“We need a new Editing room,” Pete said, the same way he brought it up at every week’s meeting. “I’m working with older tech, and it’s really slow, and business has picked up. That means I’ve had to put in more hours, many of which involve me watching a loading screen.” 

“Thank you, Pete. Noted again.” Terry smiled. “I know you work in a closet. I’m sorry. I’ll try to get something on the next budget meeting agenda.”

Pete looked at the head of the table more intensely than usually. “Seriously. It’s getting really bad. At this point I’m either going to start pushing deadlines back, or you have to hire more help so we can both stare at the loading screen for hours a day. Or you can update the system. That’s where we’re at.”

The department heads at the table shifted uneasily in their seats. Jack in accounting chimed in. “Pete, we are so appreciative of what you have been able to accomplish with what you have. Just a little longer—we’ll fix this.” 

Pete shook his head. “Ok, but I can’t make more hours in a day. If hooking a hamster wheel or even a treadmill to the system would help, I would have done it already, and spinning my wheels, so to speak, isn’t working. I can’t do any more—I’m stretched as thin as I can be.”

“I understand, Pete. We’ll do something about it soon.” Terry flipped through the pages in front of her nervously for a moment. “I’m having a little trouble moving on to the next agenda item, but it still needs to be discussed. Pete, where are we at with the spring campaign? Corporate was hoping we could, maybe, be ready two weeks sooner?”

Pete shook his head and chuckled dryly. “Um, no. And by the way, I need an additional week on that because of the most recent ‘notes’ that basically meant I had to start over. The client is always right, but sometimes…” He cleared his throat. “Please inform corporate that every effort is being made, and again communicate that everything could be fixed with a single phone call if they would authorize it.”

Terry was taking notes. She paused. “At the risk of sounding cliche, who are you going to call?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea, but I know they’re out there—we just need an Engineer who can figure out the least expensive option that will still do what we need it to do, who can order it, deliver it and install it—I have a wish list, but absolutely no time for research.” Pete sighed. “Unless you would like me to make this my top priority, because that would absolutely make my day and really mess up the day for a bunch of other people who are waiting for my piece of their puzzle.”

Terry responded immediately. “No—I will do the research today, and I will make this my top priority. You keep working on the spring campaign and try to expedite as much as possible without killing yourself. HR really hates it when people die at their desk.” She smiled. “And I’ll bring you an energy drink this afternoon.”

“A Monster to appease the monster. Ha!” Pete stood up. “Thank you, Terry. I really appreciate it. Can I be excused from the rest of the meeting to try to expedite, as requested?”

“You are excused.”

Someone at the table muttered, “Lucky he gets to skip the meeting.” Another voice answered, “You’re lucky—your computer works.” Pete let the door shut behind him without comment.