A Loser Rebounds Ch. 10byEgmontGrigor2011©
A bout of despondency wasn't unknown to Andy Ash, but this time it lay on him heavily and he felt like a dog without a bone. He'd lasted in his job in California just five days.
"Jesus, that won't look great on the CV," he muttered. He sighed and thought perhaps William would have forgotten who he was if a future employer called to confirm a work record.
Andy caught a flight to LA, grinning he went to terminal 4 at LAX and used his Executive Platinum Card with American Airlines, compliments of Gutenberg Times and Printing Company, to enter the lounge. When being paid off he'd overlooked handing in his card and had not been asked for it.
Occasionally Andy got this feeling, like he had now, that something was about to happen. He looked out the window to see if an airplane was heading straight for the building. But no, well perhaps it was approaching unseen.
Fifteen seconds later he figured that wasn't it. He looked to see if a great babe was approaching, her eyes raking him.
Nope, all he could see was a flight attendant pushing an old woman in a wheelchair.
Ah well. He went off for more food and a beer and returned to think on about his future. So far the only sensible thought was to return home and sulk -- er to help out on the ranch.
A guy in his mid-fifties sitting just beyond him cussed.
Andy saw the guy had opened his laptop and was now closing it.
"Are you having problems with the computer sir?"
"Out of battery. I was emailing my wife in San Francisco with an update."
"Here use my laptop. I'll open the email program for you."
The guy hesitated and said perhaps the greeters could send the email for him.
Andy ignored that as walked over and handed his laptop to the guy who thanked Andy, looked at the email program and said, "Ah same as mine."
"There you go. There's nothing like helping out a fellow traveller."
"Where are you heading?"
They laughed and Andy returned to his chair and table.
The guy returned with the computer and introduced himself and said, "Thanks. I would have had my ass kicked if I'd not emailed my wife about now as scheduled. She is fearful about me flying. I was interested in your comment that you are heading for possible disaster. Want to tell me about it?"
"Sure but let me get you're a drink. Name your poison."
Andy returned with two beers and then related his story about coming to California.
"Well that's tough tittie Andy and it sounds as if that outfit was not ready for the likes of you."
"Yes that's a fair assessment. I should have done the research on them, but I was too eager to head west. I wasn't looking forward to winter in Chicago."
"Well I'm impressed you didn't badmouth that publisher. I'm a publisher, my main magazine being the 'Western States Monthly Farm Journal'."
"Oh really? I've read that since I was a kid. Dad has a ranch in Wyoming. You circulate in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and the seven states west to the Pacific."
They chatted and Evan Archer learned about Andy's degree and the fact he'd worked as a newspaper journalist, albeit not for long.
"Andy I have this thought I might be able to offer you a job. But I need to talk to you more. I'm heading to Albuquerque. You'll know where that is."
"Yes but the closest I've been to it is Santa Fe. Went there to an old girlfriend's wedding."
"Is that so? Would you consider travelling with me at my expense so I can learn more about you? And if it looks good you'll be invited to come home with me and pass the inspection of my company secretary and I'd really consider hiring you."
"You mean the HR manager I guess?"
"No my wife, the company secretary."
Andy laughed and Evan appeared to like that.
"Take my ticket to the desk and this hundred bucks and ask for a seat beside me. The flight leaves at 4:00."
"Success," smiled Andy on his return. "So if I don't measure up I'm dumped in New Mexico?"
"You've got it young man. So you better impress."
As their flight took off, Evan asked, "Do you know anything about agriculture in New Mexico?"
"Very little I admit. Let me see, it's typical high desert county, sunny, wide temperature variations, plenty of wind and rain is not overly abundant. The climate in places is good for growing tree nuts, chili peppers, cotton and um onions. Perhaps surprisingly it has more dairy cows than beef cows and is the fastest growing dairying state. If memory serves me correctly it has 20,000 farms spread over 40 million acres which suggests some of them are large."
Evan asked him what he knew about haymaking and the sale of hay, beef cattle rearing and seasonal chores, farm animal diseases and regulations affecting farming, conservation and production.
The answered came rat-tat-tat and Evan said wow.
"Have you press cuttings with you?"
"Yep in one of my bags checked through. By the time we get to Albuquerque they might be on their way to Turkey."
Evan like that humor.
"We publish monthly and I have a freelance journalist based in each state who contributes a monthly round-up as part of his or her base pay and they get paid for other articles they file and are published and those articles must be original and exclusive to us."
"I see, I wondered how it would work. So you were thinking of offering me the New Mexico position?"
"No but I would like you to interview the four journalists short-listed for that vacancy, with me observing until you make the final choice and I then consider your recommendation."
The new correspondent was hired next afternoon.
Evan said, "Come on we must get out to the airport. I'm taking you to San Francisco. I made the booking for you as soon as we arrived when I confirmed my flight back. Pass the test and you will be offered a new position of operations manager/deputy CEO. I'm the publisher and CEO. My wife Frances complains I work too hard and she doesn't like me travelling and so you'll answer her prayers, providing she likes you. Frances is my second wife and is forty."
"Oh crap," Andy thought. Evan would catch him and Frances doing it and then it would be all over for him, yet again. He almost said no thanks and walked away but he had that feeling again, that something was about to happen for him, and so decided to go to San Francisco. He knew if he got this job he had to stick at it for at least three years otherwise he would be considered unemployable.
Evan had said he'd told Frances about Andy. She would interview him because she recruited all senior people and attended to their training and all other matters.
"We are too small to have a HR department," he explained. "We have twenty-two people in editorial and production, eleven in advertising and fourteen in administration plus Frances and me. Printing and distribution are done by contract. We also publish a 'Western States Farming Annual' with a January-December Calendar insert and a six-monthly 'Western States Trends & Products Agriculture Review'. The farm journal is available by subscription only and the other two publications are provided free to journal subscribers but they have 50% advertising content."
"Sounds like a good money-spinner business," Andy said.
"It is," Evan grinned. "I used to be a farm machinery salesman and then became sales manager for the company. My boss's son, who was a journalist, wanted to buy the farming journal that was struggling to keep afloat. Lester groaned to me his father was too blind to see a golden opportunity and I said why didn't he sound me out. I had inherited money and wasn't happy with the return I was getting where I had it invested and that led to me bankrolling Lester."
Evan's voice lowered. "A year later he married and almost six months after that Lester, his wife and my wife were returning from Colorado when they were hit by a truck hauling cement and only his wife Frances who was asleep in the back survived. She agreed to partner me in the business and Frances and I married some months later. Now that little story explains our common interest and our age difference."
"Yeah and they must have been tough times for you Evan."
* * *
At the airport, Andy saw Evan wave at a woman and she waved back. Andy was relieved as Frances walked towards them, to see her straggly black hair, puffy face and unfashionable clothes. She probably had very small tits as well.
He was saved from himself!
"Hi darling," Evan said, and Andy was pleased to see them kiss affectionately.
"Another safe landing for you," she said and at that Andy realized she had reason to be a little paranoid about travel safety.
"And you must be Andy Ash."
"Yes ma'am, good evening."
"Oh please call me Frances," she said. "Welcome to San Francisco. Have you been here before?"
"Just the once and we were under tight control. I was a member of my high school's 4-person debating team and we won the Wyoming competition and our prize provided by a travel company was three nights here in San Francisco. We thought the visit was the neatest thing ever."
Frances laughed and it was a genuine laugh and she had great teeth. Those assets added to the warmth with which she'd greeted her husband had Andy already thinking she was a very nice person.
"I was in the senior debating team at my college," she said. "But we usually came last in any contest."
"I played tennis for my high school," Evan said and Frances and Andy glanced at each other and smiled.
When they came to the car he knew Frances would have chosen it for safety reasons, a Volvo S80.
"Could you kindly drop me off at a hotel?" he said but Frances said, "Evan told me you were charming. A bedroom at our home is ready for you."
Next morning Evan drove off to the office in his Ford Explorer. Frances poured Andy another coffee and began reading his CV.
"Evan didn't mention you had worked for these two multinational food processing companies."
"My late grandpa used to tell me, never give anybody all the information in one dollop. Leave something that is memorable to deliver last."
Frances laughed and said some good advice never dated.
"I'm only doing this because I should be doing it. Evan has already told me he wants you on board and that's it. He wants you to do all the travelling and the thought of that makes me very happy. I gather he told you how we came to be together."
"He did, briefly. Life can suck at times."
They talked about duties and then discussed salary. Frances said Andy had to remember the company was small, not a corporate, and salaries had to reflect that.
He couldn't get her past $90,000 and so accepted the offer. It was a huge cut on what he'd been earning but he had to remember even now he was without a job.
"If you accept this position you'll need a vehicle to travel thru California and to some of the closer states we circulate in such as Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and perhaps Utah but on the other hand you might find it advantageous to fly-drive even to those states and into Southern California. You will be expected to take the most efficient method for time you'll be away according to the purpose of your journey."
She poured more coffee. "As discussed early, Evan thinks it's essential to visit each correspondent twice yearly and to call on some of our biggest spending advertisers. I'd like to put you in a Volvo, the model one down from mine but well-optioned. I made enquiries this morning and can secure a near-new gold colored one, the 6-cyclinder all-wheel-drive model that would be useful outside of California."
"Sounds good to me."
"Excellent. Come and we'll look at the car now and then we'll go to the office."
Andy had expected the company to be in two-bit premises and therefore was pleased that it occupied a two-level building that appeared recently refurbished in a commercial district with a concentration of small offices and domestic appliance and home furnishing businesses.
"We moved here four years ago from a dump and did up the building eighteen months ago," Frances said. "It was like coming out of the Dark Age. The bonus was plenty of parking space in the basement for staff; clients park in front of the building."
"It looks a great," Andy said politely, aware his fall from corporate high-rise prestige was now complete.
He smiled but inwardly cringed when Frances said her problem was to place him in a suitable office.
"What about the basement?" he said, meaning that as a quip but it fell rather flat.
"I like your attitude," Frances said. "First I'll get your signed on and then hand you over to Evan to tour the premises and for him to develop an operational plan for you. We will not be explaining to personnel the reason why you have been engaged."
"It's an expensive solution for you."
"Indeed and Evan did hire you to satisfy my fears. I was eager to grab at that but now after learning more about you in depth I can see your ranching background, your academic qualifications and corporate business experience, although somewhat truncated, form an astonishing appropriate mix for our third-tier type of business. We have money to grow our business if you find ways to enhance it."
"You could hire consultants who would have the specialized knowledge to advise about expansion."
"It may come as no surprise to you to be told Evan and I don't hire consultants."
He winked and said, "I like you frankness and pragmatic approach Frances."
She smiled. "Thank you. You appear have taken up well with Evan and I have been hoping you would like me. You have the looks, presence and background to deal with some of the younger business types who come to look over us and our activities when they are thinking of entering long-term advertising commitment with us."
"I'd be happy to do that. Gee you do flatter me though."
Frances practically giggled as they walked out of the basement.
Andy only just stopped short of patting her butt affectionately. Frances had unexpectedly delivered enlightenment for him: his future lay in small business ownership.
Um very profitable small business ownership and he had the feeling in his fall from grace he'd landed in the perfect incubator for learning intimately about the small business ownership model from the ground up.
"I could also be coached to fill in for both you and Evan if you wish to go away on business together or on vacation.
"That is part of the plan I've already formed mentally," Frances said. "But you must forgive me for saying this: the first thing I need to know before I take you down that road is can I trust you?"
She was right about that of course, Andy acknowledged to himself, but he still felt like snapping at her: 'You cheeky bitch'. Instead he said, "We don't see the harbor from here."
"Still thinking like a corporate employee?" the cheeky bitch laughed.
"Ouch," he smiled and Frances obviously liked that. She was okay.
Evan spent more than an hour in his very untidy office outlining to Andy his duties. Obviously Evan had given Andy's immersion considerable thought.
Frances joined them, bring in coffee, and then Evan and Andy began the tour, he being introduced as their new operations manager who's chief responsibilities would be the coordination of activities and direct liaison with external editorial contributors and Andy would also act as deputy CEO.
The production editor Bess was a long-legged redhead with great tits and a wedding ring. Andy told himself leave it, that only fouls the nest and so he chatted with her without displaying charm and probably left her unimpressed.
The chief reporter Al Nixon was a guy about Evan's age and those two obviously were pals.
"Ah so this is about allowing you to ease back in pace so you can keep up with your younger wife," Al said grinning.
"You're fired," Evan snapped.
"I usually get fired twice a week but Evan knows he'd never be able to attract the perfect bowling buddy to replace me," Al said. "Ever been on a farm or ranch boy?"
"Al, boy used in that sense is a derogatory term. Use it again and I'll invite you to the basement."
Al's mouth fell open.
"Okay I said that without thinking and I apologize. Do we shake?"
"No that apology is sufficient."
Evan said smoothly, "Andy was born on a ranch and stayed there till he went to college where he studied agricultural communication and journalism and went on to gain a master's in business admin and he's worked as a junior executive in writing and product promotion for American Silver Foods Corporation and represented the corporation internationally at a top level in Rome."
"Um I'm just an agriculture reporter who never trained formerly," Al confessed.
"Yeah but you have something that I don't have much of Al and that's leading-edge experience and you lead a team of journalists operating throughout CA."
Al said, "Sorry about my bad start Andy, you sound really okay."
"Will catch you later Al, I best press on and get the boss back to productive work."
"I thought of warning you about Al but was interested to see how you would handle him. You did that impressively."
"Thanks Evan. I guess you realize I have learned there's at least one Al in every office."
Evan grinned. "In that case you expected to meet an Al as you expected to meet a Bess. God why do women like her wear their dresses so short. I also observed you so studiously attempting not to look at her breasts. It was quite funny and you will have left her wondering if you were gay."
They laughed and Andy took the liberty to slap Evan on the back.
But Andy wasn't happy. He was bleeding, thinking he'd landed back in work in a pit. The whole outfit was full of little people and since leaving the ranch it had been his goal to become a VIP. Oh well, there was nothing left but to get on with it. He followed Evan into the admin department and gaped: at least half the staff in the big room appeared to be long-legged blondes with well-developed chests.
They returned to Evan's office and Frances said to Evan, "Good boy for avoiding taking Andy to meet Caroline."
She explained to Andy, "Caroline is our business and advertising manager. She's being relocated to make way for you. Omigod, the language, the tantrum and she twice said she was resigning but I notice she had people helping her to move. Let's stay clear and go to lunch. After lunch Andy I'll get you to stay clear to allow Caroline to cool off and they I'll introduce you to her but before that, to delay that meeting time, I get Selena to take you on a drive-by of some apartment buildings that may appeal to you. Selena was in real estate before she came to us as my PA."
"Don't dislocate your neck attempting not to look at them."
"Evan that's enough of that disrespectful talk thank you," Frances said.
Andy said, "What was that advice Evan?"
They laughed and Frances said, "Omigod men."
They were eating in the nearby café when a tall brunette in a sweater showing good... er...a black sweater entered, ordered and came over that cuffed Evan over an ear and kissed Frances and waited to be introduced, her arm around Frances and Frances held her hand on the hand on her shoulder.
"Andy Ash, this is my stepdaughter Natalie Archer. Natalie is Evan's only child. She knows why you have arrived here."
"Hi Nat, er Natalie."
"Nat is fine, most of my close friends call me Nat."
Andy eyed her chest and looking back at the family saw Evan rolling his eyes (God did that mean he actually had humor?), Nat was frowning and Frances appeared to be sighing. Didn't they know there was only one reason why women had pumped up breasts when they weren't lactating? Women needed educating about that.
Natalie filled the vacuum at the table.
"Mom said you are off a ranch in Wyoming. Wyoming and Montana are my two favorite states, although I have no problem with CA."