After increasing his body temperature with jogging and a hot shower, Quatre preferred cold coffee, and after waking up with the same headache he’d taken to bed, he needed it more than ever. Normally Darryl made some in batches large enough for three or four days so Quatre didn’t have to waste time getting it ready before work every morning, but this week, for whatever reason, he’d failed to do so. Now, on Wednesday, forced for the third day in a row to consider where he might stop for a drink that was bound to be oversugared and overpriced, Quatre was nearing the end of his patience with the negligence of his housekeeper. What exactly were they paying him for? As if Quatre hadn’t already been in a bad enough mood.
People in this city drove like idiots. Half of them didn’t seem to care whether they ever got where they were going — probably because they were none too eager to reach their meaningless jobs — and the rest were clearly on some kind of hallucinogenic stimulant. How Quatre had not been killed by one of these lunatics during the near decade he’d been driving around here, he had no idea. And having to make a minor detour on his way to the office in search of the aforementioned inevitably disappointing coffee did not exactly improve matters.
His co-workers were little better on the automotive navigation front. There was no reason for them to be anywhere near the manager spaces, but somehow it took an anomalously long time for Quatre to get parked and out of his car. He made a mental note to check people’s timestamps to see who’d ended up late because they thought it would be hugely fun to circle the lot aimlessly a dozen times before coming inside.
Over the last two days, he’d put off as many phone calls as he possibly could, and now they were all lined up in a neat list that could no longer wait. That his mood hadn’t improved despite everything he’d done irritated him, and that it was now threatening to affect the quality of his work made him downright angry, but it was only fractionally his own fault. Why was it that the very week he was in an unusually bad temper happened to be the same damn week everyone around him decided to act like a frothing moron? He shouldn’t even have to be making half these calls; somebody else should have handled them long before this, assuming they were capable of manipulating the phone and speaking basic English. What exactly were they paying anyone around here for?
This very question was what performance reviews sought to answer. Quatre was personally responsible for reviewing only the Pacific Division Site Directors, but was allowed to sit in on anyone’s review within that division — to some extent even expected to do so for those at a managerial level, at least at the two offices here in town — and could certainly give suggestions beforehand. Coming up with such suggestions would be his reward for finishing these stupid phone calls.
Why should Quatre be forced to remind the advertising department that marketing targeted at manufacturers needed to differ from marketing targeted at the general public? Didn’t they have degrees that should have told them that? And why had this snarl that had arisen in payroll when they’d changed banks made it all the way up to Quatre’s level? A few incisive conversations got it mostly sorted out, and these were conversations somebody else should have been having. Though at least he had something specific he could do during the time he spent on hold.
Performance review suggestions were a mixed reward, however, and as such didn’t really make up for the phone calls. He didn’t like writing so many unpleasant things in a row, but the staff was pushing him into it. And, yes, there was a certain satisfaction — relief, even — to venting some of his annoyance like this, but he hated the fact that people he cared about were forcing him to do things that would make them unhappy.
Even his best friend! Quatre couldn’t believe how noisy the sales team had been the last few days under Heero’s eye! He might have said Dorothy was the only member of sales that hadn’t annoyed him this week, except that her poor vacation timing was what had brought this to light. Whether job performance failings were better openly causing problems and able to be addressed, or latent with the potential to manifest at even more inconvenient moments, he could not decide — and that he could not decide annoyed him as well.
And why couldn’t he think of a singe damn criticism for Wufei Chang? Were they going to have to give that insufferable Neanderthal another raise?
Frustrated, Quatre pushed back from his desk. He had other things to do in any case, and a headache, and right now he needed a bathroom.
On the way, he passed the office of Don, the Site Director, who was talking to Joyce and looked up when Quatre passed the windows on either side of his closed door. Though it was only natural to glance out at whoever was walking by under such circumstances, that glance was also, from what Quatre could see, both a little too lengthy and broken off a little too abruptly. Quatre had long theorized that Don, dissatisfied answering to someone twenty years his junior, had his eye on Quatre’s position, and this paranoid look seemed to confirm that theory. Perhaps his performance review would turn out a little more confrontational than Quatre had expected. He almost looked forward to that.
The department he had to walk through next was always as loud as the sales floor had been lately, but at least that was normal for HR. They had a tendency never to shut any of their doors except at great need, and to carry on shouted conversations up and down the hallway; it was extremely unprofessional and, at the moment, irritating as hell. So was the type of cheerful greeting Human Resources people were always inclined to give. Some of them even expected him to stop and chat — on his way to the bathroom, for god’s sake! Quatre really needed to have one installed adjacent to his own office so as to avoid this rigmarole.
Things were much quieter as he returned, but he did catch the word ‘complaints’ more than once, undoubtedly in reference to him. It made sense that complaints were coming in, but anyone with a brain had only to look around to see the state of the company and that it made just as much sense for Quatre to be cracking down on the laxities around here. Admittedly he might not be doing this as kindly as he would have preferred, but it made equal sense that the stupidity he’d been encountering lately would perpetuate his bad mood.
Three phone calls remained. They hadn’t been grouped with the others, for various reasons, but he’d known they needed to be done. The fact that they hadn’t been on the list had formed a decent excuse to put them off until after the performance reviews… and then the performance reviews hadn’t been nearly as effective at improving his mood as he’d hoped, leaving him still in no proper state for phone calls. But they had to be made, and now was the time.
He should have seen it coming, but things kept taking him by surprise this week… the remaining calls left him so annoyed that he couldn’t see how he was going to compile the report he was supposed to spend the rest of the morning working on. Once again, though, now was the time. This was going straight to his father, and he couldn’t put it off.
His frustration was so great, however, that concentrating on this work was an effort nearly beyond him. He almost wished he hadn’t already collected all the information he needed, so that now he could just send off some authoritative emails and sit back and wait. And he couldn’t take any more Tylenol yet; he’d already significantly exceeded the recommended dose. Not that it was doing much good.
But he could control this. A bad mood, even one this long-lasting, even one accompanied by a headache of this magnitude, was not enough to cow Quatre or keep him from doing his job. It didn’t matter that the inhibition brought about by his frustration was frustrating him even more, almost to the point of tears; he could beat this. He was very good at remaining steadfast in his work, and he hadn’t developed that skill to no purpose. Even if it took him a little longer than it should, even if his language in the report was a bit curt, even if he was completely miserable by the time it was done.
At least he could go see Trowa later. That might not help at all, but looking forward to it was something. He’d been annoying Trowa over the last few days, and probably shouldn’t go see him until he was over this, but he could wrestle with that moral dilemma at 5:00. In any case, Trowa needed to be annoyed sometimes. Trowa was too passive about things; it was aggravating. If Quatre rubbed him the wrong way a bit, perhaps he could be irritated into taking initiative about something — anything — instead of merely reacting, endlessly reacting, to the people around him.
Of course, initiative at this point might serve only to call Quatre on his bad behavior. This thought brought Quatre even closer to tears than any previous, and tears would not make his head feel better, so he pushed it almost violently away. He would think about Trowa later. That could be another dubious reward. Right now he had work to do.