The XBox proved to be the nexus of conflict over the following days. When Kristy arrived home at eight o’clock that night, with the sense of glowing self-worth that being absolutely needed in the office for twelve hours at a time provided, she found Katie crouched on the floor in front of the TV, controller in hand, a half empty “family-size” bag of Doritos and several crumpled Coke cans spread out around her on the cream-colored carpet.
“Have you seriously spent the whole day playing a video game on the XBox?” Kristy demanded. “Did you even get dinner?”
Katie made a dodging motion and pressed frantically on the controller. Kristy scooped up the bag of Doritos, dropped into one of the armchairs, and consumed several chips.
“I went to the store and got stuff,” Katie said, indicating the Doritos. “I wasn’t really that hungry and I didn’t know if you would pick up dinner out.”
Kristy popped another chip in her mouth, licked the livid orange dust off her fingers, and disappeared into the kitchen. The fridge door sounded.
“Two fridge packs of Coke and no diet?”
“Diet is disgusting. If you’re going to drink it, drink it.”
A can popped.
“Oh man, you got Nutella?”
Katie was immersed in her game and did not respond. After a few moments Kristy entered bearing a can of Coke and a Nutella sandwich. “I haven’t had Nutella in ages.”
“It’s right there are the store.”
“I don’t buy it. All this stuff is horrendous, Katie. It’s going to make me fat.”
Katie shrugged. “So don’t eat it. You’re not fat.”
“Because I don’t stock the house with carb cocaine. If this junk is here I’ll eat it.”
“Some willpower you’ve got there.”
The theme played out with variations the following days.
“What the hell is it with you sitting around all day playing some video game?” Kristy demanded Wednesday night, dumping her laptop bag on the couch, kicking off her shoes, and tucking her feet under her.
“It’s not ‘some video game’, it’s Skyrim. This is epic stuff.”
“Still on your Dorito and Coke diet?”
“I found some money of yours and ordered in. There’s a container for you in the fridge. I got you something vegetarian because I saw you’d eaten two of my pop-tarts this morning and I figured you’d still be feeling guilty.”
Kristy pulled herself out of the chair and padded into the kitchen. “Yes, I ate your pop-tarts for breakfast. Why didn’t I just invite a drug pusher to move in with me?”
“Oh come on,” Katie called after her. “It’s just Doritos and stuff, it’s not like I’m snorting coke or something. Loosen up!”
“At least cocaine shouldn’t show on my carpet like the Dorito crumbs.”
Thursday night Kristy came up the stairs from the garage, then stood rooted just inside the kitchen door staring at the dining room table. Her hand mirror lay in the center of the table with two little lines of white powder on it. A razor blade and a short length of soda straw lay handy nearby.
“Mmmm? What?” a muffled voice called from the living room.
Kristy picked up the mirror with a hand that she suddenly realized was trembling and strode purposefully into the living room. “What is this, Katie?”
“I ran out of Doritos,” Katie said without turning around. “And since you were so upset about all the junk food…”
“Katie! Put that damn controller down and look at me! Where did you get this?”
Katie turned around with an impish smile. “From your cupboard. It’s baking powder.”
Kristy stood, motionless and openmouthed. “The look on your face!” Katie chortled uncontrollably, kicking her feet against the floor. “Doritos! The gateway drug!”
Kristy stalked icily back to the kitchen and dusted the mirror off into the trash. Re-entering the living room she planted herself between Katie and the TV. “Alright. Very funny. You know what? It’s been a week. You need to decide whether you’re going to move in here or drag your sorry ass back to Mom and Dad’s house. If you want to live with me, I’m going to tell you just once: Get. A. Job.”
It was on Friday that the Shanghai team finally admitted that the players had not shipped on time. They were onboard ship now, Kristy was assured, but they would not arrive in the US until two weeks after the planned launch date. Frustrations ran high, and when appealing to authority, Kristy found her boss Josh, the vice president of product marketing, curiously impassive.
“Do we need to push back the launch date a couple weeks?” he asked.
“No. I’ll get units here,” she assured him. “We’ll just have to air them in. It just adds three dollars a unit to the cost. With all the advertising lined up, it would cost a lot more to delay than to fly supply in.”
“Alright. Sounds like you’re dealing with it.”
Back in her office, she opened her mind briefly to fear. Had the Player become a “troubled project”? Was the all-important entrance into hardware, with all the unaccustomed difficulties that entailed, being overshadowed by whatever the app-launch-of-the-week might be? For a moment she envisioned herself in the same office, with the same title, three or four years hence — the oft seen but never regarded manager of a product line that no one cared about, her hopes that this would prove the avenue to promotion replaced with the dull resignation that this was all she was fit for. End of the line.
She quickly shook these self-indulgent feelings off. This, she told herself, was simply an example of why it was essential to have someone like her in charge of the launch. Josh and the rest of the leadership team trusted her to surmount obstacles and get the product out in a creditable fashion.
It was 6:00 PM on a Friday, and for the last fifteen minutes she had been staring at her big presentation, the product launch deck, without seeing it. In two weeks, just five days before the PocketDJ Player arrived in stores, she would get up and deliver this to the entire executive team: Why the product was essential. How it had come to market. The sales strategy. And how she had overcome all obstacles to assure a smooth launch. This was the career maker.
However, all she had done since opening it was consider the placement of a comma and adjust the font size on a few text boxes, and even Kristy’s need for diligence was forced to admit the reality that there was nothing that urgently needed to be done Friday evening. She snapped her computer closed and headed out.
In the lobby, Kanga cradled a plastic light saber in her paws: a sentinel standing guard until the new week brought the building’s inmates back to work and plot and plan and play foosball.
Walking back to the car, she pulled out her phone.
“Hey, Katie. How was your day?”
“You’d be pleased. I went out and filed a bunch of applications this morning. Starbucks called and asked if I’d come in for an interview Monday.”
Kristy held back the inquiry: Starbucks? Could you get any more stereotypical? At least she’d applied somewhere. “It’s been a long week, Katie. Want to get some clothes on and we’ll go out to dinner?”
“Yeah, I’d like that.”
“I’ll be home in fifteen minutes.”