Corporate Man is called in to investigate reports of vile, unethical business practices at Great American Business Company. What he finds there just might destroy him (except we all know the ending to The Tragic Death of Corporate Man so it should be fairly obvious that it can't really destroy him, though it can come close).
Enslaved by the Bonus Whores is an all new Corporate Man Adventure Serial. Chapters will post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
“I work for a relatively small company,” she said, “I’m currently in the accounting department of the home office, but I started out at the branch level.”
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Oh, sorry, Corporate Man. I’m Tess Adams.”
“Call me Don, Miss Adams. So this company you work for, is that why you’re here to see me?”
“Is there some sort of trouble there? Some fiscal misconduct?”
“I’m not sure,” Tess said wiping tears from her eyes. “I’ve been with the company a long time. We started out very local and slowly expanded into a regional powerhouse. That region is admittedly small, and our growth was always slow, but it was unshakably steady. Recently though…”
Corporate Man waited patiently for her to finish.
“It’s just different now,” she said.
“In what way?”
“We’ve been getting a lot of new people. Executives from competing businesses. They don’t… They don’t… I know people say that when your company gets big things become more corporate, but why does that always seem like a justification for short sighted greed and callous behavior? We lost our former CEO a few years ago. You would have liked Jack. He was the kind of guy who always knew everyone’s name. If there was extra work to do, he’d be right in there with you. Getting his hands dirty in a manner of speaking. The company picnics were huge, and fun, and made you feel… like coworkers instead of subordinates. Like family.”
Corporate Man grabbed a juice from the fridge, unscrewed the cap, and passed it to Tess. He sat down in chair by the desk, his cereal bowl left on the counter, unfinished.
“Jack earned a huge salary, but he was always generous with his money. If he saw you out at a restaurant he paid your bill. If he got wind that your had fallen on hard times, he’d cut you a personal check.”
“He does sound like that kind of man I would respect,” Corporate Man said. “So once he left, I take it that’s when the company began to falter.”
“I don’t know if the line was as fine as that,” Tess said. “He was pretty old when he retired. As our company grew our competitors shrank and people from their organization would apply for positions with us. We hired from within when we could, but, as we grew, more and more corporate types wormed their way into our organization. Jack got tired of fending them off I think. He stepped down as CEO but stayed on with the company for a long time after that. I think he was trying to keep his successor on the right path, so to say. Anyway, we’ve continued to grow, but our work force seems to shrink.”
“Expand on that,” Corporate Man said.
“Well, a small branch office used to have a minimum of twenty-five employees. They now run with about ten or eleven, eight if the manager’s a real ass. The excuse is always that things are so much more automated these days that you don’t need as many people. But that’s crap. Branches typically have three or four times the number of accounts than they used to. There is no less work now then before. In fact, there is more to do than ever.”
Tess took a drink of her juice. She was trembling.
“So what happened?” Corporate Man asked. “What changed?”
“Well that’s the problem. No one wants to talk about it. I mean, people talk, but that’s just speculation and grumbling. It’s been happening at the head office since Jack left. Slowly at first, but the same pattern. I have a cousin that got fired a couple of years ago. He was a branch manager when he got the ax and he said there was this new incentive program being rolled out. It had something to do with trimming employee wages, thinning out the payroll. I couldn’t get him to talk about it. I don’t know if he actually understood it or if the whole situation just disgusted him so much. He says they fired him because he wouldn’t get on board with the program.”
Corporate Man stood up, walked over to the counter, and took a bite of his Cap’Tal Gains. The crunch was just as resolute as when he’d first poured milk into the bowl. He slowly ground the cereal into swallowable bits.
“I wish I could say I haven’t seen this kind of thing before,” Corporate Man said. “It’s all too common in the Corporate World.”
He took a few more bites. Tess sipped from the bottle of juice.
“Miss Adams,” he said, “I need to get hired on at your company. Are there any positions available at present?”