It’s time for First Friday Fiction. This is the fourth installment of David’s story. To read the others, please visit the First Friday Fiction page and follow the links to parts 1 – 3.
When David arrived back at the office on Monday morning, the first thing he saw was an email from his boss instructing him to meet “first thing Monday morning.” The message was short and simple, but David knew the words held the key to his future with the company.
He had tried not to dwell upon his situation over the weekend. However, when he returned home on Sunday evening, he spent a good deal of time thinking. He realized he would never be happy in his present situation.
Although he might have to take a cut in pay, he decided to begin the search for another job. Something less stressful and one that afforded him more time to pursue his love of photography. He planned to stay with the company until he found something else. Now, after the email, the choice was likely of his hands.
He didn’t bother to check other messages, but instead dialed Martin Russell’s assistant. “Is he in?”
“Yes David. Come right up. He’s expecting you.”
Martin Russell didn’t bother to rise from behind his desk when David entered the office. “Sit down,” he said. “I trust you enjoyed the weekend.”
His statement didn’t require a response, and David gave none.
“I suppose you know why I called you here. I’m afraid I’m going to have to make an adjustment. This company can’t afford to have employees that aren’t fully committed to their job.”
“Mr. Russell, I have been committed. I’ve given five years of my life to this company – taking only a portion of my vacation time and almost no sick days. I’ve worked long hours and often took work home. If that isn’t commitment, I’m not sure what is.”
“That’s not good enough. Not when you decide to take off in the middle of the day. In your position, you have to set an example for others. If you start taking time off every time you have the notion, others will follow your lead. I can’t have that.”
“So what are you saying?”
“I’m terminating your employment effective today. The company will pay you for any vacation time you have coming. You can take today to clear up any loose ends, but that’s it.”
“If that’s it, I don’t see any point in remaining here any longer. I’ll clear out my things and be gone within the hour.”
“As you wish.”
Most people would be devastated at having lost their job, but David felt relief. The stress, the worry, the pressure had lifted from his shoulders. When he arrived home, he changed clothes then decided to take a walk.
He went to a city park a few blocks from his apartment, sat down on a bench beneath a large tree, and watched as people passed by. A couple walked with their small dog. An older man walked at a brisk pace—no doubt for health purposes. Another woman led a golden retriever. The tranquility and peace matched his mood.
Then it hit him. He didn’t have a job. He needed to talk with someone. Sarah would understand. He reached for his phone and dialed her number.
She answered on the third ring. “What’s up?”
“I lost my job today.”
“You’re kidding me. What happened?”
David relayed the story. “The thing is, I couldn’t see myself spending the rest of my life in that job. I had planned to start looking for something else. The trouble is I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life cooped up in an office. Guess I chose the wrong career.”
“You say you have a degree in business management? Perhaps in a smaller company things wouldn’t be so stressful?”
“I’m not sure there is such a place in today’s corporate world without stress. Anyway, I want to be away from the city.”
“There must be something. Why don’t you come back here for another visit? I’m sure your parents would be thrilled to have you. Besides I have an idea.”
“Come for a visit and I’ll tell you. I’ve got to run now. See you in a few days?
“Okay, I’ll come. After all, I have nothing but time.”
David hung up the phone and smiled at the thought of seeing Sarah again.