Being inspired, maybe – 57


A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:


And, then, the words:

I had a lot to think about.
It was one of the main reasons why I chose a relatively remote resort to get away from the pressures and distractions of everyday life.
You see, I just got made redundant from a job that I thought was mine for life, and with it came a litany of platitudes and half-truths and downright lies from a hatchet man, rather than the person who should have faced me.
The point is, the owner of the company I worked for was someone I had respected.  We had started out together, not as partners, but as close to having a partnership as was possible.
My only problem at the time was I didn't have the money to put up, so we had an agreement.
An agreement, it appears, that was not worth anything because it was not in writing.  It had been a verbal agreement on a handshake, at a time when that meant something.
Now, apparently, it didn't.
There was of course reasons why my situation had come to the point it was at.
My pseudo partner at the company had remarried about a year ago, to a woman who was from a once wealthy family that had fallen on hard times, and had, as far as I could see, set her sights on what could only be described as an easy target.
I saw her for what she was the moment I laid eyes on her, and not long after that, once she had won him over, she left me in no doubt what my position would be once she married him.
So, the truth is, I knew  but, I still thought Jerry would have the backbone to stand up to her.  He was, once, a man who fought for what was right and what he believed in, but since the sudden death of Maisie, his first wife, and who had been my friend an ally once, he'd never been the same.
It was why, in recent months our meetings had grown less, from daily to weekly to once a month.  Until a memo was circulated advising the company would be restructuring, and there would be redundancies.
A memo that was written by Jocelyn and aimed straight at me.  And in the event, the only redundancies were me and several of my research and development group.
The same team that was responsible for making the company as successful as it was.
I tried to tell Jerry that scaling back on the research and development department was the worst thing the company could do, especially now when we're nearly finished on the next generation of products.   Granted that program was a year behind and had cost another thirty per cent over budget, it was not the time to close it down.
That, I suspect, was the work of the new chief engineer, a Jocelyn appointment, and placed in the department because I'd stopped sending general reports to management and, but it apparently fell on deaf ears, ears I suspect had never heard my objections. Nor, I suspect did he get the memo.
Jocelyn had managed, by that time, to manoeuvre herself into the general manager's position, and to her, it was fait accompli.
But, being the realist I was, I could see the writing on the wall, that fateful day Jocelyn came into Jerry's life.
Perhaps I always had a certain survival instinct built into me, and it was the countless warnings my father had given me in relation to the Anderson's, a family he and most of the town was familiar with, and who had, over time, had managed to alienate nearly everyone.
I tried to tell him Jerry would be different.
And he had been, after all, as he stood up to his father and other family members when it came to decisions that were adverse to their employees, and in the end quit the company over their business practices.
And when he started his own business, I believed then he would be different, and, for the most part, he had fulfilled those expectations.  It was one of the reasons he and his company was so successful.  Everyone, from the managing director to the janitor shared in the profits.
Until Jocelyn arrived.
Until the restructure.
Until her actions forced me to draw the battle line in the sand.

I never understood why Jerry remained silent.  Given the friendship we had over the years, I tried to tell myself that Maisie’s death could not have brought on the complete change of character that was apparent, looking from the outside.
That’s where I’d been sent, not necessarily by him, but by his lack of action.
Perhaps it had been the forceful nature of Jocelyn’s that had worn him down, indeed, I had a hard time believing a man like him would fall for a woman like her.  She was the exact opposite of Maisie in every respect.
His eventual withdrawal and lack of communication left me with nothing to work with.
But, like I said, I had a lot to think about.
Why?
Because only he and I knew what the real situation was at the company.  It was not drawn up in writing, per se, but there were aspects of the relationship I had with the company that was.  And those documents resided with a small legal practice belonging to a small town layer, who was, once, the third member of our triumvirate.
And all of that was put in place by Maisie, many years ago, when we were all young and stupid boys, and she was the one who was wise above her years.  Perhaps she had some small inkling of the Anderson’s and the possibility of Jerry returning to type, perhaps she just wanted her three best male friends to remain friends forever.
Certainly, she could not have foreseen what had happened, or, maybe she had.
Just  before leaving for my sojourn, I received a phone call from the third man, Justin Sorrel, the lawyer who had, for several years, disappeared off the face of the earth.  I tried to find him, a few years back to make a will, but no one knew where he was.
A small piece in the local paper had caught his attention, and that was what prompted the call.
There was no explanation for the disappearance, none was asked for.
All he had to say was one earth-shattering statement, many years ago when I came up with the ideas and processes for the company’s products, Jerry had ensured that the patents belonged to me, and that the company licensed those patents.
I had to say when he told me I was completely dumbstruck.  And made me feel very sheepish about my thoughts about Jerry’s character, and how completely wrong I’d been.
But, as long as I worked at the company, in any capacity, those licence fees were nominal, equating to about the same as my annual salary, and held in a trust fund.  But, if I was removed by the company for any reason, fired, made redundant, in fact, any reason other than retirement, those licence fees would increase to thirty-three per cent of the gross sales.
If the company closed its doors and tried to pass the licensing to a new successor, the same thirty-three per cent impost would be invoked.  But there was one stipulation, while Jerry’s company lived on, they still had the monopoly in holding the licence.  I could not negotiate with anyone else.
And that same statement had been sent to the company by Justin, as a matter of course triggered by the company dispensing with my services.
That had been two days ago, and I was sure, by this time Jocelyn would have got the letter.  I didn’t expect to get a call straight away, she would have to take the time to go completely berserk, calm down, call her own army of lawyers, and wait till they confirmed that the contract was iron clad.
That call came at one minute past eleven O’clock, on the third day of my sojourn.
The name on my phone screen:  Jocelyn.
I considered not answering it, but that was childish.
But the call was pure Jocelyn, ploughing on like an ice breaker in the middle of winter, “There’s been some concerns about the decision to scale down the research and development division, given that we’re so close to the finalising of the next production cycle, so it will be necessary for you to return and oversee the division again, but with a promotion to divisional manager.  A small reward for your years of excellent service.”
I’m sure those were not the words she would like to have used, but it was as close to an apology as I’d get from her.
The problem was, I didn’t really want to go back to a company that she was running.
“What prompted the change of heart?”  OK, so I was going to push a few buttons.
“Jerry and I had a long discussion over the future direction of the company.  Certain matters came to light which has cast a new light on past, present, and future activities, and Jerry has made it very clear that you are going to be part of it.”
“And if I decide that I no longer want to be part of that so-called new direction?”
Silence.
For at least a minute.
Followed by a familiar voice, indicating that he had been there listening on a loudspeaker, “You can stop being an ass now, Ethan.  In fact, the pair of you both need a solid kick where it hurts, so take that month off the reservation, get an attitude readjustment, then get back here.  I’m sorry about the last year, but it’s now in the past and it can stay there.  You understand what I’m saying?”
That there was going to be only one change and it would be business back to the way it was.
“Perfectly.  See you in a month.”

I was sure there was a double sigh of relief just before I hung up.

© Charles Heath 2019

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