It’s a bright weekday morning, and you are just arriving at work. Are you Mike or Megan?
Hi Megan. Let’s start the day by catching up on emails. Ooh, here’s a status report on your possible promotion: it’s down to you and Mike. Excellent. Mike is a dumbass, takes three-hour lunches, shouts “PEACE!” whenever he leaves a room.
In the kitchen, you smile confidently at Phillip, knowing he’ll be naming you Senior Designer any minute now. He greets you with “Megan, you’re not pregnant or anything, are you?” How do you react?
- For “Uh nope, just focusing on my career” turn to page 3.
- For “Wow, what an inappropriate question” turn to page 15.
- For “Omg ha, what? Are you? Pregnant? I mean. Haha. What.” Turn to page 19.
Spend the morning wondering if that was weird, or if you’re reading too much into it. Experience shame at your response: Have you thrown working mothers under the bus with your reply? Was it sexist not to call him out? Is it sexist to be wondering if your response was sexist? Maybe he was joking. You should have joked back. At noon, learn via full-staff email that Mike was picked for the promotion.
- Turn back to page 2 to start over.
In a pantomime of surprise, Phillip throws his hands up and says, “Hey now, you know I was kidding.” Spend the morning in confusion. How could you have handled that better? At noon, learn via full-staff email that Mike was picked for the promotion.
- Turn back to page 2 to start over, you silly moppet.
Phillip laughs so hard he has to steady himself on your arm. “You’d look cute pregnant,” he mutters, giving your collarbone a little squeeze before he leaves the kitchen. “Huh?” You ask, but he’s gone. You spend the morning wondering if you misheard. At noon, learn via full-staff email that Mike was picked for the promotion. Is this gross enough to approach HR?
Brandy in HR listens with an understanding smile. “I can tell this has stressed you out,” she says. “But was it really a big deal? Everyone gets stressed sometimes. It’s a good idea to make time for self-care. Take a couple days off to regroup. And while you’re at it, think carefully about what happened, bearing in mind that Phillip is essential to our brand. And a family man, too.” On the desk, you notice a photo of Brandy whitewater rafting with Phillip and his wife.
It’s the following day. Phillip has been forced to rescind his promotion of Mike, and issue you an apology, which he delivers standing on a desk. “I’m sorry if my jokes offended you,” he says solemnly, “and congratulations on your well-deserved new position as my right-hand man — er — person.” He winks at someone just behind you. Everyone claps. You won. You get to work with Phillip for the rest of your career.
At lunch, your friends have so many similar and worse stories that you spend the whole time screaming simultaneously into each other’s faces, spitting flecks of tortellini across the tablecloth with the force of your rage. You love your friends so much. When the server says, “I hate to interrupt girl talk,” you all combust into a flaming swarm of hornets.
- Turn back page 4. You’re marching right into HR and you’re not taking any more of this shit.
Okay, getting a few surprise days off isn’t terrible. After a fortifying talk with your mom, you realize you deserve better than that bullshit office anyway.
- To go home and start looking for new jobs, turn to page 21.
- To continue the self-love and make a spontaneous trip to YogaWorks, turn to page 10.
Congratulations. You are now an Assistant Designer at another firm. The salary cut leads you to move in with your boyfriend, an aspiring magician. You and another Assistant, Emilio, were hired on the same day, and yet, for some reason, only you were asked to help out with the phones. Cool.
Yoga is just what you need for getting some perspective. You’re feeling great. During Savasana, what suddenly pops into your head?
- For “Concern about being assaulted on the way home” turn to page 23.
- For “Old arguments you had forgotten about” turn to page 24.
- For “Fuck Phillip, what if I do want to have kids. Then I’d be a kick-ass designer with kids. Who cares.” turn to page 25.
- For “Fear of being assaulted by the guy who’s coming to fix your fridge later” turn to page 26.
- For “Am I overthinking that thing?” turn to page 27.
- For “Am I too old to start over in a new career?” turn to page 28.
- For “Damnit, Megan, that’s the patriarchy telling you to worry about your age again” turn to page 29.
- For “Should I move in with my boyfriend, or should I dump him?” turn to page 30.
- To breathe deeply and clear your mind, turn to page 31.
Inhale. Exhale. The guy on the mat next to you suddenly whips off his shirt, revealing a tattoo that says “SantaCon 2015.” He shakes the sweat from his head and some drops splatter your face. Yes, some of it lands on your lip.
Congratulations, Mike. You won! You read a book! Now put this down and go watch Bandersnatch again, you big champ.