Corporate hypocrisy is the lifeblood of big business. As a Fortune 500 company with the basic mantra of profits over people, the Trey-Cooper Supply Company was too big to fail. From the beginning of Shawn Pierce’s tenure, district leadership brought the hammer down upon the dead horse that was controlling expenses. Cut the hours of the skeleton crew down beyond the bone, for their bills don’t concern the company. Prevent mistakes that constitute the cost of doing business, even if it means reading minds. Maintain a dangerous work environment, for the cost of fixing the shelves that were propped up by wooden planks and duct tape would undermine the profit margins necessary to acquire adequate bonus payouts. Every member of the district leadership who’d come down to Shawn’s store would be made aware of the damaged shelving unit; a burgundy support leg had been twisted back by a forklift accident. They’d measure out then write down the parameters with the intent to replace the hazardous conditions with something that would comply with the safety policies in place, but never followed up with a word about it.
The importance of controlling costs was only spoken with emphasis at the store level. Everyone at or above sales reps were issued company cars, credit cards, smartphones, and now iPads. What a joke, Shawn thought as he waited in line at the BMV. He needed an updated driver’s license to board the flight to the annual sales meeting. Shawn saw the yearly trip to Vegas as an unnecessary circle jerk for the corporate bigwigs. Lay out expectations and new products in an extravagant manner meant to excite stockholders. It’d be far easier to set a stack of cash aflame and send a video of it to every employee.
After the transaction, Shawn went home for the evening. He made a mocha using his Dalla Corte Mina Espresso Machine. Coffee was the one arena where Shawn sought to spoil himself, as this indulgence sufficed to be the fruit of his labor. He fancied it a better quality shot than the local upscale cafes had to offer. Caffeine at this hour didn’t interfere with his ability to sleep. He’d be in bed by ten, in spite of this evening ritual. With the comforting silence that filled the room, the hot drink to his left, the cat in his lap, Shawn failed to shake off the day. Every January brought on the same routine; burnout from the previous year had spilled over leaving a custom stain on his spirit, as the national sales meeting consumed his every waking thought.
Shawn had finished his drink. He was beginning to drift off in his chair when his phone startled him. It was Alex Spoon from a neighboring store.
Shawn answered. “Hello?”
“Hey, man. How’s it going?”
“It’s going. Don’t wanna go to Vegas. You mind putting me in the hospital so I could miss out?”
“Nah. I’m not going to prison. We’re not gonna make a suicide pact. We’re just gonna go down there like we do every year, grit our teeth, and get drunk enough to make it all bearable.”
Shawn sighed. “Okay, man. You say so.”
“You heading to Chicago the night before the flight?”
“You looking to split a hotel room?”
“Not this year. Gonna crash on Shane’s couch.”
“Nice. Forgot he moved there. How’s he liking the new position?”
“Hates it. Hates himself. It’s all a mess. Needs to get his head together. I hate using the word, but he’s entitled.”
“Sounds about right. Well in that case I’m gonna let you go. See you in Vegas. We’re gonna be roommates there, so no dying beforehand.”
Shawn laughed. “I promise nothing.”
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