Sally Wants a Pickle, a short story
“Sally’s appetizer was delicious, as usual,” Sally said conversationally. “Was your salad satisfactory?”
“Um, yes, it was very good.” Aaron Reimer, her new account adviser, set his fork down and pushed his plate aside.
“Sally wants a pickle!” Sally abruptly yelled. Her outburst gave Aaron a start, and the waiter came running.
“A sweet or a dill?” he asked, ever solicitous.
“Dill,” Sally replied, poking at her hair with manicured nails. The waiter hurried away. Sally turned to her dining companion and took in his horrified expression.
“Something wrong?” she asked. Aaron shook his head slowly. His glasses slipped forward on his nose and he pushed them back up before looking down at his hands.
“Your face is flushed. Are you ill?” Sally placed a hand on
his forehead. He surreptitiously scanned the restaurant to see if anyone was
watching them. She took her hand away. "You don't feel overly warm to Sally."
“No, no. I’m fine,” he stammered as the waiter slid a small plate with a pickle on it in front of Sally. She thanked the waiter and turned back to Aaron.
“Well, you’re new.” Sally sat back in her chair and arranged the napkin in her lap. “I always give new people one chance, and one chance only, to understand how things are. This is your one chance. So, speak your mind, Reimer.” She gazed at him with sharp eyes.
Aaron Reimer took a sip of water from the crystal goblet before him and cleared his throat. “Alright, then. It’s the way you refer to yourself in the third person,” he finally said. “It’s odd. People generally don’t talk that way.”
“Really?” Sally’s expression tightened. “Go on.”
“Yes, it’s like something a toddler would do. ‘Sally wants this’ or ‘Sally did that’. The people who work for you are afraid to mention it. But since you asked me, I’ll be forthright with you. It makes you look a bit childish.”
“I see.” Sally tapped her fingernails on the tabletop, her pickle forgotten. “Continue.”
Emboldened now, Aaron sat forward in his chair and lowered his voice. “I’m sure you don’t realize the impression you’re making. You are an intelligent and successful woman in charge of a massive financial empire. You are surrounded by people who will not tell you the truth for fear of your reaction. I know with a little concentration, you could break yourself of the habit.”
“You are an expert in behavior, are you, Reimer?” Sally’s tone was deceptively pleasant. Aaron adjusted his tie and ran a hand through his short brown hair. He warmed to the opportunity to help his new employer correct this idiosyncrasy, this quirk that caused her to be mocked behind her back.
“Not an expert, but I am observant. I can see what this little, um, eccentricity is costing your image. It gives people the wrong idea about you.” He gave her a sympathetic smile.
Sally appeared to be considering his words. Finally, she spoke.
“You just blew your one chance.” Sally gathered her purse and gloves, then stood to leave. “You’re fired.”
“But, why? I don’t understand. I was merely answering your question.” Aaron’s expression was stricken. “I only told you the truth, which is what I thought you wanted.”
“Is there something wrong with your hearing, Reimer?” She frowned at him, and then raised her voice. “Sally says YOU’RE FIRED!” Looping the strap of her purse over her arm, Sally shoved the chair under the table with unnecessary force.
“Sally wants the check now!” she yelled toward the waiter as she walked away. Aaron sat in stunned silence and watched the waiter rush to Sally’s side. He couldn’t believe he had so grievously miscalculated the situation.
Aaron screwed up , he thought wryly.