Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chapter 7 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free-Spirit Professional

A warm welcome to visitors - old and new! Please click on the right side of the page in the archives to follow this post from the beginning. It ALL starts in June, so take a look and follow along. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy.

The merger was swift and steady. In just three months, I was without a boss and relegated to the 20th floor. The important people were housed on the 21st floor and for the last four years, I was one of them.

I still had a job and technically, a boss. The new owners of the company had shipped George off to run the London office. The plan was that he’d come to New York once a month, but I’d only seen him once since everything went down. Thrilled with his new role, he’d even asked if I wanted to join him, but I declined, mostly because of the quarantine laws that meant my dog would have to live in a kennel for several months.

Being relegated to the 20th floor and away from the endless closed-door meetings where the fate of Madsen Group partners were decided, afforded me the privilege of operating mostly off the map. George rarely called and with London being five hours ahead, I had most afternoons free to wander around the office trying to appear busy.

No one really understood what the new company was about, though once the announcement was made, we all got fancy t-shirts and key chains with the new logo. The idea was to create a super power of consultants and internet specialists all under one roof. At least that’s what they told us over coffee and bagels one gray morning in March. From where I was sitting or shall I say, sat – it looked like a bunch of new faces pushing out the old faces.

Those who remained scrambled around like eager children trying to impress the popular kids on the playground. In the end, George’s non-ivy league attitude secured his future whereas Tim left quietly the Friday before the merger and never returned.

Scott was a different story. He’d always been the logistics guy and with Tim’s departure and my lack of anything to do, we forged a strange friendship. The office, from which I fought so hard to depart, became a regular stop on my daily rounds of time wasting.

I noticed a gradual change in Scott. Without Tim beckoning him to do his grunt work, Scott seemed, well, lighter. The new powers that be relied heavily on Scott’s knowledge and for the first time in all the years I’d known him, I smelled confidence on his breath.

He and his office stayed put and Claire, my replacement, was the only assistant who remained. Gina had finally been blessed with a baby as we were equally blessed with her departure. I hadn’t bothered to introduce myself to the new assistants. To them, I was just another leftover from the Madsen Group.

“How goes it on the 20th floor?” Scott asked during one of my frequent visits.

“Eh, ya know,” I said, flopping into one of the comfy, leather chairs opposite his desk.  "How ‘bout you?”

“Good, good. Things are moving along nicely.”

In spite of the noticeable changes in Scott, I still found it hard not to do a double take when I’d hear him answer with such a positive slant.

“I asked to be the one to tell you this,” he said, getting up from his desk and shutting the door.

Oh shit. There it was. I was getting the, “In light of the current circumstances, we feel your services are no longer needed” speech.

I wasn’t prepared for this. I had no savings. What was I going to do?

My mind was racing so fast that I barely heard a word Scott said until, “putting Bikram on your desk.”

I scooched forward in the chair and sat up straight. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“They want to put Bikram on your desk.”

I don’t know which was worse – being fired or having to assist Bikram - a once, very junior partner, whose transparent, kiss-ass ways bought him a brief seat at the big boys table when Tim was still around.

“Bikram?” I gulped. “But, Scott…….” I didn’t even finish. Scott’s face said it all. There was really no choice in the matter, unless, of course, I wanted to add my name to the termination file.

And so it was done. I was going to be Bikram’s assistant. Apparently, he was being groomed to be the CEO which made no sense to me as I thought the new head guy who handed out shirts and pumped his fist with enthusiasm at the merger announcement was the CEO.

“He’s the Managing Partner,” Scott informed me. “He’s in charge of everything. Bikram will lead the consulting side of the business.”

It’s funny how things turn out because in that moment, I was surprisingly tempted to plead with Scott to take me back on his desk. But, I didn’t want to go back. In fact, I’d spent the last three months thinking my time on the 20th floor had made me an outsider. The truth was that I’d made me an outsider. I didn’t want to do this anymore and it was time to start planning my exit.

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