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Ofis Space November 15, 2007
No Soul, No Vote
By Nancy Deal Browse author
Page 2 of 3

Number two: "Hide the foreigner"

It's a big day. Kolya has been forced to come into work on time. This means one of the big-wigs is coming into the office. I happen to learn that today's big-wig is the one who chairs the committee I've been assigned to. I've been assigned to this committee because I speak English, the language of the very important people who sit on this committee.

Suddenly we are holding a very important meeting on how the events of the day are going to go down. "Natasha, Mr. Important is coming in thirty minutes. Please get all of the committee papers ready for him. Nancy has them all in order."

"Actually, Kolya," I began, "I thought I would be taking care of Mr. Important's papers."

"Oh of course, Nancy, you'll still be the one doing most of the work, only this time Mr. Important is actually coming here, into the office, and I think it might be best if ... you... I have something else for you to do. Let's get to the next issue first."

Natasha looked at me with infinite pity.

"OK," Kolya continued. "Next. Mr. Important has asked Nancy to print out this list of articles, bind them, and deliver them to the CEO. Yulia, please take care of that."

Yulia??? Yulia the phone-answerer is getting sent to do what Mr. Important specifically asked me to do?

"And uhh... Nancy. Right... I need you.... to... Yulia, where is that pile of papers for the shredder? Right, behind the desk. OK Nancy, I need to you tackle that pile of papers. It's very important."

I was familiar with this pile. It was a 3-month pile, 3 feet high and 5 feet long... this was going to take me two days in the little closet with the industrial shredder. My heart sank.

Kolya looked at his watch and gasped.

"Nancy, let's get a move on. Just go to the shredder room. I'll have a janitor bring you the paper. Bring your phone with you. I'll SMS you when you can come out,--I mean, when it's time to go."

The know-it-all xenophobe was right: I'll never be Russian. I just never thought it would be holding back my so-called career to this extent. I don't wear mesh see-through tops, I don't douse myself in flammable fragrances, and I have an accent when I speak Russian. Apparently, I am completely unpresentable.

Number Three: We know best

My birthday was coming up, and I wasn't saying anything about it. I had chipped in tons of cash for other peoples' birthdays and I was looking forward to receiving the same treatment. I began receiving emails "What would you like for your birthday? Is there a certain kind of perfume you like?" I would reply with something like "Oh how sweet! Thanks for asking. Surprise me! (but no perfume, please, it irritates my skin!)"

Then Natasha came in and closed the door, before sidling up right next to me and whispering in my ear: "Nancy! Your birthday is coming up! It's so exciting!"

"Yeah, I guess."

"What do you want for your birthday? Maybe some perfume?"

"Aw, no perfume, thanks. It makes me sneezy and itchy."

"Well, you think about it and let me know, OK?"

When Natasha left the room, Kolya came in and closed the door. He sat on my desk and looked at me intently.

"Nancy, the very important business of your birthday is next week. We want to get you a present you like. What do you want? Perhaps a bottle of elite perfume?"

"Well, I'm allergic to perfume. But I'm sure anything you get will be just great."

The next week, they all lined up in front of my desk, beaming.

"CONGRATULATIONS WITH THE BIRTHDAY, NANCY!" Natasha thrust a gift bag at me. I reached in and said 'Aww, thank you, guys. You shouldn't have!" as I pulled out... a bottle of perfume. "I'll try it a little later," I smiled. I quietly slid my present into the drawer with the two other bottles from my last two birthdays. There's always next year.

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