A Christmas Renuion

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Ian stepped away from his desk at noon, he was tired, his head ached and he wanted be with his family. He stood by the window and looked across the park, wondering about the young homeless girl he’s seen that morning and hoping she’d found somewhere warm to spend the day. A limo pulled up to the front door.
“Hey Gina,” he called over his shoulder, “come look, maybe this is Valerie.”
The both pressed their faces against the window, hoping to see the person who could make or break their Christmas. All they saw was the top of her head! The limo was followed by several white vans.
“Oh no, maybe she’s closing the place down and the vans are here to take away the furniture.”
“No, it wouldn’t happen that quickly. Look they’re bringing boxes in, not taking them away.”
Ian was right. A team of folks worked diligently unloading the vans.
“Come on, we’d better keep working or Madame Scrooge will be screeching at us again.”
No one could concentrate. What if the mysterious Valerie was coming to close the place down? The idea of starting a new year looking for a job wasn’t appealing.
At 1:30 Lucy, the office manager came into the room and clapped her hands loudly.
“Listen up, as some of you may have heard, Valerie Street is here. She wants to talk to us all in the conference room at 2:00. Don’t be late!
Ian and Gina looked at each other. “I guess we won’t be wondering much longer”

There was a line by the window in the hallway when Ian and Gina arrived for the meeting. Fred was at the back of it.
“We tried to get in, but the door is locked, there was a lot of activity in there a few minutes ago. Sounded like Desiree was shouting at someone, but not any more.”
The buzz of anticipation was catching. Was it dread or excitement?
“Look!”
Felicity from marketing was pointing out of the window to where Desiree was striding across the car park. No longer wearing her dangerous spikes, instead she had tennis shoes on her feet. Her expensive leather brief case was full to bursting and she carried a box. There was a chirp as she unlocked the door of her black Audit TT. She opened the boot and she placed her briefcase, and the box, inside. She sensed she was being watched and turned around. With a flourish she gave the double two-fingered salute to one and all. Then she jumped into her car and with a screech of tyres, she left the car park. The applause started slowly and quietly and then escalated. Fred clapped louder than anyone. Ian and Gina looked at each other puzzled.

The double doors to the conference room opened and Christmas music filtered out. The bewildered employees made their way into the beautifully decorated conference room. It was a Christmas wonderland. Catering staff filled glasses with champagne, but everyone was too stunned to drink.
“What do you think we’re celebrating?” Ian asked.
Fred picked up his glass and held it high. “Desiree’s departure is good enough for me”

The lights dimmed. The music stopped and a solitary figure appeared at the front of the room.

“Merry Christmas everyone, I’m Valerie Street, some of you may remember me, but no doubt I’ve changed since we last met. I’m here to run the company the way my father used to and I want to start with a celebration to thank you all for your hard work.”

Cheering and applause was long and loud. Gina and Ian looked at each other in utter amazement. The young lady standing at the front of the room caught their eye and raised her glass.

Ian raised his glass and mouthed. “Well played!”
“What’s going on?” Fred asked. “Do you know her”
“She’s been around for a week or so.” Ian replied, “Sitting under the bridge.”
Fred laughed. “George used to play that trick too! Pretended he was homeless. Said it was the best way to test people. Fired many folks because of the way they treated the less fortunate. She’s her fathers girl alright. I knew she’d be back.”

Merry Christmas

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Office Scrooge

 

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Ian and Gina met in the break room around ten o clock! It has been a rough morning and coffee was needed. The talk around the coffee machine was animated. The room was buzzing with excitement. Gina inserted herself into the group.
“What’s going on?”
Fred, the droll accountant looked at her, a smile on his usually serious face.
“Didn’t you check your emails, we’re getting a visitor today.”
“A visitor, who’s coming Santa Claus?” Gina laughed at her own joke.
“No Valerie is paying us a visit.”
“Valerie Street? No way! Have you met her before?”
Fred’s eyes filled with tears, “Not since before George and Ethel died. She used to play with my kids at the company picnic.”
Ian joined them, “What do you think she wants?”
“Maybe she’s going to sell the Company?”
“Maybe she will,” Fred replied
The noise in the break room escalated as folks talked about the purpose of the long overdue visit.
“Don’t you have anything to do?” The piercing voice was that of the Desiree, the CFO. It commanded instant silence.
“I don’t want to ask anyone to work over Christmas, but I will if I have to.”
Fred spoke up. “We’re excited to see Valerie this afternoon. She’s been away too long.”
Desiree rolled her eyes, “For goodness sake, do you really think she want’s to talk to you folks. She’ll be coming to check on the company profits. I’ve arranged a meeting with leadership, headed by me. You won’t see her. Now get back to work, I want her to see a well run ship, not a gossip shop.”
“We would all like to…”
Desiree held her hand up. “I believe I said get back to work, now do it!”
Ian, Fred and Gina walked along the hallway together. A miserable silence replaced the excited buzz.
“She’s unbelievable!” Ian said. “A real life Scrooge!”

Street Talk – A Christmas Story

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The office of Street Talk Magazine sat on the edge of George Street Memorial Park in a small town in Northern England. The Park was named after George Street, founder of Street Talk Magazine. It was dedicated to him in 2001 after he and his wife were killed in a car crash. The drunk driver, who hit them head on escaped unhurt, so did Valerie, the Street’s ten-year old daughter.

George and Ethel Street had only one child and thankfully they’d left a very detailed will to make sure she was taken care of. All profits from the thriving magazine went into to a trust until she was old enough to make decisions. The Magazine was run by a trusted team of long time employees in the meantime and continued to be successful. After the tragedy, Valerie fell off the face of the earth. Local media were interested in her for a while, and tried to track her down, but they soon lost moved on to other stories.

*************

It was a cold December morning. Small particles of ice fell from clouds that looked so full they wanted to burst.
“Snows coming!”
“What, oh Morning Ian, I thought you were on vacation this week.”
“Should be, but our new CFO needed me here to go over some figures for last year.”
The two Street Talk employees hurried through the park, clouds of breath escaped their mouthes as the talked.
“Jesus its cold!” Gina said “Look, that homeless woman is under the bridge. Surely she’ll die out here.”
At the edge of the park, on the cold stone ground, sat the solitary figure of a woman. Her hood was pulled over her face. Neither Ian nor Gina knew what she looked like. They knew she was female because of her voice.
“I’m going to give her enough money to go and buy breakfast somewhere, she needs to get out of this cold.”
Gina took a ten pound note from her wallet. Crouching down she handed it to the pitiful figure. A grateful voice floated from the hood of the old coat she wore. “Thank you and God bless you”
“Here, take my coffee, I haven’t touched it” Ian said as he gave her his Starbucks.”
The woman looked up at them and for the first time they saw her face. It was grimy and tired looking, but it was young. They were both taken aback.
“Merry Christmas!” She said.
Neither of them spoke until they were out of earshot.
“She’s our age, ” Ian said. “I wonder what happened to her.”
A voice from behind interrupted them, loud and thoughtless
“You shouldn’t give money to street people, they’re likely to have all sorts of diseases. I’m going to call the Tim in Security and see about getting here removed. She has no right being here. It’s a disgrace. They should find a place to put people like her.”
It was Desiree, the new CFO. She bulldozed past them, her expensive high-heeled boots piercing the morning silence as they stabbed the ground.
“Bitch!” Gina whispered as the followed her into the building.
“Careful, she’ll hear you, she already fired her analyst for less.”