle: I’m offering to pitch in. I’d say that’s friend and editor hats on at the same time.
Aditi: I’m fine, guys. Michelle’s just doing her job and I’m doing mine. But I can only stay on a few more minutes. Can we talk about something else, please? The rest of you must have things going on in your lives.
Christina: Neesha, how did things go with the brogrammers?
Taneesha: Well, it seems like I’m keeping my job for now.
Christina: You seem thrilled.
Michelle: I thought you were pretty confident you wouldn’t be laid off?
Taneesha: Mostly. You never know for sure. But now instead of a senior programmer, I’ve been given a meaningless title on a project I used to be spearheading.
Michelle: And the title is?
Taneesha: Swarm master. They say I’m a spot-fixer, handling any problems that arise, except none of the new people have any issues or seem to want to work with me.
Elli: I’m sure it’s because they don’t know you yet.
Michelle: Elli has a point. Make them see how valuable you are. Once they see your work, they can’t continue to ignore your contribution to the company.
Christina: Well, why didn’t Taneesha think of that!
Taneesha: I can barely get anyone to stop in the hall and talk to me for thirty seconds. When I asked for a meeting, it was like I’d morphed into Gul’dan.
Aditi: Are any of your old bosses around? Anyone you can trust?
Taneesha: Everyone I trusted ran to other start-ups or opened their own shops.
Aditi: Stay in contact, see if they’re hiring. They loved you at the old company, didn’t they? Or at least recognized your talent. Get the hell out of that place.
Taneesha: They might be hiring . . . in a year or two. Start-ups need front-end devs and marketing right away. Most of the people who left are front-end guys. I don’t know if I’d have a spot.
Christina: Well, fuck. Drink at work and ride it out, I guess.
Michelle: Just because it doesn’t get you fired, C, doesn’t mean it’ll work for anyone else.
Christina: All I’m saying is maybe if she gets shitfaced at work, they’ll get annoyed enough to buy her out.
Michelle: I doubt that’s the way it would happen.
Elli: It’s all new, Neesha. I’m sure you just need a few weeks for things to shake out and everything will be right as rain. :)
Christina: And maybe if she’s pure of heart, butterflies will dress her in princess robes every morning. FFS.
Aditi: I love you, Christina, but don’t be a dick.
Elli: It’s okay, I know she’s joking.
Christina: Yes, joking . . .
Taneesha: How are things with you, El? Liking the barista world?
Elli: Oh, gosh. I quit that job.
Christina: I’m not saying anything.
Michelle: And why did you quit this one?
Elli: I have enough to pay for the next con.
Michelle: And what about the one after that?
Elli: I can’t worry that far ahead. I’m so focused on this dress, I can’t even think about what my next cosplay might be.
Michelle: But Elli . . . Hon . . .
Aditi: Let it go, Miche.
Michelle: You’re right. I’ve got to jump off in a second, anyway.
Aditi: Me, too.
Elli: Oh, shoot! I wanted to show you some of my fabric swatches!
Taneesha: Another time? I see people heading into another meeting I wasn’t invited to. Need to spy.
Michelle: Before we go, just one more piece of news. Ted decided to move out. NBD, he hired movers and took care of everything himself, but I thought I should let you know.
Taneesha: Wait, WHAT?!?
Christina: Are you okay? Do you need me to fly out there?
Aditi: We could all be there in a day, sweetie.
Taneesha: Absolutely. I’m not sure anyone in the office would even notice I’m gone.
Michelle: I’m 100% fine, you guys. But also swamped. We’ll talk soon. AFK.
Taneesha: Well, that was unexpected.
Christina : Sad, yes. But would we really say unexpected?
Christina pulled into the gas station at 5:25 a.m., yawning. As she entered the small shop, the clerk eyed her warily. I’m just on my way to work, man, she thought. To be fair to the clerk, he was better dressed than she was. Christina’s jeans weren’t visibly dirty, exactly, but they were her set clothes, and had long been subjected to the elements and all manner of heavy and sharp things clipped to them. She was pretty sure...