Tag Archives: business

The Cell Phone at Crystal Lake (short fiction)

thGDK6YGN0Mark longed to get away from it all. The pressure of owning his own business was getting to him. The construction business is tough; schedules, deadlines, late deliveries, sick employees, bad weather, bad material, crabby customers, lazy employees, taxes, repairs, satisfy everyone but yourself.

“What do you mean the electricians left the job site!” Mark slammed the phone down on his desk and tossed it across the room.

Helen, his secretary, walked in with a folder in her hand. “Here are the invoices you screamed for 15 minutes ago.”

“I’ll look at them later,” Mark said frustrated. “I’m going to get a coffee and after the coffee buy a new phone.”

“Good idea,” Helen said and cautiously slid the folder on Mark’s desk.

“You don’t have to be afraid of me,” Mark said.

“I’m not, but if you raise a hand to me I’ll have to take you out,” Helen said. “You’ll fire me and I’ll be out of a job.”

“I’ll be back in awhile,” Mark said. He walked into the outer office and his cell phone rang. He answered. “Mark… Tell him he broke it, he replaces it!” And Mark stashed the phone in his pocket. Before he got to the door his cell phone rang again. “Mark… I don’t care if you have to drive to Chicago or Pittsburg yourself, I want it here by morning!”

Mark turned his back to the door and fell against it. “Helen, tell them all to go away.”

“Mark,” Helen said. “You have a cabin on Crystal Lake. No one is there this time of year. Go for a week.”

Mark pressed his lips and smiled. “Tell my idiot brother, Butch, to run things for a week. I’m taking off and hopefully he won’t bankrupt us by the time I get back. I‘m taking a week off.”

Two hours later Mark was an hour on the road and listening to classical music on the radio. Pleasant harvested fields with hues of red, orange, brown, and green as their backdrop gently passed by his automobile like a slide show. Tension eased away as if loosening a tightly tied knot.

Four hours later he was at the cabin and there was just enough daylight to stroll along the rocky shores of Crystal Lake.

There was not a soul in sight. The lakes surface was as calm as he’d ever seen it. He picked up a stone to give it a hurl and thought ’if I where that lake would I want so much as ripple to disturb me?’ He smiled pleasantly and dropped the stone in its place.

He continued along the rocks and looked over the lake surrounded by majestic pines. In the distance a few ducks sat undisturbed in the water. Overhead a flock of Canadian honked and it was so quiet he heard the flapping of their wings. After they passed he heard a lonely loon from the other side of the lake.

He sat on the large rock and just let it go for a moment. He thought of nothing, but where he was. The relaxation was so great he nearly came to tears.

His cell phone rang and immediately Mark was in full combat mode. He grabbed the phone from his coat pocket, stood, and hurled it as far as he could into the lake. He lost balance and his ankle slipped between the rocks. He stood, but could not remove his ankle. The harder he tried the more lodged it seemed to be. He’d call for help, but his cell phone was a good fifty yards off shore and twenty feet under.

Nobody was on the lake, of that he was certain. For an hour all sorts of scenarios raced through his mind and the least possible was being found and rescued. Only chance could save him. As night fell the pressure, strain, and anxiety of his business seemed not as distressing.

He wondered ‘how long would it take for Helen to realize he was up here stuck between the rocks? She didn’t expect me back in a week. If I don’t come back in a week will she reason that I’m having such a relaxing time that I’ve extend for a day or two or three. At what point does she realize I’m missing? The way I’ve treated her lately it may be a month before she knows I’m gone. And my brother will be happy being king of the hill for a while. He’s probably thinking about changing the name of the business already.’

Mark huddled down into his coat and pulled the collar over his ears.

“Hypothermia,” he said. “That’s the way I go. I’ll just fall off to sleep and never wake up. What I wouldn’t give for a cell phone.”

“Mark, Mark, Mark,”

It was Helen.

“Helen,” Mark said excitedly. “I’m over here! I’m caught in the rocks.”

There was a discussion of how to remove his foot. Finally Helen fetched a stove poker from the cabin and it was used to pry a rock enough for Mark’s foot to slide out.

He stood on the ground and stomped his foot and walked around until the feeling returned.

“Helen,” Mark said. “What are you doing here this late at night?”

“I was going to bring you my cell phone,” Helen said. “Remember you cussed the cell phone company out yesterday and told them to discontinue the service today?”

“Yeah,” Mark said. “I seem to remember that now.”

“By the way why didn’t you call for help?” Helen said. “They said they wouldn’t shut the phones off till midnight.”

“It’s out there,” Mark said nodding toward the lake.

(Posted as a Daily Prompt.)

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

Crises and Time Management (short fiction)

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(With the Riley Hampton it had all to do with his family’s and his reputation; always ready to do battle on their terms and timetable.)

Today was to be the day for Riley Hampton. He sprung from bed with great enthusiasm, confidence, and promise. It was going to be his day to shine.

Worthington Industries was about attempt to take his corporation over. They had worked on it for several years. The show-down, the meeting, was set for 9:00 AM. The future of the Hampton fortune and legacy hung on this meeting. Generations of breeding and education had led to this 9:00 AM meeting.

Riley had everything worked out in his mind. He had a briefcase full of papers, stock options negotiated years ago that many had long forgotten and never knew existed, the backing of stockholders long forgotten and never knew existed, and most importantly Riley himself, the handsome, the groomed, the confident, the aggressive, and the prepared raising star in the corporate world.

The rogues, the new kid’s on the block, were about to see how old money and breeding works.

He recalled his grandfather telling him, “It’s not the moment that makes the man, it’s the man who makes the moment; grab the reins son and make the moment yours. Few men can claim a moment in time and once you do, it is yours forever.”

Riley showered and shaved with those words echoing in his head and the vision of his grandfather strolling the hallways of the Hampton Headquarters and Mansion as if every moment was his and nothing could seize it from him. His grandfather was a giant, his father also, but lesser so.

He dressed in his favorite Italian tailored suit and he smartly adjusted the knot of his favorite French-made tie. Looking in the mirror he fluffed his hair into the exact arrangement as if he was coming from a stormy sea down the plank of his yacht after conquering the sea. He was certain that in the boardroom every man would want to be him.

He spoke to Williams, the butler, through the intercom in the bathroom.

“Williams,” Riley said.

“Yes, Mr. Hampton,” Williams said.

“Coffee, Columbian, dark roast,” Riley said.

“Anything with that, sir?” Williams said.

“English muffin, toasted, orange marmalade,” Riley said and added. “The ones that have been flown over, please.”

“Yes, Mr. Hampton,” Williams said. “Is that all?”

“In my den on the table next to the window,” Riley said. “And have the blinds closed.”

“Yes, Mr. Hampton,” Williams said.

“Oh,” Riley said. “I almost forgot, The Journal also.”

“Yes, Mr. Hampton,” It shall be ready in ten minutes.”

“Make that eight,” Riley said.

“Yes, Mr. Hampton,” Williams said.

Riley leisurely finished dressing and looked one last time in a full-length mirror. He smiled. “Ready to do battle, my moment awaits.”

He made is way down the staircase and into his den. He looked around the room at the leather, mahogany, books, and portraits of those of his family he ruled their business before him, especially Grandfather Elias Hampton, the one who established the Hampton name as a standard of business savvy a and acumen. Universities studied and taught his methods.

There were Hampton disciples throughout the business world, but few had the Hampton pedigree as did Riley. And now for the first time in three quarters of a century the Hamptons were in a position to be challenged.

Riley sat in his comfortable leather chair next to the window. He sniffed the coffee and sipped. He glanced at The Journal and sat it down. He listened to the mantel clock serenely gong eight times. He looked at his watch. “I must tell Williams the mantel clock is running slow.”

Riley opened the shades. Outside it was dreary and grey. Fog was just beyond the brick walls surrounding the Hampton Mansion. The ground appeared soggy and the trees were barren of leaves.

Riley slowly let down the blind. “Not a good day to do battle. Perhaps another day, I’m a Hampton, I choose the moment.”

Riley walked to his desk and pressed the intercom.

“Williams,” Riley said.

“Yes, Mr. Hampton,” Williams said.

“Cancel my car and adjust the time on the mantel clock,” Riley said.

“Very well, sir,” Williams said. “Should I call the office and tell them you won’t be in?”

“No,” Riley said. “Let them wonder. The enemy should never know the hour of the attack.”

“If I may, sir,” Williams said.

“Yes, Williams,” Riley said. “Go ahead.”

“I was with your grandfather in his later years,” Williams said. “And if I should be so bold as to recommend, he said never to inform your captains the time of the battle either. If they know too much captains have a way of mucking things up. The moment is yours and no one else’s. Manage every aspect of it.”

“Thank you, Williams,” Riley said.

“Don’t mention it, sir.”

(365 Daily Writing Prompts)

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

What Is The Day Before Black Friday Called?

Black Friday, when commons sense, courtesy, and humanity are thrust aside for Wide-screens, Smart-phones, and I-Pads.

I’ve noticed a subtle change over the years; the Thanksgiving sales have become Black Friday Sales. Is Thanksgiving on its way out to be replaced by Black Friday? It makes sense. Businesses and industries will no longer give Thanksgiving Thursday off along with the rest of the weekend; giving employees four days. By eliminating Thanksgiving Thursday in favor of Black Friday employees will receive only three days off.

Clever, would you not agree? Why am I the only one taking note of this obvious conspiracy? I’m certain the Walton family is behind this (no, not John-boy’s Walton, Sam’s Walton). They once had the help of Bush and Cheney and now Obama is one Supreme Court nominee away from finalizing it.

Let’s Talk About Black Friday

Black Friday proves one thing; greed rules and people are crazy. (I guess that’s two.)

There was one family who said pitching their tent at the front door of Best Buy had become a family tradition. What! Are their ancestors Bedouins? Aren’t there laws against that? Isn’t that how they got rid of the “Occupy” protestors? I’m beginning to wonder if the “Occupy” people weren’t greedy consumers just trying to get in shape for Black Friday.

Every year somebody gets trampled to death when the doors open at Wal-Mart or Target. Next year that may be an advertising slogan; “People are dying to shop at…”

Whenever I see the stampede at retail stores when the doors open for Black Friday I’m left with little doubt in my mind why so many people didn’t make it to the life boats on the Titanic.

At one time Black Friday business hours were the same as the other days of the year. Then some retail genius came along and said, “Doors will open one hour early on the day after Thanksgiving.” Next it was, “Doors open at six…” Last year doors were open for business at midnight. Mind you, most of the people lined up at the doors and stampeding into the store have hard time showing up for their shift at Taco Bell.

Many stores will open while the Thanksgiving meal is still digesting in their stomachs. I’m wondering if Thanksgiving shouldn’t be called ‘the day before Black Friday’ or maybe ‘Gray Thursday.’ Perhaps Thanksgiving can be moved back a few days or even a week. Actually many are calling it Brown Thursday.

Black Friday; It May Be A Condition

Maybe just eliminate Thanksgiving altogether. After all I don’t think Black Friday is the problem, it’s the day before that gets in the way of mankind’s insatiable appetite to be the first to get a wide-screen or the latest x-box game. (See how easy it was for me to buy into the Walton’s scheme?)

People are really nasty on Black Friday. They have pent-up aggression from watching football and disappointment over somebody else getting the last piece of pumpkin pie. Their only outlet is Black Friday. There is a real diagnosis, it’s called Suppressed Thanksgiving Uncontrolled Panic Induced Disorder (STUPID).

Look for the American Psychiatric Association to classify it as a mental disorder that can’t be cured. So let’s embrace it and define the real cause as the day before Black Friday. Finally a disorder not blamed on strict or over-indulgent parenting.

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Blogging Is Like A Flea Market

hells_kitchen_flea_market[1]Daily Prompt: Tagline

Often, our blogs have taglines. But what if humans did, too? What would your tagline be?

Maybe it’s just me (and it usually is), but isn’t blogging like going to a flea market and setting up your own booth.

At first you don’t know exactly how you fit in or if you have the right product for the flea market crowd. Soon you realize that all kinds of people come to flea markets. After a while others begin to accept you and before long you are on the circuit.

The items you bring to the flea market are a specialty that maybe doesn’t attract a lot of buyers. You search around and find out what others bring and what customers buy. You make adjustments, but with your own twists. Your specialty items are always tucked away just waiting for that special customer.

I went to a flea market and became intrigued with an old man was showing his granddaughter how to sell the products. He didn’t know I was listening, but he was passing on information that would help that young lady make a go of things.

“Have a story for everything. That way they are buying not only the item, but a story or memory with it. Let me show you.”

A customer came to his booth and looked at a sewing basket.

“I bought that for my wife about two years before she passed. She carried that thing everywhere. A woman needs something like that around the house. Ah, you should have seen her, just as cute as could be. It’s like a man with his favorite tool box.”

He sold it – for twice what it was worth. He got paid more for his stories than I do.

That old man’s tag line might read, “You’re not only buying an item your buying the story with it.” (Sure he sold junk, but the stories and effort were priceless.)

“Maybe It’s Just Me…”

Blogs are flea markets. Sometimes you spin a little yarn to sell what you’re really up to.

The point made is that everybody has their niche. I have always seen things a bit differently. What that means is that I’m not often right. I have often used this phrase, “Maybe it’s just me and it usually is.” It is a phrase born out of honest reflection and frustration. That would be my tag line.

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Bloggers with tagline issues:

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My Relationship With My Cell Phone Or Take This Phone And Shove It!

Remember the good ole days when lugging a cell phone was a cardio workout.

Remember the good ole days when lugging a cell phone was a cardio workout.

(Daily Prompt)

What was interesting about the Daily Prompt is that it ask, “Describe your relationship with your phone. Is it your lifeline, a buzzing nuisance, or something in between?” The assumption is that everyone posses a cell phone. Furthermore, with so many varieties and providers to choose from the choices are endless. You can choose what ever you want.

People today struggle for individuality. The cell phone doesn’t indicate who they are, but who they’d like to be.

The ring tone says it all. It says “look at me and how clever I am.” I’m thinking quite the opposite, “Look the other way. At least everybody picks a Barry White ring tone.” I wonder if Michelle Obama’s ring tone from her husband is Hail to the Chief?

Several years ago businessmen stood in the middle of air terminals talking loud to let the world know they had a cell phone. It was a symbol of ‘I have arrived.’ Now you walk through WalMart or through the mall and every toothless, braless, brainless bargain table Betty has a cell phone and every kid over the age of ten. The luster has gone from the cell phone.

There have been times I’ve wanted to tell people to take their cell phone and shove ‘em, but I don’t think that is the type of relationship to which the ‘Prompt’ is referring. In fact, I’ve wanted to take my cell phone and hand it to someone and tell them to shove it for me.

I’ve ripped pockets trying to get to my cell phone. I nearly ran over an old lady on the curb while trying to get my cell phone and guess what? She was on her cell phone. I yelled at her, “Get off the stupid cell phone and things like that wouldn’t happen! You and people like you are a nuisance! Get off your phone and watch where you’re walking!”

As for me, I was slow to grasp. I always got the free phone that came with the cheapest plan. My ring tone has always been whatever is already on the phone. I now have texting, but when texted I normally call back. It takes me too long to figure out how to put in apostrophes, quotes, and question marks.

One thing I truly like about my phone is that no matter where I am, I can reach old friends who live on the other side of the country. In that way it’s kind of a life line of the modern world that keeps me in touch with my past. I like that.

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Are You Interested In Investing In A Start-Up Company That Has Limitless Growth?

Where some people see problems, I see oppertunity. To me, this is a customer I can make money on.

Where some people see problems, I see opportunity. To me, this is a customer I can make money on.

I’m thinking about starting a company that just handles complaints. I’ll charge a nominal fee for every complaint handled.

I have a market that will never dry-up. Everybody likes to complain and nobody is ever satisfied. Besides big companies never listen anyway, for that fact, neither do small ones.

Normally people who complain only want to be heard by somebody; it’s therapeutic.

My operator’s will listen and put their name in a data base. If they call a couple more times then we know they are serious.

I may put the complaining calls into an automated listening machine that will say, “hmm,” every now and then or, “That’s too bad.” “If this happens again be sure to call us back.”

By starting a company that just handles the first few complaints the more serious ones can be attended to while the insignificant ones are discarded.

Larger companies will now have a layer of insulation and plausible deniability when it comes to customer relations. “Oh we outsource our complaint department. We have so few it’s hardly worth having one.”

I can even handle referrals from psychologists. We can split the fee and he can handle four times the patient load. A patient will only see the psychologists every third or fourth visit. That’s better than my doctor. I don’t think he exist, but he does have a physicians assistant. That’s kind of what my complaint company will be; a psychologist assistant.

Anyway I think it has real growth potential. You’re probably wondering how you can get in on the ground floor? Send me $500 and if you don’t hear from me in ninety days just give my complaint department a call.

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Chick-Fil-A Today — Cat-Fil-A Tomorrow

There are yet some details to work out.

There are yet some details to work out. Know any good cat recipes?

The success of Chick-Fil-A is phenomenal.

A couple of months ago when they opened their second location in Boise, the place was packed. They have a following who travel great distances to stand in line to get a free sandwich. I think the only company that has that loyal of a fan base is Harley Davidson.

I got to thinking about the emerging Asian market and the trade imbalance and how to get some of that money back? Then it hit me; Cat-Fil-A. How simple was that?

Come on, everybody knows those Chinese restaurants have been feeding us cat for years. Everybody with a cat who lives within a four block radius notices little Muffy disappears as soon as you fatten her up.

Anyway, I’ll start out with about twenty locations in Beijing and sell franchises to the rest of the country.

Once Cat-Fil-A is established there it will follow the Asians students to the college and university cities in the United States.

I know what you’re thinking. Will it work? Will Americans eat cat? Who would have ever thought Americans would ever eat raw fish? In some cities you can’t fling a dead cat through town without hitting a sushi bar. By the way, if you test the theory send me the dead cat.

Anyway I got a big advertising scheme all worked out. I’m going to have dogs parachute into ping-pong matches holding sings that read, “Rrrrrr! Eat More Cat!”

I plan on touting the health benefits; cat is lower in cholesterol. I don’t know if it’s true, but like whose going to dispute it?

I’m also going to work out a deal with the ASPCA. They have all those sorrowful commercials about mistreated cats. I’m going to take those cats off their hands.

At this point I normally ask for investors, but I have plenty; the Chinese. Why not use their investment dollars? The Chinese are more than eager to find another way to skin a cat.

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