"Please. I'm waiting with baited breath."
She read through the list. As she heard each new category, Cassie's jaw dropped further and
further toward the floor. She got up without saying a word. The next in line came in.
This went on nonstop until five o'clock in the afternoon. As the word spread, fewer and
fewer people chose to put up a fight. In— out. Mandy was afraid to leave her office. Lord only
knows what was being plotted. Finally she stuck her head out and saw that there was still a line
outside both Gary and Violet's offices. She called out.
"Next!" A person she didn't recognize came over.
"What's your name?" "Olivia Schradley."
Mandy ran her finger down the list to find her name.
"Olivia, you have been rated You are not fired today, but beware tomorrow. That's a twopercent raise. Thank you. Send in the next person."
"Richard Bobolo."
"Richard, you have been rated You're fired. Please pack your things and go. "
"Fired! You're firing me?"
"Yes. Please pack your things and go. You will not be getting a raise. Please send in the next
person in line."
"Why am I fired while Fred over there gets to stay? He's no better than me."
"Well, if memory serves me right, if you didn't sit around all day playing solitaire on the
computer you might have been given a better rating. So solitaire was the deciding factor.
Remember that at your next job. Please go pack your things."
"I guess I can't argue with that. I didn't think anyone could see me." As he left the office he
yelled out, "Guess what, I'm fired! You won't have me to kick around anymore." Cheers and
applause rang out from a far corner of the floor
"Uh oh," Mandy thought, "they're all together and out of sight. Something's up."
Finally someone told her that there were no more people in line. She breathed a huge sigh
of relief. She found Gary and Violet collapsed in their chairs.
"I'm exhausted," moaned Gary.
"That was the most horrible thing I have ever had to do in my life," whispered Violet, her
voice barely audible.
"Let's shoo everyone out of here and then go have a drink. We earned it today."
"Great idea. I'm in," said Gary as he attempted to pry himself out of his chair
Mandy found her work areas empty. Violet and Gary found the same. They did not have a
good feeling about tomorrow but were too exhausted—not to mention mentally drained—to
worry about it.
They waited patiently for the elevator, and when it came, who was in it but none other than
the infamous Dimple Vanderdoober.
"Well, if it isn't my three musketeers!"
They gave a halfhearted "Hi, Dimple." "How was your day today?"
Mandy forced a big smile and replied, "Just fine, Dimple. How was yours?"
"Glad to hear everything went well. I am beginning to think that maybe Big Top is not in as
bad a shape as I originally thought. The three of you seemed to handle your first task with ease."
As the doors of the elevator opened in the lobby, she said, "Good Night!"
They couldn't get to the bar fast enough. They barely spoke, other than to say, "Bring us
another round." Their brief spurts of conversation were limited to the events of the day.
"Mary Mooney started to cry so hard when I told her she was fired that she used up all my
tissues. Everybody that came in afterwards had to wipe their nose with their hands. It was
gross." Violet got some hand sanitizer out of her purse and offered it to the others.
They gulped down the drinks in front of them.
"Somebody got so nervous while waiting in line, they started to fart. Talk about gross. I got
a whiff every time the door opened." Gary pinched his nose shut as he waved down the waitress.
They each gulped down another drink.
Gary and Mandy knew that they had said "Another round" one too many times after they
spotted Violet dancing on the bar. She had said she was going to the bathroom. They both
started to wonder where she was, and then Gary caught a glimpse of her from the corner of his
"Mandy, look." He pointed to the far side of the room. "She's cut off. This happens every
time she gets a couple drinks in her. She starts looking for someone to take home with her. And
she's a real lightweight when it comes to drinking too."
"You've seen her do this before?"
"Sure. You would never know it by the way she handles herself at work most of the time.
One thing about Violet, she loves her drinks and her sex—in that order. I'll go retrieve her. I can
drive her home."
Gary grabbed her ankle and she stopped dancing. "Come on, honey, let's go home."
"You are exactly what I've been waiting for." Violet hopped down from the bar before she
realized that it was Gary. "Oh, it's you." She was disappointed. "I was looking for a real stud.
You're married."
"Just because I'm married, you think I'm not a stud? I'm insulted, Violet."
"Well, don't be. You're not my type no matter how I look at it." "You've had enough. I'm
going to drive you home and put you to bed."
"Oooooohhhhh, are you? Now I really am getting excited."
"Violet, I'm recording every word so I can play it back at work tomorrow. So be careful
what you say."
With that, she quietly followed the two of them out of the bar. She got into Gary's car and
not a peep was heard from her the entire way home.
The next morning a bleary-eyed Mandy drove into the parking lot of Big Top Supplies. It
wasn't its usual empty self. The place was teeming with people carrying placards and wearing
sandwich boards. "Big Top Sucks!" read one.
"Big Top took the Candied Apple right out of my mouth . . . and my children's too!" read
"Twelve long years and I'm fired." That must be Richard Bobolo.
"Oh God, here we go." As Mandy got out of the car, she could hear the chant, "Big Top
Sucks. Big Top Sucks," over and over again. She made her way through the picket lines and into
the lobby, only to find it filled with managers gawking at the spectacle outside.
"What are you all staring at? Don't you have a job to do?" Her head was pounding.
"Relax—we're locked out of the building. We're waiting for security."
"Where are they?"
"They're locked inside the building. All the badge readers have been disconnected."
About thirty managers were trapped in the tiny lobby, with more entering each minute. It
was getting hot and stuffy, and the constant chant of "Big Top Sucks" was making her head
pound even more furiously.
Finally Ronnie appeared from the other side of the glass doors with a key. As he opened the
door, he said, "You're not going to like what you find in here. Enter at your own risk."
The crowd stormed the door to escape the stifling lobby. Mandy hung back to avoid the
pushing and shoving that was jostling her brain. As she walked down the hall to the elevator she
felt that something seemed different. But what? She walked past the cubes and into her office.
She couldn't get over the sensation that something had changed. She had expected to find
carpets slashed and computers strewn about. That hadn't happened. As she entered her office
and stood by her desk, it hit her. The walls were white. No more green the color of money. She
stuck her head out the door, and saw others doing the same. Not a speck of any color other than
white could be seen anywhere. She ran over to her old office. No more pink.
"Gary, are your lions gone?"