This was written in 2016 as a prompt challenge. The first sentence is the prompt. And, in case you want to hear what ran through my mind (in a loop) while writing the story, it was this:
Not the Words of One Who Kneels
“I’m going to disappoint you. But you know that already.” I winked, flashed my winning smile, and finalized the contract with a flourish. The weight of the silver pen gouged the paper as I dotted the ‘i’ in Iscariot. It was clearly a quality writing implement. I slipped it into my suit pocket, leaned across the desk and extended my hand. “I appreciate the opportunity and am really looking forward to working with everyone.”
That was then, and this is now.
Looking back, I see I wasn’t the best fit for my team, but working with them also wasn’t as difficult as I’d originally anticipated. In any group, there will be some back-biting – some head-butting. There was squabbling over who was most loyal, the most dedicated. You can’t work and travel with the same people without tempers flaring now and then. And, at the end of the day, everyone in the group was a hundred percent behind the product. The marketing was flawless because they truly believed in it.
Jaded as I can be, so did I.
The boss’ son was my immediate supervisor. That can be a real headache too, but this guy was cool. Okay, maybe a little over-earnest and definitely too idealistic. More “crunchy granola” than I usually care for. But likeable, definitely likeable. And don’t get me wrong, he had some impressive leadership qualities. We would have followed him anywhere.
This part is going to sound ungrateful, and I don’t mean it to be, but our budget was laughable. As treasurer, I happen to know this company’s resources are off the charts. Which is why it rubbed me the wrong way we weren’t treated better.
Everything from the transportation to the meals and accommodations was handled poorly. We operated on a shoestring budget. Less than a shoestring. It wasn’t just maddening, it was disrespectful.
I say this because our project was huge—a game changer. When so much hung in the balance, to be treated like that was insulting. And I want to make it clear that, at heart, I’m a humble man. When I say my part in this project was pivotal, I’m not bragging, just stating fact.
They knew my potential when they hired me. You’d think, based on that, they’d have taken the time to listen to some new ideas I had. Ideas about extending the availability of the product, raising its visibility beyond the regional level.
You can imagine my frustration when my calls to corporate were systematically ignored.
They only saw potential in a shock and awe approach. Saturate a small market with a limited edition release, then pull it and let word and demand spread before a second release. In a way, it felt like the company had set us all up for failure. Like they were cheating the consumer.
In the end, I did what I was hired to do. I signed the contract, after all. Judas Iscariot is nothing if not a man of his word.
I’m not with that company anymore. People assume I went to work for the rival, but I didn’t. Despite the bad press I got, I’m a man of honor. When I quit, I took myself completely out of the workforce.
I’m in limbo, so to speak—and to tell you the truth, after all I went through, I don’t have the heart for corporate life anymore.
What sticks with me, though—what I can’t get past—is how my supervisor got screwed in all this. Yes, we were hired to be the fall guys for this debacle, but it was his father who sent down the order. His father who set it all in motion.
Even now, this is what sticks in my craw. I ask you, how can a Father do that to his Son?