The sign was strung on a plastic
hook (like the ones you buy in sets of four at the grocery store in the household cleaner aisle, the kind with double-stick tape
that can only hold up a pot holder at most) that was stuck to the only door they seemed have in the entire building, the only door that offered a way inside
instead of out. The sign read Out of Office.
The room that the door belonged to was officially considered a supply room, but it was far bigger than the office needed for supplies. Since it had enough room and floor space, the four employees that were assigned to the regular and systematic assembly of proposals (bids for the office's services that eventually led to acquisition of contracts and clients) began using the room as their assembly station. One woman picked all the good colors and choice words, two men drew up all the figures, charts, and graphs, and another girl helped paper punch and sort through copies, section dividers, and printouts to make the final binders for the companies to view. While their job was quite essential, few in the office took them very seriously. At the same time, however, no one argued with them when they left their cubicles for one 4 day period out of every month, holed themselves inside the supply room, and crunched out proposals. They made the most of it.
They each had keys for the building so they could stay after hours and so spent most of their "assembly" time in the night. Their cars lined up in the parking lot in a tidy row.
The girl took it upon herself to bring the food. She never cooked but knew how and liked to bring food that wasn't too messy, food that wouldn't stain their fingers as they proofread lines of burbling text and stretched out on the floor of the supply room. The two men would go home and change into T-Shirts and jeans, tossing aside their over washed conservative button up shirts and dockers worn smooth at the knees. The woman always brought the wine and the ashtray.
Together, they laughed at their circumstance and embraced their odd union toward a seemingly bland and repetitive task. They took turns mocking the different department heads, not harshly, as they didn't hate anyone who worked there. They simply knew that they were grunts and they were content with that as they could be. To them, these four days were their poker night, the bowling night, their night out with friends. It wasn't all the world, but it was enough of the world to keep them going. They had all been working there so long that they had forgotten what exactly the product was they were so responsible for marketing just right.
And the following Monday morning, somewhere between 3 and 20 proposals would arrive at their designated destination. The supply room would be aired out and vacuumed of its paper punch circles, staples, and ash. Four people went to each of the four corners of their floor and waited.