Friday, October 10, 2008

Duck n Cover - Chapter 3

Duck n Cover

The phone rang with a single chirp and then rang again after a couple of seconds. Carp felt the sweat buildup on his palms. Cripes he hated having overactive sweat glands. Having just made it through his door, he had to reach across his desk to grab the receiver. "IPSO, Jack Carp." He was at a disadvantage as he hadn't yet made it around his desk and couldn't make out the caller id, which would let him know who was calling.

"Jack, could you come up to my office?" The caller hadn't identified himself, but the company was small enough that it was easy to recognize Dr. Jones' voice.

"Yup, be right up." Jack always tried to sound ready to go if not downright gung-ho while talking to the executives of IPSO. It had worked well for him so far, landing him this job. Well, that and his own keen intellect, he mused.

Standing at his door were a couple of the Triton-2 programmers looking expectantly at him. Spinning around the end of his desk he pulled up in front of them, "Come on in guys, I won't be more than a couple of minutes." He broke through a gap between them and hurried down the hall and towards the elevators.

Within earshot and not seeming to care, a middle aged programmer dressed in an ill fitting shirt and jeans quipped, "You hear that Stan? Jack is just gonna be a minute, we should just wait in his office." Sarcasm dripped from his voice.

"I dunno Dave, you really think?" Stan for his part, while considerably older than Dave had never mastered the art of recognizing sarcasm. Between the two of them they had been through thick and thin on the Triton-2 project and were about as close as two completely platonic men could be.

"No Stan, Jack is headed out for another meeting, he is double booked", Dave let the words sink in a minute and then added for effect, "again." Both men turned to head back to their offices, but then Dave turned back to Stan, "Lets grab a butt." It was one of Dave's favorite jokes, Stan would know that he was offering a smoke break, but saying it this way sounded just a little sleazy.

"Sounds good, I could use a break." Stan replied. The two made their way over to the elevator, Dave punched the down button.

"Say Stan, did you hear that Maunikey got canned?"

"What about Patrick, Adam and Gelding?" Stan asked, referring to the rest of Brad's team.

"Yeah, they were all contractors, so Jack nailed Maunikey right before lunch. He freaking actually walked him to his desk and then escorted him to the door. Right after that he shut off all their account access, walked to their cubes and asked them to leave."

"Seriously, right in front of everyone? What a bastard."

Just then the elevator door slid open and the two men sauntered onto the waiting car, looking forward to a good smoke. Turning back to to face Dave, Stan's face lit up, "I guess Triton-3 just isn't gonna make it to production." Both men considered this for a moment and neither could repress a smile and the warm, cheery feeling that they both now shared.

The elevator descended, a small ding for each floor they passed, he couldn't resist a final word, "Nope, I guess they will need us to keep Triton-2 running for a bit longer" This caused both mens smiles to broaden.

Getting off the elevator, the difference between the fourth and eighth floors was evident. Hardwood paneling gilded the foyer where the elevators opened and a stylish entryway led to a couple of receptionist's desks flanked by several executive offices. Jack, exited the elevator, headed towards Dr. Jones' office and pulled up short as Shirley held up her hand like a traffic cop. "Have a seat Jack, Dr. Jones just got a call." Irritated at this breach of protocol he huffed over to a comfortable grouping of chairs, sat on the edge of one of them and poked at his Blackberry. The irony of the situation completely escaped him. After a few minutes, Shirley looked up and said, "OK, looks like he is free, better get in while the gettins' good." Carp rolled his eyes mentally. Did she spend all night coming up with these witticisms or did she merely pull them from the Internet. Carp knew from looking at her usage logs that she spent a great deal of time in Internet chat, amazon, and various other sites, keeping herself amused while maintaining appearances for the IPSO executives.
"Have a seat Jack." Dr. Jones' was always a first class gentleman. Behind closed doors he could be quite a schmuck as he shredded people that he didn't like, mostly behind their backs. "So how did he take it?" Carp knew he was talking about Maunikey, but felt a little annoyed nonetheless.

"He was pissed, he called me an Ass Clown." Apparently Carp had heard Maunikey's parting shot.

"Geez Jack, I can't believe you let him get so far off of target on the project. You really need to watch your guys better. We spent a god-zillion on him and now we have to tell the board its a complete waste." Jones was starting to get wound up now.

"What? That's not fair, the project was on schedule and they just entered the testing phase. It's to be expected that they would have differences they needed to work through. I thought this was a budget thing." Carp didn't like where this was headed and wanted to make sure he set the record straight.

"Hmm, yeah, I am not sure you heard me Jack. It was your responsibility to keep him on track. Somehow he and his team got off and wasted a bunch of time and money. Since you are fairly new to the position I think I can let you off with a small slap on the wrist and a verbal warning." Jones let his words hang in the air, smiling and looking fatherly at his confused subordinate.

You could say a lot about Carp, but politics was something he caught pretty quickly. "Let me get this straight, just between us, someone up here decided that Triton-3 needed to be axed and I am gonna take the blame for it?"

"Well Jack, that sounds so awful when you say it that way. Look. For whatever reason, Triton-3 is a failed project. We don't have to go into all of the details. You are responsible for all our projects and so the blame rests right where it should. I mean, if you really want to push it you can, but I just don't think that would be good for you in the long run. I don't want to stir up any mud because then the blood suckers come out and feed. Let me help you out on this one. I think I can keep it from making a big stink." Dr Jones delivered his speech smoothly and without loosing his gentile, father knows best demeanor.

"This sucks." Carp complained.

"You probably want to be careful about what you say next there Jack." Dr. Jones' voice never wavered a bit.

"Uh, right, yeah, sorry about that. Look I will do better next time, sorry."

"I understand Jack, we all have slip-ups. Endeavor to do better next time. I think there is a real place for you at the table in the future. I'm glad we had a chance to have this talk." Carp left the office, tail neatly tucked between his legs. Somehow he knew he had just gotten screwed, but he couldn't figure out how and why. Something smelled rotten, but Jones had made it clear that it would all simply disappear. Well, good riddance to Maunikey and the rest of them. By the time he made it to the elevator he was already feeling better about things.

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