“Hello,” the voice on the other end of the call said.
“Jim, you old coot,” Charles said, “how you doin’?” Charles and Jim grew up in Virginia together. While in the business world Charles maintained a professional manner, when talking to the good old boys from home he lapsed into the parlance of his youth.
“I’m in recess, so I’d say I’m doin’ mighty fine,” Jim said.
“Workin’ on your golf swing.”
“Five below par, wouldn’t you know.”
“Yeah, we’ll see about that next time you’re near the city. By the way, thanks for pushing that tax cut through. Thanks to that cut I was able to take Loretta to the Burj Khalifa, even after the $500,000 contribution I promised you. She’s been wanting to go there ever since she saw a picture of Tom Cruise sitting on it.”
“Now, Charlie, you know those cuts are meant to increase productivity and work force for corporations and businesses.”
Charles sat at his desk motionless, then he burst into laughter. Jim soon followed. “You almost had me there, Jim.”
“I thought you had a heart attack there for a minute.”
Tears streamed down Charles’ face, he took a handkerchief from his trousers’ pocket and wiped away the tears. The laughter between them slowly died down. “Hey, Jim, I need a favor.”
“What can I do ya for?”
“You still oversee that food stamp committee in Congress?”
“The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight and Nutrition? Yeah, why?”
“I just found out that most of our employees can’t afford our food, and...”
“You thinkin’ about giving them raises.”
“Enough joking around, Jim, I’ve got business to discuss.”
“Sorry, go on.”
“Well, I know right now food stamps aren’t allowed to be used for fast food.”
“Across most of the country, there are a couple states that allow it.”
“And that ain’t enough for me. Profits are up this year, but if the employees could buy our food I know we could get them higher.”
“That’s going to be a hard one to push through Charles.”
“My bonus is riding on it. I’ll tell you what, you push this through for me, and I’ll promise you a $1.5 million contribution.”
“That big a deal, huh?”
“Let’s just say, if this works out, even after that contribution I could buy Devin this custom Lamborghini Murciélago I saw while I was in Dubai for his thirteenth birthday.”
“Nice gift. For that contribution, though, I’ll move heaven and earth to get that passed for you.”
“Thanks Jim, it means a lot.”
“Where’s Devin gonna drive that thing at thirteen?”
“I bought a racetrack last month. He doesn’t know it yet, figured I’d surprise him with the car and track.”
“Lucky kid, kind of wish you were my dad.”
“Get that thing passed and I’ll see what I can do.”
“Alright Charlie, I’ll talk at ya later.”
Charles hung up the phone and shook his head. He wore a big smile on his face. He picked up the budget and looked it over again before pushing the intercom.
“Ms. Terrien, can you come in here again please.”
The glass door to Charles’ office opened, and Stephanie walked back into the room with her yellow legal pad.
“I think I have a way we can help our employees have a better holiday this season.”
“Write this down, please.”
Stephanie sat down across from Charles and readied her legal pad. “I’m ready sir.”
“At the next managers’ meeting, which I believe is next week...”
“Next Saturday,” she said.
“Yes,” he said. “I want all of the managers to set up some kind of giving tree, nothing too ornate or expensive. Come up with some wording to communicate that this giving tree will be for employees to give to other needy employees to help them have a better holiday season.”
Stephanie had stopped writing before Charles finished, and she stared at him.
“Is there something wrong Ms. Terrien?” he asked.
She shook her head and turned her attention back to the legal pad. “No sir. So the employees should offer to donate supplies to the other employees.”
“Exactly, this should help foster a sense of team spirit among the franchise employees.”
“They will definitely be united in a common cause, sir. Is there anything else I can do for you at this moment?”
“That will be all, Stephanie.” He smiled at her.
She stood up and began to leave the room.
She turned around at the door.
“How much do you make?”
A puzzled look came across her face. “Currently, I am salaried at $60,000 annually. May I ask why, sir?”
“Oh, no reason,” he said turning his attention back to the budget on the desk. “Thank you Stephanie.”
Stephanie left the room, and the door closed behind her.
“We may have to find some way to rectify that,” Charles said to himself.