Thursday, March 22, 2012

Conference Call

Ashley always looks like her hair’s a little wet, like she got out of the shower in Paterson, New Jersey 15 minutes ago and somehow now she’s here, in this venerable Midtown office building distantly overlooking the East River. She wears jeans and jogging sneakers and form-fitting shirts. She had to have been a field hockey player.

She leans across the conference-room table and types a number from a printed-out email, which contains a message advising the reader to consider the environment before printing this email, into the Polycom speakerphone. Everyone is here. Everyone is watching.

“You have entered an invalid access code,” the voice intones again. This happens all the time.

“Fuck,” Ashley mutters. She checks the number and tries again.

“You have entered an—”

“Dammit. This happens all the time.”

Outside the window, sixteen floors down and across the street, Occupy Wall Street protesters are clamoring in front of the world headquarters of a very important pharmaceutical manufacturer, this agency’s biggest client. Police form a loose periphery on horseback and on foot.

“You have en—”

“Dammit, dammit, dammit,” she says, and tries again.

This time it works.