A Lesson Learned

A Lesson Learned

A Story by Juan More Story

Sandra is a beautiful young woman who is still getting a hang of being part of the working world. But being young and beautiful can only get you so far in the world of adults.


Sandra closed her eyes and took a deep breath as the elevator made its ascent. She nervously twirled her long black hair in her fingers. She had been working at the office for almost a year, but each day was just as nerve-racking as that first one. The elevator stopped and she took one last breath before the doors opened up. She straightened out her clothes, the bright colors contrasting her dark skin; and her mood.

“Good morning!” Sandra said cheerily as she walked past all the women in their rows of cubicles.

“Good morning,” the ladies all replied, holding back smiles.

Sandra heard them whispering as she passed each row, and picked up her pace to keep from hearing; she wouldn't like what she heard if she did. She reached her own cubicle, plopped into her chair and sighed. Thank God that was over. Now all she had to do was make it through the rest of the day just like that. She turned on her radio to drown the whisperings of her co-workers.

When Sandra first joined the accounting firm, she thought everyone was so kind and friendly. They used to stop by and ask if she needed anything, and she felt like she had a whole floor full of mothers. She was eager to help out, much like a child wishes to please their parents. After a few weeks she had the hang of it and didn't need their help anymore. Ever since then, they always treated her... different.

Sandra logged into her computer and checked her email like she always did at the beginning of every day. After finding nothing of import, she decided to get to work and finish the report she was working on the day before. She frowned as she noticed the folder she had saved all he work was missing from her computer. Now that she thought about it, everything on her computer seemed like it was missing.

She had the computer run a search, which came up empty. All the work for the last week was just gone. She fought tears of frustration and stood up from her chair. She walked over to the next cubicle to see if she could get to the bottom of it.

Not surprisingly, the cubicle was empty. Millie, her co-worker, was always doing “collaborative projects,” which was just a euphemism for gossiping. Sandra, bored, looked at the pictures of her co-worker's family pinned all around the cubicle. She stepped inside to look closer at the picture of her daughter in her volleyball uniform. She had a kind, genuine smile, and her wavy blonde hair flowed in a way that just covered one of her hazel eyes.

“Is there something I can do for you?” Millie asked as she wedged herself between Sandra and her desk. Sandra noticed Millie was shuffling things around, checking to see if something she had taken anything. Sandra rolled her eyes.

Millie and her daughter looked so much alike, with a few obvious differences. She weighed significantly more than her daughter, and her blonde hair had given in to gray. Also, Sandra had not seen a genuine smile from the woman since she first started.

“Hello,” Millie said, breaking her train of thought.

“Yes. I was wondering: Do you know if they did anything to the computers last night? I can't find any of my files.”

“Well of course they did,” Millie said with a condescending tone. “Last night the IT guys did that big upgrade, just like last year.”

“Umm, I wasn't here for that last year. Why didn't they tell anybody?”

“What do you mean?” Millie asked in fake surprise. “Didn't you get my email telling you to back up all your files?”

“I didn't get any email like that.”

“I'm sure you did and just forgot,” Millie said, breaking eye contact.

“I would've remembered something like that,” Sandra said annoyed.

“Oh well, these things happen. Did you need anything else?” Millie asked, half-heartedly. She had already resumed working without waiting for a response.

“No...thanks,” Sandra said curtly and walked away.

God I need a cigarette, she thought

Sandra went back to her desk, reaching in the drawer to pull out her pack. She fished out a cigarette and then looked out the window into the alley where she always smoked. There she saw a homeless woman sitting up against the wall, staring blankly ahead of her. The bright sunlight reflecting off the glass building burned into the woman's tanned, grimy skin.

After a minute of staring at the woman staring at nothing, Sandra decided to wait for the homeless woman to leave before going out to smoke. Instead she sat turned down the radio and called the IT department.

“IT, this is Anthony,” the voice said dryly.

“Hey Anthony, its Sandra. Think you coul--”

“Oh, hey Sandra!” Anthony said excitedly. “Need help with something?”

“Um, yeah. Think you could come up here for a sec and help me out with something?”

“Sure thing. I'll be right up.”

“Thanks,” She said sweetly and hung up. She looked absently out the window again as she waited for Anthony to arrive. The homeless woman was still sitting exactly as she was a minute ago. Sandra looked at the woman, never once seeing her blink. Sandra leaned in closer to the window, wondering if the woman was even alive. After several minutes without a single sign of life, Sandra was about to call 9-1-1 when the woman suddenly looked straight up at Sandra.

“Hey there,” Anthony said, making her jump.

“Jesus! You scared me!” Sandra screamed, her heart racing.

“Sorry. What were you looking at?” he asked, going over to look for himself. “Whoa. That is scary.”

Sandra couldn't tell if he was joking or serious. She laughed anyways because she knew men loved it when women thought they were funny. Anthony laughed too as he unashamedly stared at her breasts. She pretended not to notice even though he was married and more than twice her age. She was accustomed to guys checking her out all the time, and often used it to her advantage.

“So apparently last night you guys did some kind of upgrade?” Sandra asked airily.

“Yep. We did a company-wide OS upgrade. Now everything should be a little more secure. Next year we get to upgrade the hardware too, get quad-core processors and twice as much RAM.”

“Thats interesting,” Sandra lied. “Listen I was wondering what happened to all of the files I had?”

“We're just supposed to do the upgrade on the computers. Backing them up is supposed to be the staff's responsibility...”

Sandra pouted her face, already knowing where he was going with his remark.

“...But I figured since it was your first time, so I backed it up for you on my flash drive,” Anthony said as he handed her the device.

“Oh thank you so much!” She said, giving him a hug. She resisted as he lightly pulled her closer. He took the hint and let her go, and she gave him one last smile before she turned back to her computer. She leaned over as she hurriedly recovered her files. When she turned back around to return the flash drive she saw he had been staring at her butt. Once again she pretended not to notice as she handed it back to him.

“Thanks again,” Sandra said with a hint of disdain.

“Anytime,” Anthony replied. He gave her body one last quick look and then walked back to the elevator.

Sandra went back to work as if nothing had happened. She knew she looked good, and she knew that those same looks made the world a whole lot easier. After all, it was the way of the world. There was nothing she could do. Besides, without them she would have completely lost those files and been stressed beyond belief. It was better this way.

As if on cue, Sandra began to hear whispering in the cubicle next to hers. She slowed her typing so she could listen without making it obvious.

“...think she is so special,” one voice said.

“I know,” another replied.

“He is only nice to her because she dresses like a tramp.”

“And she is such a huge flirt. I mean, she is half his age and she was all over him. Shameless really.”

Sandra felt her blood boiling and stopped listening. She grabbed her cigarettes and stomped out of her cubicle. She hummed a happy tune along the way to the elevator to drown out the other whispers all around the office. Once the elevators doors closed, she let out a long sigh and let her head droop down.

She went outside, turned the corner into the alley, and then stopped in her tracks. The homeless woman was still sitting there in the exact same position. She looked even more like a corpse close up, and after a second Sandra thought she smelled like one too. Sandra just stood there, unsure of what to do.

F**k it, she thought as she moved in closer. The homeless woman remained unmoved a few feet away. Sandra pulled a cigarette out of the pack.

“Do you mind?” she asked the woman, but immediately lit her cigarette without waiting for a response. Of course the woman didn't mind, she was homeless.

Sandra took a lone drag, her anger floating away with each puff of smoke she blew away. The cigarette was reduced to ashes in less than a minute, but she still felt unfulfilled. Sandra lit another cigarette and looked over at her lifeless companion.

“You know,” Sandra said, moving to face the homeless woman. “I don't get why those girls have to be so judgmental. I tried really hard to be nice when I first started, but they were always so mean to me, you know?”

The hobo turned her head towards Sandra, and she took it as a cue to continue.

“Like this morning. I came into work and my computer was erased, along with all my work. I asked Millie (she's my co-worker) and all she said was 'didn't you get my email?' And I know for a fact she didn't send it to me! What a b***h right?”

The hobo just blinked her eyes, and Sandra nodded her head.

It's a good thing Anthony (he's the IT guy) is so nice to me, otherwise I would've been screwed. I mean, so what if he is kind of a pervert and stares at my tits and a*s all day, but at least he's nice to me, right?”

The hobo turned her head to the center and stared at the wall across the alley. Sandra took that as a sign of disagreement. She took one last drag of her cigarette and tossed it.

“Hey! Its not my fault I have a great body! Screw this, I'm going back to work. Thanks for nothing!”

Sandra stomped away while the hobo not showing any indication she cared. Sandra was already wishing for another cigarette by the time she reached her desk. She sat down and reached for the radio when she heard the whispering start again.

“Looks like Sandra has a new best friend,” Millie said, holding back laughter.

“At least she doesn't have to act like a tramp to get the homeless lady to listen,” Cassie, another co-worker, said.

“You never know...” Millie said, giving in to the laughter.

Sandra turned the radio on and turned the volume up. She picked up some random papers and pretended to read, the pages blurred as tears silently filled her eyes.

* * *

“Are you going to see your new friend?” Millie asked as Sandra passed by on her way to the elevator. Even though it was a new week, it was still all about the same old joke.

“She is not my friend,” Sandra said with a look of disgust. “She is just some dirty hobo lady who wont leave from my favorite spot.”

“Then why do you talk to her?” Millie asked, holding back a smile.

“Hel-loo,” Sandra replied holding up a bluetooth headset. “I'm talking to my real friend on the phone. God!”

Sandra went back to the alley and put the headset into her ear. She sat down next to the homeless woman, who as always, sat perfectly still.

“So today,” Sandra gossiped to the homeless woman. “Cassie started a rumor saying I slept with the whole IT department, just because they always come to help faster than they do for her. Can you believe it? Like I would really sleep with a bunch of greasy nerds just for that. I mean, I know they're always checking me out, but its not like I can keep them from looking.”

Sandra looked at her reflection in the window across the alley. She was wearing a tube-top and mini-skirt, despite the cool air of early spring.

“Its not my fault I have such a great body, right? I swear its just because I'm the youngest and they think they can just push me around,” she said as she lit another cigarette. “I try to ignore them, hoping they will stop gossiping about me. I don't know if that'll ever happen. What do you think?”

Sandra asked the question rhetorically, knowing she wouldn't get a response.

“I think you need to grow up,” the homeless woman said.

Sandra jumped at the unexpected sound of her voice, which was very shrill. Her cigarette fell off her lips and onto the ground.

“Wha--What do you mean?” Sandra stammered.

“You think you got problems?” the homeless woman responded. “A few bad decisions and no family or friends to fall back on made me homeless. And now everyday for the last two years I struggle just to get enough to eat.”

The homeless woman stood up to get to Sandra's eye level.

“I had just given up and wanted to just lie here and die, only now you come out complaining about some old ladies calling you names? In one week you made me go from hating myself to being glad I'm not some spoiled little brat like you! F**k this, I'm out of here!”

Sandra couldn't help but stare as the homeless woman walked away. She continued to stare down the alley even after the homeless woman had left, and then quickly walked back to her car to go home.

An hour later Sandra was once again in the elevator, this time in a buttoned up blouse and dress pants. She straightened out her clothes, which had sat unused in her closet long before her memory could recall. She took one last deep breath as the doors opened up and then confidently strode onto the floor.

“Hey Cassie,” Sandra said.

“Hey, Sandra,” Cassie replied. “You look nice.”

“Thanks! You do too,” Sandra said, smiling. She was surprised how genuine her tone was. Sandra said hello to everyone before sitting down at her desk once again.

“Yes I already turned it on and off again,” Sandra overheard Millie say in the next cubicle. “No it didn't work, thats why I'm calling you!...Well I'm busy too...Fine, I'll call you back in an hour.”

Sandra heard Millie slam the phone down in frustration and mumble about how he would've dropped everything for Sandra.

That gave Sandra an idea, and she got up and into Millie's cubicle.

“Yes, what is it now Sandra,” Millie said, clearly annoyed with her presence.

“You said they would drop everything for me.”

“Yeah, and...”

“And you're absolutely right.”

Sandra grabbed Millie's phone and dialed.

“Hey Anthony, its me. How're you doing?...Good. Listen, I was wondering if you could come and fix Millie's computer. See she and I are working on something together so it would really help...Great! See you in a bit. Thanks so much Anthony.”

Sandra hung up the phone with a triumphant smile on her face.

“There you go,” Sandra said. “Nothing a little girlish charm can't fix.”

“I'll say,” Millie said, surprised at the generosity. “You know, when I was your age I could get men to do whatever I wanted, too.”

“I know, isn't it great?”

“Of course. But I can't do that anymore. I'm much too old.”

“Oh stop,” Sandra said with a wave of her hand. “You still got it, you just don't need it anymore. I could learn a lot from you.”

“Well,” Millie blushed. “Thank you for helping me out.”


Millie smiled at Sandra, the same genuine smile that she noticed in the photograph.

She walked away just as Anthony had arrived. She nodded in appreciation and kept walking. She knew he was checking her out, but that didn't mean she had to make it easy for him. She sat down at her desk and reached for the radio, but then decided against it. She had a feeling she wouldn't be needing it anymore.

© 2012 Juan More Story

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Added on June 5, 2012
Last Updated on June 5, 2012
Tags: Lesson, Learned, beautiful, hispanic, story, homeless, woman, smoker, gorwing, up


Juan More Story
Juan More Story


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