Previously on Heir Force: Kate and John’s Dinner Date
On Monday morning, Kate had an email in her inbox requesting she see her boss, Sergeant Thompson. She didn’t know what it might be about. She better get it over with if he had bad news. She knocked on his door frame and waited for him to acknowledge her. He chatted on the phone, but he waved her in, gesturing to the chair in front of his desk.
She ignored his conversation as best she could, making it difficult from her perch. The sunlight coming through the windows in the office dimmed as clouds gathered across the sun’s path. She wondered if a storm was brewing in St. Louis. So much of their weather came through the big city first before it headed east toward the base. She hadn’t been stationed here yet when a few years ago a tornado touched down in Fairview Heights, a neighboring town, demolishing a small strip mall. She didn’t remember how many were injured or killed.
Kate tried to keep her legs still, but they jerked up and down. She clasped and unclasped her hands as she glanced around the office. Framed awards and photos adorned the walls and the office was decorated in typical military fashion, which was practical but not very warm. Pale walls, blue plastic molding, industrial carpet in dark blue tones. Inexpensive dark-wood furniture made to look rich.
Sergeant Thompson finally hung up the phone and folded his hands on his desk. “Thanks for coming right away. Wasn’t counting on that,” he pointed to the phone.
“Sure. What did you want to see me about, Sir?” Kate didn’t know what to expect, so she sat forward in the chair, her boots flat on the floor like a pair of tight bookends.
“I’m hearing rumors of a personality conflict in your area. Anything you want to tell me about?” Sergeant Thompson leaned back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head.
“Sir, I…” Kate faltered and looked at the ground. How was she supposed to phrase her answer?
Sergeant Thompson spoke, which made her look up again. “Kate, just tell me what’s going on. I think we’ve known each other long enough that you can just play it straight with me. Agreed?”
Kate studied her superior officer’s face a moment before speaking. She slumped against her chair. “Truthfully, sir, ever since John and I started dating and especially after I got my last stripe, Ruth has been awful. I try not to engage, but it’s getting bad enough everyone in the office is defending me or trying to deflect her from me. It’s embarrassing.” Finished, Kate looked out the window.
Why did she always have to be the one on the wrong end of things? She did what she was told, hung out with a few close and decent friends, paid her taxes, drove the speed limit. If she studied hard to pass her rank, and won the reward, what did it matter to Ruth?
“Thanks for being frank with me; I appreciate it. I think I’ve heard enough to get Ruth transferred. Nobody will be the wiser. It doesn’t do to have problems in the ranks if they can be dealt with. Things are hard enough with troops spread thin and all these conflicts all over the globe.” He paused to straighten a stack of papers on his desk. “If this problem affected troops on the battlefield, that’s another story altogether. I’ll take care of it.” He leaned toward his desk again, signaling the end of their conversation.
Kate stood up. She wasn’t sure she agreed nobody would know why Ruth got transferred, but it was out of her hands. “Thank you, Sir, for listening to my side. I’ve tried to be as truthful as possible.” Kate finished speaking and saluted.
Sergeant Thompson nodded and said, “You’re dismissed.”
She decided to go to the break room for a tea before heading to her desk, so hopefully nobody would know where she had come from. She walked down the hall, lost in thought and nearly ran into Spencer.
“Whoa, you’re not on earth, Kate.” Spencer put his hand on Kate’s shoulder to steady her after their near miss.
“Sorry, just lost in thought.”
“More like space. Everything okay?”
“Yeah, fine. Just something I can’t talk about right now.”
“Gotcha. See you later.”
Kate nodded, resuming her way towards her destination.
Do you ever work with difficult people? What do you do in that situation? How do you cope? Are you enjoying the story? I’d love to hear from you!
Next time on Heir Force: Dinner With John Before He Leaves
Until next time,