We left off with our columnist about to meet with Sasha Cogan, a work superior and mother to her daughter’s best friend. Sara’s nervous about sharing what’s been going on with the turncoat trio of Charmaine, Burt and Steve, but isn’t sure what she wants to accomplish beyond unburdening her conscience. How will Sara manage this tangled web of connections?
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Thursday, 7:40 p.m. (continued)
The door swings open, and Sasha greets me like an old friend. I’m immediately set upon by a big, shaggy dog of indeterminate breed. “Cosmo, no jumping!” Sasha says.
I tell her it’s OK, that I have dogs, too, and don’t mind at all. I stick out a hand to shake and make my way into the house, which is not too messy, and I tell her that. I quickly take in her place; it’s a pleasing mix of antiques and mid-century modern and lots of art – big, colorful abstracts and what looks like it could be an original Lichtenstein. She gestures toward a brown leather couch. She offers a glass of wine and I accept, and it occurs to me that Sasha Cogan may be as grateful for the social contact as I am for the audience with her. She’s the CEO of a huge conglomerate, divorced and hardworking. She probably doesn’t have many opportunities to spend time with other moms.
After some small talk about the joys and aggravations of raising teen girls, she asks me, simply, “So, what’s going on?”
I start slowly at first, nervous as hell, but manage to spill out my whole story. Sasha is rapt the entire time. By the time I’m done, I realize I’m sweating. I wonder what she’s thinking. Is she worried that I’m going to sue the company? I probably shouldn’t have shown my hand this way, but I want her to know that I’m not looking to make a legal production out of this.
Finally, she says, “I am so sorry you had to go through this”. She thinks it’s ridiculous that Steve opened up an investigation against me because Charmaine spotted the online-dating site on my computer screen. “I’m a big fan of Internet dating,” she says. “In fact, my current guy-friend and I met online.”
She takes a sip of wine and smiles. “So. Sara. What can I do for you?”
I feel like I’m sitting on Santa Claus’s lap. Here’s my chance to ask for anything. Not that I’ll get it, but it won’t hurt to put in a few requests. I tell her that the investigation is bogus and I want it to end. I ask for a transfer to another division. She gives me her word that she will get me out of “what appears to be a toxic work environment” (her words) but says I’ll have to be patient because of the hiring freeze. I guess I have no choice but to wait, but that won’t stop me from keeping my eye on the classifieds.
Sasha’s front door opens, and there’s my daughter with Jessie. “Hi, girls,” Sasha calls out. “There are brownies in the microwave”. (I figure she hides food from the dogs by storing it in the microwave, just like I do.) My kid takes one look at me on the couch with my feet curled under me, glass of wine in hand, and rolls her eyes. She hisses, “What are you doing here?”
“I’ll tell you later”. I watch her and Jessie trudge up the stairs.
“Well. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
I take a deep breath and say, “There’s one more thing. I’ve heard that Steve is up for director of international operations. I know it’s not my place to say anything…”
“Go ahead, Sara. It’s as much your place as anyone’s. You’re a part of this organization. Your opinion matters to me.”
“I know that good things happen to bad people all the time, but I think it would be refreshing if, for once, a good person actually got that job.”
Sasha asks me if I had anyone in mind. I told her I thought Christina Spencer would be a good fit. She’s been working on the international team for four years. She’s smart and hardworking. Unlike Steve, she’s not a self-promoter, so most people don’t realize how wonderful she is.
Sasha grabs a pen from her coffee table and scribbles on the inside of a paperback book.
“Christina Spencer”. “Very good. Thank you.”
Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
I leave Sasha’s house feeling 20 pounds lighter. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to unburden myself to someone who is actually in a position to do something. I can’t wait to tell Loves To Cook, Doesn’t Want Kids about my conversation. I walk in the door and head straight to the computer. The dogs want to go out, but they’ll have to wait. LTC is online now? Yay! I send an instant message.
“Hey. It’s me. Want to Skype?”
There’s no response for a few minutes, which can seem like hours when you’re trying to chat online. He finally responds, and it’s not good.
Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.
Her novel, Wife Living Dangerously, is now available. Click here to read the previous installment of “Single in the suburbs”.