The office where Abigail will be working is in Chamblee, but for her initial orientation phase, she’s stationed at the main office at Fox Tower downtown. She’s scheduled to be there for several weeks, until all her paperwork goes through and she gets her credentials. There, she takes all the required coursework, ethics training, time charging, security awareness, and other topics, all designed to insure she’s acknowledged every rule and regulation and can begin her employment well informed.
Since she’s still relatively new to town, it’s also recommended she sit in on the orientation which tells Atlanta newcomers how to navigate the city. They distribute a list of essential places of interest for new hires to check out. Leah has already supplied her with an identical list, which she called all the generic tourist spots which show up in every guide to the city and which should mostly be avoided.
Her first day on the job, Abigail learned of the odd reputation of the company’s president, who everyone refers to as Mr. Bickering. It is said that those who address him otherwise run the risk of being “busted back to a banana” which is a common threat of his, with no explanation as to what that means. When she came to process in, while waiting for her supervisor to usher her into the restricted areas, Abigail noted an older gentleman seated in the lobby, hanging out. When she made eye contact with him, he gave her a friendly smile and nodded, with a pleasant, “Good morning.”
Her supervisor informed her that this is Mr. Bickering, who frequently spends time in the lobby watching people come and go, until he’s needed upstairs and someone goes to fetch him. Once she knows who he is, Abigail sees him rather frequently, wandering around the floors, seemingly deep in thought. Sometimes, over the intercom, she’ll hear an announcement, “If anyone knows the whereabouts of Mr. Bickering, please call the front office.”
This afternoon, Genevieve is picking up Abigail and taking her home, so Genevieve can visit Alyssa, Tim, and the new baby. Abigail is expecting Genevieve around five, and she plans to be in the lobby in time to intercept her to limit the time Genevieve spends at Bickering.
Around four-fifteen, her phone rings.
“Abigail Worthy, you have a visitor in the lobby.”
“A young woman who says she’s your cousin.”
“Genevieve? She’s not supposed to be here yet.”
Abigail hangs up and starts hastily wrapping up her work, which takes her about twenty minutes. Finally, she gathers her belongings, then hurries to the lobby to find Genevieve is sitting with Mr. Bickering. They appear to be having a lively conversation.
“When I was your age, I was working at Six Flags,” Mr. Bickering is saying as Abigail walks up. “I worked Rides.”
“That must have been fun,” Genevieve says.
“No, not really. I didn’t get along with anyone on the crew. They never let me operate the rides, just cleanup.” He notices Abigail. “Oh, hello, you must be Abby.”
He rises and offers his hand.
“Yes. Mr. Bickering. I am.”
“Nice to put a name with a face.” He indicates Genevieve. “I’ve been having a lovely chat with your cousin.”
“I see that. What are you talking about?”
“Mr. Bickering was telling me about some of the places he’s worked.”
“Oh yes,” he says. “Mostly my employment history is dull and boring — various family endeavors — but once, I struck out on my own and worked at Six Flags.”
“Interesting,” Abigail says.
“I was so surprised when Genevieve walked in. I haven’t seen her since she gave that remarkable speech at her school in Seattle.”
“You remember that?” Abigail asks.
“Oh, indeed. It was one of the best student presentations I’ve heard.”
“I’ve never understood why you liked it so much,” Genevieve says. “I really trashed your company. All your handlers were totally pissed off.”
“Young lady, nothing you said in that essay was untrue. Your talk was well-researched, well-prepared, well-written, and very well delivered. It took a lot of courage to stand on that stage and give that speech especially with me sitting right behind you. I hear a lot of student speeches that sound like they were written with faculty advisers reading over their shoulders, but you spoke your mind, and I was very impressed.”
“Thanks,” Genevieve says. She looks at Abigail. “Would you mind taking a picture of us, Abby?” She looks back to Mr. Bickering. “I’d sort of like to make up for the one I took at school.”
“Sure,” Abigail says and takes out her phone.
Genevieve and Mr. Bickering pose with their arms around one another and with big smiles.
“Please send me a copy as well,” Mr. Bickering says.
“I will, just as soon as I’m set up on email,” Abigail replies.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I believe I’m supposed to be in a meeting now.”
He starts to leave, then turns back. “Why don’t you drop in sometime next week, Genevieve. I’ll give you a tour of the office.” He leans in and says in a loud whisper, “I’ll tell them you’re my niece, that way they’ll fawn all over you.”
“I’d like that,” Genevieve says.
Genevieve and Abigail watch as he boards the elevator.
“How can such a sweet man oversee such a rotten company?”
“Seriously, Genni, a lot of what Bickering does is very beneficial.”
“Yeah, that’s what L.J. says. A lot of it isn’t.”
“We’re not going to get into that now,” Abigail says, “Even though you’re early, I’m ready.”
She and Genevieve head out to the parking lot.