[Fiction Practice] Can’t Stand By

“So my friend Jane applied for a contract here, and she’s, like, really good- much better at doing any sort of advanced thinking stuff than I’ve ever been, and she didn’t get it- the agency said that management went in a different direction and, you know, I’m just, well, I wanted to ask you about it- can I?”
Her manager’s office was filled with military awards.
“I understand, Sam. Lisa won’t favor me divulging this.”

“You don’t have to say… I mean, you know, I’m sorry…”

“No, it’s OK. We trust you, Sam. Lisa is working with upper management later today to compose the communications, actually. So it’s not a long-term secret. She just prefers keeping everything private until the last possible minute… sorry to ramble. We received bad news last week, Sam. There’s a 10% lay-off across the board. Every department is affected, except critical operations, and we’ve been able to roll your title into that. Otherwise, it’s… it’s not good.”

Linda turned to look out the nearly-shuttered window.

Sam breathed in deeply. The office didn’t look much different from last week’s meeting to discuss her project’s updates. “I don’t enjoy cutting headcount. At all. No one here is expendable. Everyone here is critical operations, in my opinion, it’s just,” Linda rubbed her eyes, “I’ve failed them, Sam. The two people on my list working hard today, for us, that won’t tomorrow. Upper management wouldn’t accept my negotiations or Lisa’s… I have to standby…”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Keep spirits high within your ranks.” Sam looked at her hands, the ceiling, then back in Linda’s direction. “I’ll try, I mean, it’s like, umm, I don’t, you know, know how exactly, but I’ll try!” “Sorry to place that burden on you, Sam. Don’t worry. How about this. Care to listen to me ramble for a bit about my plans?” “Sure!” “OK, so when layoffs happens, the first month is usually pretty rough for everyone.”

Linda seemed to relax as she talked.

Linda discussed the plan that she and Lisa developed for rebuilding the department. The occasional detail was too intricate for Sam’s understanding. “Sam, you’ll fit in as our help desk lead, if that’s something you’re comfortable taking, in about six months…” “I’ll try!” “I knew you’d be up for the challenge. What that involves is-” Linda continued by detailing strategies for team-building, accountability, and communication. “Jane can factor in if we play our cards right.”

“Oh really?! I’m so happy to hear! Jane was…”

“Didn’t take the news well?” “Yeah, you know, umm… she, uhh… She’s always been the one among my friends to be the most emotionally level-headed and cool. She… like…” “Is she OK?” “Yeah, uhh. She, just, you know, like… needed this gig, and Fidelity talked with her about the job like she had it, so it broke her down. She’ll probably be OK.” “Yeah, she wasn’t happy, either.”

“How about we develop a plan? She probably can’t standby long. Have her resume?”

Sources: Generic stock image searches for Linda’s assorted military awards, decorations, and other drawing ideas.

Quotes: None

Inspirations: Some recent and past experiences.

Related: Direct sequel to “Words Mean Nothing V” and in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story.”

My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)