After childhood, joy is never pure, but this came close, I thought. Granted, it was only business. The tacky ballroom, decked out for dinner and speeches, was stuffed with stockholders and studded with corporate brass. The charming, ancient company chairman smiled on me like a new grandson-in-law. I had made him at least two buckets of money. My promotion was an acknowledged certainty, endorsed by all and well-deserved, but it wasn’t until they put the stack of new business cards, white and brittle as the board of directors, into my worthy hands at the podium that joy took hold of me, comprised of pride, accomplishment and belonging, for we had triumphed as a team, my team and I, and the speech I had written was about teamwork and teams. The feeling I had was the feeling expressed by “peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” I planned to say.

When making new acquaintances and asked what I do, I always reply “Small manufacturing.” I count on them to ask what it is I make, and when all but the dullards do so, I tell them, “Excuses.” If it gets a laugh, I have a new friend. If it’s a woman who laughs, I try to fall in love with her. There’s good money in telling lies, as our invoices confirm. We tell the biggest whopper of all right there under Services Performed. “Analysis” is what we say we do. I wasn’t thinking about this as I stood squinting in the spotlight to give my speech. I was scanning the vacant table for my team. “They’re history,” said the VP at my shoulder, “Forget ‘em. This is the future.” I asked him what he had told them. “Whatever you tell them I told them,” he told me, “When you fire them.”

Copyright © September 15, 2007 David Hodges

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