“Arghh!” A groan of despair rang out from behind the stairwell. Jannat paused in her steps, tray suspended in her hands. “Hello? Is anyone there?” she called out uncertainly.

“It’s just me Jannat.” said a man’s tired voice.

“Saad , is that you?” she said, walking around the corner and coming face to face with her neighbor.

“Yes,” said Saad, looking completely haggard.

“What are you doing sitting back here?” she asked, confused and concerned.

“Today has been one of the worse days of my life.” said Saad.

“Why, what happened?” asked Jannat, putting down her tray and sitting beside him on the steps.

“I woke up this morning and to find that my dog had peed on the carpet. After cleaning that, I discovered that I didn’t have anything to eat in my fridge. I decided to just buy breakfast on my way to the Café.  When leaving my apartment my next door neighbor’s cat ran into me causing me to loose my grip on my phone, which then fell three stories and died. He paused to take a breath.

“Oh my God! That’s awful! Was it very expensive?” interrupted Jannat.

“Don’t worry, it gets worse.” He replied and then continued his tale of woe.

“After searching fruitlessly for my phone, I ran to grab my bus to work because I was getting late. I missed my bus by barely seconds and after waiting fifteen minutes for the next one discovered that the next one was not coming due to some sort of road block. I then grabbed a horribly expensive taxi that managed to get me stuck in traffic for an hour and I was now officially really late to work. When I finally got to the Café I found out that our delivery of vanilla bean pods was missing.

It took me two hours of wrangling and arguing to get that back on track and then I realized that our manger Khaliq wasn’t here yet. After searching for his number in the employee database I discovered that he had called and texted me to inform me of a family emergency but I obviously did not receive them due to losing my phone. Then while rushing around arranging a last minute temporary replacement manger I tripped on the stairs and sprained my wrist.” He let out a groan at the thought and waved his bandaged wrist in her face.

“That’s unbelievable! How did you get so much bad luck?” Jannat exclaimed.

“Don’t worry, it gets worse.” He replied and then continued his tale of woe.

“I then got rushed to the emergency room and I discovered that my assistant had accepted the missing vanilla pod delivery. This meant that I paid twice for the same thing and wasted my time besides. The cherry on top is that the chef at the café chose today to throw a tantrum about a raise in his wages. He was so incensed at my assistant’s refusal that jhe left the kitchen with the stove running and my assistant chased after him. The sous-chef was out of the kitchen with his assistants inspecting ingredients and the whole place caught on fire and I had to pay thousands in damages and deal with the insurance company.”

By this point Jannat was speechless and she could only pat his back in sympathy.

“What will you do now?” she asked.

“I’ll have to carry on somehow.” he said somberly.

At that moment a guy Jannat had never seen before came walking down the stairs calling Saad’s name.

Upon seeing Jannat and Saad’s morose faces the newcomer scowled and said “Have you been telling her your tale of woe?” he asked in an annoyed voice.

“Oh but it was so sad– “ Jannat started to say.

“Don’t’ worry, said the guy he always tells the newbies the same thing.” He grabbed and lifted Saad’s bandaged hand and said “This thing’s a prop. He always scams people with his tale of woe.”

Thus saying, the newcomer grabbed Saad, whose demeanor was now completely cheerful and hauled him upstairs.