The Decorators

Today’s OLWG prompts areWhiskey in a glass; The keen edge; Antimacassar.


The staff gathered loosely around. Gavin scanned the room, taking in every detail. He knew his client will be thrilled. They are always thrilled.

That didn’t matter. Gavin only cared about whether a room worked. Did it flow, did it inspire, did it evoke? Was it transformative? Did it fascinate? And, where were the unforeseen bottlenecks? He had to look closely. They were always there.

He turned around to the staff. They looked beat. No one was smiling. The team coordinator absent-mindedly chewed at her fingernails. They don’t think it works, Gavin thought. So many years of doing this, it’s hard to tell anymore.

“OK. Let’s do final walk around. Liz?” Gavin held out his hand for the check list. The team leader handed him her clipboard. Gavin noticed one of Liz’s chewed fingers was bloody. Something was not right with the room.

He walked around and assessed. Thirty 8-top tables. Check. The distance between tables so wait staff can easily maneuver he measured by spreading his legs and arms apart between backs of chairs. All seemed correct. Plenty of space for service trays on the side. Check. Table cloths crisply pressed, and evenly draped. Napkins folded and crisply pressed as well. Cutlery evenly placed. Table chargers, salt and pepper shakers, bread plates, chilled butter dishes, water goblet, white wine glass. All accounted for; none with a blemish or spot. Check. Center pieces uniformly arranged, and not a browned petal nor a speck of pollen dust on the tables in sight. Check. Seat covers perfectly fitted, with each bow uniformly tied. Check. Floor clear of debris. Check.

What was it that had Liz chewing her fingers down to a bloody pulp? He pinched a rose bud off of one centerpiece, whose pink color was perhaps a shade too dark. A staff member stepped forward and fussed with the arrangement to cover the void left by the absent bud. Gavin watched to make sure she picked up any bits that fell and then glanced at Liz. No reaction. She still looked on edge.

“Let’s turn on the lights,” Gavin instructed. A staff member jogged to the light switch panel at the hall’s entrance, while another jogged in the opposite direction to the control board by the stage. The fluorescent overheads went off and the theatrical spots and decorative lights turned on. Not too dim, warm glow, dance floor and head table spotlighted perfectly, subtle ambient light marking the way to the exits and the restrooms. Check.

“The wait staff will set the battery powered pillar candles,” Liz blurted.

Aha! Gavin, thought. He flipped through the checklist pages. That’s what’s missing. “Why the wait staff? They know where each one is placed?” he asked.

Liz nodded. “Sorry. The delivery is delayed. Something about that flood in Dallas?” She checked her phone. “Tracking has the shipment arriving in one hour. I gave the catering manager the diagram.”

“When?” Gavin needed to confirm.

Liz looked at her watch. “One hour. But the catering manager will be here in twenty-three minutes.”

Gavin nodded. “That’s cutting it close.”

Liz gave a nervous laugh and resumed chewing her fingers. “Very,” she mumbled.

“You have extra pillars and batteries, just in case there’s a dud?”

Liz’s face darkened. “Of course,” she said.

Gavin paused and then leafed through the checklist pages again. “I don’t know,” he finally said. “Guys, it looks great. I mean it. Our bride will think it’s the perfect blend of romance and magic. You really do great work. It’s everything she said she wanted.”

“But…” Liz said.

Gavin sighed. “Missing pillars aside, does it work?” The staff muttered and uncomfortably shifted their stance.

“Right. That’s what I thought,” Gavin said, glancing at his watch. “Well, that’s that. Liz? What’s left?”

“All done,” she replied. “Catering manager’s got it from here. In fact, we don’t need to be back until tomorrow afternoon. Their next booking isn’t until Thursday, so he said he’d have his overnight crew clear and clean. He’ll even send the linens to the laundry for us. Rentals are scheduled to pick up their inventory before noon. We just need to pick up our stuff by 3:00 pm.”

“Really?” Gavin said, pleasantly surprised. “Now, that works!” The staff let out a tired laugh.

“Well. Then, that being the case,” he continued, “the first round is on me.” Gavin patted Liz’s shoulder.

“That works for us!” she joked.

“You deserve it. And, let’s get you a bandaid, hm?”

Liz smiled and gave Gavin a quick nod.

I looked up “antimacassar” and the definition made me think of dining chair covers you see primarily at formal, sit-down receptions. The story started off just about Gavin, but when I decided to give him a staff, Liz emerged.

4 thoughts on “The Decorators

      1. I think she’s a lot smarter than portrayed in this vignette. I think she thinks highly of her boss, but that she could do just as good a job as he (maybe she feels that she owes him something for her current position or for what he has taught her?). I think there is some lack of confidence in that she chews her fingernails rather than express what her concerns are. I think she might be carrying him, just a little bit. The student is now the master!
        Just saying – I think she’s a great character.

        Liked by 1 person


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