A week ago he’d learned over lunch that he was losing his favorite project.
It was the place he had a chance to shine. He loved touring the country with two crates of laptops in tow, teaching the intellectually less fortunate how to perform the calculations to properly install the manufacturer’s equipment, saving the company warranty costs. He loved the tight airplane seats, bad hotels, dim meeting rooms and greasy food, even some of the less fortunate students, in his own way.
He paraded at the front of the rooms, demi-godlike, flipping calculations off the top of his head, dazzling them with his speed and accuracy.
But his roadshow had become too expensive. Travel costs, said the boss.
Now he sat across from this trim woman in a well-cut skirt, brandishing her big-city resume and promising to make his show, his baby, transportable and accessible.
Suddenly, he felt the weight of the extra hundred pounds on his average frame, the itch of the red rash on his hand, the psychological sting of his cheap plaid shirt and bad haircut.
The woman smiled at him sincerely. I know how you feel, she seemed to say. We can work together.
He almost let himself feel kindly, even cooperative, but just for a second. Then he caught a reflection of himself in her eyes. He didn’t like what he saw, an ordinary man.
He brushed a stray hair from his forehead and leveled his gaze.
It was on.