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Kim walked back into the room and Alex offered to take Kim and me on a plant tour. Alex handed out some safety glasses and gave a quick overview of what we would be seeing. Kim listened intensively and ask a few good questions. Alex led us out of the conference room towards the factory floor. I let Kim walk in front since she hadn’t been to the supplier before.
Alex directed us onto the shop floor. We were blasted by a cacophony of sound as we passed through the double doors. As an experienced manufacturing customer, I was able to pick out some of the machines being used. Stamp presses were cu-chunking in the way back of the factory, pneumatic tools were buzzing and whining, welders were crackling behind deep red curtains design to limit people from being exposed to the intense light, CNC machines buzzing about doing whatever it that they did, and the occasional shop radio playing the local music station.
While the front office was straight out of a 1970’s movie, the factory was very modern and clean for a weld and stamp shop. The floor was bright white and recently cleaned. There were outlines marked so that people could easily tell where material and tools were supposed to be stored and above each station was a sign hanging from the ceiling telling workers and visitors what was going on underneath.
We could see fork trucks whizzing about the pathways. Most of them were returning to one place or another to pick up a new load. Others were carrying giant crates filled with either raw material or finished parts. To someone that isn’t experienced with this environment, it can seem daunting.
Alex stopped to allow us to gain our bearings. I’d been here before so I knew the layout of the shop as well as some of the craft workers by name and others by sight. Kim’s eyes however bulged at the activity before her. Based on her reaction, I got the impression that this was something completely new. It was interesting to observe since I’d been in Kim’s shoes many years ago when I was just starting out.
We continued down the green painted walkway path. The pathways was intended for people to not be run over by fork trucks or other vehicles. At times we needed to tuck into alcoves or under work platforms to prevent being crushed. This is somewhat standard with manufacturing facilities. Kim seemed a little nervous whenever we would need to move out of the way when a fork truck sped by.
I could tell that Alex was trying to impress Kim with the business. He was explaining everything in detail and impressing on her how modern the shop was as well as how advanced the manufacturing techniques his company was utilizing. Every now and then, Alex would point out parts that were being made for my company. Alex would then explain what each part did and how they fit together. To be fair, Alex could give one hell of a tour if he wanted to.
As we continued throughout the shop, I let Kim walk ahead of me with Alex. Kim was all to content to point toward something and ask what it was. She was engrossed in the opportunity before her. Over time, I started to zone out of Kim and Alex’s conversation. My eyes started to wonder towards Kim’s legs and butt. She was inadvertently swaying her hips whenever she was walking. It got me distracted and I stopped listening to the conversation before me. I was in autopilot, walking behind a leader as if on a leash.
With a slap on the back I was quickly revived from my stupor. Kevin, one of the workers I knew, was saying something to me. I had missed the first part of the conversation.
“… Yeah so did you catch the game last night? My boy was on national TV!” Kevin proudly declared.
“Hey! How’s it going Kevin! No, unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch it.” I covered. Luckily Kevin hadn’t asked me anything that I really needed to answer to.
“Yeah, that sucks. My kid did a great job. The announcers even said so throughout the game and everything!” Kevin gushed.
For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what Kevin’s son played…
“That’s great Kevin!”
“Yeah Bill, well it was good to see you. I’ve got to get back to work. I’ll catch you later.” Kevin strutted off back to work like a content peacock.
I looked around to see where I had ended up. Alex and Kim were about 20 feet away and were looking at a CNC robot cutting some sheet metal. The robot is impressive with the speed it moved at. I quickly walked over. Alex was explaining how the robot worked. I could see that Kim was over her head and wasn’t following what Alex was saying. I felt I needed to come to Kim’s rescue.
“Hi folks. How is the tour going? Are you learning a lot about manufacturing and what Alex’s company does for us?”
Kim was a little startled since she hadn’t seen me approach. Her little squeak that she made was cute. I tilted my head waiting for a reply.
“Yeah… yeah… Alex is a good tour guide. He’s been answering my questions. I can admit that this is the first time that I have really been in a machine shop before, tuzla escort but it is really interesting.” Kim informed me.
Alex took a look at his watch and noticed the time. “I’ve got to go to a meeting. Bill could you and Kim meet me back in the conference room? I don’t really have time to walk you back and you know the way.”
“Sure Alex. We’ll meet you there.”
“Good, good. I’ll see you in an hour or so.” Alex trotted off down one of the pathways, turned a corner around an impressively large stamping machine and was gone.
I turned to Kim whose safety glasses were starting to slide down her nose. Her nose was small and button like. I was just really noticing it for the first time. I tried not to stare and Kim didn’t seem to notice either. Kim had felt the glasses sliding and quickly pushed them back into place.
“All set?” I asked.
“Yup! That was interesting. I didn’t understand about half of what he was saying, but what’s his name?”
“Alex” I filled her in.
“Yeah Alex. I didn’t really understand what he was talking about, but he sure seemed to know what he was talking about.”
“Alex is a smart guy. I’ve known him quite a while. I think almost 10 years. His company was one of the first I worked with. He’s a good guy.” I waxed.
“Cool” Kim replied.
We continued to walk across the shop floor. Occasionally I was waved at by one of the workers or said hello to another. Kim and I finally made our way to the conference room. The din of the shop floor left behind us. I closed the door to the conference room so that Kim and I could talk in private. Sometimes you don’t want a company that you are visiting to know everything that you are talking about or discussing.
“So what’s next?” Kim asked.
“Not really much. We’re almost done. This visit was more of a check in. Sometimes you need to go to a supplier to remind them that they need to produce for their customers.” I explained.
My cellphone started to buzz in my pocket. I’d received a text from Alex.
“Hey, this meeting is going long. I don’t think I’ll be back in time to see you off before I catch my flight” Alex messaged.
“No worries Alex. I’ll call you later and go over any open points” I replied.
“Thanks for coming” messaged Alex.
“See you next time and thanks” was my response.
I put my phone away and informed Kim that Alex wasn’t able to return. We put our stuff into our bags, walked to the front desk, signed out, and continued to the car. The sun was out and the temperature was rising. It actually felt like a summer day and I put my gloves in my pockets and opened my coat to cool off a little.
Kim did the same, but took it a step further. She undid the top button from her form fitting shirt. The movement of her hand got my attention and I forced myself not to stare at her chest. Even though we had laid next to each other in her bed last night / this morning, I hadn’t really had a chance to see much of what she looked like under her sweater. I was hoping for my sanity that last night was as far as this interpersonal relationship would go. Work was work and you don’t shit where you work… so to speak…
The car was directly ahead. The warm sun had started melting the snow, but there was still ice on the ground. I stepped left as Kim was stepping right. We had tried to cross to our respected doors, but bumped into each other. My hand slipped from my bag strap as I reached out to steady myself. At the say time I slipped on the ice I’d been trying to avoid.
Yeah… it happened… I elbowed Kim in the chest again…
This time I fell hard on my ass and into a pile of slush. My pants quickly wicked up the freezing cold brown sludge and chilled my legs instantly.
Kim was only doing a little better. She hadn’t fallen, at least, not completely. Her knee was on the ground in a pile of snow. Kim was steading herself with one hand while the other was rubbing her chest. She was really in pain this time too. I could tell that I must have knocked the wind out of her. When I slipped, I must have clipped her really good.
Kim turned away from me as I was gathering myself together. My bag was halfway across the next parking spot and after brushing myself off and cursing a lot, I stood up and limped over to pick it up. My right ankle was killing me from the fall I it appeared that it was twisted. I stood on it gingerly and gathered my bag. I was in a lot of pain and even though I’d fallen it to very cold water, I still felt like I needed a massive amount of ice packs.
Kim’s back was to me and she was standing up slowly.
“Are you ok Kim? I’m really sorry about that. I must have slipped on the ice.”
“I hurt all over… damn ice!”
“I’m sorry I knocked into you. Anything broken?”
“Yes… I mean no… yeah no… sort of?”
“Kim are you ok?” I was really concerned by the way she had answered me. I took a step closer.
“I’m fine,” she stated angrily, “I’m not hurt, but I lost a few buttons in the fall.”
“That’s tuzla escort bayan good that you’re not hurt… buttons?”
“Yeah,” Kim’s head raised up, “Some of the buttons on my shirt didn’t make it. They must be all over the place…” her voice trailed off.
My eyes started to bug out of my head. How many buttons? What would I see if she suddenly turned around? Say something to her… SAY SOMETHING TO HER!
Instead I stood there with my mouth in an odd sort of slack jaw half smile.
“Bill, turn away please” Kim requested.
“Umm sure… sure…” I got out.
Hobbling in a small circle, I was able to maneuver myself so that I wasn’t facing Kim any longer. It was hard not to make any noises as a result of my ankle.
“Shit! My zipper is broken! Fuck Fuck Fuck!” Kim hit the side of the car with her hand.
“The one on my coat. I can’t be seen with my shirt this torn up. I was going to close my jacket so everything wasn’t on display.” She indignantly explained.
“How bad is the zipper? Like stuck in the middle or more along the lines of not able to be started?”
“It’s stuck in the middle. I can’t get the damn thing to zip up or down.”
“Ok… so that isn’t all bad. We’ll drive back to the hotel and both get changed. I am soaked to the bone from the ice, slush, and water that I landed in.”
“That’s the best thing I can think of too.” Resigning herself to the only reasonable conclusion.
“I can’t drive Kim. You’re going to have to drive us back to the hotel. I twisted my ankle. It’s not broken, but I can’t stand on it let alone bend it so I can drive.”
“Oh my gosh! Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine when I can lay down and get some ice on my ankle. I can feel it already swelling up.”
I picked up my bag from the puddle it was sitting in and located the car keys nearby. I must have looked as bad as my ankle felt. Kim grabbed the bag off my shoulder and the keys out of my hand.
“Bill, get in the back, you look like shit and there isn’t any way that I’m going to let you hobble around the car to the passenger side.” Kim instructed.
This would have been a perfect time for me to take a good look at Kim, but she had pulled the rear driver side door open already and I couldn’t see much between the door frame and her jacket. To be honest at that point I was more worried about having a fractured ankle and not just a sprain. I crumpled into the back seat and Kim handed me my bag. She shut the door once I took it from her.
Kim was a blur as she gathered her things and loaded them into the passenger seat by throwing them over the console. Jumping into the driver seat and closing the door, she took one look over her shoulder at me to make sure that I was there, and she started the car up. Taking the left out of the parking lot, Kim made her way back onto the highway toward the hotel. There was a 30 or so minute drive ahead of us.
Between the pain in my ankle and the thought of having another terrible day with the new hire, I was sure that this would get back to Jim, my boss. How would I explain that I almost ripped Kim’s shirt off? Yeah, I can say I slipped on some ice, but if Kim wanted to push the issue, I was done for. Sexual harassment suit here I come. If I said anything it could be the exact thing that I shouldn’t say at all. Better keep your mouth shut Bill. For once in your life, all the stars needed to align for this one.
“How are you feeling back there?” Kim asked over her shoulder.
Do I answer that? You idiot answer her. It’s not a question designed to trap you my brain screamed at itself.
Ok quick self-assessment; what is not an ok answer?
“My ankle hurts as well as my arm, but I don’t think anything is broken. How about you?”
“Not as bad as I first thought. Sure my clothes are destroyed, but I think the only thing I actually hurt was my knee. It’s starting to swell.” Kim concluded her assessment of her condition.
“Are you still able to drive safely Kim?” I was concerned that she was in no shape to drive and she was only doing it because of my ankle.
“My knee is ok. It’s just going to be black and blue tomorrow I think.”
“Sorry” I apologized.
“For falling and hurting you. I didn’t mean for that to happen. Just the damn ice and all…” I trailed off.
“It’s ok. These things just happen.”
“I guess so…”
The ride continued in silence until we got to the hotel. Pulling under the hotel’s portico brought new challenges to the two of us. For one, how do we get me to the room without either of us getting more hurt? For two, how do we do all that without Kim inadvertently exposing herself to the entire hotel lobby?
Kim put the car in park, turned it off, and took off her seat belt. Looking over her shoulder, “Now what?”
“Kim, go around to the side of the building where there is the other entrance by the pool. Use your card to swipe in and go change your cloths. I’ll escort tuzla wait here in the car until you return.” I directed.
“Ok. I’ll be back soon.”
Kim grabbed her bag and hugged it to her chest as she made her way around the building to the pool entrance. I could see from where I was sitting that she made it inside ok.
About 15 minutes went by and Kim exited the hotel from the lobby entrance. She had changed into the sweat shirt that she had been wearing the night before and some track pants. I noticed that she was slightly limping, but didn’t look all that worse for wear. Kim opened my door to help me out.
“Ok, first give me your bag so I can carry it then I’ll help you out of the car.”
Kim took my bag and had it over her shoulder in short order. I slid over the seat to the open door and placed my left foot on the ground. I reached overhead to the roof and used it to help lift myself out of the car without putting weight onto my right ankle. I managed to stand upright and I hopped to the side of the car’s open door and closed it behind me.
“Bill, why don’t you try and put a little weight on it and see how bad off you are.” Kim instructed.
I tenderly put my right foot down and winced in pain for my efforts.
“Ok, you’re going to lean on me and we will get you to the room. I’ll help you all the way.” Kim stated. There was no question as to which of the two of us was in charge here. The way she informed me of the plan of attack reminded me of the way mothers talk to their kids in supermarkets. When you hear that tone in their voice you know you’d better listen and do what they say without question.
I nodded my acknowledgement and let Kim place my right arm over her shoulders.
“Ok Bill, you lead off and we’ll take it at your pace.”
“Sounds good. Let’s try and get inside quickly, it’s starting to get colder out. My clothes are still wet too.” My teeth were starting to chatter.
With Kim supporting my weight, we got into the lobby without incident. When we were heading to the elevators though, I was starting to warm up a little and gaining some of my senses back. My right hand was suspended from Kim’s shoulder and was at just the right height to brush against her breast. My hand was numb, but as we walked, there were needles of pain that would fire off as it brushed over the soft fleece fabric.
Once the elevator arrived, we got on board. Kim leaned me against the back wall and into the corner to prevent me from going anywhere. She pressed the button for the third floor and the doors closed soon after. The third floor quickly approached and our arrival was signaled with a ding.
Lucky for me, my room wasn’t at the end of the hallway. It was a short painful journey to the correct doorway. Kim took my key and opened the door and let us both in. Kim steered me toward the bed and had me sit down with a thump. My wet pants made sitting unpleasant, but not totally uncomfortable.
“Let me take a look at your ankle.” Kim directed.
I rolled up the bottom of my pants and Kim came over and kneeled in front of me. She pushed the pants leg up higher on my calf. I winced with pain as it brushed over my shin. I must have banged that up really well. Gingerly and motherly, she touched and prodded different areas to find out where I hurt.
“Wow did you do a number on your leg. I’m going to get ice. In the meantime, get out of those wet cloths. Give me your room key and I’ll be back soon.” Kim instructed.
“Yes madam!” I replied giving a solute in the process.
She grabbed the ice bucket, put the bag in, and was out the door shortly after. I followed her directions and started to remove my shirt. I placed it on the floor next to the wall so it wouldn’t get the bed wet and it was also out of the way. My socks were next and they hit the wall before landing on top of the shirt. I looked over to the other side of the room where my suitcase was. I figured that I needed to get a change of clothes before I removed my pants.
Before I was able to stand up, Kim unlocked the door with the electronic wiz that the door locks always make. Pushing the door open with her back, she eased into the room with the ice bucket almost spilling over with the cold solid rocks of ice. She set the bucket down near the TV and looked at me with mild curiosity. This was the first time that she had seen me without a shirt. I became very self-conscious then. My modesty got the better of me and I tried to pull the pillow from under the military made bed spread. I must have looked comical tugging on the pillow trying to get it loose since Kim started giggling.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve seen a lot more before Bill.”
“Ummm, would you mind getting me some cloths from my bag over there or even bring it over here.”
“No problem” Kim assured me.
Kim went over to my suitcase, unzipped the main compartment and started to search my clothing options. I was expecting her to bring some boxers and either my shorts or another pair of pants. I was shocked when Kim only brought over my underwear. My eyes were about to bulge out of my head when she tossed the boxers at my head. They hit me right in the face and fell into my lap on top of my wet crotch.
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