Holiday Cheer – A Holiday Short Story Concerning Executive Greed

Holiday Cheer – A Holiday Short Story Concerning Executive Greed

This post is a seasonal short story entitled Holiday Cheer. It deals with executive greed in the corporate world. Not another Scrooge tale, since Charles Dickens, I am not.

This is also a break from the theme of my past 40 posts on The Field Trip topics. Future posts will be prompted by subjects touched upon in my upcoming novel, Three Remain.

I wish all a good and happy holiday season.

 

HOLIDAY CHEER

by R. A. Andrade

 © 2017

 

Miles Candish glanced down at his wristwatch and then looked across the large meeting room at the faces of nearly one thousand Dackman Corporation employees, their eyes fixed on him. Most leaned forward in their seats, anticipating the rumored bad news. Although many were already on Christmas vacation, they had come to the office just to be there for the end-of-year company status report from their CEO.

“And so, given the unacceptable financial results you have just seen, it is necessary for all of us to make near term sacrifices for the long term viability and health of our business and preservation of your jobs.” Miles paused, looking briefly at some notes prepared by his communication staff. “I know that all of you here know the value of teamwork for success at Dackman so I am confident I can count on each and every one of you to give your full support for the measures I am about to roll out. I’m sure these actions being implemented on the first of the new year will resonate with fiscal responsibility.”

Miles looked to his right and nodded to the assistant who was operating the PowerPoint presentation from a laptop. He began speaking as the first bullet point appeared on the large screen behind him. “All departmental expenditures exceeding $200 will require executive approval.” Another line slid onto the screen as he continued, “Each department head will review cell phone call records to insure company phones are not being used for personal use.” The lines continued to materialize on the screen as Miles got to the more significant actions. “Ten percent of the staff will be placed on layoff by January 15th. All employees will take a 15 percent pay decrease effective February first.”

A murmur of grumbling arose from the team.

“I know these are hard actions, but these are difficult economic times and like all families, we need to pull together. Our finance director, Mark Schitzel, will now take any questions you may have.”

Miles walked away from the podium, moving to a nearby side door. Rushing down the hallway, he became flanked by a herd of his management team.

“Great presentation, Mr. Candish,” one said.

“I thought that went much better than the previous two sessions,” another observed.

“I think you portrayed the gravity of the situation well, Mr. Candish,” a third shouted because she was falling behind the pack.

As Miles reached the door of the executive conference room, he stopped and then turned to face his admirers. “Thanks for your support. Tough times call for tough actions, and I know I can count on you as members of management to set an example.” Realizing they had been dismissed, the group disbanded, wandering away chatting in pairs.

Entering the bright sunlit conference room and closing the door behind him, Miles Candish’s face broke into a smile as looked over the seven senior executives seated at large rectangular table. This was the corporation’s top leadership staff. He moved to the wall of glass on the western side of the room, staring out over potted plants on the narrow balcony, still green with the unusually warm December. “I think our plan is going to work just fine. Many of the employees will probably complain, but what choice do they have. What are they going to do, threaten to quit?” He laughed.

Turning, he looked directly at their chief financial officer, Ann Parker. “Stroke of genius to move so many of next year’s expenses into this year’s last quarter,” he said to her. “On the books, we’re losing money big time. And with the money we’ll save with the pay cuts and staff reductions, next year’s profits will take Wall Street by surprise. Our stock price is going to go out of sight. The stock options we just gave ourselves are going to be worth a fortune.”

Moving his eyes to Samuel, the HR vice president, Miles added, “I know you don’t think this is fair to the employees, but remember, most of them will still have a job. They should be thankful for that.”

“How do we explain it to the employees when we exercise the options?” asked Jennifer Alvarez, head of Corporate Communications, as she fidgeted in her seat. “It’s public record.”

Miles Candish turned around to face the sun once again. He slid open the glass balcony door, inhaling the fresh December air. “Jennifer, that’s what we pay you for. I’m sure you can come up with a way to spin this so we look good to our people.”

The door to the room opened. All faces moved to the sight of a Santa Claus entering through the doorway. Miles swiveled his head, saw the seasonal icon, but his mind filled with visions of a new winter place in Maui and soon returned his focus to the outside world. “And to what do we owe this honor?” he asked, looking at the setting sun.

“Ho ho ho,” replied the Santa as he moved into the room wrestling with a large bag he carried over his shoulder.

“That’s got to be the best Santa Claus I’ve ever seen,” Jennifer said, studying the plump red cheeks, and the flowing white beard, like he jumped out of a “The Night Before Christmas” story book.

 

The Santa Claus moved to a spot behind Jennifer, put his bag on the floor then sorted through it and withdrew a package for her. He said, “Merry Christmas Jennifer, you’ve been a good girl this year.” Unwrapping it quickly, a smile spread to her lips when she discovered the ornate, gold-plated laser pointer she secretly desired last Christmas.

Santa dragged his bag to the HR vice president, and repeating the routine, handed him a present. “Merry Christmas Samuel, you have been a good boy this year.” Sam’s face broke into a grin when he removed the wrapping and saw a Star Trek memory stick for his computer.

Miles shook his head, wondering what idiot in the corporation came up with the hokey Santa Claus idea. He made a mental note that if someone paid more than $50 for this clown, a waste of corporate funds would go on the individual’s performance review.

After similarly providing gifts to each of the other five senior executives, Santa Claus made his way directly behind Miles Candish, but still facing the conference table. Spreading his arms, he unscrolled a long document and then said, “Let’s see who’s been naughty this year.”

Still gazing over the rooftops of the neighboring buildings, Miles Candish rolled his eyes.

Reaching in his bag, Santa withdrew a small, black, glistening stone. Holding it in his hand, he swung the bag of goodies over his shoulder.

The bag struck Miles Candish in the back. Miles stumbled forward through the open balcony door, tripped over a potted holly bush, and disappeared from sight over the railing.

Santa turned, tossed the lump of coal over the balcony, and then shouted, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.”

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