Let me start off by saying I love Fatima to death. We met on my first day at NERA, at 5pm on the dot. "Hi mamma," she said in crisp Spanish accent, pushed the giant green tub by my cube to dump in my trash and recycling bins. "You new?" She nodded at me with a mischievous and patronizing air of a senior to a freshman. "Yes," I timidly replied. "No worry, I take care of you," she patted me on my back.
True to her words, Fatima takes the best care of me and my messy cube, as she does to everyone in the office. No matter how late I stayed, she circled the office twice or even three times to make sure all trash bins were empty the next morning - a deed I didn't fully appreciate until she left for a week-long vacation in Ecuador. Her substitute was not as dedicated, and being greeted by the faint smell of yesterday leftover was quite unpleasant.
Fatima has nicknames for everyone in the office. She refers to the Big Boss as "my best friend", and my Japanese Boss Charming as "tall Chinese guy." On Halloween, Boss Charming's girlfriend stopped by the office dressing up as a stewardess. Fatima promptly informed the next day, "Chinese guy's girlfriend, muncho pretty!"
I especially admire Fatima for her big bright smile, every time I see her, at 5pm on the dot. It's no question that she works hard - on weekday at MMC office from 4pm to midnight, all weekend at the Sheraton hotel. Apparently she also contracted with certain electricity suppliers, as one day she insisted on me switching electricity provider to save 7% on my bill.
One cold winter afternoon, as the sun hastily collected its purple rays, Fatima proudly told me, "Yesterday my son's birthday. I took him to Olives Garden in New Jersey, Manhattan too expensive. I buy him Armani Exchange jacket, $275. My son 19 year-old!" Her excited voice touched me, and I wanted to get up and give her a hug. But she might think it's weird. So instead, I offered the tiramisu I had ordered for dinner, "That's great Fatima. Would you like a dessert?" She did a graceful curtsy, "Thanks mamma!"