Conflict of Interest

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Grace walked in to see Maggie – a vision in peacock blue – happily waddling in and out of offices, dropping off files, bringing papers to desks, and smiling from ear to ear. Grace wanted to try, but she was too tired to match Maggie’s enthusiasm.

“Maggie.” She couldn’t help her bland tone.

Maggie either didn’t care or didn’t catch the monotone as she nearly sang her responding, “Hello!”

“What has gotten into you?”

Maggie continued to move a mile a minute. Grace joined her in stride after she plopped her own bags next to Maggie’s desk. They weaved, paused, continued, and rounded Maggie’s desk three more times making deliveries as she went on and on.

“This is the best time of the year. It felt cold this morning. Not just chilly, but cold. A new year is on the horizon,” Maggie trilled.

“It’s October. In Minnesota. It’s either freezing or beautiful. It could snow tomorrow. Did you say New Year? Are we skipping over the holidays this year?”

“Yes.” Maggie paused for a moment. “No. Don’t you just get that happy feeling this time of year? Everybody is lighter. Excited. Genuinely friendly. They are looking forward to Thanksgiving, football, hunting. Then that snow you mentioned will fall, and Christmas will be right around the corner. We’ll celebrate and start talking about resolutions we are going to make for the new year.”

Maggie looked sideways at Grace as she added, “Of course we won’t keep any of them.”

“We are Minnesotans, we just act like we like all of those things,” Grace said exhaustedly.

Maggie laughed. “Did you know your dad loved this time of year?”

Maggie walked up to stand next to Grace, dropped the pile of folders on the desk, and leaned on them. “He said there was something about the cold that allowed people to think. The constant running around during summer and fall stops. The winter gives people time to reflect and plan for the new. It always stuck with me. And gives me a little pep in my step.”

Grace just listened and smiled. She couldn’t be irritated at that. Even in her exhaustion.

“Your father was a special man who understood life. Living. It was more than just work. And you can feel that here.” Maggie sighed. “This is a great place. But when you walk outside into the fresh air, you see there are a lot more possibilities out there than in here. Just food for thought. I must have food on my mind. I’m meeting your mom for our weekly lunch today.”

Grace tilted her head. “What if you don’t know for sure if what’s out there is great – or even good?”

“Sometimes you just have to take that chance.”

“I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.”

“Must be something to it then,” Maggie said, sweeping past her to deliver more documents.

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