“I don’t know about you,” Pete said, sliding his hand along his head to preserve the comb over, “but I’m feeling particularly patriotic today.”
“Are you, Pete?” Rob said from the next cubicle over. He was leaning out into the hallway between them, as he often did, his shoulder-length hair hanging to taunt Pete.
“I am. I just feel like standing up and singing the national anthem,” Pete said as his eyes narrowed, just a little, at Rob’s gloating. Pete had long suspected, quite rightly it would later turn out, that Rob had grown his hair long just to annoy Pete. It was a gambit that worked, giving Pete that small pit of frustration every day, even if it did cost Rob the chance to advance up the company hierarchy three years in a row.
“Well, Pete, you’ve got two options then. Either stand up and sing it loud,” Rob tossed his head, flicking the hair out of his eyes, “or shut up and get back to work. Now, I can’t tell you what to do, since I’m not the boss, but honestly, I would much prefer you did the latter, since you spent the first hour this morning telling us the minutiae of your drive in to work. Seriously, you have an eight minute drive, and it took you an hour to tell us.”
“Yeah, but it was really interesting, don’t you agree?”
“It took the boss telling you to stuff it before we could get to work. Like, I enjoy working more than hearing you talk, Pete.”
“Well, Rob,” Pete said, “just because I’m a more efficient worker than you, as noted in my annual report, doesn’t mean you need to get all snippy.”
“I’m not snippy, Pete, just saying you spend more time talking than doing anything else, and the only one who likes hearing you is you.”
“Rob, I think you’re just a mindless little – ”
“Gentlemen,” Sheila interrupted, appearing in the aisle behind Rob’s head. “Do we have a problem here?”
“No boss,” Rob said.
“No boss,” Pete said. The two turned back to their computers, clicking their mice without actually doing anything.
“Good. Keep working then. I’d say keep up the good work, but, well, that’s an insult to the word ‘good’. So keep working, at least.”
“Yes boss,” they said together. When Sheila had passed, the two exchanged a glare, then started in on their half-assed typing.