The Calamity Girl – The Promotion
Michael left and I was almost to the door when David’s helicopter arrived. The elevator attendant informed me that I would have to wait a minute. David would not want to be kept waiting for his private elevator. I almost felt guilty because of the stern look that the elevator attendant was giving me.
David came up and said, “I wondered who was using my private heli pad – Rachel you are quite impressive, you never cease to amaze me – shall we?”
David motioned for me to get into the elevator first.
The attendant said, “Good morning Mr. Radford.”
David said, “Good morning George, this is Miss Rachel Tornquist, she is going to be my new marketing and sales director. She is quite welcome to use my helicopter pad anytime she likes.”
I was blushing by now and shocked by what David said. George was looking very apologetic. I winked then smiled at him. He smiled back.
After we got off the elevator David whispered, “I know how George is. I put him in his place; I hope he didn’t offend you.”
I smiled, “Its okay I was worried about offending you. I could not get here by car or train so I was offered a quicker means of transportation. I am sorry there was no other way. It wasn’t planned.”
David said, “Ah! Someone rescued you. How gallant, and who was it?”
I grinned at David and said, “A complete stranger, a good Samaritan, named Michael that’s all I know about him.”
David chuckled, “Every woman probably wishes they could meet a guy like that. Do you think you’ll ever see him again?”
I said, “I don’t really know. He mentioned owning a ranch.”
David, said, “Sounds like fun. It would be a good place for you to go during your vacation.”
I said, “I don’t have time for a vacation.”
David looked serious for a moment then said, “We have no choice, were all getting a couple of months vacation time while the company restructures. Keep it to yourself though. I’m announcing it this morning at the meeting.”
I felt a wave of shock go through me as David and I walked into the meeting room together. I noticed that all eyes were on us. Everyone had stopped talking, and they were exchanging looks. I was getting a strange vibe from them. I did not think anything about it at the time. I went and sat down beside Colleen, who for some reason, was acting very coldly towards me.
I noticed that Julie was looking at me in an odd manner. I could swear I saw jealousy in her eyes. What is up with that? I looked up and locked eyes with David for a moment, he had noticed it too. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw that Bryson was snickering and so was James.
I looked around the transparent room, surrounded by windows. I could see the elevator doors from here. That’s when it dawned on me what everyone was thinking, I blushed. They thought I had arrived with David’s helicopter. Oh Lord, now they think I am having an affair with the CEO! I shook my head in disbelief. How could I be so stupid? I knew what they were like; feasting on every word of gossip that went around the office. Normally I could avoid it, but this, I couldn’t. David was going over the company figures and I was vaguely paying attention. I was worrying about how to handle this new problem.
David’s voice came through my thoughts, “The Company has been forced to do some restructuring in order to survive during this recession. Some of you will be getting a layoff notice today in your mailboxes by 4 pm.”
An audible gasp could be heard in the room. I sat there frozen, panicking, what would I do if I was one of those people with a pink slip? I went shopping last week, and figured I would work some overtime over the next two months to catch up on my credit card bills. I could feel the knots building in my stomach so much for sticking to my new budget plan.
David continued, “The office is being shut down for two months in order to relocate to our new building. We are losing fifty percent of our staff. For the past six months, we have been monitoring your performance as an employee. Those of you that work hard and bring value and income to the company will be staying. No one is being fired. You are being laid off instead. We do have a government program open for your opportunity to retrain and start a completely new career for yourselves elsewhere. We tried our best to avoid this but we were unable to do so. Our stockholders have gotten very nervous and they are threatening to pull the rug out from under us. If they all sell their shares – the company will go, broke and we all lose our jobs.”
It was so quiet in the room; you could hear a pin drop.
David continued, “Everyone in management is being laid off today. There will be no new projects discussed until the company reconvenes two months from today. The ones that remain will be receiving their vacation pay and you can apply for Employment Insurance right away. We have all the paper work and final pay checks ready for you in your mailboxes. Rachel I need to speak to you alone in my office. Does anyone have any questions?”
Colleen put up her hand. David nodded.
Colleen asked, “If all the management is gone, will you be the only one in charge?”
David sighed, “Yes I will be but I’ve also decided to appoint someone to be a manager of all operations and they will be working with me. However, they will not be getting the usual management pay; it’s a higher income than what they make now, but not much higher.”
Colleen asked, “When will this position be appointed and who can apply for it?”
David paused, “Normally we would have you apply for this position. But due to the circumstances with the company; a person has already been decided. There are two choices if one declines then the second one will be given full control.
It will be announced later today. The employees that are staying will be meeting here later today at 4:30 pm and they will find out who it is. Okay this meeting is now adjourned.”
David looked at me for moment, smiled then walked out of the room. I got up and followed him. I was mad. I had spent most of my weekend preparing my presentation. I hope David was still going to listen to it. He ushered me into his office and asked me to sit down then he shut the door.
He said, “I know you spent hours on this presentation, but with half of our workforce leaving I didn’t want them taking your ideas with them. So your presentation can be delivered at 4:30 pm, instead.”
I said, “But my presentation is forty-five minutes long?”
David grinned, “Well then people will have to stay longer won’t they?”
I said, “What about the one’s that have kids?”
He said, “Unfortunate for them because of all the cut backs they need to worry about losing their jobs.”
I said, “Yes that’s true, but were all used to a certain routine here. I am going to suggest a memo to be sent out immediately for everyone to make other arrangements for their kids. Tell them that it is imperative that they attend this meeting or they will have to hand in their resignations.”
David said, “I like a woman with initiative and every parent should always have a backup plan for emergencies. If our company is going to survive, many things will have to change. We can’t just schedule people from 8 to 4 anymore or 9 to 5, they are going to be having weekly if not daily meetings instead.
You came up with the suggestion in your ideas book. Bryson returned it to me a few days ago; he came upon it at his place. You left it there a week ago when you were working so hard on your presentation. I glanced through it and it helped me make some decisions today. When I saw you on my heli pad, I knew you were a woman that I could totally rely on. Therefore, I am asking if you will be my new manager of operations for all departments. You will be in charge of everything and working directly with me. We need ideas like yours to get this company back into shape. Julie has not been doing much around here, so she is losing her job. You will be in charge of everyone, including me. They have asked me to step down as CEO and take a pay cut. I’ll be a Manager as well.”
I stood tongue tied for a moment then asked, “Am I the scapegoat? If the company fails, I’ll be fired if the plan doesn’t work and you get to keep your job, is that it David?”
He did not know what to say, he was speechless. Red faced he said, “We, I mean the board didn’t think you’d figure out our plan. I had no idea how intelligent you were. Julie and Colleen made you out to be some bimbo.”
I nodded, “I took the fall for them, and every time something failed they blamed it on me. I’ve been covering Julie’s ass for a long time and Colleen’s too.”
David looked grim, “Bryson tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen. Julie has been blackmailing me. We had an affair. I appointed her manager. She threatened to tell everyone.”
I looked at him and said, “Colleen already told everyone about your affair a month ago. She was mad because she wanted the job and was qualified for it. Colleen has been working from the bottom up for several years. Julie walks in the door and gets promoted within two months. Now you know that Julie has nothing to blackmail you with. I just found out that she did the same thing to Bryson to get to you.”
David said, “Now that I didn’t know, Bryson never told me.”
I said, “He’s too embarrassed about it.”
David said, “Well thanks for letting me know. Now I am going to give Julie her just desserts. Not only am I going to fire her immediately. I want you to do a write up about her. A front page article and submit it to Gossip Tabloids. Julie is being fired for stealing money from the company and we will be pressing charges. The police will be notified. I’m going to have her arrested.”
I gasped, “How did she steal funds?”
He said, “By making bogus clients and paying them fees. We have been watching all of you for the past six months. Colleen, during your lunch hour was taking your ideas book, photocopying it, and giving the pages to Julie. The suggestions you wrote down and gave to Bryson, were supposed to come to me. Colleen intercepted them and threw them in the garbage. I purposely set up that meeting with you and Bryson after finding out about the memos. The ideas that Julie gave me were in fact yours. We investigated you to see if you were in on the take. You are the innocent victim. All the checks were cashed and put into a cash box that Colleen hid in her desk drawer. When I realized what had happened, I went to the head office. They suggested that I step down so Julie would not go to the press and call foul. In the end everyone wins.”
I asked, “What about Colleen?”
David said, “After Julie is arrested, Colleen will help us build a case against her. I will provide a way to keep Colleen out of jail. I’ll give her severance pay and she’ll be dismissed from the company. Bryson screwed up by not catching this sooner. I screwed up because I had an affair with Julie and trusted her. You are the only one who is squeaky clean. You alone will have to save the integrity of this company.
All that money is going to you as a bonus for your ideas. The company is also willing to give you five percent of the shares, plus fifty thousand dollars for your troubles. This must also be published in your story. Company rewards Employee for saving its neck. Our shareholders will be happy to know that it was your ideas that kept us in business for the past two years along with some of our consultants. So are you willing to take a gamble? If you fail, you will be blamed for the company folding but we will give you a good severance package. However, if you succeed, you will get a bonus and a pay raise within a year.”
I said, “It’s a lot to deal with. I’d also want ten percent of all profits from my ideas.”
David said, “If I’m going to ask the company, I’ll make it twenty-five percent, give them some room for negotiation.”
I said, “Okay, I’ll agree to a one year contract to get your company on board again, but then you’ve got to promise me you will take back your job in a year.”
David said, “Why’s that?”
I said, “With all that money, I’m going to make I’m going to want more vacation time to travel and write.”
David shook my hand, “It’s a deal. Thanks Rachel just sign this contract here. I am looking forward to working with you in two months time. Things are going to be pretty harried around here today. I am going to give you a two-hour lunch today with me and Bryson. I will be joining you downstairs; lunch is on me, my treat. I will meet both of you around 12 noon for lunch.”
I nodded and walked out of his office, trying not to smile too much. I went to my office and Colleen came in. I put my book of ideas into my desk then I locked it and put the key in my pocket. I sat down and logged onto my computer.
Colleen stood there for a minute then she asked, “Did you have a nice time last night?”
I looked up at her narrowed eyes and said, “Since it isn’t any of your business, I choose not to answer that question.”
She turned three shades of red and mumbled, “Julie wants to see you in her office right away.”
I said coolly, “Tell her I’ll be a few minutes. I have to check my messages. I’m expecting an important phone call.”
Colleen looked alarmed and walked quickly down the hall to Julie’s office. After a few minutes she was seen sitting at her desk. Everyone watched as a delivery boy walked through the door with several bouquets of red roses he was struggling and trying not to drop any of them as he brought them to Colleen’s desk.
He said, “Special Delivery for a Rachel Tornquist?”
Colleen asked, “Who are they from?”
The boy smiled and showed her the card. She gave a knowing smile and pointed him in my direction. I watched as he headed towards my office.
He stopped at my door and asked, “Are you Rachel Tornquist?”
I nodded numbly, sitting in shock. He placed them on my desk and asked me to sign for them.
I grimly signed it and looked at the card, “Thanks for the lovely evening.”
I gave the guy a tip and shut my office door. Everyone was staring at me.
I murmured, “Dear Michael, you’re so sweet but you have rotten timing!”
Then David came down the hall and knocked on my door. All I can think is no, this is not a good time, go away but that would be impossible. I could not hide because he could see me through my fish bowl of an office. I have windows along the hallway.
I wearily said, “Come in,” and hastily put the little card in my pocket.
David closed the door, walked over to the roses, bends down smells them, smiles, and asks, “Did I miss a birthday? Or are they from a secret admirer?”
I giggled, I could not help it, and I kept laughing until tears were streaming down my face.
David looked at me oddly and then asked, “Is this job too much pressure for you Rachel?”
I said, “No but I need you to make an announcement. You have to tell them we did not have an affair and that I did not come here alone with you today. The office staff is assuming this because we both arrived together by elevator this morning. You know office politics.
As for the flowers, they are from a friend who is trying to cheer me up. I had a rough day yesterday and they were just being very thoughtful. Normally I would appreciate such kindness but today it has added fuel to the fire. I feel like I’m starring in an office soap opera, its nuts.”
David grinned, “Well I just thought you should know that Julie is on the war path and Colleen is feeding the office gossip fires as we speak.”
David and I looked out of my office window and sure enough, there was Julie and Colleen glaring at the two of us from across the room. We both instinctively waved at them and laughed.
I winked at David, “Team work, I’ll let you handle this one.”
David said, “Don’t mind if I do.”
He looked at his watch and said, “There they are, right on cue.”
I could see two security guards and two police officers heading towards Julie’s office.
David said, “Rachel, follow me; I’m pretty sure that you are going to enjoy this more than me.”
We walked towards Julie and Colleen. They had been so wrapped up in their discussion that they did not notice the party coming up behind them. They were watching us walk towards them.
Julie darted back into her office, Colleen followed.
The security guards and officers met us there by the doorway.
David said quietly, “Julie is the one behind the desk and Colleen is the woman standing in the corner.”
David opened the door without ceremony and escorted us all into Julie’s office.
He left the door open and said, “Julie I need you to step over here for a minute please.”
She came out from behind the desk shaking like a leaf, she cried, “Is it my father? Has something happened to him?”
David said “No Julie.”
Then the officer stepped forward and said, “Julie Cartland you are under arrest for committing fraud and embezzling money. You have the right to remain silent…”
He slapped the cuffs on her. She stood there shocked, her face white as the blood drained away from it. Julie had a wild look in her eye as she glanced over at Colleen who stood there terrified shaking like a leaf.
One of the security guards stayed with Colleen. He told her to sit down and wait as we escorted Julie downstairs.
Julie did not go quietly she snarled at David, “I’ll tell them everything about us. You’ll be sorry David.”
Then she turned to me and said, “Sleeping with him won’t get you anywhere.”
I coldly looked at her and said, “I’ve never slept with David nor shall I ever do so in the future. I don’t need to sleep around to be promoted. And I’d never steal anyone’s ideas and try to pass them off as my own.”
Julie yelled, “Colleen’s the one that stole your ideas.”
I said, “Yes but you were the one that got paid for them.”
Julie yelled, “I gave her money too. She always wanted a sixty percent cut of everything we stole.”
I said to Julie, “So you are saying that you both came up with this idea?”
Julie said, “Yes we did and we almost got away with it until you ruined our plans!”
David said, “Julie, Rachel had nothing to do with it. I am the one that found out what was going on. We were investigating all of you for the past six months. We caught you and Colleen on our security cameras. The two of you cooked your own goose.”
Julie looked floored, “You mean to tell me no one found out?”
David said, “Yes, that’s right.”
Julie said, “Well you can’t prove anything.”
David said, “Oh, contraire darling. I have several cameras on you right now. Thanks for the video confession.”
Then he held up a tape recorder and smirked, “And an audio confession. Rachel identified her idea book as her own property. So you see Julie, you will be going to jail for many years. I am sure Colleen will be very willing to talk to save her own neck. In fact she will probably say that you are the only one to blame.”
Julie looked like she had tears in her dark grey eyes. Who would have known she could be so deceitful? I had looked up to the vivacious brunette who was petite and attractive. She seemed like such a genuine person. I couldn’t believe it.
Julie was quiet as she was getting into the police cruiser and being taken away. I watched as another police car pulled up and two more officers got out.
David introduced us then said, “Right this way officers.”
He whispered to me, “Now for Plan B. I’m going to tell Colleen that Julie pinned everything on her. I need you to back me up, make it convincing.”
We were quiet as we went back to Julie’s office. By now, Colleen was in a fit of tears.
When she saw the officers, she began to wail, “I didn’t do anything. I have children. You cannot do this to me!”
I stepped forward, “Colleen, you took my idea book and photocopied it. The evidence is on video. We also have you writing out the bogus client accounts in the ledger. Julie says that it was your idea.”
David looked at me and locked eyes. I could see he thought I was brilliant. He did ask for my help.
I turned to the Security Guard, “Colleen keeps two ledgers in her desk. The second one is in a secret compartment under her keyboard.”
We watched as the Security Guard walked over to Colleen’s desk to check out my story and he found what he was looking for.
The Security Guard put the ledger in a manila envelope and handed it to the police officer.
I turned to Colleen and said, “They have all the evidence they need to put you in jail for the rest of your life. Not only will you be charged for fraud and embezzlement, I’m going to lay charges against you for stealing my business ideas and stealing our company’s profits. Those were company plans. It is a serious offence. Remember the contract you signed when we hired you; the penalty for your crimes was listed there.”
Colleen broke down, “My children, who will take care of them?”
I said, “You should have thought about that before you started stealing things. I’m sure your Mother will raise them or children’s aid will take care of them for you.”
I turned to David and said, “I need to speak to you for a minute.”
I said, “Let’s go to my office.”
I closed the door and he said, “How did you know about the desk?”
I said, “I didn’t, it was just a whim. A month ago, I came across a receipt for a new desk that was custom made for Colleen. It had completely slipped my mind until you mentioned the bogus accounts this morning. At the time I called the company that made the desk. I asked what the extra custom made charges were for. They told me it was for a secret compartment. I figured because Colleen worked for you, that you had sensitive documents or something.
I saw Colleen working here Monday night. She was writing things down in a ledger. I knew it wasn’t one of ours, so I stuck around to find out what was going on.
I had hidden behind a door until she left then I had to wait for Julie to leave. They had been discussing a new account and were arguing about it. Colleen was telling Julie she wanted Sixty-five percent at the time and I did not know what it meant.
When Julie left, I tried to open the drawer in Colleen’s desk to see what it was, but it was locked. I waited for twenty minutes then I headed towards the elevator and I pressed the button and waited. Nothing happened, I went to use the stairwell and it was locked up.
I spent the night in your office on your couch. I went straight to sleep. The cleaning lady woke me up around 5:30am. I went out for breakfast and came back to work. I don’t think you should make a deal with Colleen. I honestly believe that Colleen is the mastermind here. The only thing that Julie could do was set up the fake business accounts at the bank.
It was all Colleen’s ideas, she had the ledgers, and she created the accounts in the ledgers. She even cashed the checks. I do not think all the money is in the cash box either. Julie had you authorize the ideas and this allowed her access to the banking information for the company.
I would check in Colleen’s apt, she was always taking a green shopping bag home everyday. She has a briefcase too. It always seemed odd to me because she never went shopping during her lunch breaks. She must have the cash stashed somewhere else. I would assume that Julie has invested her share of the money in an offshore account somewhere.”
David looked at me with great admiration, “You know I’m glad you told me about the couch and the green bag. Those were the two last things we couldn’t figure out from the video.”
I laughed, “They play 24/7 don’t they?”
David said, “Yes and we also caught some others doing some extra curricular activity here in the office late at night. I’m lucky I did mine at home, or I would have been fired too.”
I gasped, “You didn’t know they were taping us?”
David said, “No, I just found out after getting an early meeting call. I watched some of the videos. By the way you look very cute in your sleep and you talk too.”
I turned three shades of red, “What did I talk about?”
David cracked a smile and laughed, “That is privileged information. I will see you at lunch in an hour and a half. Bring Bryson with you. I am sure he is itching to know what is going on. I will tell him to come see you now. By the way, He is the one that suggested I make you the new head of the company. He really likes you.”
I said, “Of course he does, I’ve always helped him make his programs better.”
David said, “You’re a computer programmer?”
I said, “Not at all, I did the beta testing for him before he presented it to you. I like looking for bugs in the program.”
David shook his head, “Amazing I’ve been the head of the company for several years now and you know more about the operations than I do. Now I know what Bryson meant when he said that you could run this whole company on your own.”
I said, “I’ll have to thank him for the compliment.”
David said, “Go out on a date with him sometime. He’d love that.”
I said, “Bryson? No, I cannot. I refuse to mix business with pleasure.”
Then David said, “Even if I asked?”
I blushed and said, “Yes David, even if you asked. “
Then David said in a sarcastic voice, “So what you’re saying is that if I ever wanted to date you I’d have to fire you first.”
I looked at the twinkle in his eye and saucily said, “If you fired me, I definitely would not date you. Now stop this nonsense. I have no desire to date anyone that I work with. Besides I hardly date — I avoid relationships as much as possible.”
David said, “I noticed that. You sound like Bryson and I.”
I grinned and retorted, “You and Bryson have a no-strings-attached–love-them-and-leave-them attitude towards women in general. There are too many broken hearts in this office and you both are to blame for it.”
David grinned, “Okay, I’ll let Bryson know the bad news. Neither one of us gets to seduce you; we actually had a secret bet going.”
I laughed, “I hope you’re joking. I could get offended about that!”
I turned and walked away. I was serious now. I noticed the office staff all watching us. Over night, I had become part of the office drama team. My phone rang and kept ringing. Then I remembered that Colleen wasn’t there to screen my calls anymore.
I answered my office phone, “Hello, Global Data Services, this is Rachel, how can I help you?”
A familiar voice asked, “Hi Rachel! Did you like the flowers I sent you?”
I grinned, “Yes thanks Michael, they are lovely. How did you get this number?”
I was shocked he was calling on my private line, how did he find out?
Michael said, “Believe me it wasn’t easy. I lied and said it was a matter of life and death. Listen I am going out of town for a few days then I am heading to my ranch. I can have a car pick you up in a week’s time, and my pilot will fly you there, will you come?”
I asked, “Do I get my own private room. I don’t intend to get too cozy with a total stranger.”
I said it somewhat curt.
He paused and said, “Of course, I didn’t mean it as a romantic get away. I was offering you a holiday, and I enjoyed your company the other day. By the way, I have never invited anyone to my ranch before. You’ll be the first.”
I was shocked, “Okay, I’ll come but I need lessons if I’m going to ride a horse.”
Michael said, “I’ll teach you. Also I’d like to take you to lunch or dinner today.”
I groaned, “I’m sorry Michael I have two previous important engagements today. I cannot make it. I will see you in a week. I have to go to my next meeting now.”
Michael was silent.
I said, “Sorry I can’t talk now. I promise, I will explain everything next week. It is not you. It is my job – I got a huge promotion today and two of my staff got fired so I am doing several peoples jobs today. I hope you understand. I have to go now. Talk to you in a week.”
I hung up the phone. I have never been so blunt or honest before. I trusted that Michael would understand.
Bryson knocked on my door and I said, “Come in and close the door behind you.”
I sat for a moment watching Bryson seat himself by the window he was enjoying my view of the Toronto Harbor. I walked over, and pulled all my office blinds shut along the office hallway.
I said, “I’m tired of people gawking at me all morning.”
Bryson was looking serious, “Rachel what the hell is going on around here? And why did David send you all those roses?”
I looked at his grief stricken face, “David didn’t tell you anything?”
Bryson shook his head no.
I explained to him why Julie and Colleen were fired and arrested.
Then I asked, “Who told you that David sent the roses?”
Bryson said, “Everyone assumed it was him. You showed up together on the helipad.”
I groaned, “David promised to set the record straight. I am going to make sure he does at the meeting later. I wanted to thank you for vouching for me.”
He said, “For what? Oh, I gave David your ideas book back. I told him some of them were similar to the one’s Julie had said were hers. She told me you stole them from her.”
I said, “Did you tell David this too?”
Bryson said, “Yeah, he laughed about it and said impossible. You dated yours in your journal. We checked and each day that you asked for an idea submission form, it was on the same dates from your journal.
Julie’s went in two weeks after the date they were submitted. Turns out she was lying to me the whole time. She accused you six months ago of stealing my program ideas and giving them to another company. Her little plan backfired. We told her we’d investigate you, we failed to mention it would include the whole office.”
I laughed, “I thought it was strange. It couldn’t take two months for the fumes to subside after fumigating my office.”
Bryson said, “I wanted to prove your innocence. Julie was messing with my head.”
I said, “Well it’s all under the bridge now and for the record… I never date anyone I work with. I do not mix business with pleasure – not for anyone. Therefore, the rumor about David is false. I was in my own helicopter this morning and the roses are a gift from a friend, just a simple thank you for a lovely evening.
They thought it would be a cheer up gift for me. Now enough about me, what goes on in my private life, is my business and I want you to go out and spread the word. No affairs are going on anymore in this office. Now I need some time to be alone and meditate. Were meeting David for lunch in an hour so come and get me.”
Bryson grinned, “Okay, thanks for clearing the air, although I’m disappointed about the no dating office guy’s policy.”
I remarked, “Yeah I guess you and David will have to bet on something else.”
I had the satisfaction of seeing Bryson turn three shades of red before I closed my office door on him. What a day so far. Almost eleven a.m. and my world had been turned upside down. At least I would have a few months to adjust to my new job post before I would begin again…