“Alex Rosenburg’s office. How may I help you?” answered the receptionist. “Mmhmm, one moment please, I’ll transfer you.” As soon as she hung up the phone, it rang again. Ring. Ring. “Alex Rosenburg’s office. How may I help you?” She paused to listen. “I’m sorry sir, we’re not accepting any unsolicited queries at this time.” She put the phone down again. It rang again! “Alex Rosenburg’s office. How may I help you?”
And it was only 8:45 in the morning. It had been ringing not stop since she got in forty-five minutes ago. But this was pretty typical for her day.
The life of a receptionist of a high-powered vice president at a major film production studio. She loved working here. The benefits were good, she got to meet a lot of Hollywood big shots and celebrities. Every day was new and exciting. Agents calling to book new talent. Producers demanding to know why production was going over budget and behind schedule. Hopeful would-be writers trying to pitch their new screenplay ideas. Marketing departments. Press releases. Business lunches. Scheduling business meetings with other high-powered execs in the industry.
Sometimes she got to out with Mr. Alex Rosenburg to his business lunches and meetings. And some of the wrap parties where she got to meet the celebrities. But usually she was here, behind this desk, endlessly answering the phone. Still, she loved it. It was a fast-paced, high pressure, always busy way of life. But the day went quickly that way. Before she knew it, it’d be quitting time. She’d go home, open up a bottle of wine, and just relax. Just her and her two cats.
She didn’t exactly have time for a social life. But it was a good life. A busy life. She was part of the company that brought out a summer blockbuster year after year. And she got invited to all the free, advanced film screenings. Even, from time to time, gave input to Mr. Alex Rosenburg on the movie. Once or twice, he took her advice and actually made changes to the film, but it was released to the public. So that was pretty cool.
Yeah. As the phone rang and she picked up again, she tried to focus on all that stuff. All the perks. All the benefits. All the things she loved about this job.
As long as she stayed busy, she wouldn’t ever think about how lonely she actually was.
“Alex Rosenburg’s office. How may I help you?” It was an exec at Warner Bros, the distributor for one of their films. “Yes sir,” she said, “I understand. He’s in a meeting right now. I’ll have him call you as soon as possible. Thank you, sir.”
She placed down the phone and sighed.
Just then, her boss walked in. Alex Rosenberg. Dressed in a sharp business suit, perfectly fitted, pressed, and flawless. His black shoes shined. His long narrow tie exuded confidence and command. His hair was perfectly cut. His face flawless – if slightly aged from all the stress and pressure of this job. He was in his forties, still relatively young for a man of his position and power. But as demanding and fast-paced as her job was, his was even worse.
“Good morning, Mr. Rosenberg,” she greeted him with a smile, like always.
“Good morning, Alice,” he said.
She immediately stood up, handing him several packages and pieces of mail. “Here’s this morning’s mail. Jack Wesselheim has a nine o’clock appointment with you to go over the budget for Heavy Duty, Forgotten Memories, and The Eve Experiment. Your 9:15 had to reschedule for 4:20 this afternoon. I managed to reschedule all the following appointments except for your 5:50 with Kevin Jones. Still trying to get a hold of his agent. Don’t forget about the shareholder’s conference call at 11. Oh, and Warner Bros needs an update on our sequel to Exploring Venus.”
He sifted through the mail as she spoke. “Right,” he said, still focusing on the letters. “Cancel Kevin Jones. We’re going with another director. Do you have the reports for the conference call? Tell Warner Bros we’re right on schedule.”
“Right here,” she said, handing him a package of financial projects and stock reports. “But sir, we’re not on sche—.”
He gave her a stern look, directly in the eyes. No words needed to be spoke.
“Yes sir. I understand. I’ll tell Warner Bros.”
“Thank you,” he said kindly, grabbing the rest of the packages and retreating into his office. He closed the solid oak door.
The phone continued ringing.
“Alex Rosenberg’s office. How may I help you?”
Inside his office, Alex leaned back into his comfortable executive leather chair… and let out a long, slow breath. Another day, another dollar. He applied stress-relieving pressure at the top of his nose between the eyes. “Alright,” he said, looking at the growing stack of paperwork and projects on his desk. Those piles got bigger and bigger every day. He worked fourteen hours yesterday. Made a big dent in his paperback. But by morning, more had miraculously appeared on his desk, like always. He checked his Outlook calendar on his computer. He was booked solid, down to the minute, until ten o’clock tonight. That included a working lunch meeting with his department heads, and dinner with an A-list actor he wanted to recruit for an upcoming film. He took a deep breath. “Okay,” he said to himself. Jack Wesselheim would be here in a few minutes to go over the budgets for several movies already in production. All of which, without fail, were failing behind schedule, way over budget, and riddled with constant problems – equipment, personnel, location, you name it – that was his responsibility to solve.
It was exhausting. But he was trapped. He made too much money to ever leave. Of course, his doctor told him if something didn’t change soon, he’d likely have a heart attack before he saw his fiftieth birthday.
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” he said.
It was his receptionist, Alice. Carrying a cup of coffee, just the way he liked it, plus the morning trade journals: Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and the like. “These just came in, sir.”
“Thank you. Leave it on—” he looked around. His desk was already buried under paperwork, packages, and stacks of unread but important mail. His guest chair had two stacks of unread screenplays waiting on his decision. The mini bar had financial reports and law suits requiring his attention. “Umm,” he said. “Put it… Just give it to me.”
She handed it to him.
“Anything else for you, sir?”
“Just give me five minutes to prepare the budgets for Wesselheim. Don’t let him in before then.”
“You got it, boss!”
The door closed. She was gone. Silence. Five sweet beautiful minutes of silence. He leaned back into his chair, closed his eyes, and wished… for an easier, simpler life.