For a while, it seemed, the collapse of the nation's telecommunications network might be a good thing. Some people reacquainted themselves with nature. Admittedly, there were others who still wandered the streets looking lost, as if they had suddenly been transplanted into a different reality. They were in the midst of the real world, not the virtual reality where they had been spending most of their time. And frankly, they seemed a little disappointed with it. It was slow to move around, there weren't any interactive menus and a few complained that the graphics weren't very realistic.
Their disappointment was fairly short lived, however. Soon after the mobile network went down, the PocketPad 2000 came out. It was a new kind of mobile phone, or at least that's how the marketing spin went. 'So big it's hard to lose,' the advertisement announced, pointing to the big new screen and keyboard. It was the response to complaints about the earlier model, which was so small people were losing it up embarrassing orifices.
Having a phone on a network that didn't work was actually a big advantage.
With the new product, there was so much focus on the neat little applications you could download onto it that nobody seemed too concerned about the phone bit any more. In fact, an incoming call was an inconvenience that could interrupt you in the middle of a game of Rabid Monkeys. Having the phone on a network that didn't work was actually a big advantage.
'And we're offering it free on a 25-year plan,' Jimi Jones announced to the crowd, assembled in the VastTel conference hall.
There was a big round of applause, as examples of the PocketPad 2000 were passed amongst the eager attendees, from across multiple divisions of the newly downsized VastTel organisation.
'That seems to have gone down well,' said Musson, smiling and patting Jones on the back. 'Well done.'
Jones appreciated the kind words. They had been working together for several months now, and Jones was convinced the top job had been given to the right man. He was learning so much from him, and these days, he scarcely even considered the possibility that Musson might suddenly turn around and kill him in a fit of rage. Still, there's nothing like the threat that it could happen to keep a workforce on its toes.
Now, it was the chief executive's turn to take to the stage. There was a big round of applause, genuinely offered by all in the room.
'I am so proud to have Jimi Jones running our product division,' said Musson. 'With people like Jimi, this company will go from strength to strength.'
These days, he scarcely considered the possibility that Musson might suddenly kill him in a fit of rage.
There was another round of applause. Jones gave a little bow to the crowd, then turned to look at Musson. He hoped he wouldn't go on too long. It was close to 5 o'clock, and devoted as he was to his job, he was also enjoying his love life with Trisha Botherington. The passion hadn't died down yet, and he wanted to make the most of every hour he could with her. They spent an inordinate amount of time in the bedroom, but sometimes in the kitchen, often in the bathroom and occasionally in the last carriage on the city circle line. Most people who saw them socially commented on how happy they looked together, politely avoiding mention of how Trisha was also walking a bit funny lately.
'What an excellent few months,' said Musson. 'Customer satisfaction up, sales up, profit margins up. There's still room for improvement, but we're heading in the right direction.'
He was right that there was still a long way to go. In terms of customer satisfaction, they still only rated two on a scale of one to 10, were 10 was utopia and one was the equivalent of water boarding by a Saudi interrogation team. But even though they were offering appalling customer service, at least now they were doing it with a much smaller staff.