Cory walked through the throngs of people on his way to the office. The morning had started off so well. He had managed to wake himself two minutes before his alarm clock had gone off. How he hated to hear that annoying buzzer. His coffee had started right on time, just like he programmed it. He loved the warm coffee against his lips on a cold winter’s day. The drive to the park and ride met with almost no traffic resistance. Even the bus was on time for a change.
Cory found himself in a droll mood with many of his fellow commuters on their way towards the center of the city. He joked they were all being dropped off like school children. The bus was full of humor and good will all the way up to the stop. Somehow he knew. Cory knew that something was brewing in his future for his day to start out so splendid. It hit him as soon as he left the bus.
Icy rain pelted down between the canyon of steel and concrete skyscrapers. Cory had not noticed the quick weather change on the ride up. It was not usual in the winter for the dawn to be late. The dark gray clouds blocked out the weak winter sunrise. “Why didn’t I check the weather this morning?” Cory grumbled inside his head. Ice pelted his face and head while he tried to hurry through the throng to his building four blocks away. His droll mood had given way to a bitter feeling that matched the weather around him. Everyone joined in the misery.
Dozens like Cory hurried beside and around him. Everyone wanted nothing more than to get out of the horrible weather that seemed to set the tone for their day. He was thankful to see warm lights through the glass door of his building. Cory burst inside and stopped for a moment to soak in the dry, warm air.
“Nasty morning. Especially on your birthday.” There was Stella, the security guard. Cory wondered what time her day started. Her uniform looked dry and crisp. She always had a smile on somehow, no matter what the weather.
“Good morning, Stella. I had forgotten it was my birthday.” He had forgotten. The twenty-day marathon of work had wholly twisted his internal calendar. Did his birthday matter? It was just another day at work and an ice-cold day at that.
Stella laughed, “If you can’t remember your birthday I’m not about to ask you your age.” Her infectious sense of humor reminded him of his droll mood just an hour earlier. Had this day soured that quickly?
“Thanks, Stella. Have a good morning.” With that, Cory headed to the elevator and joined the throng inside. People shuffled in and out as employees unloaded to their floors. He had the twelfth level, so he was one of the last people to make his way out of the elevator. Cory hiked down several rows of cubes until he arrived with his team. His window cube provided him a view of the city. It was one of the few perks of surviving so many years.
He was halfway down the little hallway to his cubicle before he noticed the entire team standing in and around his desk. Balloons lined the fabric walls of his virtual office. Sandra, his manager, stood there with a broad smile, and a small wrapped box in her hand. Everyone hollered, “Happy Birthday!”
Sandra gave Cory a friendly hug and handed him his present. He tore into the paper like a child. It was a new coffee mug, and inside it was a gift card to his favorite lunch hang out. Teammates shook his hand and slapped him on the back as they left. Sandra remained behind and watched him prepare to get to work.
“I wanted you to know; I appreciate the work you have been doing. Most guys your age hand the long hours to the young guys. I thought about giving you today off, but it’s Wednesday. My second gift to you is giving you tomorrow and Friday off. Oh, and I don’t want to hear about you coming in this weekend either.”
Cory wanted to dance. Did he just get free time off? He wasn’t sure he would know what to do with it. “Thanks! I wish I had made some plans.”
Sandra laughed. “Well, the weather at the beach is sunny. I know how much you like it there. Take yourself on a surprise trip.”
Cory’s mood lightened. He had some work to do if he was going to be out a few days. Somehow the weather did not matter anymore. He picked up his new mug and headed for the breakroom. He would need some coffee to tackle his happy birthday.