I walked into the empty office. An awkward feeling came over me, like unwrapping a Christmas present, only to find that there is absolutely nothing inside.
Bost wasn’t there, but he had meetings, and wouldn’t be in until noon, so I had expected that. Fordham wasn’t there, but he was out of town and wouldn’t be back until Thursday. Jason wasn’t there, and he was the one who was supposed to be there. I stormed into his office, and saw a note hanging on the door. It read:
I’m very sorry that I’m not present this morning. Something came up abruptly, and I will be unable to come into the office today. I will reconvene with you tomorrow morning, and we will review anything that I may have missed. I apologize for the inconvenience.
This was all a load of rubbish. I knew exactly where he was, and why he hadn’t responded, and I was pretty damn well sure that it had not come up abruptly. I tapped my phone and thought about what I would say when I inevitably reached Jason’s voicemail.
“Jason, where are you?”
“You got my note?”
“Yeah. Yes. Yes, I did. Why aren’t you here? We’re launching tomorrow, what are you thinking?”
There was that empty feeling, again, drenched in silence.
“Something came up.”
“Something did not ‘come up’, Jason.”
“I can’t make it in today.”
“You’re at your studio, aren’t you?”
I don’t like calling people out, really I don’t. But Jason’s priorities had recently become unsuitably mired and twisted.
“Yeah, yes. I mean, yeah.”
“I told you, leave your side projects for the weekend.”
A prolonged silence ascended, skillfully and quickly. Finally he just answered, in a strangely calm voice:
“Sorry, but today is really important for this project, and I’ve got to do this today.”
My throat loaded a scream, and my mind started to fill with all manner of profanity. But none of that erupted from my lips. Instead, I just paused, and said:
“Well, Jason, if you don’t drop that paintbrush right now, you’re fired.”
And he said:
And hung up.
I looked out into the empty office. Bost’s desk. Fordham’s desk. Jason’s old desk. My desk.
I sat down at my desk, and started to work. I sent emails, filed reports, analyzed data, conducted several key client calls, scheduled important meetings, and prepared for this launch. But nothing erased that gnawing feeling of emptiness.