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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Like a Fish Out of Water (10/24/13)

TITLE: Discreet Confidant
By PamFord Davis


Baffled by employee turnover in the skyrocketing global enterprise, William speed dials the human resources department director.

“Griff, please come to my office.”

“Be right there, W.T.”

William winces at the W.T. designation.

Guess I prefer it to Junior.

His father William Thomas birthed the concept of the global venture. The board of directors had urged him to take the reins when their venerable founder died of a massive heart attack. Timid, William still feels chafing from the reins.

Firm rapping at his high-rise door impresses him.

Griff didn’t waste any time getting here.

“Come in.”

William assesses the man behind the company staff.

Self assured, impeccably dressed and outgoing.

William trembles as he points to an overstuffed leather chair before his sprawling mahogany desk.

“Have a seat.”

“What’s up boss?”

“If I unload on you, can you keep it discreet?”

“Yes, it will not leave your office.”

“Griff, I have been beside myself. I just don’t fit in. I never wanted to head up this company. Dad’s death took all of us by surprise. The board begged me to take over and I felt obligated. I just don’t know how to relate to the employees. What am I doing wrong? Be honest. Don’t try to spare my feelings.”

“You’re too hard on yourself. Give it more time.”

“No, I see them averting their eyes from me when we meet on the elevator or in the hallway. You seem to have great relationships with them, high five the guys and have a special bonding with the women. What’s your secret?”

Griff with prayerful hands covers his lips, searches for the right words and looks directly into the eyes of his CEO.

“I follow the golden rule.”

“You do what?”

“I try to do for others what I’d want them to do for me.”

“You mean like the Sunday school golden rule?”

“Exactly what I mean.”

“That‘s how you fit in?”


“I don’t know about this. Sounds too simple.”

“No, not always easy. It takes effort.”

“How would I actually do that?”

“Get down on the employee’s level. Learn what a 9-5 grueling workday is really like. Go to their departments. Ask them to explain what they do; learn about their families. Show an interest in them and their problems.”

Nearly a year had transpired since William took Griff‘s suggestion. He had humbly accepted the advice of his confidant and mingled among the multitudes on his payroll. Arriving at his office, he tears off yesterday’s page from his day planner, purposely crumples it beyond recognition and tosses it in his trash bin.

Today, I meet with head of maintenance!

To his surprise, he has come to enjoy interaction with people he had known only by social security numbers.

Standing at the practical but unappealing steel door, he knocks while waiting for permission to enter the janitor’s domain.

“It’s open,” calls a weak voice.

Slowly turning the cold doorknob and pushing the door inward, William glances briefly around the office.

Thinking William to be someone from United Way soliciting donations, the janitor glibly responds with a sarcastic tone.

“I already gave at the office.”

He peers down at his cluttered desk with a look of hopelessness.

“No, I’m not here asking for money. Let me shake your hand, Mr. Roberts; I’m W.T. Sanders, just dropping by to meet an employee, seeing if there is anything you need to make your job easier. How are you and your family getting along in this down economy?”

In a state of stupor, the janitor raises his head. William is aghast at the sight of sunken eyes and raiser stubble beard. Roberts looks as if he’d slept in his clothes. The disheveled man begins to weep, collapsing face down upon his desk.

William kneels beside him, placing his understanding hand upon a shoulder. He does not say a word. The janitor, after regaining a semblance of composure reaches inside a top drawer and grasps a revolver, dropping it at the feet of the man he had loathed.

“I planned on ending it all this morning. I hated you and all people like you with your big mansions and fancy cars. I have a drinking problem; have lost my house and car. Last night my woman said she was filing for divorce. She’s taking my kids and movin’ outa’ State. I thought it was hopeless. Then you come in the door.”

“Mr. Roberts, I am so sorry. There is hope. Okay if I pray with you?”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Dannie Hawley 10/31/13
Wow, I loved this story! You did a great job laying out the specifics of each character in a way I could easily picture each one. Your MC reminded me of the "Undercover Boss" show, though your ending was lots better. I could easily feel the frustration and sense of being overwhelmed in your MC. Glad for the maintenance man that the boss took his confidante's advice. Nice job.
C D Swanson 10/31/13
I loved stories with hope and inspirational messages. This one delivered such an ending while holding my attention all the way through.

Nicely done.

God bless~
Don V. Standeford11/05/13
great ending. very real story with a very real message.