Mohamed stared blankly at his laptop screen hoping that the letter would somehow write itself.
No that doesn’t sound right… too informal, Mohamed thought to himself. He quickly corrected the line. It now read: “Dear Mr. Smith”
One would think that after a decade as a marketing professional that Mohamed would be able to perform a little better under the circumstances of a last-minute pitch. Mohamed wished at that moment he had followed the advice of his best friend, Shafiq, who always kept a template resignation letter ready to deliver just before his pending resignation/firing. Needless to say it had been used quite frequently through Vancouver’s recent economic downturn.
Mohamed heard footsteps behind his cubicle, realizing it was only the cleaning lady, Maria. No one else was working at this hour. In fact, the rest of his colleagues were already half-way through getting sloshed off expensive scotch at a senior manager’s Coal Harbour apartment. It was the Company’s Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Wine & Cheese, not that Mohamed had ever attended any of the eight previous ones. He only found out after receiving a half-hearted, after-thought invitation from the manager. The offer came simultaneously asking him if he could stay late to do a document review favour for a client of interest. All clients were always of interest – much more interest than he (or his work) had ever been paid.
Mohamed sighed heavy. He closed his eyes and for a second was transported to his favourite tea spot. Five of his university brothers were surrounding him – discussing the topic of the day, football and how many points their hometown team, the Sephadu Stunners, would win by. Mohamed remembered fondly walking home to the sights and sounds of the local market. He remembered the states of sweet aromatic breadfruit and the smell of freshly slaughtered cumin-dusted lamb being grilled on the charcoal grills. His hometown markets stood as such a sharp contrast to the same apples, oranges, and bananas that filed the fruit shelves in their endlessly and unnecessarily repetitive varieties.
However, the bane of Mohamed’s existence had to be the mayo and mustard baloney sandwiches that had become somewhat of a daily ritual. Mohamed never used to eat pork, considered haram in his religion, but a year of welfare cheques when he first arrived made his a connoisseur of cheap cuts of all edibles.
Mohamed’s thoughts were suddenly transported back to the streets of his hometown. After the walk through the market, it would be one left turn and two right turns before he would arrive at his home – the Jenagh Compound. He would see his elderly mom busy grinding up a cassava dish and his wife preparing the side dish of fresh pepper fish. His wife’s radiant smile and hazel-coloured eyes lit up in a concentrated gaze as she asked him if he wanted a third serving. He always did.
Mohamed grabbed a bite of the increasingly-soggy tuna wrap that was sitting in a half eaten glob on his desk. Mohamed hated tuna fish wraps, but they had become someone of a staple of his eight o’clock nights. Mohamed` kept a box of tuna fish and a bag of tortilla wraps under the small drawer on the right side of his desk for these all-to-often emergency session.
A pile of files sat on the left side of Mo’s desk. These were a reminder that he was still four projects behind. In addition to the task for the manager, he owed a draft mock-up to the city’s largest real estate company that was launching a push for new Arabic-speaking clients. Mohamed also had to finish off a marketing report for an up-and-coming luxury car company that wanted to advertise their new fuel-efficient car to buyers.
Having been in the business for twenty years, Mohamed could smell through the proverbial horse dung that was marketing. For example, he knew that that real estate companies were selling their townhouses way above market value, and conveniently leaving out details relating to historical leaks and hydro problems. The ads only focused on the ‘view that will get you laid’ attracting the young generation of the debt-ridden and those who lived off daddy’s wealth.
Mohamed looked at the yellow envelope on his desk. He had waited until the night to open his cheque. The cheque was to contain his much-anticipated year-end bonus. Mohamed had already searched out the beautiful baby blue wool overcoat that he wanted to give his wife for Christmas. Although they did not celebrate Christmas back home, he always used it as a good opportunity to give his wife something special. Doing the math, if his cheque was $1800 (assuming a $300 bonus), he could pay rent for $1000 and would have about $500 dollars to buy the coat. Mohamed’s own shabby suit jacket came from Global Fashion Co. – 70% off the Black Friday discount rack. It fit well enough, but it definitely looked every dollar of its $60 after-sale price.
Mohamed carefully ripped open the cheque with the dull-blade of his desk scissors. To his surprise he saw a few coupons with a handwritten note from his boss. Mohamed scanned the letter:
“Dear Mo, due to our difficult economic quarter, we have decided to cancel the yearly bonus. In exchange, we are giving every member of our team a generous $200 voucher generously provided by our client, Horizon Gas. Please enjoy this with your family (and if you don’t drive, friends!). Merry Christmas”
Mohamed placed his hand to his head. Mohamed didn’t drive nor own a car. Merry Christmas Indeed he thought to himself. Mo continued to work on the resignation later:
“Due to recent financial challenges at work, I have decided…”
It would be a long night before Christmas.