You don’t know how close I came to posting: “This space to be used for most awesome flash fiction ever! Stay tuned!” But I didn’t. Here’s my flash. Nothing to write home about but it’ll do:
“Sales haven’t been what we’d hoped. I’m afraid we’re going to have to pull the January product.” Lars delivered the news to his CEO with a somber tone, hoped he’d not receive the messenger’s penalty.
“What about the ad campaign? Didn’t that boost sales?” CEO Frederick von Stupfinck steepled his hands in front of him on his desk in the only narrow space not covered with papers.
“Well sir, it might have, if the marketing team had ever finished it and rolled it out. My understanding is there were a series of delays and the campaign never moved beyond the halfway point.” As Lars delivered his message, he noticed Frederick’s attention wandered to the window where a fifty foot competitor’s billboard smiled at them. He’d listened to many a diatribe about that billboard over the past month, including the CEO’s threat to shoot it with his paintball gun. “Sir?”
Frederick’s jowls shook as he turned to face Lars. “One day I’m gonna shoot that billboard with my paintball gun. I’m sick of looking at it! All day that sign mocks me, distracts me from my work. If that sign were gone, it’d be a different story around here!” A fist on the desk emphasized his point.
“Yes sir. I’m sure. So shall I tell the team to pull the January product?”
“Pull it? Why the hell would we want to do that?”
“You agreed to pull it six months ago, sir, but you deferred the execution of that decision until this month, subject to your re-assessment. Today is the 30th day of the month.”
“I haven’t re-assessed yet. I’ll do so next month. Thank you, Lars for your report. You’re a good employee and I…appreciate you.”
Lars reflected on all the prior times the CEO had praised him, sighed and tried his luck again. “Yes sir, thank you sir. If I may be so bold, have you had a chance to write up my promotion paperwork yet?”
Frederick von Stupfinck boomed out a hearty guffaw, moved from behind his desk and clapped a companionable hand on Lars’ back. “I’ve started it, was even working on it this morning. Don’t you worry. The Von Stupfinck’s always look after their employees, especially their brightest and most talented.”
“Yes sir.” Lars’ shoulders drooped as he gathered up his data and reports and a blank copy of the merit increase and promotion papers in case Frederick had lost yet another set. He’d almost reached the door when he heard the CEO call his name.
“Remind me what the January product was again?”
“It was a new scent called Procrastination.”
“Hmm, drawing a blank on that one. What was the tagline for it?”
“Procrastination–it’s always time for play, work can wait another day.” Lars couldn’t help but roll his eyes as he rattled off the slogan, but hoped Frederick hadn’t noticed.
“I like that! That’s really good. But the consumers aren’t buying it you say? How have the interest ratings been?”
Lars returned to Frederick’s desk and pulled out his marketing analysis. “Our target market likes the product when we share it with them. We just can’t seem to convert that interest into sales. Our online distribution outlets state that our product is in a record number of virtual shopping carts and on wish lists but the consumers aren’t completing their purchases for some reason.”
“And why do you suppose that it, Lars?”
“We don’t quite know, sir.”
“Okay. Thanks. Let’s wait another month and see if any of those wish lists and shopping carts turn around.” Frederick’s eyes moved to his window and a scowl marched across his face. “Tomorrow for sure, I’m bringing my paintball gun!”
Lars knew from past experience that he’d been dismissed, that the decision had once again been deferred. He pulled Frederick’s door closed behind him and trudged to his office.
Behind his desk, Lars stewed over his unproductive meeting. He’d grown weary of his company’s lack of initiative and lackadaisical corporate work ethic. This time he really was going to quit. Then they’d be sorry. Then they’d rue the day they let him get away. He could get a job anywhere. Maybe he’d even go work for their primary competitor and put up an even larger billboard right outside Frederick’s window. He smiled to himself as he kicked back in his chair and propped his feet up on his desk. Yeah, right after lunch, he’d draw up that letter of resignation. This time for sure.