Love And Hate
Copyright© 2006 by Lazlong
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Ed Delany had no idea how interesting things were going to become when he took over as VP of Engineering. He was challenged professionally and personally as he made a place for himself. This is the story of how he responded to those challenges.
Week 0 - Friday
Have you ever met someone whom you just knew, within the first thirty seconds, that you were going to hate?
Unfortunately, I had just met two of them. He was Sylvester (call me Sly) Westover and she was his girlfriend Missy Gerard.
"So, Ed, what do you do for a living?" had been Sly's predictable first question.
For some reason I didn't want to tell the bastard I was his new boss, so I just said, "I'm in engineering, Sly. What about you?"
"I'm Senior Project Engineer at Belding. I've been there ten years now. I pretty much run the engineering department."
"Good for you. What do you do, Missy?" I needed to get Sly shut up so I didn't have to fire him before I actually started my new job.
Missy was a cute little thing with dirty blonde hair and startlingly blue eyes. I might have been interested in her if she hadn't opened her mouth.
"I'm a secretary, Mr. Delany. I know that secretaries are far below you lofty engineers, so you needn't bother talking to me."
It wasn't said in a self-deprecatory manner. Oh, no. It was said in a "I know you're an asshole, so go screw yourself" tone.
Missy walked off and left Sly and me standing there. I really didn't have anything to talk to him about, but I couldn't see a graceful way to get away. He started telling me about how he had been going with Missy for a while and that she was crazy about him. I think he could have gone on forever, but Missy finally came back.
Thank God I was saved by my friend before I had to say any more. I introduced Jillian to Sly and Missy and quickly made an excuse that we needed to meet someone.
"Actually, you do need to talk with someone," Jillian told me. "I just ran into Mike Severt and he asked me to tell you to come talk with him as soon as possible."
"I wonder what he wants?" I grumbled. It was bad enough having to come to the going-away party for my predecessor without having to spend time talking to the company president.
"We'd better find him," I said. "Do you have any idea where he is?"
Jillian took my arm and led me over to a quiet corner where Mike was huddled with Pete Welsh, the guy I was replacing.
"Hi Mike, Pete," I said. "What's up?"
Mike had a slightly chubby, boyish face that lit up when he said, "I'm getting ready to throw you to the wolves, Ed. Pete is going to give his farewell speech here in a few minutes, so I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to the people who are going to be working for you. You don't need to make a long speech, but I would like for you to say a few words to everyone."
I smiled back at Mike. I had been expecting something like this and I wasn't unprepared. I knew he was testing me to see how I reacted under pressure. "Not a problem, Mike. I assume I'll be speaking right after Pete, so I'll make my way up to where you are when he starts talking. In the meantime, I'd like to dance with the lovely lady here."
When we had made our way onto the dance floor, Jillian said, "You didn't seem surprised by Mike wanting you to speak."
"I wasn't. It's a common ploy to see how the new guy reacts by putting him on the spot unexpectedly. Most of them get up and mumble a few words then sheepishly take their seats. I'm ready for him so I hope I make a better impression."
We danced a couple of dances then I saw Pete go to the podium in the front of the room. He had told me his final speech was going to be short and sweet, so I gave Jillian a squeeze and made my way to the front of the room.
Mike got up and said a few words about Pete and thanked him for his years of service. Then he said, "I know you've all been wondering who would be taking over Pete's spot now that he's going to be spending his time relaxing and enjoying himself. I'm not going to go into a big introduction here, I will let our new Vice President of Engineering tell you a little about himself. So, without further adieu, here is our new Vice President of Engineering, Ed Delany."
I made my way to the podium and shook hands with Pete and with Mike. Then I turned to the microphone. "Hi folks," I said, then waited for the mumble of response to die. "I'm Ed Delany. Mike wants me to tell you a little about myself, so here goes.
"I got an early start in engineering. I had my bachelor's degree when I was twenty and I went to work immediately for one of your West Coast competitors. I started out as a junior engineer and worked my way up through the ranks. I've been Vice-President of Engineering for your competitor for the last two years.
"Filling Pete's shoes is not going to be an easy task and I'm going to need the help of each and every one of you to do it. Pete has been with Belding for over twenty-five years. When Pete took over this job, I wasn't even in elementary school yet. I firmly believe that Pete is one of the prime reasons that Belding is one of the industry leaders today.
"I've just spent the last two weeks cloistered in a hotel room with Pete. I have to tell you right up front that there are a lot of people I'd rather be cloistered in a hotel room with than Pete Welsh."
I waited for the laughter to die down then went on, "Pete and I covered a lot of ground in those two weeks. I feel I have a good handle on what his policies and plans were. We also went over company policies. Along with Mike Severt, we discussed where Belding is going in the future.
"This is a party, so I'm not going to take up any more of your valuable fun time. I do want to say that we are going to be going through some exciting times at Belding over the next few years. As plans begin to firm up, I'll talk with all of you about them. In the meantime, have fun and let Pete know he's going to be missed. Thank you."
There was a polite round of applause as I turned the podium back over to Mike and made my way back to join Jillian. We went back onto the dance floor and I asked her, "So, what did you think about my speech?"
"The speech was okay. At least you didn't fall on your face. It's nice to have you back in the area again, Ed. Things just haven't been the same since you moved out west."
Jillian and I had been friends since we were toddlers. After college I had moved to the West Coast and Jillian had married a guy we had gone to school with. Her husband had been a police officer and he had been killed in the line of duty two years ago.
"I agree, Jillian. I've really missed the old town and you. How are YOU doing these days?"
She didn't have to ask what I meant. "I'm doing better, Ed. At first I thought about Mike every minute of every day. Now, I can sometimes go most of a day without thinking about him. I'm still not ready to start dating or anything like that, but maybe I will be some day."
Week 1 - Monday
I was at work long before anyone else on Monday morning. In fact I was there before some of my employees had even gotten out of bed. Mike had told me they'd have a new computer on my desk and it was waiting for me, so I got started loading software right away. I almost had it the way I wanted it before people started wandering in.
One of the first people to knock on my door was Sylvester Westover. "Good morning, boss," he said. "That wasn't a very nice trick you played on me on Friday."
"It wasn't meant to be a trick, Sly. It was up to Mike Severt to make the announcement. I'm not your boss though. It was my understanding that you reported to Gene Reynolds."
"That's right. Well, anyway, welcome to Belding." He ducked his head and made a hasty retreat.
I didn't have a secretary assigned to me as yet. The secretary who had worked with Pete had been with him for a lot of years and had retired when he did. Mike had told me he would have someone assigned temporarily until I could select someone from the secretarial pool or hire someone from outside.
I basically had four areas of responsibility. They included Controls (Electrical) Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Research and Development, and the CADD (Computer Aided Design) Department. I also had a dozen or so project managers who reported directly to me. The project managers were the guys who were directly in charge of each project. They did the scheduling and made sure the project was completed on time. All of them were working on several projects at once and they traveled almost continuously.
The second person to stick his head into my office was Gene Reynolds who was the Controls Engineering Manager. Pete had brought each of my department managers around last week and had introduced them to me. I asked Gene to have the other department managers meet me in the cafeteria so we could have a little get-acquainted meeting.
The cafeteria at Belding is nice. Actually, it is very nice. Nothing is crowded and three sides of it are glass, looking out onto the manicured lawns that surround most of the facility. I got myself a cup of coffee and went off to one corner of the large room to wait for the managers to show up.
I greeted each of them as they arrived. Mel Jackson was the Mechanical Engineering Manager; Dale Klauss was the CADD manager; and Jim Shear was the R&D Manager. Pete had had nothing but praise for his managers, but then again, according to Pete, everything in engineering was rosy. I knew he was probably dreaming.
"Okay, guys," I said after everyone was seated. "I don't know what Pete's management style was like, but I try to keep things as informal as possible. I much prefer to ask someone to do something than to tell them to. If I'm not in a meeting, feel free to come into my office at any time."
I received nods and murmurs of agreement from all of them. "Over the next couple of weeks, I'd like to sit down with each of you and go over any special needs your department has. At that time I'd like to discuss every employee in your department and I'd like your candid evaluation of each of them. If anyone is exceptionally good, I'd like to know about it. If anyone isn't pulling his or her weight I'd like to know about that too. If there are any problems between departments, I need to know about them as soon as possible."
"Ed," Mel Jackson said. "I'm sure we all have people we'd like to replace. Over the last couple of years we've had a lot of problems getting anyone hired, even as a replacement for someone who quit. Personnel says we have a hiring freeze and they refuse to hire anyone."
"That's true," Gene Reynolds added. "I am two engineers and three support people short in my department right now because of people quitting. Personnel refuses to replace them. I also have two engineers and one support person I'd like to replace, but I haven't let them go because I know they won't BE replaced."
"This is the first I've heard about a hiring freeze," I told them. "I'll look into it. If you guys are short handed, it'll just cause other people to quit because they're overworked. What other kinds of problems are you guys having?"
"Well," Gene said. "I'm having some problems with purchasing. The purchasing department keeps substituting things on us. They claim it's to cut costs, but some of the things they substitute are more expensive than the things we've specified. I talked to Pete about this six months ago and he said he'd check into it, but he never got back to me on it."
"I'll check into it," I said. "How are things going in R&D, Jim?"
"I have some of the same problems as Gene and Mel," Jim said. "My department is two people short and purchasing does the same thing to us. Other than that, our only problem is in a lack of direction. We have a couple of on-going projects, but we really don't know where the company is going, so we don't really know what direction our research should be taking."
"Okay. The lack of direction is definitely an upper-management problem. I know what Mike has told me, but I think this is something that upper management has to work on. Dale, how's the CADD unit doing?"
"We're a couple of people short as well and our workstations should have been replaced a couple of years ago. Other than that, we're fine."
"Okay, Dale. Write me up a justification and a plan for implementing the equipment replacement over a six-month period. Let's shoot for going over it in a week. If you need more time, let me know. I'll see if I can get an appointment with Mike Severt today to talk about the hiring freeze. Is there anything else I should know about?"
No one said anything, so I said, "Mel, why don't you plan on meeting with me Thursday morning to go over your personnel and your personnel requirements. I'll talk with Dale on Monday, Gene on Wednesday, and Jim on Friday of next week on the same issues. The following week, we'll start going over all open projects. Now, let's get out of here and get to work."
I let all of my managers take off, and then got myself another cup of coffee. I sat there making notes until I finished it then went back up to my office. I was more than a little surprised to see Missy Gerard sitting at my secretary's desk. I nodded my head at her and went on into my office. Missy followed me in.
"Mr. Delany," she said, standing stiffly in front of my desk, "I've been assigned as your temporary secretary. I told my boss that it was a mistake, but he insisted. If you ask him for someone else, I'm sure he would agree."
"Why would I want to ask him for someone else, Missy?" I asked. I knew she had a low opinion of engineers, but I figured I could live with that at least temporarily.
"I think I let you know the other night how I feel about engineers in general. I think that the ones here at Belding are the worst of the lot. I'm sure you wouldn't want me working for you, knowing how I feel." Her stance hadn't relaxed a bit and her tone was aggressive.
"What do you have against engineers, Missy?" I asked.
"I don't think that's any of your business, Mr. Delany."
"Since you're going to be working for me for a while, I think it is my business," I told her.
"If you push me on this, Mr. Delany, I'll tell you to go fuck yourself and I'll quit," Missy said, the venom dripping from her voice. "I really can't afford to quit, but I will. If you can just leave me alone until you can find a permanent secretary, I'll be moved back to the secretarial pool and we'll both be happy."
"I'm sure that won't be a problem, Missy. After all, it's only temporary. Let's give it a week and see how it works out. If at the end of a week either of us wants out I'll ask for someone else."
"Okay, Mr. Delany. Is there anything you need right now?"
"Yes, a couple of things actually. First off, my name is Ed. Please call me that. Secondly, I need an appointment with Mike Severt as soon as possible. Would you see if you can set something up for me?"
"Certainly, uh, Ed. Will there be anything else?"
"Not right now, Missy. Let me know about the meeting with Mike."
Missy came back in a few minutes later and said that Mike would see me at one o'clock.
I got to Mike's office about five minutes early, and his secretary told me to go on in. Mike was all smiles as he greeted me and offered to have some coffee sent in.
"Are you getting settled in okay, Ed?" he asked.
"Just fine, Mike. I had a meeting with my managers this morning and we went over problem areas. I'll be meeting with each of them separately over the next couple of weeks to go over their personnel and their projects."
"Speaking of personnel, did they get a temporary secretary assigned to you?"
"Yes, they assigned Missy Gerard. Do you know anything about her, Mike?"
"No, I'm afraid I've never heard of her. We have around fifteen hundred employees here, Ed. It would be impossible for me to know all of them. Is there something wrong with her?"
"Not really. She just seems to have a low opinion of engineers and I wondered if you knew why."
"No, sorry. We can get you someone else if you'd like though."
"No, that's okay, Mike. I want to give her a chance first. I do have some personnel problems though. All of my departments are short-handed. My managers tell me there is a hiring freeze and they can't replace people who have quit. You never mentioned a hiring freeze. What gives?"
"I don't know," Mike looked puzzled, "We did have a hiring freeze that started about two years ago and went on for about six months. After that there shouldn't have been any problems in hiring replacements though. I did tell Marty Babcock, the VP of Human Resources, to make sure that any new hires were justified. I'll talk to him this afternoon and get this straightened out."
"I'd appreciate that, Mike. Working short-handed has put an extra burden on our engineers. You can overwork most engineers quite a bit and they'll hang in there. After it reaches a certain point though, they start leaving the company. We also have some drones who are not pulling their weight. We need to get rid of them and get good people in to replace them."
"As I said, there is no hiring freeze, so none of that should be a problem."
"Okay. We have one other problem that my managers brought up. Evidently, when the engineers specify the equipment they need for a project, purchasing comes along and makes substitutions. This causes problems for the engineers and increases engineering time and costs."
"I don't know if I can agree with you on that one, Ed. Purchasing is probably substituting lower cost alternatives. If the cost is lower and the component is equal in quality and function, I don't see how that could be a problem."
"One thing that comes to mind, right off the bat, Mike, are programmable controllers. Some controllers perform the same functions, but are quite different in how they're programmed. If the controller from company A costs a thousand dollars less than the controller from company B, but takes even fifty hours more to program, then the company B controller is the most cost effective. Also, we may already have a program written for the company B controller that only needs minor modifications for the project. Using the company B controller could save us hundreds of engineering hours and thousands of dollars."
"Why would one controller take so much more time to program?"
"It's a function of the support software the company sells for the controller. Think of it as being like the operating system for a computer. If company B uses something equivalent to Windows and company A uses something that is equivalent to DOS, an engineer could program company B's controller much more easily."
"Has anyone talked to purchasing about this?"
"My managers say they have. I'll be talking to purchasing myself as well. I just wanted to give you a heads-up since purchasing falls under Finance."
"Okay. Give Phil James a call and let him know you're going to be talking to his people. If he has a problem with that let me know and I'll see if I can calm the waters. Are there any more problems you've uncovered on your first day here?"
I had to laugh. "No, Mike. I think that's about all of the damage I can do for one day. Let me know when I can start hiring people, though. I'd like to replace the people we are short, then start systematically replacing people who are not pulling their weight," I said as I got up to leave Mike's office.
"Give me until tomorrow, Ed. You can go ahead and start looking for people now. There won't be a problem with hiring them. I just need to make sure Marty is on the same page we are."
I spent the rest of the day going over the personnel files of the engineering managers. I didn't see any problems with any of them in their personnel files. All of them had been with the company for several years and all of them had good records.
Out of curiosity, I reviewed Missy Gerard's records as well. There I did get a couple of surprises. First off, I found she had been in the engineering department before. She had worked as the department secretary for three months. She hadn't been Pete's personal secretary, but she had worked on a couple of special projects for him.
Secondly, Missy had a degree in electrical engineering from a good university. She had never worked as an engineer though. I wanted to ask her why, but I wasn't sure how to go about it, since she was so touchy. I decided to put it on hold until tomorrow.
Week 1 - Tuesday
I came to work early again. Not as early as I had the day before, but earlier than most. I was surprised to see Missy already at her desk.
I decided to try to get on a better footing with her. "Missy, I want to talk with you about a few things, but I don't function well until I've had some coffee. Would you come to the cafeteria with me for a cup and some conversation?"
"So, you're starting it too," she said. She had taken a defensive posture and she looked like she was going to chew me up and spit me out.
"Starting what, Missy?" I asked, feeling totally perplexed.
"Hitting on me. Pete waited almost a week before he hit on me the first time."
"I'm not hitting on you, Missy. I don't even like you. There are some things we need to talk about though."
I could see she wasn't convinced, but at least she didn't start chewing. She hesitated a few seconds, then gave me a nod. We went to the cafeteria and I got coffee for both of us. After we were seated I asked, "Are you sure Pete was hitting on you? Did you report it?"
"Yes to both," she said in clipped tones.
"Oh, it started out just like this. He'd ask me to come down here for coffee. That went on a couple of weeks, then he asked me out to dinner. He was married, so I refused. Then he started touching me. When I complained, he acted like it was a joke. When I reported it, I was transferred to the secretarial pool. They did nothing to him."
"I'm sorry that happened, Missy. I'm not Pete. I don't hit on women who work for me."
"We'll see," Missy said skeptically.
"I have a question for you, Missy. Why are you working as a secretary when you have a degree in electrical engineering?"
I was waiting for an explosion, but I was pleasantly surprised when it didn't materialize. Instead, her shoulders slumped and she let out a big sigh.
"The secretarial job was supposed to be temporary. When I hired in here, I was told there were no openings in controls engineering, but that as soon as a slot opened up, it was mine. When a slot opened up, I went and talked to Gene Reynolds about it. He said that the electrical engineers had to travel to job sites. He said he couldn't hire me since he couldn't send me to job sites where I'd be the only woman there."
"That's a crock. I'm surprised you didn't quit right then."
"I thought about it. I would have, but I just couldn't afford to. I have a lot of student loans to pay off, plus I'm not from around here. I don't have anyone who could help me out while I looked for another job."
"Would you like to try your hand as an engineer?"
"Yes, I think I would. What Gene said makes sense, but I think I could overcome those problems. If not, at least I could say I tried."
"There's one other thing I'm going to ask you and I hope it doesn't make you angry. Why are you dating Sly?"
For the first time since I'd met her, Missy laughed. "I'm not dating Sly. My boss told me I was expected to be at the party. I was having car problems and Sly offered to give me a ride."
I had to laugh too. "I'm sorry. I know that was none of my business, but I just couldn't imagine the two of you together. While you were in the restroom, Sly told me the two of you were a couple."
"He also told you he practically runs engineering."
"You're right. He doesn't have a very good track record for honesty with me. I think it's time we get busy so let's get back upstairs."