Greta pedaled her pink bicycle with the white banana seat and white
wicker basket past the water cooler, down the carpeted hallway, into
the personnel department. The pink plastic streamers streamed from
the pink plastic handles as she zig-zagged through the narrow aisle
between the rows of cubicles.
It was difficult for Greta. She was forty-two years old and her knees
were bruised from bumping the handlebars. It was difficult to build
up any speed with the secretaries and clerks getting in her way and
all the shouting. A red-faced man holding a Styrofoam cup, whose white
shirt was stained with steaming coffee, grabbed the handlebars and
tried to detain her. She bit his knuckles, kicked his shin and raced
back down the hallway to the elevator to continue her search.
Greta discovered that if she pointed her knees out to the sides she
didnt bump them and could go much faster. Of course, it caused
her skirt to spread and ride up her thighs, so anyone who wanted to
could see between her legs. Oh la dee da, she thought. So be it. She
rolled into the elevator and pressed the button for the third floor.
The third floor was nothing but cubicles. There were cubicles, cubicles,
cubicles as far as the eye could see. Gray fabric cubicles on a gray
carpeted floor. She rode past a cubicle full of squealing rats and
one that contained a pile of bones with thousands of flies hovering
above it. One cubicle was entirely glass and filled with beautiful
tropical fish, but most of them were ordinary gray fabric cubicles
containing sneering, elderly hunchbacks with gnarled, misshapen hands
typing at computer keyboards.
Far down the end of the aisle three social workers in white uniforms
were arguing with an ancient middle manager who refused to put on
his clothing or go back into his office. Greta pedaled as fast as
she could to get down there. Two of the social workers were middle-aged
women. One of them was tall and gaunt, the other of medium height
and fat. The male social worker, a plump, jowly, balding fellow with
wire-framed glasses, was threatening to get rough with the old man.
He stood with his hands on his hips speaking in a stern voice.
"Don't force me to do something well both regret,"
"I want to go fishing," the old man sobbed. "I want
to go in the rowboat." He stamped his foot and his dangling,
old genitals jiggled.
Greta hit the brakes hard and skidded out leaving a black rubber streak
on the gray carpet. She lifted the lid of her basket, reached in and
flung a handful of lollipops down the hall. The social workers ran
for the lollies. The tall, thin one grabbed up most of them and ran
leaving the two fatties to fight over the one she left behind. They
wrestled on the floor. The woman had the lolly held tight in her fist
and the jowly man was trying to peel her fingers back. She scratched
his cheek with her free hand and bit the top of his bald head.
Greta took her father by the hand.
"Hurry, Daddy," she said. "Let_s get out of here!"
The old man straddled the seat behind her. Greta pedaled them away
to the elevators. They rode down to the first floor, raced past the
receptionist and out into the sunshine. Greta looked over her shoulder.
The lake, Daddy," she said. We are going to the lake."