Michael Todd, manager of accounting, gripped his thinning hair in his hands as he scanned the memo for the third time.
‘To: All Department Heads
‘From: Samuel Lepage, Plant Manager
‘Date: Mon. June 21, 20xx
‘Be advised that I am scheduling a meeting to discuss the changes that have been enacted by Head Office to take effect Sept. 1.
‘The meeting will be held Thur. June 24, in the board room at 1:30 PM. Attendance is mandatory.'
He sighed, set the paper aside, and jotted the information down in his day book before he forgot.
Reorganization meant only one thing: ‘Thanks for coming, please cut your staff by ...’ and fill in a number. What was Head Office thinking? That they could get blood from a stone? His staff was just barely able to keep up with the work load as it was, so any cuts would directly affect performance.
He massaged his abdomen, made a mental note to get an appointment with his doctor, and stepped out of his office. “Sue, could I see you for a moment?”
Sue, a middle-aged, efficient woman, and the most senior person under him, finished off the paperwork she had been working on. “Alright.” She stood and followed him into his office. “What’s up?”
“Changes from Head Office.”
“What?” Her expression tightened. “Well, there’s only one thing we can do, isn’t there?”
Mike nodded. How much more of this was he willing to take?
“We all knew it was coming,” said Sam Lepage from where he stood at the front of the board room after he had read out the memo from Head Office. He opened the doors to the white board and pointed to the marked-up organization chart.
As Sam detailed where the cuts were going, Mike saw that his department would be losing one person, from five to four. He muttered something crude under his breath.
“Comments?” Sam asked when he was finished.
Mike put up a hand. “You know, of course, that something’s got to give in my area.” Sam nodded. “Purchase requisitions and customer orders will simply get rubber-stamped once this kicks in. It can’t be helped. There’ll be no time to check them.”
Sam took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “I was expecting that. Just do your best, okay? Hopefully nothing goes wrong.”
Sam entered Mike’s office early in October and stood by the door. “I knew it would happen eventually, but I didn’t think it would come this fast. I thought you should be the first to know.”
Mike, wondering what was coming, looked up from the pile of payables. “I’m listening.”
“Somebody in Maintenance was caught buying personal stuff on a company requisition. Not much. A couple of hundred worth at the worst.”
“Great.” He threw down his pen, and it skipped onto the floor. “Now Head Office will be all over us.”
Sam turned to go. “Lucky for you it was a small amount, so your job’s not on the line.”
“Not yet, anyway,” Mike shot back as he got up to retrieve his pen.
Lucky? A talk he had had with his father some years before came back to him:
‘Why do you still work on a farm, Dad? Why don’t you get a job in town like everyone else and make some real money?’
‘I like this sort of work, Mike. You want to know why?’ He pulled his work gloves off and leaned against the fence that surrounded the meadow where the sheep and cows were grazing. ‘My success depends only on me and God. I just can’t stomach the idea of depending on somebody else to tell me what and how I’m doing every day. Besides, I make enough money to satisfy my needs.’ He glanced at Mike’s expanding paunch. ‘You’d do well to get your life simpler than it is right now, too, if you want to live a long life.’
Mike pulled a blank memo form toward him and wrote up a request for some vacation time. He needed to pay his father a visit. Just to chat, he told himself.
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