A Strong Girl
by Ghost Writer
Keyboards were being banged and the phones were ringing. A year ago, Lucy would have been with the men on the phones, analyzing the various markets of the world. As a company with national reach, they had business throughout America and being on top of the market was of vital importance to the company.
Nowadays, Lucy could do nothing but continued her typing. When the Sun Horizon Group took over, most of the girls within the company were reassigned to other jobs in the company. When she said most, it meant any girl who was in an executive position. To avoid lawsuits, the company still allowed Lucy the title of her former position and she still drew the same pay, but now she had none of the responsibilities.
Lucy Rice, who was an executive in the sales division, was reassigned to being an office girl.
The female executives were insulted by their new roles and most of them rather paid the financial penalty to break their contract than continued on. If not for her financial situation, Lucy would have joined them. Now her job mainly consisted of typing documents of the work done by her male co-workers. If only that was all, it wouldn’t be so bad. However Lucy had other duties assigned to her as well.
Suddenly the light on her desk turned red and the number “9” was shown on her dashboard. Lucy immediately stopped her typing and got up from her seat. Table 9 was Oscar Mendez.
Lucy had once thought of Oscar as a pretty decent guy but since the company had been taken over, that had changed. More than any guy on the floor, Oscar had taken advantage of the Sun Horizon takeover and thoroughly enjoyed the power he had over the girls.
Lucy walked across the floor with her head bowed. It wasn’t due to any shame she felt in her new position. Her head was bowed because this was prescript in the employee handbook. Girls were only allowed to walk with their head bowed.
When she reached Oscar’s desk, Lucy stood at the position prescript in the employee handbook for girls when they were waiting for orders from men. Her feet were about shoulder length apart, her hands were clasped at the small of her back, her eyes were downcast on the ground between her feet and she made sure her voice was in a respectful, submissive tone, “Sir, how may this girl assist you?”
“I dropped my pen,” Oscar pointed at a pen just behind his seat. He could have just bended over to pick it up but since he didn’t, Lucy knew what was coming. “Pick it up for me, girl.”
Making sure not to lift up her head, Lucy quietly knelt with her knees apart and pick up the pen. Holding it in both hands, she lifted the pen above her head and said, “Your pen sir.”
She heard a chuckle from Oscar and laughter from some of the men but Lucy knew better than to break her position. According to the employee handbook, this was how girls were supposed to offer items to men. Failure to present this position when offering something to the men would be a reason for a demerit. If she got 25 demerits in a month, her pay would be docked but if she got less than 15, there would be a bonus at the end of the month. Lucy had already got the bonus twice.
Lucy felt the pen being taken from her hands. “Thanks you girl.” The mocking in Oscar’s voice was clear for all to hear. “You are a good girl, Lucy.”
Lucy wasn’t going to give Oscar the satisfaction of seeing her losing her cool. “Thank you sir. This girl is glad to be of service. Is there anything else I may assist with sir?”
“Not at the moment girl. You may leave.”
Lucy got to her feet and went back to her desk. She continued her typing, blocking out the laughter coming from Oscar’s desk. She continued till the light on her desk was brightened again. Her dashboard showed 9.15 AM and Lucy got up to do her rounds.
Taking along her pen and notebook, she went to all the men in her area. Standing in front of each of them the same way as she did with Oscar, Lucy took their orders. Once the orders were taken, she slowly walked to the pantry and saw that Jamila and Suriani were already there. One look at their trays and Lucy knew that something was wrong.
“What’s all that?” pointing at their trolleys.
“It’s Michele’s area,” it was Suriani who answered. “Jamila and I are going to spilt her area between us.”
Lucy nodded her appreciation to the two girls. It was one of the reasons she enjoyed working with both of them. The thought of taking over Michele’s area never even occurred to her and she was glad it did to the two girls. Knowing the men, failure to serve would be a reason for a demerit for all of them.
Lucy went to the counter and started preparing the snacks. Danielle came in and went to the counter with a tray. Lucy nodded at her and Danielle nodded back.
“Matt wants to see you after lunch.”
Lucy looked up at Danielle in surprise. “What for?”
“Who knows,” Danielle said as she placed the snacks and coffee on her tray. “Remember, after lunch.”
Danielle took the tray and left the pantry. As Matt’s secretary, she only had to care for Matt’s needs. As one of the girls in the office however, Lucy had to serve all the men whose desks were in her area. She took out the cups from the cupboards and started on the tea and coffee. The clock stuck 9.30 AM and the three girls pushed out their trolleys.
Lucy went to each individual desk and knelt. She then offered the men their snacks (which was either sandwiches or biscuits) and drinks (coffee or tea) the same way she offered up Oscar’s pen. Her humiliation was only completed after she thanked the men, happy to be of service to them.
After serving the men in her area, Lucy pushed her trolley back into the pantry. As she walked back to her desk, she saw that Jamila and Suriani were still in service. Lucy sat down and continued her typing.
Her dashboard lighted up again at 11 AM. Lucy went back to the pantry and took her trolley again. This time on her rounds, she took back the cups and cleaned up the desks of the men. She made sure she was not a “bother” to the men as she cleaned. Most of the men were good enough to stay out of the way but a few, like Oscar, tried having a little fun at her expense by obstructing her.
Lucy let them have their fun. She wasn’t going to tell them off and get herself into trouble again over such juvenile tactics. She once got a demerit for such an offence and besides, she found that after awhile the men would tired of the games and let her do her cleaning.
Lucy took the cups to the washing area and washed them clean alongside Jamila and Suriani. Rubber gloves were given to them for the washing. After the cleaning, she took the cups back to the pantry and placed them back in the cupboards. Lucy, Jamila, and Suriani then waited in the pantry for the DSO.
To ensure that the girls did a good job, there was a male worker who would be assigned as the DSO (daily supervising officer) of the girls. The men on the floor had a rotating schedule where they would serve this duty once every few weeks. Basically, the DSO would be the girls’ superior for the day and since the men had a rotating shift, this meant that every man in the office was Lucy’s superior. Today, it was the duty of a young man named Brandon.
Brandon had only been working at the company for a few months before the takeover by The Sun Horizon Group and it was his first job. He was just fresh out of college and Lucy had been one of his seniors. She had even offered him some advice from time to time back then. Now she was waiting for his approval with her eyes downcast, her feet apart, and her hands clasped behind her back for a job well done.
Luckily for Lucy, Brandon was one of the few men who seem highly embarrassed by some of new rules in place. He was happy with the cups and quickly dismissed the girls for lunch. The three girls had to thank him of course, “Thank you sir for inspecting our work.”
The girls then filed out of the office to the stairs. Lucy, Jamila, and Suriani walked down to the 5th floor where the girls’ lunch room was.
Unlike the men who were allowed to go out for their lunches, girls in the building were only allowed to have their lunches within. Not that it matter as none of the girls wanted to go out in public in their niqaabs anyway. The Sun Horizon Group had setup a mini canteen on the 5th floor where all the girls could go for their lunch and this was where all the girls gathered for their daily break.
There were stalls in the canteen where the girls could buy their food but some of the girls bought their lunches from home. Lucy never did. The stalls at the canteen were rented out by the Sun Horizon Group at very cheap rates to the operators after a background check. The group only allowed the needy to operate the stalls, and from what Lucy heard, it was almost a form of charity. That was why she always bought from the stalls.
The canteen was a cauldron of noise when she entered. Everyone within was a girl, even the operators of the stalls. None of the men was allowed into the canteen and the reason was immediate. For lunch, the girls were allowed to release themselves from their veils. Most just flipped their veils over the heads like Lucy, but a few unfastened theirs and took them off their heads.
Lucy bought her lunch and found a seat. She spoke to some of the girls, not always knowing who they were. As an executive, in the past she didn’t really join the rest of the girls in the office for small talk. Most of them were in lower positions than her but that was no longer a problem.
And talk they did! Most of the girls were able to speak only a few sentences throughout their mornings and all were more than happy to gossip about what happened on their floor without their veils.
Lucy had to turn to see who was speaking to her. “Jennifer? How are you?” It was a minor surprise that Jennifer Harris was speaking to her. Lucy didn’t like her much in the past and she always thought the feeling was mutual. However they were both former executives in the company and in a way she guessed it was expected the two of them would be talking. After all, they were the few female executives left from the old company.
“As well as can be expected in this stupid costume.” Lucy couldn’t help but gave a small laugh at that. Costume was exactly the right word.
As one of the girls in the mailroom, Jennifer was wearing the uniform of the mailgirls which was highly different from the normal niqaab. Harem pants, with a long-sleeve shirt that hugged her body, Jennifer was wearing an outfit that came straight out of “I Love Jeannie”.
The outfit was completed by a yashmak, a type of veil that is similar to the niqab but different. Unlike the niqaab, the yashmak consists of 2 different pieces of cloth that covered both the face and the forehead. The costume was completed with gloves and shoes similar to what Lucy was wearing and a belt with numerous small bells attached on it.
Although it covered every part of her body, Jennifer’s uniform was far more eye-catching and alluring than hers. Maybe it’s because of the bells on the belt or the fact that the outfit was pink in color, but whenever one of the mailgirls came to the office to deliver mail, there should be whistles from the men of the office. Hence their nicknames, the “whistle girls”.
Lucy smiled at the annoyed Jennifer. Despite the words Jennifer said, the common consensus among the girls was that the “whistle girls” loved the attention they received. More than a few of the whistle girls deliberately swayed their bottoms when they walked so that the bells on their belt would sound. However Lucy understood that sometimes pride must be maintained.
Lucy smiled in sympathy. “Must be tough working in that.”
It was the correct move as Jennifer smiled back and whispered. “You got that right. Free tomorrow after work?”
“I think so. Why?”
“We’re having a meeting. I like you to join us.”
“A meeting? About what?”
“About what to do with Sun Horizon”
“Keep your voice down!”
After looking around to make sure no one was paying them any extra attention, Lucy asked. “What do you mean?”
“Just go here,” Jennifer handed Lucy a piece of paper. “Make sure you’re on time. Everything will be explained.”
Jennifer walked away and Lucy was left with an easy decision to make.
* * *
Standing in front of his desk with her feet apart and her hands clasped behind her, Lucy’s eyes darted around the office of Matt Hanson. She knew her eyes were supposed to be downcast on the ground but it had been quite some time since she had been in Matt’s office.
Manager of the sales division, Matt Hanson’s office was bright and warm. There were no binds at the windows and sunlight shone through to give the office the warm feeling it always had in the past. Matt famously had an open door policy that welcomed all his employees to come into his office to speak to him, but since the takeover by Sun Horizon Lucy had not been into his office. Girls were supposed to bother their daily officer, not management, about their problems.
Matt’s desk was neat and tidy and Lucy could see numerous pictures of his family scattered through his office. He and his wife, Karen, were quite the power couple in the past as both were managers of their respective department. The status of their marriage was quite the gossip with the girls of Sun Horizon. Rather surprisingly, Karen was still with the company. Now working as a receptionist on the ground floor of the building, Karen greeted every visitor in a sky-blue burqa, the standard uniform of all receptionists in the company.
“Lucy, you know what you’re here for?”
“No sir, this girl does not.”
It was a lie. She did have some idea why she was there. Matt seemed to understand the situation as well. “It’s about your contract, girl. It’s almost up. You have less than 6 months left on your contract with our glorious company.” He smiled as he said that and not for the first time, Lucy wondered how Matt truly felt about Sun Horizon.
“Sir, may this girl enquire on what is it about the contract you wish to speak to this girl about?”
“It’s very simple really. Lucy, the company wishes to extend your contract for another 3 years.” Matt’s smile didn’t waver. “Of course, you will no longer part of the sales team, so your new job title would be “Office Assistance Girl”. Oh, and your new salary will be a third of your current one.”
It took all her willpower not to laugh at the joke. “I… this girl is sorry sir but this girl would have to refuse the… kind offer of the company.”
“Unfortunately I can’t accept your refusal at the moment. You have to bring this document,” Matt put a yellow file on his desk, “and let your husband read it over the weekend. On Monday, you may come back with your answer.”
“Over the weekend?” Lucy was surprised. Why would the company impose such a rule? “That’s stupid! I’ll reject it now!”
“Language, girl!” Matt admonished. “I have to give you a demerit for that.”
Lucy bit her mouth and composed herself. “This girl is sorry sir. This girl wishes to know why this girl can’t reject the offer now?”
“Let your husband read it and you’ll know,” Matt lifted the file to her. “It’s Friday, read and think about it over the weekend. Trust me, both of you want to read it first.”
End of part 2
Copyright© 2012 by Ghost Writer. All rights reserved.