The whole condo maintenance crew was in the back break room 30 minutes before clocking out for the week. The thermometer outside hovered right at 100 since noon, and the staff worked in the uncooled hallways all day. Lunch break was cut short due to a clogged trash chute that needed unclogged.
Two tiny window A/C units worked overtime to cool down the break room. Still, with nine warm bodies sprawled out in the room, it was a wonder the room was as cool as it was at 85 degrees. To minimize sweating, nobody moved. Chief Engineer Albert and his assistant were both in the room supervising the staff as they waited for the clock to strike four. It’s why they got the big bucks.
Even before she came through the door, Building Manager Annette was barking out orders, expecting people would snap to attention before they saw her.
As soon as the door flung open and before he could see who it was, someone yelled, “Shut the door. You’re lettin’ the cool air out.”
On normal days when Annette commanded the staff for their assignments, it was, “Yes, ma’am. Right away, ma’am,” with very few exceptions.
Today was one.
Annette took one step into the room and looked around at her staff. Two were on top of the picnic table, four lined the benches, and the other three were sitting against the cool brick wall with their eyes closed, biding their time.
“Oh,” Annette said. “Never mind. It can wait until Monday. Have a good weekend.”
Twenty seconds later, one of the maintenance staff and called out, “Albert?”
“Covered,” Albert said.
“Thanks,” the rest of the staff said in unison, knowing Albert was good for smoothing things over with the boss, that is, if it needed to be smoothed over on a day like this.