GLORIA AND GREG (An Observer Story)

[Few people actually become heavier — or slender, for that matter — by conscious choice. It simply happens as a natural result of circumstances involving their own genetics, food intake, exercise and circumstances. Such was the case of the subject of this story, whose very natural expansion to voluptuousness came over several years while preoccupied with other matters — although there was a little help from a conveniently situated admirer.]

Gloria peered at the computer screen, her expanding belly roll comfortably pressing against the brim of her slacks. Idly she waited for the download to complete. Even with a T-1 line and a 56K modem these things seemed to take forever at times! As she glanced down she could see her stomach protruding from beneath her breasts, evidence of the 240+ pounds she now carried so confidently.

Seven years ago her attitude would have been less causal. Indeed, it would have been unthinkable. Gloria, like most coeds, had been forewarned about the dreaded freshmen fifteen, that virginal weight gain that many former teenagers face. It is perfectly natural as adolescent metabolism and activity levels change after high school, but still unwanted and disdained in much of today’s society. In combination with changes in lifestyle it has produced expanded proportions on many unaware students.

But Gloria was aware. Inwardly she resented the social prejudice against larger people, but she knew it was important to conform in the job market. So, like many aspiring graduates she dutifully tried to avoid midnight pizza runs, cafeteria all you can eat menus, and innumerable fast food joints. Where others had gained 20-25 pounds their freshman year she had only gained five and considered it a triumph.

The next three years in college saw some yo-yo dieting for Gloria — lose fifteen pounds, gain ten, lose seven, gain twelve, depending on the degree of her concern of the moment about the subject. Net gain for her college career was around twenty pounds at the most, and at 5' 7", 160 lbs wasn’t anything she or anyone else was really concerned about.

Her once taut stomach muscles were now lightly covered by plump flesh, causing a slight bulge when wearing slacks. Her old country parents, to whose rented house she had returned after graduation, saw this fleshiness as a sign of good health and prosperity, and Gloria was not one to dispute the matter. After all, the long overblouse she was accustomed to wearing hung several inches below her waist. And, with a dress, it was not even noticeable. She had other, more important, things to think about.

Her talents included skills in the computer field, doing part time work while in school both as a programmer and sys op. As a result she had had a number of job offers when graduation came. One of the best was from Microtech Consultants, a trouble shooting outfit that had started out acting as consultants to corporate computer departments. Over the years they had become an elite firm with over 400 employees, known for their ability and resourcefulness. Ashley Brown, a very large, friendly woman, was the firm’s recruiter.

Ashley had offered Gloria a year’s guaranteed salary plus a signing bonus payable when the year was up. She promised Gloria challenge, opportunity and money — with just one catch: if she did well the first year she had to commit to five more at a higher salary to collect the signing bonus. What she didn’t discuss were the caloric consequences of the Microtech environment.

Gloria wasn’t thinking about such things either. Her mind was on dreams of her own — including buying her parents, who had always rented, a home of their own. Microtech was in the same community and she knew she could live with them rent free and not have to worry about laundry. The $40,000 salary plus $10,000 bonus and $60,000 per year potential made up her mind. She signed with Microtech.

Gloria soon learned that Microtech personnel seldom saw their clients. Instead, they spent their time in a security facility using variants of PC Anywhere to tap into the computers of clients with proprietary diagnostics. Working in teams they were emergency repair advisors employed to deal with glitches around the clock until they were solved.

A certain amount of the time was spent on routine matters — after hours support for software firms, resolving website HTML program difficulties for business consultants, even doing simulations. But then there were the crises — and the Microtech specialists might have to stick with a job for 12-18 hours at a stretch. This was why the firm focused on recruiting single graduates with high ability — they tended to take challenges seriously and not be inhibited by family constraints.

Once inside the Microtech facility, a rehabilitated large turn of the century school, everything reasonably possible was done to encourage employees to stay on the premises. Both an exercise room converted from a former gym, a swimming pool; and a reasonably stocked lounge (the former cafeteria) with free food, drinks, and snacks for the employees were available. Employees could even cook their own meals if they wished. Which facilities were used by a given employee was up to the individual.

Initially Gloria worked the day shift, part of one of several teams. There was no dress code and most of her time was spent seated, either on the phone, reading, or at a terminal. The work was varied and fascinating, and within a few months she prove herself to be one of the best of the year’s twenty new recruits. As the cash in the house fund for her parents grew, so did the stress and inducement to eat rather than exercise. Gloria found herself falling into a pattern.

Her mother would make her breakfast and pack a lunch. Matters at work generally would cause the lunch would go uneaten till midafternoon. A mid morning snack, conveniently brought by cart from the lounge, would stave off any appetite. Frequently she would work past 6:00, resulting in an early evening sandwich from the lounge. Getting home sometimes after 9:00 she would have a meal her mother had left in the frig.

Focused on work, she did not pay that much attention to what was happening, but four months after starting work she noticed that her overblouse wasn’t staying tucked inside her waistband as it once had. Even when tucked a slight roll of flesh was noticeable peeking over the edge of her slacks. The slacks themselves felt a little tighter as well. Getting on a scale she discovered that she had indeed gained a little weight — twelve pounds in fact.

No one at work seemed to care. In fact, some of the other new recruits were also filling out noticeably as well. Upon seeing the higher figure on the scale she simply resolved to start taking better advantage of Microtech’s available exercise equipment. But she had become comfortable with her eating patterns and, to be honest, the few pounds really didn’t bother her.

The next two months saw only three additional pounds, which she barely noted. Her mind was on her work — and then came her semiannual evaluation. Her adeptness at tackling and resolving difficult challenges had been noted. She was offered a chance to join the advanced problems team — an opportunity afforded only two others of the twenty who had come aboard that year. With the promotion came an increase in salary — and the need to work at night rather than by day.

This change exposed her to a new world. Working at night can do strange things to human beings. The normal body rhythms are reversed, alertness fades, and appetites diminish. The management at Microtech was aware of this, and therefore had subtly sanctioned and encouraged the efforts of Greg Mitchner, who was both the head of Gloria’s new unit and the author of a uniquely Microtech institution — the daybreak buffet.

Greg, in addition to being a programmer and computer geek, was also a rather talented amateur chef. When assigned to the night shift several years before he was less than enthusiastic about the food still available in the company lounge. So, for his team, he started occasionally bringing creations of his own which could be reheated and shared with the group. Others had reciprocated, even from other groups, until matters in the company lounge (formerly the school cafeteria) were becoming somewhat chaotic.

The results on productivity and morale, however, were seen by management to be positive. They had therefore authorized Greg to employ a cook and cleanup person to restore order. Greg was given general oversight in addition to his computer team duties. The result, by the time Gloria arrived, was a veritable buffet as a perk of being part of the overnight shift. This, she was to learn, is where Ashley Brown had become a BBW — and the bride of Microtech’s vice-president. At least two other Microtech employees had found romance here as well. But, absorbed in her own goals, a social life was not foremost in Gloria’s mind. Initially Gloria was surprised at the existence of the buffet, and resolved not to be overly tempted by the abundance of food. But, after a few weeks, she began to understand the underlying wisdom of the firm’s decision. Now sleeping days she would get up late in the afternoon and usually have something to eat. By the time she arrived at work near midnight she had to have another meal or hunger would affect her productivity. And by 5:00 a.m. she would be starving, thinking of her stomach instead of work. The 3:00 a. m. morning buffet was the answer.

Fifteen more pounds followed within the next six months, much of it in her upper torso and breasts. Her once angular jaw grew soft and a slight beginning of second chin began to form. Her overblouse now hung loose, riding and inch or two above the waistband of her slacks as her expanding breasts pulled it upward. The next six months saw another ten pounds, much of it in the hips and thighs, causing Gloria to have to redo her wardrobe to a full size 18 as she crept past the 200# mark..

All of this was not purely accidental. Greg had been attracted to Gloria even at 175#, regarding her as lovely though then still not really plump by his standards. However, since he was also her supervisor he knew that it would not be wise to reveal his interest too openly. He therefore used his culinary abilities to form a bond between them, while ostensibly producing better meals for everyone. He would ask Gloria for her advice on his latest creations for the buffet; he also encouraged her to develop and suggest some of her own. In this manner he established a common interest, and gave Gloria a rationale to treat food as a friend rather than an enemy.

The time for deciding to stick with Microtech and collect her signing bonus had come and gone by this point. Gloria had renewed readily, using the money to push the savings fund for her parents past the $25,000 mark — one half her intended goal. At the same time she tried diligently to spend some time in either the swimming pool or exercise room each day, keeping her growing body as solid as possible. She carried her new weight evenly and she felt good about herself, an impression Greg tried his best to encourage.

Greg and Gloria acquired a reputation as the culinary gurus of the overnight crew — and Gloria in the second year of their association quietly added another twenty pounds. This pushed her to a full 225#. Her double chin was now fully formed, complimenting her supple arms, ample breasts, well rounded belly and full thighs and hips. It really doesn’t matter, she figured, working nights precludes having a normal social life anyway. Actually this rationalization was a charade — the truth was that she had come to enjoy both the work and food-oriented relationship which she and Greg were sharing.

But then Greg was promoted to a unit that put him back on days; he was no longer her supervisor. She was at first saddened by the news, until Greg surprised her by asking if they could stay in touch “outside office hours.” Suddenly she realized that he might be interested in something beyond just the alertness of the night crew. Although she didn’t think of herself as unattractive for some reason she hadn’t picked up on his deeper feelings. His interest was flattering, to say the least!

Greg was as good as his word — their first date was at a wonderfully caloric Italian restaurant. After another year and ten pounds they were married. He arranged for his voluptuous size 22 bride to switch back to the day shift, this time as a team leader, so they could have the same hours. At this point she still had thirty months to fulfill her five year job commitment to Microtech.

Now, on the day shift as a supervisor, she wears a tailored suit, usually with a jacket and sometimes a scarf. The suit is a full size 24, and the blouse is several sizes larger than when she was in college. It fully covers her midriff and stays fastened inside both her skirt and pants, depending on which is being worn. She is an attractively large women, exuding an inner confidence and peace, frequently the one who has to handle the most difficult of technical problems. Ashley Brown, who still outweighs Gloria by perhaps twenty pounds, has become one of her closer friends and they enjoy dining out and doing other things with their husbands.

Which all explain how Gloria came to be where she was today, sitting before a terminal, thinking about her loving husband and what they were planning to do as she waited for the download to finish. Having finally just purchased the cherished home for her parents the week before, Greg and she were now working on buying a home of their own. One which, by mutual consent, they had already determined would be a permanently diet-free zone to all who entered.

She glanced triumphantly at Michelle, part of the new group of college recruits who had been munching on some donuts while the download progressed. Michelle’s blouse had pulled loose from its waistband, over which protruded about an inch of flesh. Her bra appeared to be a size or two too small. Such had not been the case four months ago. Michelle took a long draw on the straw coming from the carton of milk at her side. Gloria smiled inside as she realized that Michelle, too, seemed to have a larger future in store. The future, thought Gloria, feels good. The Microtech culture is safe.