Bunkle was still struggling with the notion of redundancy when the door burst open. A bedraggled executive type lurched in. Shocked by the intruder, she moved back in her chair. The man looked threatening. His face was burnt, his hair had been shaved off and there was a bandage wrapped around one hand.
Jones didn't seem concerned. Instead, he introduced him.
'Felicity, this is Jeremy Parsons.'
His face was burnt, his hair had been shaved off and there was a bandage wrapped around one hand...
'Excuse how I look,' said Parsons, who, always taking pride in his appearance, had never had to use such words before.
'I was in a bomb attack a few days ago,' he explained.
Bunkle had read on Headlook about the attack. A friend who sometimes read the newspaper told her about it. She now realised that this was the room where the attack had taken place. She noticed that the window had been replaced, although there were still bits of glass in the carpet. Thank goodness she had decided to wear something on her feet for the meeting.
'Parsons will be helping you with this redundancy program,' Jones explained. 'I want you to get onto it right away.'
As far as he was concerned, that was the end of the conversation. The two of them could now leave him, push ahead with the plan and he would spend the rest of the day working through the company's financial reports.
'We'll get onto it as quickly as possible,' promised Bunkle, knowing full well that that was never very quick at all.
'But how will we determine who goes and who stays?' she asked.
Parsons was quick to chime in. He was keen to make an impression on Jones and maintain his gravy train of consultancy work from VastTel, although he feared this young man would be far more demanding than his predecessor.
'I suppose it would be politically incorrect to do it by nationality,' he said.
'I think so,' said Bunkle. She was mildly aware that when it came to racism, there were laws to be wary of.
'What about sexual orientation?' Parsons continued, noting that at least three quarters of the call centre were gay.
'It's up to you to work it out,' said Jones, keen to see them both out of his office.
Parsons knew you should always agree with the boss — then give the impression it was your idea and charge for it.
'I don't think any of the approaches we've discussed will be legally acceptable,' said Bunkle.
'Look,' said Jones, a little impatient. 'Why don't you just take all the people who aren't at work right now?' He figured that a good half of them would be skiving off in one form or another, so it seemed a quick and simple solution.
'Brilliant!' said Parsons, giving the idea no thought whatsoever, but knowing that you should always agree with the boss, then later give the impression that it was your idea and charge for the time accordingly.
Parson's mind was racing with the sheer number of hours involved in such a massive retrenchment program. First, he would establish a working group, set up a few sub-groups, attend a few relevant conferences on redundancy procedures, develop a project timeline for the formulation of a policy, implement another working group to list activities that could police the new policy, all with a view to having a more concrete plan ready for implementation, or at least a plan that could be used as an input to the ultimate plan, which could be delivered after further working groups had convened. As he verbalised the procedure to Jones and Bunkle, his mind was busy calculating how many hours of exorbitant consultancy fees he could charge for such a thing.
Jones wondered why they were making it so difficult. He could do it himself, right now. All it involved was a quick email saying, 'If you're not at work right now, don't bother coming back.' How hard could that be?
'However you guys want to handle it,' he said. 'But we need to get all that done by the end of next week. Think you can do it?'
'I was thinking more like a year,' said Bunkle.
'To present the initial plan,' Parsons intercepted, concerned that she was creating an unrealistic expectation.
Jones looked on in disbelief.
'If we pull out all the stops,' he added.
The Incumbent is Phil Dobbie's first novel and these excerpts have been used with his permission. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. To purchase the entire novel in digital format, click here. It is also available in printed format ... for more details click here.