Innocent or guilty?

I’ve been in the UK the last three weeks and away from blogging, but not from thinking and observation. I’ve had a full three weeks of making memories and return anxious to write. However it always takes time so I’m now posting his little extract which I wrote before we left. It has no conclusion; instead I invite my readers to offer their own interpretation.

The year is 2000, a time when computer software had made large inroads into the preparation of business documents. The once busy personal secretary who was responsible for the typing of all letters, meeting notes, contracts, and other documents is now reduced to fielding telephone calls, filing, mailing, and scheduling. Many of the most sophisticated software programs associated with graphics are in their infancy. This explains how a 50+-year-old company president knows what he wants a document to look like but is unable to produce it without help.

Bella has a good eye for graphics, and at 21 has already mastered a graphics program. Hence she gravitates into the marketing department where she quickly assumes responsibility for the graphics developed therein. Bella also has a good eye for Bella. Not only is she young, she is very attractive, and has a perfect figure. She wears provocative clothing outside normally accepted business wear; skirts so short that some might mistake them for belts and tops so low cut that her seductive cleavage is well displayed. Early each day a description of her garb passes among the young bucks of the office. During the course of the morning each nonchalantly finds an excuse to pass by her office to verify what they have heard. Bella keeps her office dark,. She says that it is, “To afford better screen contrast.” But it has the effect of further enhancing her mystique.

One of the company president’s main responsibilities is to respond to RFPs (Requests for Proposals). Winning new work is integral to the success of the office and the president trust no one but himself  to undertake this important task. His lack of computer skills means that he relies on Bella for the graphics. He takes to sitting next to her in her darkened room beside her bare legs and chest so that he can direct her work on the computer. The young bucks parade by; many, no doubt, fervently wishing that they were able to occupy that chair next to Bella. The work on the RFP responses extends far into the night. The office staff leaves for home glancing in the direction of Bella’s office where she and her companion sit riveted to the computer monitor.

Occasionally the president’s wife drops in. She is a good looking woman who suffers from periodic bouts of dehydration due to lapses in her alcoholism.  She lets it be known that she owns the president and should anything happen she would take everything.  She warns that divorce would ruin him. Bella smiles behind her back for Bella does not appear to be motivated by money; from her demeanor all deduce that sex is her thing. The general office staff heed the wife’s warning and deduce that she, like them, wonders about what goes on after hours in that darkened office.

Rumors are always rampant in a large office. In this office their main focus is on Bella and her companion.  No one has ever seen anything apart from what is described above, all suspect more, no one is sure. Once Bella and the president had an argument and Bella was heard shouting obscenities as she, barefoot, raced out of the darkened office. He didn’t follow. She disappeared into the bathroom. She reemerged smelling strongly of perfume and went back to her usual spot. No one in the office witnessed a reconsolidation but all noticed that everything merely returned to “normal” and they worked late that evening.

6 thoughts on “Innocent or guilty?

  1. Oh my! Apart from office attractions there is the political side where people are walking over each other to rise to the top. Computers for me started back in the late 1980’s and it certainly did alter the way the secretary worked. I found it easier to type my own memos and letters and handle spreadsheets as email emerged and the secretary moved up to personal assistant with delegated authority to handle some of the work traditionally done by the boss. Computers did away with the need for shorthand and that cosy relationship you described. However I do know some bosses were not able to transition to computers and were eventually phased out because they couldn’t handle skills necessary for modern management. Much of my years were in international travel where the laptop was much heavier in those days but very useful for communication so it was necessary for the secretary at head office to take more responsibility at a higher level. My son in law works for Oracle. He works from home in CA, his secretary is in Texas and he manages a work cell in Bangalore India. That’s modern business for you. No dark room to tempt you there. 🙂

    • I agree that it is amazing how the computer has continued to redefine the “office”. We watch as telecommuting becomes the norm. This trend reduces traffic but, even when enhanced by video conferencing, can’t replace the magic of face-to-face interaction, although I grant you that it must reduce the type of interaction which I attribute to Bella and her boss.

  2. Which is precisely why I hated my short acquaintance with office working. The political and sexual tensions invariably color relationships to some degree, and often poison the waters so badly the whole company gets dragged under. There’s always a Bella, isn’t there? And there’s always something swimming that is a little bigger than the hook. A very well-observed analysis of a common situation: innocence or guilt? I don’t know. Human nature in the thinly-disguised raw, I think.

    • I agree about the poison which distracts everyone and drags them all down and you are so right about the times that human nature gets too exposed. I spent about thirty years in office environments; although .there were times when the crucible became nasty there were others when the comradery and sense of team hummed and produced great things. Those were the times when there were only innocents and no wolves!

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