It was supposed to be a good day. That cold early January day when the snow wouldn’t stop falling and the traffic to work was horrendous. Ted didn’t notice any of it, all he thought about that morning as he shaved and got dressed was that today was the day he would get the raise. The one that was due. As he walked past his dresser he picked up the crinkled white piece of paper that in cold business wording told him that after fifteen years of service he would receive five more vacation days and a raise that would put a smile on any mans’ face.
His smoothed out the paper that was well onto one year old now. He had been patient. He had waited for fifteen years to receive his dues. Had worked for psychotic egotistical men who hardly even knew what they were doing and then took the credit for his work. But Ted couldn’t even feel angry about that right now. His thoughts centered on what he and his wife of twenty years would do with the extra money. Maybe they’d go on a vacation to the Caribbean. Or perhaps he would buy a deck for the patio out back. They could get a new car; that old rust bucket that he been driving for the past 7 years was on its last leg. So many possibilities were at their feet now!
As he left the house in the early morning fog of flurries, his smile continued and the sound of humming came as he walked from the house with a quick step. He peeled out of the driveway like a man on a mission and drove just a little too fast down the highway for the tall building that housed the international accounting firm. This was the day. He just knew it; the paper said so. The promise was there in black and white; all that time of being a cubicle drone for the big wigs was going to pay off today. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as the traffic crawled by and zoomed off on his exit the minute he had an opening. His regular parking spot was open, just as it should be today, and he nearly hit the curb in his enthusiasm.
“Good morning Melody!” He said to the young receptionist at the front door. His only acknowledgement was a curt nod. Ted continued to walk briskly to his grey cubicle that sat two people. His cubicle buddy being a rather thin and balding young man straight out of college, who found it hard to keep from checking his FaceBook page while at work.
“Morning Dan!” And at the sound of mumbling, “Whadya say Dan?”
“Nothin’ Ted. Good morning to you too.” The junior accountant forced a smile and turned quickly back to his computer.
“Nice day out, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, real nice.”
Ted rambled on, “Wasn’t traffic awful though? I thought I’d never get to work today.”
“So, did you have a good weekend?”
“It was fine.”
“That’s nice.” Ted took his coat off and laid it on the back of his chair. This is going to be a good day. A great day. Yup, this was it. Deep breath; in and out. Steele yourself for when they call you in. Turn on the old computer. Maybe with the raise they would also get him a new one. That would be nice. All the young pups coming into the office recently had been getting cutting edge gear, while Ted sat there with his ten year old chunky desktop and scratched up monitor. But this was the day that would all change.
By ten that morning Ted thought he would just die if management didn’t come and get it over with soon. What could be taking so long? Well, this was business; you have to act with initiative. Maybe he should go to them. Yes, that’s it, I’ll go right to Jack. He thought to himself as he stood and looked across the cubicle jungle to his bosses’ glass office at the west side of the building. He could see Jack sitting there at his sleek desk and high tech computer.
He waved through the glass to Jack who sat low down in his black leather executive chair making it look like he was closer to snoring than working on high level financial issues. Jack’s eyes went from his computer screen for hardly a moment before waving him in.
“Hi Jack. How’s it going today?” Ted tried not to sound too excited as he walked into the office.
Jack was silent and didn’t acknowledge Ted for what felt like ten minutes. Ted looked around the cold office with it’s glass walls, oriental carpet on the floor and Picasso wanabe on the wall.
“Ok, sorry about that Ted. So much going on in the management level meetings lately; lots to catch up on.” He seemed to wait then for Ted to show some interest in the managerial duties but when he said nothing Jack sighed and sat himself up straighter for a moment. “Sit down Ted.” He motioned to the hard modern design of a chair before the desk, “So, Ted, what can I do for you?”
“Well, you might remember that at my review last spring we came to an agreement.” There he stopped hoping to see some recognition cross Jack’s face. When nothing came he continued, “The issue of my fifteenth year of service? That I would get the raise? And the five extra vacation days?” With each mention of a promise he saw Jack’s face scrunch just a little between his dull brown eyes.
“You know Ted, I was actually hoping to speak with you sometime this week concerning that little problem.”
“What problem?” What could Jack be talking about? What issue was there? He had done everything they had asked; every late night project that kept him at the office for 14 hours a day. Every time they came to him for the dull and monotonous work that would normally be done by a temp they hired for a week. He did it all, everything they ever asked of him he did. With no question. All for this day. For this moment when, as he knew Jack would, an office announcement would be made concerning Ted’s promotion and dedication to the company through hard work. He was an example. He was who those new young whelps out there should be looking up to. “What problem?” he asked again.
“There seems to be some concerns coming in from management. They seem to think that it would be best to get young blood in here. Too many old fashion ideas about accounting are keeping us back from being at the top.”