ONCE AGAIN EDITED BY THE INCOMPARABLE 'WIRES' WITHOUT WHOM THIS WOULD BE A POORER STORY BY FAR. HIS HELP IS APPRECIATED IMMENSELY.
Janice Stover drove her old Jeep Wrangler into the parking lot of her software company. She felt a surge of pride when she saw all the other cars there. It had been a struggle from her first day of operation, but the hard work and long hours were now beginning to pay off. They now had 23 employees and were recruiting more. She slowly drove to her assigned spot beside the employee entrance and parked her old Jeep. She was dressed in her usual clothes, faded jeans, T-shirt, and broken down athletic shoes. Her honey blond hair was swinging in a ponytail as usual. She almost ran toward the door, excited to once again get to her private office and fire up her computer. From looking at her you would never know she had been working in this same office until nearly three thirty a.m. the night before. She finished her current project last night and couldn't wait to turn it over to the beta testers so she could clean up any bugs they found and move on to her next idea. She was already roughing out an idea she had for a completely new program she thought would sell well.
Like many programmers, Jan worked long hours but the last two weeks had been worse than usual. She put in sixteen to eighteen hour days because all her senior people were hounding her to finish the program as quickly as she could. She snorted and grinned as she thought about the reason for the rush to completion. Todd hired a pushy new Sales Manager several months before and he pushed his sales force to pre-sell the new application. Apparently promises were made, against her recommendation, of an early release date to a new large customer. She grinned to herself as she thought about the uproar and headaches coming down on the Sales Manager as the promised delivery date drew ever closer and the software was just now ready for Beta Testing. Maybe now he would listen more to her rather than to Todd and not aggressively pre-sell software that was still in the pipeline. They were making plenty of money on current versions of their software so there was no real reason to push the new version so fast.
She saw her partner Todd's latest new car parked in his space on the other side of the door as she slid her ID/Key through the card reader. She was once again disgusted by his profligate ways. There were many times she found herself sorry she ever let him buy into her business. Of course, she had no other choice at the time. Not only did she need someone with business management knowledge and experience but she desperately needed a cash infusion to market, package, and ship her first simple program. Now, more and more, she resented his arrogant attitude. He showed up in expensive suits and shoes, driving ever more expensive luxury cars, and sat around giving orders to her and her two other programmers as if he owned the company.
Her business, aptly named S-T Business Solutions, wrote and sold computer applications for small businesses and customized other programs on occasion. Todd had absolutely no knowledge of computers--either building them or programming them. He was barely able to turn one on and use the pre-installed software. On numerous occasions Janice had to help him with his machine when he totally screwed it up. As she walked toward her office, she once again began thinking about a way to get him out of her business and then removing the new management team he hired while she was engrossed in her latest project.
Janice smiled at Hailey, the receptionist as she skipped into, then through the break room. She made a very brief stop to pick up a high calorie, fresh baked cinnamon roll and her usual English Toffee Cappuccino. When she caroled "Good Morning, Hailey" instead of the equally happy greeting she usually obtained she only received a "Morning, Jan". Hailey then quickly turned her back on Janice and began straightening the already neat snack display area.
Jan frowned at the abnormal greeting then shrugged her shoulders and took off for her office. She had a meeting with Todd and two of the senior managers in fifteen minutes and she wanted to do a quick check of her e-mail before she went into the conference room. She didn't know why Todd was so insistent about the meeting last night when she called him to report the project was finished but he was so she agreed to come.
Janice hit her office almost at a run and slammed her ass into her soft executive chair. She reached out to power on her computer, then sat almost bouncing waiting on it to boot. Nothing happened, not even a beep when she hit the switch. Crap, she thought. The cleaning crew must have unplugged it again. She crawled under her desk, nope, it was plugged in. She looked at the back of the machine. All wires and plugs seemed to be in order. Fuck, she thought, it was working fine this morning when I powered it down. Now I'll have to spend all morning working on the damn machine before I can do anything constructive.
Jan left her office carrying her roll and cappuccino heading to the conference room. She was seething at the setback. At least she always made two backups before she quit work so her completed program was safe.
When Jan stormed into the conference room she stopped in surprise. Todd was there as was the Sales Manager and Business Manager. There were also two strangers sitting at the table with piles of paper in front of them. A large man in a security uniform stood just inside the door. She didn't recognize him either. As far as she knew they didn't have a security staff and had no need for one.
Todd looked up from where she normally sat at the head of the table and smiled. He said, "Ah, Jan. You finally got here. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to be late once again and miss another important meeting."
Todd didn't rise to offer her the chair he was in. She stood looking at him waiting for him to vacate her chair. Finally, Todd gave her a dark look and said in a demanding tone, "This won't take long, Jan. Sit down and let's get on with it."
Jan felt her anger surge once again at Todd's attitude. As far as she was concerned this was the last straw. She decided she was going to call her attorney and find out what she had to do to get rid of him. He was more trouble than he was worth and his attitude was horrible. None of the old hands cared for him and as far as she could see he held them all in contempt. This was not the first time she found him in her chair but it was the first time he didn't give it up. She decided not to make an issue of the matter right then and took a chair beside Todd and across from the two strangers.
Todd leaned his arms on the table and almost glared at Janice. He said, "Ms. Stover, there's no easy way to say this so I'll just come out with it. You're fired. This business can no longer put up with your cavalier attitude. Your dress is totally inappropriate for business, you are completely unable to get to work on time, and totally ignore policies and procedures promulgated by upper management. You have been warned numerous times and still have not corrected your attitude. Consequently, I am exercising the option given me when I became your partner and buying your share of this company."
Todd smiled and leaned back in his chair. He glanced over at the older of the two strange men and said, "Would you continue, please, Mr. Rodman?"
The older man said, "I am Terrance Rodman, Mr. Tarkington's attorney, and now the business attorney." He handed Jan a stack of papers and continued talking, "I have here documented transgressions and witnessed statements of the times you were counseled for poor performance. You will notice you were actually given two more chances to improve your behavior than the company policy handbook provides. As it was explained to you when that occurred, you were given the consideration because you were one of the founders of this company. Even with this forbearance, you did not improve your behavior so Mr. Tarkington regretfully decided he had no choice but to terminate you and exercise the buyout rights for the company."
Mr. Rodman handed Jan a check for $15,000 and continued speaking. "Here is the check for the fifty percent of the company you currently own. You will find a copy of the contract you and Mr. Tarkington signed three years ago in the papers I just gave you. We have highlighted the pertinent parts dealing with your termination and the purchase of the remainder of your ownership interests."
Jan sat in shock for only a moment then she pushed the papers away and turned to Todd. She knew her face was red. She was almost shaking with anger as she forcefully said, "You arrogant asshole. This is bullshit, and you know it. Get your things and get out. You're fired. And take these-- GENTLEMEN -- with you."
Todd smiled and gestured to the security guard as he said, "No, Jan. Like we just said, YOU'RE fired. Don't make this worse than it is." He pushed the papers and check toward her then continued, "Take your paperwork and check and go with Tony. He'll escort you to your office so you can pick up your personal items then he'll go with you to your car."
Todd looked at the guard who she now knew was Tony and said, "Be sure she only takes her personal property and make damn sure you get her key card when she leaves. No memory sticks, drives or computers are to leave the premises with her. Don't leave her alone for a moment."
Jan glared at Todd and said through clenched teeth, "This isn't over asshole. If you think for one minute I'm going to let you kick me out of my own business you're crazy."
.... There is more of this story ...