He had been confused by his Tsunami dream all morning. Just like the ones he’d had when he was in college, the hundred foot wall of water came crashing down on the cliff right below him, just missing him by a couple of feet. He had woken up in a terrified jolt. It was odd because things in his life were so good at the moment, and he couldn’t make any sense of this vividly violent dream, a surely bothersome image of what he’d hoped was not a premonition.
Carlos Gomez was the ruggedly handsome type of good-looking man. He had thick eyebrows, a scruffy face, and at six-foot two, he was big for a Mexican-American, or Chicano. He was broad shouldered, had a thick and well defined jaw, and it looked as though it would take a brick to do any damage to it. Even so, there was something so kind and gentle about his piercing and penetrating brown eyes. As intimidating of a figure that he was, it was as if those windows to his soul showed you that he was anything but scary. He was deep and caring, and he always followed his heart.
Carlos walked through his office floor Tuesday morning as he did virtually every working weekday. Walking through the office floor was always important in the sense that he knew everyone’s eyes were always on him. He glided quickly from the elevator of the 35th floor of the Platinum Group Bank building in Los Angeles through the lobby, and into the cubicle zoo.
The cubicle zoo was the large open area full of grey cubicles in the middle of the mortgage securities department. It was so called because its uncanny resemblance to a zoo full of caged animals posing as employees of a major banking corporation. Some of the guys in the office had come up with the concept and nickname some years ago, and it had never gone away. They even made a sign that read “CuBIcLE ZoO”, which hung on the outside of the first cubicle upon entering the offices.
In the zoo, you had the lions known as the sales team in one section, always shouting aggressively on the phone, or just at each other, with their large and boisterous personalities. They were nice enough guys and gals, but you couldn’t believe a word they said. Carlos had thought that baboons would’ve been a more suitable description, but they hated that idea. Incidentally, the sales team had come up with the “cubicle zoo” concept, and got the graphic artists, or “parrots” as they became known, to make the signs.
There were also the caged monkeys that posed as computer experts and accountants. They quietly kept to themselves, drinking Cokes and Rockstar energy drinks, exchanging pleasantries about their nightly online exploits. They were geeky and ill-mannered, and they whispered and snickered close to each other when they spoke. From afar, they were often so physically close to each other, they appeared to be grooming each other, like monkeys would. They were completely harmless, but had their occasional bouts of explosive, sugar and caffeine fueled behavior when they got too cranky or their nerdy formulas weren’t working out.
There were also the more exotic flamingos that had their own cages, but more often than not, just roamed freely throughout the entire zoo. The flamingos were disguised as young beautiful women, hired to do the administrative work, but mostly, they were just eye candy for the managers to ogle at. They tended to get caught in the undertow of subordinate corporate drama with the crocodiles, who eagerly threw them under the bus for their own amusement. It was petty jealousy on the part of the crocs, but the flamingos always escaped unscathed.
The crocs were the senior women who could be catty, mean, and even sometimes overweight. They were led by the queen croc, Margie, the most vicious in the lot of them. Together, they wielded much of the power in the office, both from their dedicated years of service, and because they had the dirt on most of the managers. They understood corporate politics, and were just too smart. Luckily for most everyone else, the crocs were all part of the mom’s club, and usually preferred to keep to their own world. Carlos liked them perhaps the most, and they liked him back. They didn’t mind at all being labeled crocs, in fact, they took to it with pride. They had even ordered the graphic artists to make up their own signs for them. The fact that they “owned” their label so proudly made them even more respected around the office. One thing was certain. Nobody messed with them, not even the managers.
This morning, Carlos made his way through the cubicle zoo, trying to avoid eye contact with any animals. He’d hoped to be able to cross the jungle without disturbance, and get to his office, which was clear on the other side. A young flamingo was walking his way with half a bagel in her hand and a worried look on her face. “Moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips honey,” hollered out Margie in her scratchy chain-smoking voice. The rest of the crocs started laughing.
Carlos tried not to laugh. They were always extra hard on the new ones. Carlos got through unscathed, as everyone seemed to be content in their own worlds. He was assistant vice president of residential mortgage securities, along with two others in the office. They were all gunning for the vice president job, which was currently held by the soon to be retiring, Jerry Mitchell.
As Carlos got to the end of the cubicles, James Lopez, a tiger, was coming his way with a smirk on his face. “You owe me forty bucks,” James murmured in a low voice as he walked by. Carlos held his breath as he passed, an involuntary response as to avoid the awkwardly intimate smell of another man.
“Come by sometime before lunch ok?” Carlos uttered back. That sellout, Carlos thought to himself. James’ real name was actually Jaime, of the Spanish pronounced variation, but he was ashamed of being Latino, so he went by James. He was in sales, and truthfully it probably helped him land more clients to go by James. However, Carlos had heard him go by Jaime when talking to Spanish speaking clients. In the end though, Carlos couldn’t blame the guy for doing what he had to, to be successful.