Natasha shook her head. Even after all these years as a manager, it was never easy letting an employee go.
She cried every time she delivered the news.
And it seemed like soon, she would be delivering the news again.
Natasha had given Jeremy every opportunity to step up and do his job. She had told him that he needed to be in the office at 9 o’clock at the latest, but he still managed to come in at 10:30 or 11 every day.
She tried to tell him that most jobs would have fired him the first time he came in so late, let alone the 15th. But it kept happening.
Jeremy was a software tester in Natasha’s organization, and he was clearly very bright. But he put hardly any effort in to his work.
He came into the office, did the bare minimum (if that!) and then went home.
Natasha wondered how someone like him had managed to stay at the company for so long, but it turned out that the constant re-orgs of the company had shielded Jeremy from consequences. Every few months, just as a boss was going to stop covering for Jeremy, he got moved to a different one, and was somebody else’s problem.
Natasha was determined that this would not happen again.
She would give Jeremy one more chance, and if he failed her, he was gone.
She called Jeremy in for a one-on-one meeting.
“Jeremy,” she said. “I don’t know what’s happened, but I have to tell you that I have thirty people working under me, and you’re currently the worst employee.”
Jeremy looked ashamed, but only said, “I understand.”
“What I want you to understand, Jeremy,” she said, “Is that I’m not going to keep enabling you here. This is it. Your absolute last chance. I really don’t want to have to take this to HR, and start the firing process. I want you on time, every single day. I want you to send me an email, every single day. Try to do this for a few weeks, and then we can talk about where we can go from there.”
Jeremy looked down at his hands, and nodded.
Then he did something strange.
He snapped his fingers.
“Alright, Natasha,” he said. “I’m going to try to turn your opinion around. You’ll see. I’m going to start doing better.”
Natasha nodded. “I hope so, for your sake!”
* * *
Natasha woke up late the next day.
Normally, she just woke up at 5 AM with no prompting, and if her body failed her, she had two alarms that would make sure she was up and going to work.
But when she looked blearily over at the clock, she realized it was already 9:05.
She gasped, jumped out of bed and logged in to her work laptop.
She had a meeting to run!
She was surprised to see Jeremy among the people waiting for her to start the meeting.
“Hi, everyone!” she said. “I’m sorry I was late today, let’s discuss what’s on the docket today…”
Natasha tried to get ready quickly, but something just wasn’t clicking this morning.
She showered, and did all of her usual routine, but for some reason everything seemed to take twice as long. It didn’t help that she kept getting distracted by things on her phone.
She wasn’t normally a huge user of social media, but today she couldn’t keep her eyes off of it. It was like she couldn’t help but catch up on the latest goings on in her extended friend groups.
“What’s gotten into me?” she asked, as she finally got to her car and started to work.
She got into the office around 11, and was again surprised to see Jeremy there.
She asked one of her underlings when he got in.
“He was here before I was,” the man said.
Natasha nodded absentmindedly, and went to do her work.
There were a few fires to put out because of her lateness, but she managed to smooth things over, get information wherever it needed to go, and by the time lunch rolled around she was back in the swing of things.
She would just have to work later today.
At the end of the day, she normally sent out several emails to keep various teams in sync, but she didn’t even notice as she left the office with that task undone.
* * *
“Shit, shit, shit!” she said, as she saw the clock said 8:50.
Today was a big meeting at 9:30, and she would definitely not make it if she had the stand up meeting today. So she sent out a cancellation, and drove straight to the office.
“Oh good,” she said, when she got in at 9:27. “You’re here!”
She nodded at Jeremy and rushed to her meeting with the big whigs.
She hadn’t had time to get ready, and people kept asking her if she was sick. She was too embarrassed to tell them that she just hadn’t had time to put on make up that day.
She was still able to get her work done, but just like the previous day, somehow forgot to send out her usual email updates at the end of the day.
At the end of the week, Natasha was mildly impressed when she went over what Jeremy had sent her.
He had sent her carefully documented hours at the end of every day, and from what she could tell he had been in at 9 (or even earlier!) every day that week.
She sent an email. “I’m happy you’re taking this seriously, but I notice there are about three hours every day where you aren’t really working on anything. Why don’t you ask your coworkers for any extra work they might have, and document all that for me?”
* * *
Natasha didn’t know what had gotten in to her.
She was still going in to work late every day. No matter how hard she tried!
And what was worse, she was starting to get distracted at work. Every day, without fail, she would start to get bored with her work, and switch over to Youtube or Facebook. Sometimes she would go to Reddit.
She never used to do this during work!
She was already losing at least an hour of work time with her lateness each day, and now she was spending about half of her time in the office just goofing off and surfing the web.
She wondered if something was wrong with her?
She scheduled a meeting with a psychiatrist, and tried to do her best to delegate as many tasks as possible to her team members, since she was dropping the ball so often these days.
Natasha was most impressed with how much Jeremy was stepping up to the plate. She had started to rely on him more and more when it came to delegating tasks.
At least one thing was going well!
* * *
The psychiatrist had suggested to Natasha that she might have ADHD, once she heard of the troubles she was having.
Natasha thought that was absurd, since she had never had any troubles concentrating or anything before, but the psychiatrist said that ADHD often presented differently in women and went undiagnosed until later in life.
Natasha didn’t believe a word of it, but was willing to try anything to get back her mojo.
She picked up her first prescription at the pharmacy, and hoped for a little normalcy the next day.
Natasha was not disappointed.
The medication was like night and day. Before she had been sluggish and had had trouble getting up every morning, but now she was able to get out of bed and start the day.
She also felt calmer than she had in a week.
Everything was just clicking!
She got ready, and managed to make it into the office only 10 minutes late. And the whole day, she managed to stay on the tasks that had started to become so difficult for her.
At lunch, she decided to eat with Jeremy.
“I’m so thankful for everything you’ve been doing around here!” she said. “The last few weeks have been pretty hard, but I think I’ve found some tools to help me out, and today has been so much better.”
Jeremy nodded. “Well, I’m just glad you’ve given me this second chance.”
Natasha smiled. “Everyone deserved it. Now, I didn’t want to mention anything, but a few people have been talking about the way you dress with me.”
Jeremy cocked his head. “Oh?”
“Well, it was honestly the last thing on the list of problems I had with you, but it’s not really professional to come into work dressed so casually.”
“Is there an office dress policy I didn’t hear about?” Jeremy asked, sounding a little annoyed.
“Oh, no, no! Nothing like that. This is purely between friends. I just thought you’d like to know that if you dressed more professionally, other people besides me might be willing to overlook your past and give you a second chance.”
Jeremy nodded slowly. Then he snapped his fingers. “Thanks for the heads up!”
Natasha smiled, and they continued the pleasant lunch.
* * *
The next day, Natasha couldn’t figure out what to wear. It was like all of her sense of what to wear to the office had disappeared out of her head!
Natasha couldn’t even remember what she had put on yesterday, or the day before.
Oh, well. She picked out a cute outfit that she liked to wear on dates, and popped her adderall.
Natasha drove into the office, getting there ontime for the fourth day in a row!
The meds weren’t a silver bullet—but they made concentrating on her work so much easier. Sure, sometimes she ended up spending three hours organizing her folders, and realizing with regret how much time she wasted, but for the most part she was doing much better than she had that one particularly bad week.
She had settled into a new normal.
At least, that’s what she hoped. At the scrum of scrums, she noticed a few people giving her strange looks.
At least one less subtle person at the office seemed to have his eyes glued to her chest.
She had never gotten a reception like this at work?
Was a midriff bearing top that showed off her cleavage not appropriate for the office? Were the stockings and mini skirt too much?
At least Jeremy had seemed to take her memo seriously. He was wearing a collared shirt and tie, and looked quite professional.
* * *
The next day, Natasha tried to go in the other direction with her outfit.
She had shown a lot of skin, and that was apparently the wrong thing to do. So she decided to find her outfit that covered as much skin as possible. Maybe that would get her a better reception.
At the office, she did notice that her outfit got a lot less attention, but it seemed like she had overshot professional and gone all the way to dowdy, and ignorable. At meetings, she just seemed to shrink into the background.
Then she saw an email that made her furious.
She went to Jeremy’s desk.
“We need to talk, one-on-one,” she said.
“Okay,” Jeremy nodded.
They went to an unoccupied conference room, and closed the door behind them. She motioned for Jeremy to sit down.
Once they were seated, she pulled up the email she had received.
“Emily sent a message to me and HR, making some very serious allegations,” Natasha said.
Jeremy seemed to know what was coming, but maintained a neutral expression. “Oh?”
“Emily claims that you’re constantly asking her out, telling her sex jokes, and that at least once you’ve touched her stomach without her permission. Is any of this true?” Natasha said.
Jeremy looked down, then forced himself to make eye contact. “I—, I just thought we were flirting. I thought she liked it!”
Natasha shook her head. “Jeremy, these are very serious accusations. You’ve been doing this for a long time by the sounds of it. You’re lucky no one has reported you for this until now. This stops today. Do you understand?”
Jeremy nodded, and snapped his fingers. “Don’t worry, I’ll never sexually harass someone in the office again.”
* * *
Natasha got into the office a little late, but not by much. She had gotten less sleep then usual last night, and it was making her ADHD so much worse.
She sighed. She accepted that she must have ADHD at this point. How else to explain the way adderall seemed to get her back to where she used to be, and calm her down so much?
She had struggled again getting dressed that morning, but settled upon a white tank top that showed off the lacy black bra underneath, and some skintight jeans.
She was actually pretty pleased when people checked her out as she would walk by.
Natasha felt a sort of sexual energy she had never felt at the office before. She had always been so serious and business-like, so focused on her career. But now she couldn’t help but notice how cute all the guys she worked with were.
In meetings, she tried to drop subtle hints that she was interested in them.
For the most part, the reception seemed to be pretty warm. There are a lot of nerdy, lonely guys in the tech world, and it seemed like any amount of positive attention from a member of the opposite sex was much appreciated.
Natasha did notice a few of her underlings seemed a little uncomfortable with the new attention, especially the married ones, but she could tell they secretly liked it.
It was a few days before she actually slept with someone.
It was Dave, from legal. Natasha wasn’t usually very sexual, in fact, she had only had one partner before this, but when Dave had suggested they secret away to a supply closet and have a little fun, Natasha was all too eager to take him up on the offer.
Luckily, no one caught them.
Natasha barely noticed that the complaints that Emily had about Jeremy never got followed up on. One less problem to worry about, and she was definitely not worried about it!
* * *
End of year reviews came around.
“I’m really impressed with your progress this year,” Natasha said happily. “But you really need to take more initiative. You’ve learned the system you’re working on really well, but I’d like to see you branch out and become a domain expert on other projects.”
Jeremy sighed. “I guess I can do that.”
“Good, good,” Natasha said. “Also, I want to see you come up with a five year plan. You’re a really smart guy, but you seem kind of directionless. Have you thought about going back for your Master’s degree?”
“Do you have a Master’s degree?” Jeremy asked curiously.
“Yes, I do,” Natasha said. “Most of the people in management do. Are you looking for a mentor to get you into management? I can definitely try to help you with that, if you want.”
Jeremy snapped his fingers. Then he shook his head. “No, I’m sure I can get a degree without too much trouble.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” Natasha said. “Now, do you want to have a little fun in the break room?”
* * *
Natasha didn’t know what happened. It was like…
One day, she had all of her shit together. She knew everything about every system, sometimes more than the people working under her. She had the people skills and technical skills to connect disparate teams, get upper management all the information they needed to climb the ladder, and then suddenly-
It was like she forgot everything over night.
Projects she thought she had a handle on before now mystified her. It felt like she had no idea what was going on anywhere in the company. She worried that she might have had a stroke or something, but nothing seemed to be physically wrong with her.
The one silver lining was that Jeremy seemed to be eager for her to delegate tasks to him. And he seemed to be able to do everything she threw at him. It was incredible!
Natasha fell into a routine. She would go into the office, delegate tasks to all the people under her, and goof off on her computer all day. She had given up on trying to keep up with everything in the office. Now, she mostly just hoped nothing serious broke, and coasted on delegation.
It wasn’t the worst existence ever. She had a ready supply of sex with the various men around the office, and she had even started sleeping with some of upper management, hoping they’d at least turn a blind eye to her underperformance (and if she was lucky, maybe she’d get a promotion!)
After a few months, her boss’ boss called her into his office.
“I’m very disappointed in you, recently, Natasha,” he said seriously.
Natasha felt her cheeks redden. “Oh?”
“You came into the company with such promise, and gave us 10 good years of work, but lately more and more problems seem to keep happening, and they all seem to be connected to you.”
Natasha adjusted her top, trying to show off her cleavage more. That usually helped.
However, her boss’ boss seemed undeterred.
“Take your outfits, for example,” he said. “You used to dress so professionally, but now you’re dressed like a floozy.”
Natasha felt indignant, but said nothing. “I, uh, didn’t think there was a dress code.”
The man shook his head. “Maybe there should be. An office is a place of work, not a strip club. Or a brothel.” He laced the last word with layers of meaning.
Natasha crossed her arms. “I’ve been discrete sir. Is there anything wrong with having a little fun and helping our workers relax every once in a while?”
He raised an eyebrow. “So the rumors are true. I had been hoping the word on the street that you were now the office bicycle were wrong.”
“Well, are you going to fire me?” she asked, anxiously.
“I probably should,” he said. “But in light of your past performance for the company, and in the hope that you can show us a little bit of the old spark you had, I’m giving you a second chance!”
“Oh, thank you! Thank you, sir!” she said. “I won’t let you down.”
* * *
Natasha told Jeremy about the situation. Jeremy was one of her most reliable employees now, and she knew she could count on him to keep something like this secret.
“Wow, it sounds like they almost think there’s no use for you at the company any more,” he said.
“No, don’t say something horrible like that!” she said. “I love this company, and have its best interests at heart. I just have had trouble delivering on that desire lately.”
Jeremy nodded. “You know, that is something you still have on me,” he said.
“What is?” she asked curiously.
“I never really cared much about this company one way or the other. I only cared about myself, and losing my job,” he said.
“But that can’t be!” Natasha said. “You’re one of the best employees here.”
Jeremy smiled, and snapped his fingers. “You’re right. I think I’ll do some soul searching tonight, and try to care about the company more tomorrow.” Then he looked thoughtful for a moment, and snapped his fingers again. “And maybe I’ll try for a position in management. I feel like I’ve learned everything I need to from you.”
Natasha giggled. “Don’t come for my job, you hear? I’m still on probation trying to keep it!”
* * *
The next day, Tasha woke up, feeling extra yummy. She had had some sexy dreams.
Mmm. Was there anything better than sex?
She rolled out of bed, put on a sexy outfit, and got into the office. She didn’t even need to look at the clock to know that it was 11.
Who cared? She just wanted to get as much money, with as little work as possible.
Plus, when someone did stop by her desk, it was like they were speaking a different language! She just went cross eyed trying to read all the diagrams and numbers, and keep all the acronyms straight in her head. She mostly just nodded, and told them she’d have somebody look at it.
Tasha kept an eye out for horny underlings, and serviced them as necessary, but had given up entirely on keeping up with her emails or even formally delegating work. People knew what needed to happen—what did she care whether something got done or not?
“I love your outfit today,” Jeremy said.
Tasha giggled. “Thanks, I love how sexy it makes my boobies look.”
Jeremy smiled when she said that. “Are you talking a little differently today?”
Tasha shrugged. “I dunno. I know I felt a little funny this morning, like all the knowledge was leaking out of my head. Poof! All gone.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’re underselling yourself,” Jeremy said.
“Nuh-uh,” Tasha said, putting a finger to her mouth. “I feel like a total airhead. It’s like everything past middle school is completely gone!”
“Well, that’s a shame,” Jeremy said. “Why don’t you log in to your computer, and I can try to do your work for you?”
Tasha jumped up and down. “Would you really do that for me?”
“I would,” Jeremy nodded.
“Yay!” she said, bouncing again. Then she looked down at her chest, and bounced. “My boobies are so bouncy!”
“Yes, they are,” Jeremy said. “Why don’t you go show someone?”
Tasha ran off, and Jeremy sat down at her desk. When she came back at the end of the day, after a few rolls in the hay, she was surprised to see Jeremy still there, diligently working.
Jeremy glanced up at her.
“Hey, I’ve got some bad news,” he said.
“What’s up?” Tasha said innocently.
“Well, you got an email around lunch, saying that you’re fired. Apparently, the CEO was visiting today, and saw you fucking your boss in the break room.”
“Oh, is that who that was?” Tasha said. “He seemed super angry!”
“He was,” Jeremy nodded.
“Well, what am I going to do now?” Tasha asked, curiously.
“You’ll have to find another job,” Jeremy said. “Do you have ideas, on where you might apply?”
Tasha shook her head. “This job was super boring, but I did like fucking all the cute guys. Is there a job where I can do that all day?”
Jeremy gave a wry smile.
“Well, you could become a hooker.”
* * *
Jeremy was such a genius!
Tasha loved her new job so much. She loved prowling the streets feeling like a sexy woman, as guys pulled up to her and asked what her rates were.
Sometimes she forgot, because numbers were hard and would say something like “$5” or, “um… 10’s a pretty big number right?”, but eventually she learned to write down the amount to demand and when she would read out, “I charge one-zero-zero for fucking, and five-zero for anal,” and she was soon making good money.
Tasha had an amazing life. Why had she spent so long at that boring, stuffy job anyways!?
She wasn’t sure if she was making more or less money than before, but she knew that she was happier than she had ever been. She didn’t have to worry about anything but shopping, sucking and fucking as many guys as she could.
She smiled, and looked down at her sexy clothes and her sexy body. A man pulled up to her, and asked her her rate.
Life was good.