“It’s strange knowing your ship has come home. After all the work and hardship, the sacrifice, everything, you relax, you can breathe. The world is at your feet. I hope that one day you’ll feel that way too.”
I sat across the old man listening to his spiel about how he’d been poor and desperate and how, through hard work and sacrifice he’d pulled himself up by the bootstraps. I tried hard not to roll my eyes nor to avert his gaze. He’d conveniently forgotten to mention something we all knew to be true, that someone had given him a chance and opened the doors of opportunity for him to strut through.
Anger rose and my cheeks flushed. I gritted my teeth and swallowed back the ire about to burst through my clenched fist. The arrogant bastard was laying me off (“the company’s downsizing, the economy” blah, blah, blah), after six years of working for him…
I took a deep breath to keep the almighty fury at bay and Dirk, always misinterpreting, thought his self-aggrandizement bored me.
“Well, I suppose you’ve heard this story before,” he said, oozing snark. He turned grave and shuffled papers on his desk.
“I have,” I said, my voice strong despite the oncoming tears of rage, “and I know it’s bullshit.”
Dirk opened his eyes wide, I held his gaze and continued,
“Everyone knows Mortimer took you under his wing and made you who you are. It was his generosity that helped you up, not your hard work.
“You’ve shown me you care nothing about hard work, but about what others can do for you. My Ivy League scholarship-funded education means nothing to you because my daddy isn’t a Fortune 500 CEO. He was a plumber, and a damn good one. My consistent quality performance is useless because I don’t have uncles in the government.
“But who do you think you are? I know you’re just like me! Your father was a house painter and now you dare look down on us, the common people like yourself, who’ve studied hard for an education and who come here every day and put up with your shit because we are pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps with no help from you. You’ve shut the door on us because you know we’re better than you!”
The old man huffed and a devious smirk crawled across his face. He opened his mouth to speak, but I interrupted him,
“I know why you’ve called me in here, don’t think I’m surprised, but next time, don’t waste your breath on that bullshit story.”
“Fired,” he hissed through gritted teeth.
I walked out of his office, out of the building and into the warm sunlight. He was right, though my ship hasn’t come in, I know what he meant about being able to breathe.