“Mr. Black, excuse me?”
I snap out of my trance for a moment to watch the lawyer slide the final documents across the table towards me with hesitant, wary eyes. Maybe it’s due to the fact that my knuckles are white from how hard I’m gripping the table, and that my eyes are burning a hole in the wall.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be finished in just a minute. Just sign here and the deal is closed.”
I grab the sheets from his hand, only halfway across the wide mahogany table and snatch up my Staedtler to sign away the stocks. With a huff, pen meets paper and I race to form that familiar “C”.
I don’t even know why I put so much of myself into the company, into keeping Damien happy. I feel so stupid, so played! For the last 7 years I’ve worked for this man as the head legal advisor, going to endless corporate meetings and spending too many late nights at the office to count.
Whenever I asked for time off, he came up with some way to deny it to me. “Come on buddy, we’ve almost finished the contract that will increase this quarter by 10%” or “Everyone else is coming to retreat this weekend and you’re in upper management – how would it look if you didn’t make it?” All that time he sucked away I can never get back.
My wife and I can’t get it back. My kids and I can’t get it back. I’ve missed so many open houses and recitals and games. Never once have I volunteered for a field trip. Often I’m lucky if I see Susie and Jacob before they go to bed on weeknights.
Speeding through my first name, I feel the paper rip a little beneath my hands.
He just used me, disguising my hours and hours of overtime by constantly reminding me of my “important” position, or even that it was just “us hanging out.” I think I must just be getting too important for him, and now my threat outweighs my value.
Why else would he want to replace me after all that I’d done, have some “Patrick Greyson” take over?
I knew something was off when I saw an unfamiliar face sitting intently in Damien’s office during our meeting time. Waiting outside the door for the visitor to leave, I watched the young man enthusiastically give Damien a handshake before heading to the door.
On his way out, I asked him who he was.
“Hi, I’m Patrick, the new legal advisor.”
I handed the papers, signed, back to the lawyer. It was done.