Short Story | Corporate Culture

Sitting at the park, eating her veggie pita, Io Tillett White is on her lunch break. A city full of office buildings, all working on the same eight-hour time frame; everyone is on their lunch break. Io Tillett sat there looking at all the people in their suits, pantsuits, work dresses, everyone was so synchronized and so she smiled.

She was wearing dark gray dress pants and a lighter gray blazer, her legs were crossed and her pinkies were up. Io Tillett had an ashy brown pixie cut with wavy hair, the sides were a little shorter than most but she liked it like that. She was thin and had perfect posture.

Walking back to her corporation’s office building, Io Tillett looked up, she liked how tall everything was, with their little rectangle windows. The other workers that decided to go out on their lunch break were also walking back around the same time as Io Tillett. When she looked back behind her, she saw all the people, they seemed happy.

In the office buildings, all the workers click and type away on their computers in their cubicles, just like bees in a hive. Io Tillett works in a corner cubicle, she had a name tag near the opening with her name on it and the cat calendar the company gave her.

Io Tillett is a corporate worker but is single and has no children. Recently her job assigned her to find a mate and so they put a blind date on her calendar. A date with someone whom they think will create the “ideal” child.

It was around 3 p.m. when she started driving home, same as every other day. Io Tillett stopped at a gas station and there were four people in line. They all seemed to be buying the same thing: Marlboro’s latest line of flavored cigarettes. “We must’ve all seen the same billboard,” she whispered to herself while smirking.

After she got home from work and the gas station, Io Tillett started getting ready for her blind date. A 15-minute shower, a button-down black dress, some mascara and eyeshadow and she was ready to head out.

The date was set at a semi-formal restaurant, dimly lit with dark red walls. When she approached the table, her date stood up as she sat down. He was tall with broad shoulders, a short haircut, dark brown hair and eyes. “Hello, my name is Ethan Cunningham,” he said as he gestured for the waiter.

“Hi,” she smiled, “my name is Io Tillett White. My friends call me I.T., well, they would if I had any friends,” Io Tillett laughed at her own joke, she does that a lot. Though Ethan only made a half-smile.

“Hello, my name is Travis, I’ll be your waiter this evening. Do you know what you’ll be ordering yet, sir?”

“Yes, I would like two steaks, medium rare, and a bottle of red wine,” Ethan with his practised-in-the-mirror smile.

“I’m sorry,” Io Tillett looked up from the menu and tried to sound as polite as she could, “but can I have a cheeseburger with extra french fries?” Both Ethan and the waiter looked a little puzzled. Ethan brushed it off as the waiter left to get their food.

“Yeah, I figured, why not have a little fun?” It’s obvious now that Io Tillett has a hard time talking without smiling. “What do you like to do for fun?”

Ethan Cunningham made the same face to almost everything Io Tillett said, blank but with a hint of confusion and an uncomfortable half-smile. “I do just about the same as everyone else, I work, I watch television.”

“Don’t you do anything fun though? Like paint, write, maybe play guitar, or bake goodies?” Before she ended her question, he was already shaking his head no.

As he broke eye contact, Ethan saw the waiter. “Oh, here comes the food,” he thanked the waiter and began carving into his steak.

Unlike most, Io Tillett has been on a number of these awful blind dates and she had thought that that was probably the most boring one yet. “Why’re all these people so boring? Why do they act as if I’m the odd one out,” she contemplated on this all night. Retrospectively, the same questions echoed over and over in her head until she fell asleep.

Because she hadn’t slept well that night, the next day she couldn’t focus on her job. Instead, she focused on the people. She saw them all typing, just sitting there typing for hours on end. Then at lunch, everyone either ate a PB and J in the park or whatever they were selling in the cafeteria. All these people were on the same eight-hour time frame day after day.

It seemed Io Tillett stopped doing her work altogether, she watched the people she worked with for probably weeks before she thought, “hey, I should go on a trip. Maybe if I out somewhere, I’ll get the excitement back in my life.”

It was the first time she hadn’t gone to work, everything seemed off. She drove to the airport and got a ticket for the first place she saw. Io Tillett slept on the plane and when she landed, she got off, everything looked the same. All the people, the buildings. The only thing different was the time of day. She did this again, to another place, and then another, everything was the same, “Am I the only one who sees this?” She asked herself this as she was on her way home.

When she got home, Io Tillett didn’t see the point in going to work. Her company probably hasn’t even noticed she’s gone, she thought. What she did do though, was go to the corporate cafe every day. Watching the people for days, weeks, months, she didn’t know what else to do. Time blurred together until one day, that day Io Tillett saw something she’d never seen before. It went across the sky and was made up of seven colors, the first rainbow she’d ever seen. And she left.