Jack was having the day from Hell. As he prepared to make the final presentation for the biggest project of his career, he discovered that his trusted assistant, Stella, had sabotaged all the paperwork he needed to give to the clients. He managed to avoid disaster, but agreed with the boss; Stella had to go. The only question left was where and when to send her packing.
Stella, for her part, adored her job (and her boss), but one poorly timed visit to the ladies room put everything in danger. While she was gone, Jack took the wrong stack of binders! The phony presentation was just supposed to be a private way to vent her frustration without anyone knowing. Fortunately, Jack managed to save the day by preventing the clients from seeing the material.
Jack decides his only choice is to fire his long time assistant, and takes her out to dinner to drop the bomb. but could Stella convince him to punish her instead of firing her? Suddenly, the hue of Stella’s panties becomes the indicator of the new reality of her life.
?What the fu..? Shit!? Jack rifled through the binder holding the presentation he was about to make and noticed mistake after mistake. Some were glaringly obvious, pie charts that didn?t have any explanations; others were more subtle, long columns of numbers that weren?t added correctly. He didn?t have to check the math; he knew what the correct answer was. He threw down the binder and picked up another to check. It, too, contained the same mistakes, although the word ?mistake? was too forgiving. This was out and out sabotage. He quickly pulled up the power point presentation on his laptop, not even realizing that he was holding his breath until it rushed out in relief as he confirmed that his material was untouched. What on earth had Stella been thinking? It had taken a lot of work to create this degree of subversion. Surely this wasn?t because he had refused to let her have the afternoon off, was it? Thank God he had checked over the binders before handing them out to his clients! He shook his head and pressed the auto dial on his phone.
?Jackson Rubins? office, Stella Grant speaking. How may I help you??
?Well at least you had the courage to remain at your desk!?
?We?ll talk later when I?m back. Right now I want you to hustle and get the proper presentation in binders and overnighted here. Can I at least trust you to do that much for me??
?Yes, Jack, I?ve got them right here, all ready to go. I?ll send them out now. I?m, I?m sorry??
?Not now, I?ve got some fancy footwork to do to make up for this misjudgment you?ve made.? He snapped off his phone, quickly gathered up the offending binders he had placed around the conference table and shoved them back into his briefcase just as the business-suited clients began entering the room. Plastering a broad smile on his face, he strode forward, hand outstretched. ?Good morning, gentlemen! Mr. Hodgkins, it?s good to see you again.?
Several hours later as he sat in the cab on the way back to the airport for his flight home, still fuming with anger, his phone rang. After checking caller ID and seeing that it was the president of the company his design division was part of, he answered, ?Hey, Brad.?
?So how did it go? Did you complete the deal? What time frame are we looking at? Do I need to move some other jobs around??
?Unfortunately, I wasn?t able to make a complete presentation today. My materials were inadequate for them to make a considered decision.?
?What the hell does that mean? You?re always over prepared. What could you have possibly missed??
?They were expecting all the information in hard copy so they could study it.?
?Yeah, so? Who makes a deal without seeing the details in black and white? Of course they were looking for hard copies!?
?I didn?t have any I could hand out. The ones Stella made up were unacceptable.?
?How can that be? What was wrong, some kind of typo? Couldn?t you have just explained it? You are too much of a perfectionist! I can?t believe that you let a little thing like some typos endanger the whole deal!?
Jack sighed, ?Stella is even more of a perfectionist than I am. These weren?t a couple of typos, these were deliberate changes to the material.?
?Nah! How can that be? That girl worships the ground you walk on! I wish my assistant were half as dedicated as yours. And efficient! Your division is always the first to submit the quarterly reports with everything presented perfectly with extra computer formatting to simplify the compilation with the rest of the company. I?ve often fantasized about stealing her from you to work for me! There?s got to be some mistake.?
?Brad, every single page had deliberate erroneous changes made. She sabotaged the whole presentation. The only thing that saved us was that I discovered what she had done before the clients saw them. I had to tell them that I had forgotten to pick up the binders on my way out of the office yesterday. When I called Stella right before the meeting, she as much as admitted what she had done and promised to overnight the correct information. But since it?s Friday, they won?t have the weekend to study and discuss our proposal and we, or rather I, look like an incompetent boob!?
?You?re trusting that she?s going to send the correct information directly to the clients after she sent you off to make the presentation with bad information? Is that wise??
?I didn?t have much of a choice. Since my story was that I had forgotten to pick them up as I left the office, I had to demonstrate that the material was prepared and waiting. Stella said she had it ready and was sorry, so I?m trusting that her remorse will keep her from causing any more damage.?
?But Jack, you?re going to have to fire her. How can we have someone working for us who deliberately sabotages our interactions with clients??
?Of course I?m firing her! I can?t ever trust her again. She?s the last person to see every single document that leaves my office. I?m going to meet with her tonight when I get back and send her packing.?
?I thought you weren?t landing until six-thirty.?
?The offices will be closed.?
?I told her that we?d talk when I got back. She?ll wait.?
?I?m sure she will, that?s one of the things I?ve always admired about her work ethic; she stays late without a complaint. But you can?t meet with her to fire her when there is no one else around. It?s a safety issue.?
?Safety? I may be angry but I?m not going to hit her!?
?How about your safety?? Brad heard Jack?s snort of denial and spoke over his objections, ?Suppose she accuses you of something; says that you fired her when she didn?t welcome your sexual advances? Suppose you lose your temper and you do hit her? We don?t want to have to worry about being sued! You can?t fire her in an empty office, it?s just asking for trouble. Do you want me to fire her? I can?t stay late tonight to wait for you, but I can have her gone before you even land. It?d just take me a minute to walk over to your office and send her packing.?
?She?s mine!? Jack roared, causing the taxi driver to swerve briefly into oncoming traffic, before wrestling the car back to the proper side of the road. Jack didn?t even notice how close his outburst had come to causing an accident. ?Leave her alone, Brad! Hands off!?
?Okay, okay, I was just trying to help you out, that?s all.?
Jack tiredly scrubbed his face with his free hand and sighed. ?Yeah, I know. Sorry. I just want to talk with her first; try to understand why she did this and make sure she hasn?t done something else that I haven?t discovered yet.?
?Well then, you need to wait until Monday during regular office hours.? Brad said firmly.
?No! I don?t want this hanging over my head for the whole weekend and I want to be able to correct anything else she?s done before business starts on Monday.?
Brad laughed harshly, ?Jack, old friend, I?m pulling rank. There?s a reason I?m president of this company and you?re looking at it. You wanted to be left alone to design. You didn?t want to be bothered with management and so you put me in charge. Remember why you trusted me with the whole shebang in the first place and listen to me! You can?t meet with her in an empty office and fire her. Find another way, wait until Monday or let me do it.?
?I?m the one who is going to deal with her. I don?t want to wait until Monday; I want it resolved now. If your only objection is my meeting with her in an empty office, I will meet with her in public and fire her with lots of witnesses around. Will that work for you?? He growled.
Brad sighed, ?Yeah, it?s unprofessional, but it works. Where are you going to do it??
?I was planning to grab dinner when I land, before heading home, so I guess I?ll have her meet me at a restaurant.?
?Well pick one you aren?t too fond of in case she makes a scene and you?re asked to never return.?
Jack groaned at the thought of a public scene. ?That?s just great. I hadn?t thought about that; but you?re right. I guess I?ll do it at Dempsey?s. I?ve always felt that their cooking is too greasy, so it?s no loss if I never go back. And it?s near the office; I can stop in after dinner and check things over to make sure everything is okay.?
?Sounds like a plan. I?m sorry you?ve had the day from hell; do you want me to call you later? Susie?s ballet recital is tonight so it?ll have to be late; the family is going out for ice cream afterwards. But I can call once everyone is settled in bed.?
?Nah, it?s okay. Enjoy your family evening. I?ll either be up to my elbows fixing things at work or making my way through a bottle of bourbon. I?ve never even noticed a hint of Stella being unhappy; I don?t know what went wrong. I?ll talk to you on Monday.?