A Loser Rebounds Ch. 09byEgmontGrigor2011©
When boarding a feeder flight at LA Airport, Andy Ash felt he was turning the page of a new chapter in his life. Thanks to Rebecca Marsh's instinct in hiring him when he was at an all-time low, the two of them had pushed his rebound and he believed he was heading for a job that was tailor-made for him. He wasn't an admin guy.
Entering the busy terminal, Andy looked for Lola. She said she would wear yellow.
He noted a fairly good-looking broad with sunglasses perched in her hair. She wore a yellow shirt but also wore white shorts. Oh gee, just look at those stunning legs. He could lick those all night.
He looked around for a babe in a business suit and then a voice behind him said, "Andy?"
"Lola?" he said, spinning around and gaped and looked at those legs.
She murmured, "Do I kiss you?"
Without bothering to reply, Andy kissed her.
"Wow," he said.
She said she was equally impressed.
"You are everything Sally described to me. I recognized you as you entered and saw you look at me as if looking at a hooker."
"I noticed your yellow top and then caught sight of your legs, that's all."
She smiled. "That's surprising; Sally said you were a tit-man."
Andy hid his embarrassment by digging into the inside pocket of his jacket to pull out his sunglasses and said he had over-weight luggage to collect.
"I sold most of my surplus stuff via the Internet including my skis."
"You should have kept your skis. Utah is fairly close to here and Colorado is the next state."
"I can always start again. I enjoy buying new gear."
It was simply, friendly and if somewhat stilted conversation and Andy thought well they were just getting to know one another and she probably felt the man-woman sexual thing clicking between them as well.
They went out wheeling his luggage and Lola said, "There's your new car ahead of us, the Taurus. I ordered black because it's the classy business color."
"Right in that case I won't change it."
She looked surprised.
He smiled and said a joke and she said, "Oh god, I have our company's only executive with humor as my boss."
As she laughed, Andy focused on her tits for the first time. They weren't large but were well pointed and wobbled. Obviously his PA wasn't wearing a bra. He had no idea what that meant but what he did know he liked her being braless.
The company's administration was on the top four floors of an eight level building. Andy was on to top floor, occupying an office suite next to the directors of marketing and PR/Promotion. The company's main income streams were from the newspaper, the TV broadcasting and radio division and from the commercial division that was ailing due to the digital revolution. People were now printing their own pamphlets and low-volume publications and even birthday and Xmas cards.
"We have an executive lunch in your honor at 1:00," Lola smiled and adjusted her sunglasses as if to force him to notice something about her wobbled. "Meanwhile I'll run you around the executive floor and then down to HR to complete formalities – your photo for our website is one thing they require."
Andy said, "I know that publishing is done away from here but do we have our own IT department?"
"Yes of course. This is California and we are advanced in technology."
"Is that so... then why do we have analogue phones?"
"I have no idea of what you are talking about."
"These are not digital phones and anyway I want us connected to the switchboard via mobile phones so we get our calls wherever we are. You will be out of the office much of the time with me and we won't want to come back to the office to find heaps of messages awaiting attention. Clients want instant contact and instant decisions. I suppose California is not up with that yet?"
She colored and said, "Are you serious about engaging me in field work?"
"Of course, that's what our operation is about and won't be accomplished sitting all day behind a desk."
"Omigod how exciting."
"Yeah well let's skip meeting the executives. I can do that over lunch. Take me to IT first please and then I'll be directed to HR."
"HR will be waiting for you. I um gave your ETA when requested."
"That's fine. If they ask say the naughty new boy has gone on a self-guided tour and probably is lost."
"Are you sure you've worked for a corporation?"
"You cheeky bitch."
Lola appeared relieved to see him laughing.
The female IT manager was younger than Andy. Well that's how IT worked, he thought and suspected early burnout or death by boredom was the fate of IT eager-beavers desperate for stardom.
They introduced themselves
"Eiliyah, what kind of name is that?"
The dark-skinned Muslim said calmly, "The name my parents gave me sir. They were not born in this country."
"Great name and you call me Andy. I'm not much older than you."
"But you work on the executive floor."
"Eiliyah when I say..."
"I understand Andy. I welcome you to this company."
"Do you know Lola Jennings?"
"I certainly do. She has the body of a film star."
"Perhaps I haven't noticed," Andy grinned. "She's my PA. We will be working away from the office a great deal. I want those ancient phones in our office suite replaced by digital phones and for us to have cell-phones capable of having calls to my and Lola's office switched though to us after five rings."
"I understand. That will require our outside telecommunications provider to be contracted for that work."
"Well you do it for me please Eiliyah. I'll have an authorization down to you by 2:30 today but I'd appreciate you starting with the preliminaries. What person do I get to sign the authorization?"
He said, "The director of operations."
"Fine I'm lunching with department heads today, I'll get the signature then. Lola will take care of the paperwork. Please call her now and describe how she needs to word the requisition."
The HR director came out and recognized Andy when one of her troops was at the counter working with Andy on paperwork.
"Oh Andy, you have arrived," she said. "Welcome."
She held out her hand for a handshake but was kissed. Andy heard sniggering behind him.
"Judy don't you lot around here who kiss?" Andy asked and the pink-faced Judy said, "Well perhaps they do in other companies. This company is rather conservative but if you can change that Andy, we won't object will we girls?"
"No Mrs Donald," they chorused.
Andy went to his nearby hotel and unpacked and had coffee and read his company's newspaper in case he was asked questions about it during lunch. He returned to the office and smiled when Lola glanced at the wall clock.
"Mom called to check that you'd arrived. Sally used to talk about you and so mom is interested to meet you."
"What about you father?"
"Does he also wish to meet me?"
"I-I have no idea. Of course he talks and has opinions but he doesn't engage in conversation about people like mom does."
"What does he do?"
"He carves up people."
"Oh he's a mortician?"
"I don't think so, said Lola, looking slightly flustered.
"Mom doesn't want you eating alone on your first night in California."
"Then I accept with thanks. I'm not surprised you have a lovely-natured mother having met her daughters."
"God Sally is right, you are a natural charmer."
Andy challenged, "Should you be talking to me like that?"
"Oh I'm so sorry I..."
Andy closed her mouth with a kiss.
"It's okay, I won't tell anyone you kissed me," Andy whispered smoothly and stepped back in case Lola took a swing at him.
"You are not supposed to do that with your staff; it's in the office handbook that you returned and falsely signed as read."
"I tend to mix business with pleasure and it was a real pleasure to sneak that kiss."
"I-I am not sure I approved."
"Never lie to me Lola," he said cheerfully. "Where's the requisition form?"
"It's on your desk, where else? Andy please don't get me into trouble. I feel as if you are driving me headlong in a direction I know not where."
"I'm bringing you up to speed baby."
"Andy please, that word baby is on the list of words managers and department heads must not use in addressing staff or clients."
"Baby I have this view that rule books were never made for me. You and I are involved in entrepreneurial work... we cannot be like ordinary people."
"Working with you, if it's going to be like this, could be disastrous. You don't know what this company is like."
Andy said, "Lola if we deliver results to exceed expectations, we become virtually untouchable but no one is invincible of course."
Judy Donald introduced Andy to executives as they drifted in and he grabbed a drink.
The crew appeared friendly enough. One of the last to enter was Ian Wright, director of operations.
"Nice to meet you Ian. Could you sign this requisition please and keep the copy?"
"This should be submitted to my office."
"Well Ian, I'm a guy who makes things happen by making them happen."
Ian checked out the document.
"This sounds an extravagant measure and there is no estimate of cost."
"Write in $2500. It will come in under that."
"Christ on a couple of telephones?"
"Look at it this way Ian. My PA will team with me out in the field. How much do you think it would cost for my department to add a junior to deal with incoming calls?"
Ian looked grumpy when he signed the form and kept his department's copy.
"I sense we'll work in very well Ian. You have good understanding of the need to back-up me in my flashy style of wooing in new business relationships to carry the company's flag forward. I bet you don't see spending money on sponsorship is a company extravagance as would accountants."
"I am an accountant," Ian grinned. "Come let's grab a drink. You know I have this feeling you will make things happen, unlike your successor who spent most of his day waiting for people to contact him."
Uncle William arrived and ignored the bar and went straight to the buffet table and began serving. Others lined up behind him.
William sat at the head of the table and people rushed to sit close to him.
Ian and Andy went to the food last and sat at the far end of the table, the last of the ten people to be seated.
William asked, "What do you think of our newspaper Andy?"
"It looks fine, solid, orderly, and rather dynamic in layout and that's good but my overall impression it's a little bland."
"It's a little bland?" William said and some executives stopped eating as if waiting for the blast.
"Yep well you asked for my impression. As you know, readers are also interested in actual content and if it says to them, 'hey read this, it's good', that's what they do."
"Well I'd have to do along with that as Rex here, our editor-in-chief would agree."
"Our readers are more conservative than readers in LA," Rex said.
"Well I'm a newcomer so really know nothing about your newspaper. When was the last comprehensive readership survey commissioned?"
Rex glanced at William and said, "Sometime ago."
Andy pressed for a more accurate comment. "Like ten years ago?"
Rex muttered, "Approaching five."
"I see. Well I worked on a newspaper as a reporter and was there when the editor was raging about being turned down for a requested readership survey for the fourth year running. My dad is a conservative rancher and many times I heard both he and grandpa say, 'Times are a changing and so are people and markets'. I was home recently and dad had decided to use contract hay balers using balers costing $40,000 and punching out 1200 lb. bales. Dad used to come in from baling completely saturated in brown dust and spitting grass seed, and exhausted from stacking small oblong bales. One day he went to a baling demo of the latest equipment and came home and said, "You know I can't believe it. The guy in the tractor pulling the baler was wearing a white shirt and tie."
"The moral of this is, times are a changing and if we don't keep up with speed we begin to fall behind. I wouldn't hesitate to say if you're not doing full consumer research every three years you are risking heaps. Christ hand-held phones and other palm devices are changing everything. Our newspaper has an online website but I wonder if it's designed with the flexibility to download on hand-held devices? I have to ask, omigod, where is this technology revolution taking the newspaper industry?"
"That you for your thoughts Andy," William said sharply. "We survey when we perceive the need to survey."
Rex said, "Agreed but the message Andy is giving is do we really know how often we should survey? And I say then when we receive the survey data we need to look at trends and not just examine raw results."
Betty Clews, the director of finance, said she couldn't understand why it was costing the company considerably more to hire Andy than it did his predecessor?
Andy answered that. "Because Betty I know how to grow this company's sponsorship business and to expand measurable benefits better than it's ever been done here before. Within six months you will be aware of the results of my performance and understand I'm being paid appropriately to deliver. Prepare yourself to really see this company immersed in involvement in its community at a depth and extent you might not have thought possible. My progress will be monitored and measured. Be not afraid Betty. Think of me as an effective entrepreneur rather than an executive liability."
William said, "Betty there are community groups out there wanting to raise money and/or to involve local support without having much of an idea about how to achieve their aims effectively. Through Andy they will have access to expertise within our company and some of our money, hopefully not too much, to seed their venture. When that works and if the venture proves successful we get some of the credit and our publishing company becomes seen as an effective partner within its community and that's something money alone cannot buy."
"We are already committed to the city's annual flower show this summer and one of Andy's first chores is to get that project up and cracking so that for the first time in perhaps thirty years the event will have major impact. Now these things are confidential. It's eleven years since this city last staged a rodeo and Andy is looking at a night rodeo at the fairground late this summer, to organize a fund-raiser for the Mayor's Citizens Emergency Relief Fund and another major event involving the company and its name will be a Citizens in National Dress street parade complete with street performers, bands and cheerleaders squads. As well there will be other localized events, some quite minor."
Betty, obviously now impressed, began to clap and that lead to full applause.
"Tell us a little about yourself Andy."
"Well I was just a quiet kid off a ranch in Wyoming. Actually on the eve of high school graduation I received notoriety being named as a loser and much to my parent's embarrassment. My graduating classmates voted me the student most likely not to succeed. I didn't get to the graduation ball because just after dusk my father opened the front door to a knock and was shot in the shoulder. The assailant was never traced despite a full investigation led by the county sheriff and dad was left bewildered by the random attack that he insisted had been unprovoked."
"We'd had a couple of tough years on the ranch because of summer droughts and so I went to a state university with the lowest fees I could find and gained my degree in agricultural communications. I worked on the school electronic newspaper and was editor in my senior year and had worked on the city's newspaper during my second summer. After graduation I was hired to work in the PR and communication department of a multi-national company in Chicago and was promoted to help brand the company internationally. I then joined a rival food processing company as head of its PR and promotions department where I gained kudos for suggesting and then directing the re-design of all its food lines so they had a family group look to them. During that two-year program I managed the re-launch of each product as change was progressively introduced and from there I've come here. Oh I also picked up and online master's degree majoring in technical communication. End of story."
David Beatty asked, "Weren't you rather young for such positions of responsibility and for that matter, even here?"
"Well David, does it matter how young you are in communications or for that matter in IT in this age providing you have the knowledge, people skills and possess the maturity to handle authority appropriately? I believe I can motivate a horse to kick off its shoes. And I say it's better to be young in charge than aged and out of touch and holding academic qualifications largely irrelevant although I concede still possessing the relevancy of experience."
At that William stood and said, "Thanks Andy. I have more than a hunch you'll be a great acquisition to this company and welcome."
He then left and the assembly drifted off with Betty coming up and shaking his hand and saying he was very impressive and should call on her if he ever required sympathetic counseling.
"It's true you are so young."
Ian Wright walked along the passage with Andy because their offices were close by. The director of operations said, "Andy what Betty said is true. You are impressive. I'd like to invite you to lunch on Sunday to help with a family problem. My eldest daughter is in her senior year at high school and is a pain in the butt to us being unable to decide what to study next year. She wants to go to my old university, San Diego State."
"Tell her to take a BA and then decide."
"She's been told that but us, by teachers, by school counselors."
"In that case the problem is simple. She needs help to focus."
Ian looked ready to bang his head. "Focus on what?"
"Where she thinks she'd like to be in the next five to ten years; I guess she hasn't thought that through. Okay I'll come and talk to her. Is she allowed to drink wine?"
"Yes, no more than one glass a day."
"Great then get her sitting with us and drinking wine. She needs to feel relaxed and when I begin I want you and you wife staying with us but applying no pressure, no rebukes. Your daughter must remain relaxed."
"And you think it's that simple?"
"Yes but I have been known to be over-confident."
"Well I skin a cat."
"May I invite Lola to come with me? I'm thinking she's the perfect foil for me, being somewhat more conservative but is a clear-thinker and is a year younger than me with a good degree."
* * *
Andy entered his office and saw Lola and Eiliyah watching a technician testing the new phone system for its ability to switch internal calls, calls via reception and direct-dial external calls through to the mobile phones if not answered within eight seconds.
"Oh good, quick work Eiliyah."
"You appeared to be a guy in a hurry. So I took the risk knowing you'd front up with the signed requisition as promised."
"Oh the requisition," Andy said sounding vague.
Eiliyah gaped. "Oh Andy this could get me in real trouble for breaching company procedure."
"Oh what's this?" Andy said, pulled out the signed document.
"Andy, you are a very naughty man teasing me like that. You really scared me. I wasn't to know you were teasing."
"I'm sorry Eiliyah and I compliment you for your excellent service."
"Good boy. Thank you."
The phone system worked as designed. Eiliyah went back to her office and as soon as the technician tutored Andy and Lola on their new phones he left.
"Do I kiss you?"
"No," Lola giggled.
"Well the penalty for denying me is you have to accompany me to lunch on Sunday."