That summer in Florence ruined me.  How does a woman return to the normal humdrum of life after experiencing paradise?

My boss stormed into my cubicle throwing down the report I handed in last night.  “What’s this?”

“Last month’s financials.”  I took a sip of chai.

“I showed this to my boss and looked like a fool.  You need to review your work.”

“The total is automatically calculated.”

Sure, the history, artwork, architecture, and food are unparalleled.  But I’m talking lifestyle.

“The total should be two-hundred-twenty-three-thousand.”

“Impossible.”  Sip

He whips out a calculator to prove he’s right.  He repeats the task but can’t match his original total.

Everyone is relaxed.  Work starts at nine.  People show up at half past ten, after visiting the trattoria for a morning cappuccino.  Work relaxed.  Things get done, and they get done well.  No mad frenzies or hours of shouting. Passion is saved for life, not wasted at work.

“This is careless.  You need to take ownership of your mistakes.”

“I do.  When I’m wrong.”  Sip.

“I didn’t want to hire you.”

“All the numbers are estimates, rounded to zero and five.  The total can only end in a zero of five.”  A crowd was gathering.

“You have an answer for everything.  It’s why no one likes you.”

And the men.  They always tell you how beautiful you are; it doesn’t matter if you’re in your twenties or eighties, if you’re built like the Venus de Milo or the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  It’s mentioned so casually and so often as a matter-of-fact.  It makes you feel good about yourself.  It changed the way I viewed myself.

“Alan, why’re you berating Sandy for doing your job?”  Turning to me.  “Meet me in my office.  We need to talk promotion.”

“My promotion, boss?”

“Not anymore.” Sip.

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