The Phone List
Turnover has always been a problem in the office.
I’ve been here a little over a year now, and in that time there’s been almost a complete staff revolution. A few old-timers are still around - the general manager, the supervisor, I think a couple girls in HR - but the people on the floor don’t last long. I don’t know what their deal is. Maybe it’s stress; we have to deal with a lot of customers in high-tension situations, and the pressure can get to you. Or maybe people just find something better and move on.
Here’s what I do know, though: The phone list is cursed.
I mean, I don’t think it’s actually cursed. I don’t think someone sat down with some candles and did an incantation or anything. I just mean, there’s this weird coincidence I’ve noticed: Every time the company updates its internal directory, someone else quits.
We have a bank of offices, and of course each employee has their own phone and extension. They keep a list of all the extensions, so we can easily make calls from one to the next - I guess they don’t want us leaving our area to go make smalltalk if we need something - and obviously it makes sense that when somebody leaves that list should get updated.
But I swear, it seems like every time they update that list to reflect a new hire or someone quitting, another person quits within a week.
That’s another odd thing about this company, actually. When people leave, they just sort of vanish. You never see them cleaning out their desks, or hear them whispering plans to leave; there’s not much gossip in the break room.
And when people leave, it’s like they were never here. You might see the manager emptying out their desk, but no one ever talks about the people who have left. I guess management is trying to overlook the turnover - maybe they think we’ll stage an insurrection or something if we get to talking about how bad retention rates are - but the whole thing just feels weird.
Anyway, I didn’t think too much of it for a long while. Businesses have turnover. No big deal, right?
And besides - the job itself is pretty sweet. Dealing with customers is pretty stressful, but the pay is decent, the benefits are nice, and the management is usually pretty good at staying out of my hair. I barely talk to my supervisor anymore, to be honest. I see her walk by with the general manager sometimes, disappearing off into an office to talk about finances or whatever, and I’ll wave - but that’s about it. Normal office stuff. We have potlucks all the time, and they feed us really well. I’ve put on a few pounds this year, from all the shared meals. Even the supervisor has plumped up a bit since I got here.
So, it’s got its perks. And if people can’t cut it, I guess that’s their problem.
But once I started making friends in the company, the whole turnover thing got a little more awkward. This one guy, Jake, friended me on Facebook; we used to banter back and forth and share memes. Nothing big, but fun. Then one day he quit work and I guess unfriended me - I couldn’t find his profile anywhere after that. Not a word. That stung a little.
And Tracy, who had my phone number. We’d text sometimes, meet up for drinks - but when she left the company, she just stopped answering me. It was weird. I felt like some kind of pariah for staying at work here.
But the worst one by far was Abby, who I really considered to be a friend. We had known each other outside of work before she even got hired here. In fact, she was the one who referred me to the job, after running into me at a high school reunion and hearing I needed work. We weren’t best buds or anything, but we did meet up outside of work on a pretty regular basis to let our kids play and catch up on gossip.
And then one day she quit, without warning, and I haven’t heard from her since. I’m honestly not sure whether to be worried or pissed. If there’s something she found out about this job - some reason to leave - she’d damn well better tell me and not be a coward about it. And if she just left for some dumb reason, why would she be so reluctant to answer my phone calls? I even swung by her house yesterday; her car was in the driveway. She must have been avoiding me. How much of a wimp can you be?
Well, anyway. That’s what’s running through my head today. There’s a potluck this afternoon, but I’m too irritated to look forward to it; the idea is honestly turning my stomach a bit. And I couldn’t help but notice the supervisor as she waddled past - god she has gotten fat - and think maybe I should have a salad today or something.
But here’s the thing that’s really getting to me right now. I just got the new phone list, the one updated to remove Abby’s number – and I noticed that my name is missing, too.
A shape moves outside my office door - a big, hulking shadow, a bloated silhouette - and I feel the oddest stab of fear.
Why is the supervisor coming to get me now? The potluck isn’t for a few more hours…