New Times

She surveyed the spectrum of idiocy in front of her and wondered how exactly this had come to pass. Her place here, well, that she knew for certain, it had been her trajectory since the first dry quip escaped her lips at the advanced age of two but as for the rest… She had no way of accounting for their position in the room whatsoever. Clearly change was necessary. How soon into a position is it customary to allow before laying off eighty percent of your staff? No, she would have to do it in stages. Fire those most insufferable first and slowly work her way through until everything was as she would like it. As much as she would prefer the former, somehow she didn’t think the remaining twenty percent were capable of producing The New York Times with the same regularity as they currently do at full capacity.

“Run that by me again,” she said quizzically to the vast, bespectacled Lifestyle Editor across from her.

“We could do a review of the top restaurants in the city by cuisine,” he stammered, “The top Italian, the top Asian, French… a culinary map if you will.”

“Is this a fresh pitch or are you well into your research already Mitch?”

Mitch’s beady eyes widened behind his wire frames and his mouth gaped, adding yet another chin to the rolling tundra already protruding over his polo-neck. Before he had the opportunity to gather his thoughts enough to form a dismally ineloquent response she turned her attention to the sap beside him.

“And Bianca, Bianca is it?” she cut in, the woman next to Mitch with hair like a nest nodded frantically, her piled-up hair sloshing back and forth, “Please tell me you have a new angle on quite why online shopping is killing the high street because it’s been killing it for twenty years and, oh look! I can still step out on my lunch and purchase a whole new outfit and a sandwich toaster.”

Bianca mouthed unformed words like a dry-drowning fish. A dying fish would be more useful than this sack of idiots sat across from her.

“That’s it, get out!”

“But Ms Geller,” muttered Mitch.

“Out!” she screamed.

She watched as they filed out, muttering about it being their office so why did they have to leave, as she rubbed her temples. The door closed behind them and she heaved a huge sigh. Morons, she was working with genuinely stone age morons. Her first editors meeting and she was already debating who to cull first, she had expected better things from the New York Times. The Washington Post, sure, that rag couldn’t find an original thought if it jumped up and bit it on the ass but the Times… She resolved to look up their backgrounds when she returned to her office. Backwater institutions no doubt.

“Deep breath,” she told herself, “day one would always be trying, you knew this.” She knew she had to control her temper so as to avoid coming off as callous rather than the perfectionist she knew herself to be. The first edition under her name would provide a shape of things to come and must be nothing less than impeccable, certainly not the gross, disfigured retch Mitch and Bianca seemed determined to make it. Only one thing would calm her at this stage; the mere thought of it made her heart leap.

She crossed to the door, smoothing down her skirt before stepping through it. She turned right at the end of the bank of cubicles and made straight for the elevators. The timid mouse stood waiting caught sight of her and scurried off towards the stairwell. She grinned as the heavy doors closed behind her. She was feared. How delightful.

She studied her reflection in the silver a moment, her dark top masking her torso so that her head appeared to float. If she angled her head, the shorter side of her asymmetric cut made her think of that Sinead O’Connor video and she again questioned the trust she had placed in her hairdresser. Straight on, however, she had to admit, the man knew his trade. The sweeping fringe cut to her chin made her face sleek and elegant in a way she had never imagined herself to be. Somehow he had discovered her cheekbones too. She wondered if the fear she produced came from a Meryl Streep, Devil-Wear’s-Prada-esq vibe. Either way fear was much easier to work with.

The doors stretched wide to reveal the design floor, her home from home. She made a bee-line for Layout and stood, drinking in the mock-up pages tacked to the walls. Here is where it came together. Here is where the magic was made. The room smelled of paper and old ideas, and while everything was done digitally now, she liked to think she could still see the ink stains from yesterday’s news. Every editor the paper had known had stood here at one time or another, barking orders. She was the latest in a long line of talented people, high standards to live up to.

Like a drill burring at the side of her skull, something caught her eye and made her grit her teeth so as to not remove the designers head with the sheer force of her willpower.

“Excuse me, what is your name?” she quizzed as politely as possible.

The young man turned, caught sight of who was addressing him and immediately shrunk a good foot or two, which was impressive as he was not tall to begin with.

“Tony,” he muttered.

“Tony, why, may I ask, do I see Jean Michelle across the fold from this random blonde?”

Tony glanced up at the board and clocked where she was indicating.

“That’s Blake Lively, miss.”

“I don’t care how lively she is,” she bristled, “she doesn’t belong opposite Jean Michelle!”

“But… it’s the spotted section, miss.”

“Spotted section?!” she recoiled, “What is this, OK Magazine?!”

“Mr Portland thought it would get more young people engaged,” stammered Tony.

“Well Mr Portland is a sniveling idiot!” she screamed, “No wonder he’s out on his ear! Here’s hoping he got a good severance package as I shan’t be doing him any favors. Old coot couldn’t tell news from his latest bowel movement. ”

She closed her eyes and took deep, soothing breaths. Changes, lots of changes to be made. It seems they couldn’t have brought her in soon enough. At least her first issue would easily impress following on from this drivel.

Composed, she left the room, leaving Tony quivering on his stool, unsure whether to continue. She crossed down the hall to her office and lingered a moment, her fingers poised on the handle, taking in the writing on the glass door. “Paris Geller, Editor In Chief”. She smiled to herself, soaking it in. Maybe she’d contact Rory, see if she had anything interesting for above the fold. It also gave her an excuse to perfect her email signature, just in case the news hadn’t reached her yet.

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