She slammed down the books and stared at me. “My name is Sally. Not Honey.”
I only stared at her. I have a tendency to call everyone Hon or Honey. It does not mean that I am flirting or being fresh with them. Nor do I look at women as sex symbols. Or objects.
I looked back down at the book I had been reading when she interrupted me. “I am sorry if I offended you. I meant nothing by it. I call everyone Hon or Honey.”
She was still livid. “Well, you need to stop. It is disrespectful and quite frankly, sexist. I should report you straight away. But I do not know who to report you to.”
The last part of her retort made me smile in spite of myself. “You would have to report me to me. I am in charge here. And I see no disrespect in being kind to anyone. But, I am still sorry if I offended you.”
She was now in shock. “And who is your boss? I would like to speak to her about you.”
Again, I couldn’t help smiling at the ridiculousness of her attitude. “I am the boss here. I own this library. I also own the business that it is connected to. Would you still like to file a complaint? I know a board of directors who might hear you out.”
She scowled. “Do I look that stupid to you? Do I have the word stupid printed on my forehead?”
I shook my head. “No. And I never said anything of the sort. Nor have I implied it. Now. If you are quite done, I would recommend that, if you do not like things here, that you take the books you were about to check out back and then leave. If you cannot take a nice word, then you can go someplace where they will treat you with the indignity you so desire. but take your Diva attitude out of my library. you are disturbing the peace and the other customers.” I had noticed one of the men a couple tables back rolling his eyes at all that she had been saying. He had heard me call her Honey, and had apparently thought nothing more of it than I had.
But she refused to give it up. And I was to be her whipping post, whether I deserved it or not. But I had finally grown tired of apologizing for being nice. I had come to the realization that, no matter how nice you are, there are just some people who can never take a compliment or an apology. Now, as the owner of the library, I had only two options open to me.
I could either boot her out, or demand that she apologize. I chose to kick her out. Not that I wanted to, but I had to. For the sake of the other customers.
Though I owned the library, it was free to come in and browse or check out books to take home. All you had to do was buy a membership. And those were lifetime memberships, which you only paid a small one-time fee for. And I do remember her paying her one-time dues. But I had never seen her like this.
Apparently, she believed that I was a mere employee. Someone she could take her anger out on. Anger over nothing. And what’s more, the board-or, at least five members thereof-had seen the whole thing. And they now wanted her attention. In fact, I saw Timonny Marx headed toward us at what was warp speed in his mind.
He seemed to sneak up on her, even though the other customers saw his approach. “Miss, would you please come with me?”
She nearly jumped out of her skin. “And who are you?”
He held back a smirk. “I, ma’am, am Tim Marx. I am the Chairman of this corporation. I am requesting that you come with me now. Mr. Hargis is simply being nice to you in asking you to leave. Just as he was being nice to you when he called you Honey. In fact, you sort of remind me of his grand daughter. She is about your age and he hasn’t seen her since she went to college. Now. If you will…?”
I watched him escort her back to the boardroom. Simi Jones and Louise Johnstone followed. Lili and Frank were probably already there. As would be Phil.
Arkham Wills walked over and relieved me. “They will want you back there as well, Dan.”
I nodded as I got up from my seat. “Yeh, I know. As the CEO, I have to make it good.”
He chuckled. “No doubt. But we all witnessed the whole thing. you did nothing wrong.”
I smiled sadly. “I know. But times are so different now. No one likes a compliment anymore. It is as if they just don’t have any feelings except rage and offense. I no longer know how to act or what to say.”
He looked me in the eye. “If she only knew the visionary we all allied ourselves with forty years ago. She wouldn’t have done what she did. I remember when you built this company. You were basically jobless and almost homeless. With your love for the industry, and your love of books, you built this library after the death of your son.”
I looked down. I remembered that day. “Yes, My eldest son.” I felt a tear welling up in my one good eye.
As I got up, I wiped it away, checked my digi-eye to make sure it had not accidentally collected moisture, then made my way to the boardroom. It was time to face the music. I had to settle this once and for all. After all, even she had to understand that what had happened, and especially her part of it all, had been unacceptable. I was getting too old for this. Perhaps after this year, I would have myself cloned and reborn, so that this version of me could get some rest and fade into memory.