Employee of the Month
“Thanks a lot!”, Brad muttered, dropping the receiver back on the cradle.
“BZZZZZZ…” retorted the instrument, announcing that he hadn’t aligned it just right. He clicked it into place.
Cutting it off in mid-crow, Brad answered, “HR, Brad speaking.”
“a three-night stay for the price of two in our luxurious-”…
He hung up on the shrill, poorly enunciated, nasal recording. How had that call reached his direct line? Must’ve been a fluke. A fluke was a type of flounder. He felt like he was floundering, and he realized his thoughts were rambling. Today was worse than usual for having loose ends to tie up. Everything seemed to be unraveling, snowballing, mushrooming… There went his thoughts, off on several tangents at once.
The onslaught had started immediately. Teri from Accounting had messaged Brad that Leanne was out with the flu; could he please get a temp immediately, to help her send out statements? And, by the way, payroll was coming up and they were missing some timesheets. He would need to contact those employees.
The regular temp agency had no available employees with accounting experience. The accounting temp agency said that the forms on record had expired, and they would need new ones. They were very sorry, but it would take a minimum of forty-eight hours to process. Brad put in calls to two other agencies and got voicemail.
Ping! His cell phone announced an incoming text, just as the office phone rang again.
“HR, Brad speaking!” He realized too late that it sounded a bit terse.
“Brad, it’s Jan. I sent you an urgent email this morning, and I need an answer ASAP!”
“I haven’t even begun to look at my email. I’m buried!”
Ping! Another text came in, and he glanced at the screen while fending off Jan. His sister’s name was on the screen. Why was she texting him? She never contacted him at work!
“Sorry, Jan, gotta go. I’ll look at your email right away.” He hung up the phone ever so gently, exaggeratedly calm, and swiveled to face the computer screen. The email program was not responding; the little virtual wheel turned indolently in the center of his monitor, taunting him. Jan would be livid if she didn’t get a reply in the next five minutes.
While he waited for the program, he decided to check his texts. What if something terrible had happened?… Well, if it were something devastating, Lisa would have called - not texted - regardless of the circumstances. Maybe it was time sensitive, but not dire. He’d better check…
The text turned out to be gibberish, either a pocket composition or a result of Brad’s toddler nephew hijacking his mothers phone. It was followed by “Oops! Sorry!” Brad sent back a winking emoji that did not reflect his current state of mind.
“Oodle-oodle-oo, oodle-oodle-oo, oodle-oodle-oo”, the phone insisted. Brad ignored it while he rebooted the email.
Ping! Another text. It was Jan. Texting him. On his personal phone.
“Brad! I need an answer!” He didn’t reply.
Finally, the email program began to load. Message after message rolled down the screen. He quickly located Jan’s request, which was labeled “High Importance!”
Stacy, Jan’s assistant, was going on leave immediately to care for her ailing mother. Brad needed to find a replacement pronto, preferably from within the ranks of the company.
Great. It was too much - he needed to delegate. He sent a brief reply to Jan’s email: “On it”, and then dialed Tori’s extension. Her office was right next to his, but he didn’t have time to get up and walk the few steps to her desk. She was reliable; he could count on her to carry some of this suddenly unmanageable workload. Except that he couldn’t get through.
“Bzzzt! Bzzzt!” Oh, no - that was his calendar notification. He glanced at the banner on his phone screen.
“Appointment Reminder - Dr. Strong 4:00. Leave early.”
He couldn’t. He’d have to cancel and reschedule -
“Oodle-oodle-oo, oodle-oodle-oo, oodle-oodle-oo”, the phone clamored once more. Brad stared blankly at it for a few seconds, trying to mentally prioritize the demands. “Oodle-oodle-oo, oodle-oodle -”
“HR, Brad speaking.”
“Brad, this is Andrea at Superstaff. I unexpectedly have someone available. Do you still need -”
“Yes! I will take just about anyone you’ve already vetted, and shuffle positions if necessary.”
“Great! I’ll send her right over. Her name is Mary.”
“Oodle-oodle-oo, oodle-oodle -”
“Thanks a lot! I mean it! Excuse me, got another call to take.”
Mike from Work Solutions was returning Brad’s call. Yes, they had two clients available immediately.
“Send them both. We’ll find spots for them.”
The tide seemed to be turning. Suddenly, everything was going well, but it was just as hectic. Why did every crisis happen simultaneously? Brad couldn’t allow himself much time to ruminate - he had to get an assistant for Jan. Suddenly, he had an inspiration. Emily!
Emily was the front desk receptionist, the most composed and organized person in the office. She greeted visitors, directed calls, sorted the mail, and doubtless did many other tasks of which Brad was not aware. He rang the front desk.
At the end of each month, there was a mandatory employee meeting at which the higher-ups gave morale-boosting speeches and recognized employees for outstanding service. The meetings reminded Brad of high school pep rallies. Sometimes he could ditch them by declaring that he had too much work to do, but usually he just endured them.
On this particular occasion, Brad was obliged to attend. He had been asked to make a presentation. His suggestion of promoting Emily to be Jan’s assistant had turned out remarkably well, and he was to award her a new desk plaque with her name and elevated title.
After Emily had received her due recognition and sat back down, clutching the new status symbol in her hand, there were a few other mentions of appreciation. The crowning moment was always the announcement of Employee of the Month, with some sort of gift bestowed by one of the company officers. This time, it was the president himself who stepped up to the podium.
“And finally, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating our Employee of the Month - Brad from Human Resources. Brad, come on up.”
Brad went back to where he had, shortly before, given Emily her award, shook hands with the president of the company, and heard him declare,
“Brad, it’s time we show you our appreciation for all you do, day in, day out. You deserve a vacation. We would like to present you with this certificate for a three-night stay for the price of two in a luxurious resort!”
(I originally wrote this for one of last month’s prompts, but didn’t finish quite on time. It seems to fit this one, so here it is!)
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I work Tech Support for a company, and my position went from three of us to just me unexpectedly quick. It stayed that way for a few months, and this is exactly how it felt every single day. I've never been so stressed out in all my life. We are now a team of four, and it's going much smoother. I never got a prize though.
Well, Brad didn’t get much of a prize, so don’t feel too bad! I work in a family business with a maximum of four people, and field most of the phone calls along with my other work. Some days are pretty much like Brad’s - fortunately, most aren’t!
Poor Brad! I wonder if in his past life he did something to deserve such work chaos in his life? I enjoyed the brevity of this story too because we are all familiar with this kind of work. That no matter how hard you work there's very little payoff. Great story Cindy!
Ha! I don’t think so… he’s just an ordinary guy. I hope he has better days than that one! Thanks for the comment.😊
This is a great story! Hilarious and terrifying in equal measure. I love the little details, like the winking emoji born out of frustration, and the way you integrated sounds into the piece. Great timing on the interruptions, I could feel Brad's stress.
I like that description - “hilarious and terrifying”! That’s the feel I was going for. I try to BE the character in my writing. Glad you liked it!
Great story! I loved the “oodle oodle” and the other onmonapaeias (can’t spell it…sound words.) 😂. I could feel the stress that poor Brad felt. And his reward “three nights for the price of two” 😂😂 . Great ending.😻
Thanks - it was a fun one to write! I didn’t know until the end that Brad was going to get that reward…😛 I tend to use a lot of “sound words” in my writing, and it’s funny you mentioned onomatopoeia - I just used that word in another story, “Fair Game”.
Hi Cindy! I really love how you captured how busy brad felt. I’ve definitely understand how overwhelmed brad feels. I really love the way that you also included the little ways that brad denies what he needs-for example, the doctor’s appointment. My favorite part was how you included the way that everyone sees their problem as the most important. I wondered if brad worked all alone in hr. Overall, incredibly well written!
Thank you! I tried to imagine how I would feel in such a position - the closest parallel is when we have a busy day at work and I’m being pulled in every direction at once. It IS overwhelming, and everyone sees their own problem as most important because… they’re human!
oh my goodness, I could relate SO HARD to the multi-tasking poor Brad was going through! it was painfully funny, in that way xD good job!
😁 Perfect - “painfully funny” is what I was aiming for! Thanks for the comment!