This is a recurring series. Catch up with installments of Getting Back In The Game by visiting the series page.
Eric looked up from his laptop, dragging his gaze around his open-plan office with utmost boredom. He locked eyes with Tom and shared a look that spoke volumes.
“Why are we even here? All of our bosses are away at a conference.” Eric didn’t even attempt to lower his voice, but opted instead to shout across the empty office. No one was there to hear him.
“Duuuuuuude, I know.” Tom replied, clearly equally as bored. “I have literally no open projects right now. Why are you even in the office instead of working from home?”
“Honestly, because Alyssa spent the night at my place and has the day off today, and I knew I would get nothing done with her in the apartment.” Eric responded with a half-smile. “I didn’t realize I would be super productive and finish all my work before noon, and believe me, I’m regretting it.”
Suddenly, Tom perked up. The word noon had sparked a train of thought deep within his cerebellum.
“Noon.” He thought. “What happens at noon? Lunch. Yes. Lunch is almost here. But what’s special about this lunch? No one’s here to check on us. We can take a…long lunch? That’s it. But that’s not all of it. No, there’s more. We can have a fun lunch. What would make a lunch more fun? Oh shit. Lunch beers.”
Tom turned to Eric and spoke, excited with the revelation he had come to.
“Bro, you know what we should – “
“Hey, do you want to get lunch beers?” Eric half-yelled in his eagerness, cutting Tom off before he could suggest the same thing.
“I was literally about to ask you that!” Tom laughed. “Let me grab my coat. Wanna do Mountain Charlie’s down the street? They usually have some cheap deals.”
Eric smiled wide as he closed his laptop.
* * * *
“Ok, I see what you’re saying, but the point is, the point is, if anything, it’s a taco, not a sandwich, because – “
Eric was cut off by Tom, who was practically yelling over the two-top they had been occupying for the last hour. Two pitchers, one half-filled Lagunita’s IPA and one empty, sat on the table between them, accompanying their glasses and phones, which they had both placed face-up to ensure they wouldn’t miss any work emails. The screens had remained dark for the entire time. No one was working today.
“Dude, you sound ridiculous right now. It’s clearly a sandwich. The hot dog is the meat, and the bun is the bread.” Tom continued, as they debated a topic as old as time.
Eric took a long sip of his beer and topped them both off before responding. “Whatever, man. If you believe that, I don’t understand how you won’t come around on the fact that cereal is cold soup.”
“I can’t even listen to this,” Tom said with a smile as he got up unsteadily. “I’m going to the bathroom.”
Eric exhaled deeply, the sudden lack of stimulus making him realize how intoxicated he was.
“Damn,” he thought as he rubbed his eyes. “I’m actually pretty drunk for the middle of a workday. I really hope the rest of this Thursday stays chill.”
He glanced at his phone, which lit up, as if it could hear his thoughts. His momentary panic was relieved, however, as he recognized the notification as a text from his better half. Picking up his phone, he read the message.
Alyssa [1:18pm]: Playing hooky with Tom today, huh? I saw his snap. Do you guys ever work?
Eric grinned at his phone, amused with her shit-talking, and typed back.
Eric [1:18pm]: I’ll have you know my phone is on and ready to receive emails. It’s not my fault my whole office is either at home or at that Vegas conference.
Almost immediately, he saw three dots pop up below his text. Clearly, Alyssa was as bored at home as he had been at work.
Alyssa [1:19pm]: Laaame. You should have stayed home then. Why don’t you come back and hang with me? I’m still at your place lol.
Eric pondered this text as he finished his beer, the alcohol whispering bad advice in his brain.
“Just go home,” the alcohol said. “It’s not like you’re getting any work done after these beers. You can relax, maybe even take a nap. You work hard. Why shouldn’t you get to enjoy your day if there isn’t work to be done?”
Eric shook his head, attempting to defy the intoxicating words the five pints of IPA had been saying. He couldn’t just ditch work. And more importantly, he couldn’t just ditch Tom. Sure, they were drinking in the middle of the day, but it was still a Thursday. He couldn’t leave him to go back to the office alone and buzzed. He looked up to see Tom threading his was through tables towards him and made his decision.
Eric [1:21pm]: Sorry babe. As much as I’d love to sit around in PJs with you, some of us actually have to work today…
He placed his phone back down and clinked glasses with Tom, proud of his decision to be marginally more responsible.
“Did you actually get an email?” Tom asked, gesturing towards Eric’s phone as he wiped his mouth.
“Hah, no, thank god.” Eric said expressively. “It was just…” His voice trailed off as he saw another text notification come through. He opened his phone to see what Alyssa had sent him.
Alyssa [1:22pm]: Oh, I’m not sitting around in my PJs…
Eric swallowed hard as he scrolled down to see the picture she had sent him. He subconsciously brought his phone closer to his chest to ensure that no one else could see the screen.
“It was just what?” Tom’s voice knocked him out stunned silence and reminded him where he was. Eric placed the phone face down on the table and finished his final beer.
“Actually, I think I’m going to work the rest of the day at home. There’s no point in me going back to the office. Sorry dude.”