BY GLEN BENISON
Copyright is held by the author.
“YES RUBY, what is it?” said the chief executive officer of Brunt Industries. He removed his glasses and lifted his gaze from the financial report. “What do you mean the ‘goddies’ are occupying our parking lot? Oh Hell, not today! Don’t tell me there’s another damn revival meeting.”
Several ecumenical churches had been sprouting up in the neighbourhood and all with a slew of characters knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door looking for admittance.
There were retired barber-shop singers hoping to take a sad song and make it better. There were demented motorcycle gang members searching for a Zen moment of character maintenance. There were carnivores and vegans and just today many of those very carnivores had arrived at their church following a gorging of sizzling bacon, oil-oozing sausages and free range eggs. A situation was developing.
Many of those meat eaters had purposely parked their vehicles on the private property adjacent to their holy place. The large “No Parking” sign was ignored.
It hadn’t taken long for word to travel to the desk of the C.E.O. whose parking lot was being overtaken. Transport trucks were blocked from accessing the company’s shipping dock. Customers could not drive in to the cash and carry counter. It was Friday, January 31st and it was not a good day.
Employees of Brunt Industries might be thanking their God it was Friday but this Friday happened to be the last day of the month. And the last day of the month is a bad day for a business fighting through a market downturn. The company’s European owners were watching the month end results like hawks and they had made it clear that, in no way, would they tolerate a second year of failure.
On the last working day of the month, the company needed customers filing through its door. It needed a steady flow of transport trucks loading up at the dock and quickly moving on to make room for the next.
The C.E.O. grimaced and mumbled to himself as Ruby walked away. “Surely God, the masses aren’t congregating today — not at month end?
“Ruby, call the police. What? Head office is on line three?
“Hello? Oh, hello, Gunther. How is the weather in Dusseldorf today?
“Ah, yes, sir” said the CEO. “I will have the projected month-end figures to you today. . . Yes sir, by noon our time . . . Yes sir, we are hopeful of hitting the targets . . . Yes sir, we are all aware of the importance of that . . . Sir?”
Head office had hung up.
“Ruby! Have you called the police?” The CEO walked to the other side of the building for a view out the window. “Oh bloody hell. You would think Billy Graham was holding a crusade right here. Look at all their freaking cars in our lot.
“Ruby, get Fitzsimmons on it right now. Get him out there raining hell with those religious car jockeys. Tell him to take a couple of his bigger union boys with him. We have product to move.
“Johnson! What’s happening with your sales promotion? I need your results within the half hour. Hey, you assured me this promo was the way to go . . . Yes, I know we lost a day and a half due to the ice storm, but I don’t need excuses, Johnson. I need results. Do you think Germany gives a rat’s ass about our weather?
“Mitchell! Everything on the assembly line has to be completed and out the door today. Who’s off sick? Him again! What are you going to do with that jackass? Oh yeah, right, he’s my wife’s nephew. Look Mitchell, we have to find a way to get the product bloody well finished . . . Yes, today! It’s the end of the damn month. Get that new young kid in shipping department to help out on the assembly line . . . Well, I don’t give a damn if that means the finished quality will be beneath our standard. We’ll deal with that problem next month. Go Mitchell. Get the lead out!
“Ruby! What did the police say? Are they sending in the tow trucks? Well call them again! We are being held hostage on our own bloody property — and it’s month end!
“Quigley, has the mail arrived yet? Well, call the courier right now. That $40,000 cheque that was promised has got to be deposited in our bank today. Ah, ah no excuses, Quigley. Read my lips, I said today.
“Fitzsimmons! What happened in the parking lot? Did you warn them that the police are on their way? Did you tell them it’s our month end and we need them out of our lot? He said what!? He said he would pray for me . . . so that I could find some inner peace? That cocky bastard. And he’s supposed to be religious? Which car is his?.The blue Honda? OK.
“Ruby! When the tow trucks arrive, have them take the bloody, blue Honda first . . . What? Germany’s on the line again?
“Hi Gunther . . . oh Mr. Schweinstyger, it’s you, sir . . . Yes, I did tell Gunther he would have our results by noon. Is it noon already? Sir, you wouldn’t believe what has been happening here today. No, I don’t suppose you would care . . . Yes sir, within the half hour. You can count on it.
“Fitzsimmons! Johnson! Mitchell! Quigley! In my office right now and bring your reports. Now.
“Wait Ruby, wait. Slow down. What do you mean the police are restricted to towing away only one car? We need a ‘what’ from the Mayor? Well tell them that a $50 ticket on their windshield doesn’t help us clear the lot. We can’t get the trucks rolling, can’t the police see that? Our customers are driving right past our door to go to our competitor instead — ah, what the hell do the cops know about sales and budgets.
“Gentlemen, the shit has hit the fan. My month end report has got to be emailed to Germany within 20 minutes and I haven’t got a single piece of paper from any of you bastards. I need to fill in some blanks.
“Quigley. That $40,000 cheque, man, where is it? Well call the customer right now. Here, use my phone, and tell them you are leaving within minutes to drive over to pick up a duplicate cheque. Don’t let them try to put you off, Quigley. This is critical. And take that big lug of a guy from the inventory department along with you . . . yeah, the cross-eyed guy with the shaved head. Get me the cash, Quigley. Go!
“Johnson if the sales numbers are off, as I suspect your silence is indicating, then you must create dummy orders and enter them in the system now. Pick our top 20 accounts and put in fake orders, but don’t schedule them for shipment until later next week. We’ll cancel the dummy orders if you can’t convince those same customers to match the orders by next Wednesday. You know the numbers we need to hit target and that is the dollar value of the fake orders that you must create. Get on it.
“Mitchell. I don’t care who you have to use to get the product finished and packed this afternoon. Just do it. Use the three useless cops who are wandering around our parking lot with their thumbs up their asses. Use the freaking heating contractor who’s working up on our roof. Just get the product boxed and loaded and on the trucks, even if you have to take the crates by lift truck to load those 16 wheelers that are idling out on the roadway. Get it done, Mitchell. Go!
“Quigley! What the hell are you still doing here? You should have been on the road by now. I need that money, Quigley. Show me the money. What do you mean your car is gone? You, too, drive a blue Honda! Ahhh shit. Here take my keys. Take my car. Why don’t you take my wife, once again Quigley you slimy bastard. Just get me the bloody cash. Go!
“Ruby! Get those useless cops into my office. They need a talking to.
“Fitzsimmons, if those religious freaks aren’t in the process of moving their cars now, then get your three-quarter inch power drill and start puncturing tires . . . No don’t worry about the police. Shit, this is one hell of a rotten day.
“Now what, Mitchell? You are out of staples? And packing tape? What kind of a shit-ass job has your supplies planner been doing? Well then we’ll have to cut back on her smoking breaks, won’t we? In the meantime I suggest you get back to your boy-scout roots, Mitchell, and start folding those shipping cartons like they used to. Left flap over right flap; right flap over left . . . remember that badge, Mitchell? Do it well because if those boxes spill open on route then we are screwed.
“What the hell, Quigley! You’re still here? My car windshield has been smashed? What? Those Jesus freaks are fighting back with crowbars!
“Fitzsimmons! Get every breathing body out into the parking lot right now! Bring your cutting shears . . . bring wooden planks . . . bring blow torches. We are going to war.
“Bloody hell, Ruby, get out of my way! I don’t give a damn if Germany’s on line three. Tell that Schweinstyger bastard that he can bite me. Charrrrrrge!”