He glanced down at his clock on the dash of his beloved old pickup as he rolled into the parking lot. Hurriedly he slammed it into park; 8:45, forty-five minutes late. It had become a theme that month, but he didn’t have time to think about that or he’d miss the 9am meeting. Coffee, coat, keys and he was ready to go.
The door swung open in his face as it startled him enough to splash hot coffee on himself. Great, just what he needed. He quickly brushed it away as best he could while he propped the door open with his elbow. As he walked in, Sally greeted him with a cheerful “good morning! How are you today!?” He nodded and responded but he couldn’t stop walking. She enjoyed talking too much and it would most definitely make him miss the meeting.
Finally he made it to his desk as he lifted his coffee stained sleeve and pulled the cuff back; 8:57, three minutes to go. There was no time to do anything other than grab his notebook, pen and find the conference room. He knew what it was going to look like, but there was nothing he could do about it now.
“Good morning, Tom. Would you like some coff…” his boss, Dave said as he entered the room. He stopped mid sentence as he lifted the coffee mug from the center of the table. He laughed. “Nevermind, it looks like you already found some.” Everyone laughed as Tom shrugged his shoulders and once again swiped his hand over the black coffee stains hoping to somehow make them disappear. He wished he had the energy to laugh too, but instead he opened his notebook and sat down.
An hour later the meeting was adjourned and as Tom decided to exit the room last Dave stopped him and asked him to stay behind. He closed the door and pulled up a chair next to Tom. Tom instantly became nervous; he knew showing up late was going to catch up with him. He braced for impact as he nervously uncuffed his shirt and rolled his sleeve up, hoping to somehow cover the stains and seem more professional.
“Tom, how are you doing?” Dave empathetically asked. “I’ve noticed recently you’ve been in your office with the door closed more frequently.”
“Yeah, just a lot going on outside of work so I need to use my time here wisely and most times that means closing my door.” Tom quickly responded. He hoped the conversation would be over as he glanced down at his watch.
“Oh, that makes sense. How are you doing?” Dave asked again.
“What do you mean? I’m fine.” Tom defensively replied.
“How are you doing?” Dave asked one last time.
Tom sat quietly as he picked his nails. He wasn’t ok. His wife had been diagnosed with cancer a month earlier and he didn’t know how to handle it. She needed to stay in bed after the treatments so he dropped the kids off and picked them up everyday and he wasn’t used to the routine yet. He wasn’t ready for this new life, but Dave didn’t need to know any of that.
Dave interrupted his thoughts. “Tom, whatever it is, we come second. Whatever you need, just let me know. We will make it work.”