I never thought I'd be thinking of things like this. I never thought I would say something like that.

Allstate has been one of our biggest accounts at the body shop office where I work. I've been handling the account for the last year or so. It's an account that at least 2 other people have handled before me, and they were men at least 10 years older. Of late we'd been assigned a different field adjuster, the title for an employee at Allstate who is expected to keep tabs on us to make sure we're doing what we're supposed to as per the company's rules. Usually, we only see them when they reinspect, when they show up unnannounced and try to catch us in the act of cheating. The last adjuster always called first. He liked us and wanted us to stay with "the team." We're a PRO shop for Allstate (Priority Repair Operation), which means we're one of the shops that Allstate claimants are directly referred to when they need body work done. This enables us to keep a steady flow of business on what could be very sad and slow times, as well as making sure we get paid for all our work, since PRO shops get their money wired to them electronically. Being the PR lady, I had a cushy job but one that required a lot of attention to detail, something I try to be good at.

Well, once the new adjuster, Tony, showed up, things changed. We'd heard about Tony, and no one seemed to like him over at Allstate but they tolerated him anyway, and so we were expected to do likewise. He showed up a lot more often and never before calling, so that when he came by it was always at the most inopportune times. Tom would be out at lunch or I'd be too busy to entertain his unusually long visits and inquisitions about things I didn't have answers for. From the start, it seemed like he was out to get us, that he was collecting on an old grudge. Well, today, he came with another Allstate guy, a man in charge of 10 states. After another hours long interrogation, they informed us that we were to be taken off the PRO list, a major detriment to our office. On the average, Allstate's business constitutes 40% of our business, something that will be hard to replace.

I never thought things like this would be things I think about. When I heard the news, it was hard not to cry. I love my job, and I don't fear to lose it. I simply commiserated with the body men as they found out. This is their livelihood, something they will do until they're too feeble to do it, something they learned to do as teens. This is a blue collar market; it doesn't get any more bottom dollar than this. I mean, we will go on, likely working on getting State Farm, another big account, as a PRO, maybe Geico. But for that moment I was considering that maybe this was a sign to change my own course. With what was left of the afternoon, we all joked about the outcomes. Would we dress up Tiffany in a Catholic school girl uniform with bloomers underneath that bear our dealership's name and have her bend over in traffic laden intersections? Would we take up macrame or hold bake sales? Would we all buy a big house together to cut costs? Would I, by association, still have a cushy job? Do I still want to fight so hard for it now? Would Eric, the painter's helper, make good on his offer to vandalize Tony's home?

There are those moments where something out of your control happens and there's that coping period where you need to do something you claim will help you not think about it. For Sandi and I it was two daquiris ($5 for a large during Happy Hour in the drive thru) and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik. For Tom it's likely beers at the bar across the street with one of the body men, Mike. Tiffany, who believes she is pregnant untimely, is having blood work done this evening for what was going to be prep work for the removal of one of her ovaries. If she's pregnant, that will have to wait, and either way, I'm sure she has other things on her mind.

Sandi and I went to Denny's before work this morning and it was then that I told her I felt that all of the lives of our co-workers and ourselves seemed to be simultaneously on hold. We're all waiting for answers. I'm waiting to see when Carson will be able to find an apartment. Sandi's waiting to see which drug she can be put on for her psychological struggles. Tiffany's waiting to see if she is indeed pregnant and what she will tell her boyfriend, the father, who had only recently gotten back together with her after a short breakup. I'm not sure what Randy's waiting for, but I would like to think it has something to do with his annoying girlfriend's untimely death, since he will never muster the balls to get her out of his life.

Maybe we were all waiting for this and didn't know it.

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