Posted on: January 21, 2010
2 comments so far (is that a lot?)



A short story of 1,499 words


by Heidi Hirner


Bubbles – a cheerful blonde secretary – figures out a way to cheer up her Stock-broker boss who is super-grumpy due to the Economic Recession.



In spite of the fact that she was seated in front of a Work computer, Bubbles Buzansky often spent her time attending to non-work related emails, the kind of personal emails that the company – in its procedures and policies document – officially frowned upon.


Bubbles did feel a minor amount of guilt about these transgressions, and would occasionally furtively scan the office, just to make sure that the oily-coiffed Human Resource guy wasn’t creeping around.


The HR guy was usually too busy chatting on a dating site to spend valuable company time doing his job. He frequented the same dating site as Bubbles’ cousin. Bubbles knew this because he’d chatted up Bubbles’ cousin (who’d created a dating cyber-identity with profile picture of a naked Miley Cyrus) and offered to show her round the boardroom, after hours.


Bubbles wondered whether the Company’s procedures and policies allowed for such tours.


Bubbles was not her real name. Her real name was Bridget, a name that means ‘resolute strength’. Her co-workers nicknamed her ‘Bubbles’ though, because it suited her personality. Bubbles had a talent for cheering people up, for helping them to see the bright side – the silver lining, how that glass was half-full.


Bubbles was an optimist. She was the office psychologist, the company’s informal life coach and cheerleader.


Officially, Bubbles Buzansky was employed by “Capital Investments” as a PA to their Financials Portfolio Manager Hugo Pratt, a small man with a large Napoleon complex and an after-hours penchant for dark drinks in dark places in the company of women with silicone breasts.


Less officially – and in addition to her office cheerleading function – Bubbles was self-employed in a little side-line business using the computer that “Capital Investments” had provided in order that she could fulfill her PA function. Because she was unusually efficient, Bubbles had normally fulfilled her PA function within the first two hours of arriving at work, which left her with an abundant amount of time on her hands.


Sadly though, Bubbles could not use the time to chat around the printer or take coffee in the canteen. The fact that her job description required her to pick up all her boss’s telephone calls with a cheery and scripted “Capital Investments. Bubbles speaking. How may I help?” meant that she was effectively chained to her desk by a sentence.


At first Bubbles had used this spare time to cyber-date various men, in various countries using various nom de plumes. When she became bored of that, she used Google to become an expert in various arcane subjects like napkin-folding techniques and the correct way to plumb a bathroom basin; finally, just after she had resigned from her cyber-job answering Survey questions for Consumer Information companies, she discovered eBay and the wonderful world of cyber-business, where a bored but bubbly PA can virtually metamorphose into a cyber-entrepreneur.


Bubbles became a currency trader.


Nothing fancy, and definitely not anything resembling the currency trading that those barely post-pubescent guys in the CFD department took so seriously. Nope. That was far too stressful for Bubbles who had a tendency to hyperventilate after just two cups of coffee.


Bubbles took a more serene route on her currency trading journey; a road less traveled and known only to Notaphilists or banknote collectors.


Bubbles began trading Zimbabwean banknotes. First the millions, then the billions, then the trillions. There was a large overseas collectors market for the hyperinflated money. Bubbles quickly learnt what UNC meant, that sequential notes held more value, who had printed it and on what paper. Pretty soon, she knew as much about banknotes as she knew about napkin-folding techniques.


And it was a good thing that she had found something to keep her busy because it kept her mind off the fact that her boss – Hugo Pratt, Financials Porfolio Manager – was living up to the promise of his unfortunate surname.


The October stock market crash had ruined his mood completely. Up until then, he had been brusque.


After the crash though, he became impossible. Hugo Pratt – who held a gmail account under the name ‘yellow dog’ – took up the master-and-servant pastime of criticizing Bubbles on a daily basis, everything about her – her work, her abilities and even her appearance – without allowing her the right of reply and always behind the closed doors of his office.


Bubbles thought about taking the problem to HR, but when Hugo Pratt disappeared into the night to assess the entertainment skills of women who danced in the proximity of poles and laps, he often took the oily-coiffed Human Resource guy with him to provide an additional opinion.


Bubbles began to feel less confident than before, less bubbly. She began to feel fat, ugly, bloated. She visited her doctor and after a consultation that barely lasted five minutes, she emerged from his office with a prescription for anti-depressants.


When she got home, she opened the box of tablets. She took out and unfolded a thin sheet with the headings “side-effects” and “contra-indications.”


She read it once, then read it again. She looked up the word “contra-indication” to see what it meant.


Then she folded the sheet and repacked it, thoughtfully returning the box to her handbag.


The next day, she used Google to add ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ to the list of arcane subjects in which she was an expert. Like napkin-folding, she found it was a skill that had a practical use. Within days, she felt better despite the fact that the pills remained unopened, in her handbag.


And the pills remained in her handbag, all through the deepening crisis of November and the rising certainty of recession in December and January.


The pills remained in her handbag despite the increasingly prattish behaviour of Hugo Pratt, who – perhaps because he realized his efforts were no longer having an effect – redoubled his efforts.


Bubbles noticed how frustrated he was becoming and again consulted Google to find the origin of the behaviour. Google eventually revealed that the behaviour was properly termed ‘hypercritical’ and Google helped her to understand that Hugo Pratt was a troubled soul, a tormented little puppy who was crying out for help.


Her help.


Bubbles was – by nature – a helper. She felt her responsibility to help him was something that she could not turn away from.


Yes, she really did.


And she would find a way. Because she was not named ‘Bridget’ or ‘Resolute Strength’ for nothing.


She was absently surfing the CNBC website – she was still very interested in Economics due to her currency trading business – when she discovered an article titled “Capitalism is Optimism Monetized.”


She stared at the title for some time, purely because she didn’t understand what it meant.


She allowed her mind to wander around, searching for an analogy that would help her understand the phrase. “Well,” she thought to herself, “if Capitalism is Optimism monetized then we could also say that ‘Capitalism is ‘”…….


And then the solution appeared.


In a flash, as solutions often do.


She controlled the impulse to shout “Eureka” and jump around the office clicking her heels.


Nobody is really sure if Bubbles was able to implement her solution.. All we know is that Bubbles and her boss Hugo Pratt both left the company at the same time, but for different reasons.


Bubbles resigned.


Hugo Pratt was fired.


Bubbles resigned to become a full-time cyber-entrepeneur and currency trader. She seems to be doing very well in her new career and even now sends out her own newsletter to her loyal customers. She’s called it “Currency News”. It’s full of the most interesting factoids about paper money. And she often includes other practical information – like how to fold a napkin smartly. Or how to plumb a bathroom sink. It’s what makes her newsletter different to the rest.


Hugo Pratt, on the other hand, was fired because he had some kind of breakdown. For some reason his behavior suddenly became erratic, overly optimistic, manic almost.


One morning, after his morning coffee – Bubbles always brought him his coffee but he must have had other cups as well because he was hyper-energetic that morning – he decided that the Stock Market had reached the end of its recessionary cycle and decided to buy, buy, buy.


Unfortunately for his career and contrary to his misplaced optimism, the Stock Markets continued their falls off of cliffs. Nobody really knows how much money he lost, but it was enough to close the doors of “Capital Investments” forever.


So, it turned out that Bubbles resigned at exactly the right time. And it’s a good thing, because we love her newsletters. The last newsletter begins as follows:


“If Capitalism is Optimism Monetised, then – from a cognitive point of view – Capitalism is Dopamine Monetised and somebody should dump a load of anti-depressants into the water supply at the Stock Exchange. That would ensure the Recession doesn’t turn into a Depression.”


That’s funny.


You can tell she’s got a good sense of humor, old Bubbles.


A real cheerleader.


2 Responses to “Bubbles”

  1. George Says:

    Very good story Heidi and well written
    George Sydney Australia

  2. ginny swart Says:

    Loved this story Heidi! Ginny

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