What’s more important?

The paperwork had piled up so high it was almost impossible to know where it all began, or when it would all end. There seemed to be a never-ending list of requests and demands for productivity. Not to mention the constant stream of emails and phone requests and the ‘appearing heads’ around his office door wanting no small measure of the precious time he couldn’t find. Then his intercom buzzed loudly, catapulting his errant thoughts back to his present reality.

Your wife just called,” explained his personal assistant, “she wanted to remind you that it was your son’s birthday today and to make sure you weren’t late for the party. I told her you were in a meeting, but I would pass on the message, okay?”

Yeah, fine,” replied the executive as he pressed the red button on the intercom a little too hastily. A quick phone call to the department store downtown ensured his son’s birthday gift would be there to pick up on his way past. So, that done, he turned his frayed attention back to the next item on his ‘to do’ list.

The afternoon glare through his high-rise office window made elongated shadows across the walls of his office as he plundered what he could of the pile of work requests. Then, he looked up at the clock – it was 4.50pm. Bugger, he thought, the department store will be closed in ten minutes.

He slammed the screen down on his laptop computer and shoved it unceremoniously into his briefcase, then bolted for the door. On passing his personal assistant, he mumbled something about being late and told her that he would be in early the next morning. The other staff he rushed by were only a blur as he sped towards the elevator and pressed the down button until it arrived.

His excessive speed via the security detail on the ground floor made them stand to attention as if they were to be called to action. But a wave of the executive’s hand was enough for them to relax back to watching the monitors in front of them.

They were just about to close the doors of the department store before he managed to squeeze himself through with a ‘pleeease’ expression and entreat that it was his son’s birthday. A great sigh of relief escaped his being as he placed the over-large toy into the carry bag. A brief smile passed his lips as he walked through the doors being held open by the attendant who was hastening the last of the customers out the door. Then his phone rang. It was his personal assistant.

The boss came by to see you. He said it was urgent. There’s been an emergency. He needs you to come back to the office,” said his personal assistant with a sense of understanding of the dilemma that the executive was now in.

Moments seemed to clash into one another as he stood outside the now-closed department store. The mass of streaming humanity sped by, each in a world dominated by their own problems, but none concerned about his own current dilemma. The executive looked grimly at the toy inside the bag, then took a deep inhale of the steamy late-afternoon air.

Tell him you couldn’t get hold of me, but that you left a message for me, okay? Tell him that I said that I’d be in early in the morning,” he replied.

Ahh, okay,” came the personal assistant’s hesitant response, but secretly smiling behind the thick lens of her dark-rimmed glasses.

Later, as he walked through the front door of his home, he purposely made extra noise by jangling his keys over the lock of the door. He was almost bowled over by the forward rush of his son, whose first instinct was to look in the bag for his present. His second instinct was to lock eyes briefly with his father. The look of love was priceless. The young lad ran back into the lounge room followed by the rendering sound of unwrapping paper that revealed the mystery of the present within.

You managed to make it,” said his wife as she gave him a peck on the cheek as she busied herself with the icing on the cake.

Wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” replied the executive, as he dipped his finger into the cake mix and licked his fingers with a resounding smack of the lips.