Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thanks for Donating, Part One

I’m usually not so competitive in office politics.  My cube is by no means the biggest, I never get wrapped up in power games, and even when there are contests (like the annual contests we have at our holiday parties), I’m not one to try to win.  I would rather get my work done, and make sure everyone gets paid at my company, or everyone have a good time at the Christmas party, than be wrapped up in who wins and loses.

Maybe it was the recent failures I’d had in getting the raise, or the fact that I had been single for longer than I like, but when the office started a donation fundraising drive for the local food bank, and publicly posted everyone’s stats on the bulletin board, a fire in my heart ignited.  I wanted to be named the best at that more than anything, and each day I would carefully monitor my numbers, and the numbers of my closest adversaries, to see who was nipping at my heels.

The fact this really wasn’t a competition didn’t even deter me.  “Ashlyn,” people would say, “you’re doing such good work for the charity.”  I would smile and shrug, unwilling to give away any of my secrets.  Truthfully, I wanted to keep the success to myself, and watch my stats grow out of control, and surprise everyone at the end with an insane result.

I was strong in the beginning, relying on donations from some people that I just consider to be acquaintances, and then working my way into the inner circle of my friends if it came down to that.  I thought I was doing well, and may not even have to hit up any of my friends for any money, when I noticed that the new girl, Beth, was racking up so much in donations.  This made me furious to think about it, not only was she hot, young, and with a good body, but she was going to beat me.  I decided to visit her cube to see if I could at least get some sense of what she was doing right.

I approached her on a Wednesday, and chatted her up on some fairly pathetic office drivel.  The dancing reality show, the singing reality show, the dating reality show, the usual.  I then casually mentioned the bulletin board up front, and wondered if she was done or not.

“Not that it’s a competition or anything,” I very cooly started, “but I see your donations have really shot up over the past week.”

A smile shot across Beth’s face.  “Oh yes, of course, not a competition, but if you run the numbers, it really looks like I’m on track to win by the end.”

I stifled a scowl.  “Really, how do you do it?” I asked trying to keep my poker face as stoic as I could.  

“Now, now, I wouldn’t want to spoil my secret, after all I do want to win, even if it’s not a competition.”
I smiled some more, keeping in character, but showing her my hand a little.  “But c’mon, if I wanted to get my numbers up like that, what would I have to do?  I’m just asking for a little advice.”

Beth looked around and surveyed the coast, making sure it was “clear.”  “I have other businesses on the side.  This company ain’t that great, and the additional nighttime income is quite nice.”

“And that would be?”

Beth blushed.  “It’s a little embarrassing, but in college I started to do a little camming, and never really stopped.”

I had never heard the term before, but I had a sense it was something sexual.  “Camming?”

“Yeah, you know, little striptease shows for strangers.  I keep myself fairly anonymous, and it does help to pay the bills.  Lately, I’ve essentially been doing my shows for free, giving 100% of the proceeds to the charity.”

“Wait,” I said, “for it to count, the money has to come from different sources.”

“And it does,” she said.  “The charity has an online portal that nobody in this office seems to understand, and I use that all the time.  My link is all over the place, and is getting lots of traffic, to everyone who wants a peek at me.  I tell people how much to give, and when that donation comes in, off comes something else.”  She winked as she told me her business plan.  “It’s great because for now, it’s for a good cause, and at the end of the donation drive, my customers will have done some good, and I’ll win.”  She was giddy with excitement over that prospect.

I had to nod in respect at the genius of her plan, and the acknowledgement that I couldn’t follow suit.  I saw the glint in her eyes and it angered me that she was, in her words, going to win the silly little office game.

I went back to my cubicle to contemplate.  Many of the goals that I had set for myself had dwindled over the past years, or were looking dismal at best.  In Beth, I saw everything I was envious of, and wanted nothing more than to be in her position again, to turn back time.

On Tuesday, the day after the Memorial Day weekend, I walked into work, my head held low, defeated.  I didn’t even look at the board, even though it was basically the end of the line, and time to pull out all the stops.  Beth’s luminous personality, great figure, and youth had won this won, and I would just be in second place.  While I was wallowing in self-pity, Veronica, our office manager came by my desk.

“Wow, Ashlyn,” she started.  “Did you see the board?  Your donations surged over the weekend, like nobody’s business!  Great work, I’m involved with the food bank, that money will go a long way!”

I raced to the lobby to see the new numbers that I had ignored.  Sure enough, I was neck and neck with Beth, but if her numbers over the last days stayed on the trajectory they were on, she would still overtake me.  I smiled, but at the same time, I thought that something fishy was going on.  Over the weekend I had done nothing new, and even had given up on the idea of overtaking Beth’s donations.  

When my workload had died down a bit, I walked up to Beth’s desk.  “So, it looks like I’m winning now,” I winked.

“Yeah, how about that?” she said.  “I decided to give you a bit of a bump, so over the weekend I did shows and gave people your donation page link.  Evidently, it was wildly popular, even more than I thought it would be.”

“Why did you do that?”

“You’ve always been nice, and I just wanted to share the wealth.  And, it seems to me that you may want to win a bit more than me.”

I blushed, “Well, winning like this really wouldn’t be winning.  You would be doing all the work!”

“Ha, ha, I know, that’s why I’m still going to win.  I just wanted someone to be close,” she smiled a devious smile.

“Careful,” I said, “that’s how the rabbit lost the race to the tortoise.”

“Fair enough,” Beth giggled.  “But I’d be willing to share the wealth again, for a price.”

“You don’t expect me to pay you money so that I can win in our little competition, do you?”

“No, not like that.  It’s just I know why you want to win.  It’s to prove yourself here, which is admirable.  It really has nothing to do with me.  You’re trying to make the best of being in a cubicle, it really has nothing to do with besting me.  Me, on the other hand, it is all about besting you, it has nothing to do with the office politics.  I couldn’t care less about that stuff.”

I was taken aback by her candor, but she was exactly right.  I wasn’t really envious of Beth herself, and really it was all about my reputation.  For being so young, fresh out of college, and inexperienced in the working world, she knew people rather well.  And I trusted that she didn’t have an interest in office politics, she was just in it to be better than me.

“In fact,” she continued, “there may be a way where we can both win.”

“Both win?”

“Of course, you just want the praise, and I just want to be better than you.  Both of those can happen at the same time.”

“But how can you be superior over me if I win?”

“Well, you can spend a weekend at my place,” Beth smiled.  She saw me blush, but pursued.  “I’m serious, really.  If you spend a weekend with me, and agree to let me be a little superior over you all weekend, then I’ll just make you the winner here.  You may like it,” she winked.

“What exactly would you have me do?”  I asked, while not believing that I was considering this kind of trade.

“Oh you know, silly girl stuff.  I know you’re not married, or have anyone in your life to get jealous even,” I saw her study my face to see my reaction.  “I mean time, of course, jealous of your time.  You may not be interested at all in me, but that’s fine, it can just be about power.  Me taking away your power for a time.”

I may give the appearance of someone conservative, and being in my late thirties, that image was getting harder to shake, but I certainly was not a prude.  I had experimented my fair share, with both men and women, however, nothing ever seemed to stick.  For the past three years, not much was coming my way from either side.  “Silly girl stuff?  Like what?”

“Well, that would spoil the surprise.  And what’s life without a little risk?”

“What if I welch?”  I asked with a raised eyebrow.  “You give me what I want and then I just refuse.”

“Ha, ha, so villainous!”  Her smile quickly fell flat.  “Really, you’re not that devious, you don’t have it in you.  Your word is your bond, and your downfall.”

She was right, no matter what awaited me on the other side of this agreement, it would be an inevitability if I agreed now.  And, I knew that the reputation that Beth had fostered over the years as a sexy camgirl could not be duplicated, even if I could, in a few days on my own.  She was my only hope and last chance to be admired by the office for raising the money.

“Ok,” I relented.  “Make it happen, so that I win, and I’ll do whatever you say. One condition though, you can’t have me do anything that ruins my reputation here.”

“Of course, you have my word!” Beth enthusiastically agreed.  “You won’t regret this!”

A sinking feeling in my stomach told me that I already did a little.  “So, come on,” I pressed on.  “What kinds of things are you going to have me do?  Is it sex stuff?”

“Power and sex are fun to mix, but in moderation.  Also, I’m more into girls, but I don’t intend to do anything to you that you don’t beg for.”  She winked a devilish wink.  “We will get to know one another quite well, though.”

I walked away from her cubicle, looking back at this young woman returning to her work, probably congratulating herself on well her trap worked, and how I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.  I wondered if my place on the bulletin board, as winner of this silly game I had put in my head, would really make it all worth it, or if I had just given away so much more than I was prepared.

Continued in Part Two, click here!

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