Forecast For The Future

Although Artie felt like whistling, he thought he had better not because things had been rough at the plant lately. The layoffs, the rescinded annual cost-of-living increases and the move from full-time to part-time for the majority of the clerical positions had created a rather grim atmosphere, but Artie wanted to whistle.

The previous night, his daughter opened her college acceptance letter and realized her hard work had paid off. Her scholarships meant Artie’s cost to send her to school would be less than half of what he had anticipated, and since he had saved for two years, he actually now had four years of tuition in the bank.

He wished his dad was alive to see this day. He’d learned all that was necessary to be a man from his steady, hardworking father. Truly, the old man was so right. Artie smiled and silently shook his head.

He walked through the dim loading dock past the forklift that he ran for years that still had the “A” and the “TIE” letters spackled on the side. Someone had removed the “R” years ago when the team Artie picked in the office Superbowl bet tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter and then lost. The workers teased old “A__TIE” about “a tie” game for years.

But they stopped teasing the day the foreman called Artie into his office to tell him he’d been promoted; he was to begin night school at the company’s expense. Artie had worked the books just like he did the job, bettering himself at every turn. So when the layoffs came, Artie was secretly not worried. He knew how indispensable he was to the company. He was the ultimate “utility man” and could do a number of jobs if called upon. As his dad had taught him, he became the company’s ace in the hole. Loyalty had its rewards.

Turning On A Dime

So Artie suppressed his whistle and hid his smile. He climbed the stairs to his glass-enclosed office that overlooked the factory floor and walked in. He started to switch on the lights but then realized they were already on. Something in his gut lurched, and his hands began to tingle. On his desk was a large cardboard box. Two men from plant security were present. Artie paused and looked left where his supervisor sat at another desk, arms folded, staring at the floor.

“I’m sorry, Artie,” said Bill Hoffman, Artie’s supervisor for more than 11 years. “I wanted to tell you it was coming last month, but they told me not to. Clean out your desk, buddy.”

Artie cleared his throat. “Buddy? Billy, what’s going on?”

“Buyout, my friend,” Bill said. “We’re now part of a national conglomerate,” he continued.

“We?” asked Artie.

“Well … the company,” Bill stammered. “It doesn’t matter anyway. Pack up and be off the premises within the hour. These gentlemen will take your office and warehouse keys, company credit card, etc. Here’s your severance package.” Bill handed him a manila envelope thick with papers and his personnel files, and headed towards the door.

“Bill!” Artie demanded. “That’s it?”

Bill turned, sighed and shrugged, “That’s it, Artie, I gotta go. Oh, and since you pre-paid your fees for the company golf outing next week, you are still welcome to come. It’s your call.” The door slammed behind him.

Artie looked at the security guys, who seemed a little sympathetic. “Are you guys next?” Artie asked.

They looked at each other and said nothing but nodded discreetly, “We’ll need those keys first, sir.”

Artie, still numb, emptied his pockets and removed items from his desk. His wife’s picture was first. How was he going to tell Donna? Just then the phone rang. The security guys glanced at each other, and gave Artie room to answer the phone.

“Artie here,” he said as securely and confidently as he had for the last umpteen years.

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