The company was one of the biggest firms in the country. It had been started almost a hundred years ago by a consortium of partners who were all long dead and forgotten. Ownership had changed hands several times over the years and the current board of directors and the major stockholders had absolutely no idea what the original purpose of the business was in the early years of its existence. Strangely, the person who knew the most about the company's history was a lowly office girl on the seventeen floor who spent most of her time on her knees doing boring filing or filling in for one of the attractive typists in the typing pool on the floor below.
She had gotten the job through a nondescript agency that focused on finding well-groomed young people to do the mundane tasks that needed constant attention in a large headquarters of that size. It was a fact that the company had been growing rapidly in recent years and it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep low level entry workers in a metropolitan area with such a high cost of living. Their primary success was in finding recent graduates and other young people who were still living at home with their parents and with no rent or auto expenses.
Sarah Mueller was familiar with the history of the company because her great grandfather Otto was one of the original founders. Otto Mueller was not a citizen of the country when he joined in the partnership and he soon returned to his native Hamburg to organize the flow of proper chemical ingredients into the main company warehouses in Boston, New York and Savannah, Georgia. His English was poor but he knew the apothecary trade passed down in the family for generations. The German Professor was above all a gentleman and he declined to sell his share of the partnership when the company was absorbed by a Chicago conglomerate shortly before World War II. The well-hidden "books" of the business entity recorded the fact that Professor Otto Mueller was the owner of one/seventh of the value of the firm regardless of the current ownership. Because of this liability, the treasury stock of the firm was unusually heavy in liquid reserves and a succession of financial officers tried unsuccessfully to rid their books of the liability to a debt-holder unlikely to ever collect one/seventh of the estimated 250 billion dollars of value currently on the books.
Sarah had completed her schooling in a well-respected school of business in the downtown area. She had elected not to go to college because her widowed mother was unable to even come up with the funds to pay for her registration and books at the institute of higher learning where she had been awarded a full scholarship.
When the agency told her she would be working at the same firm where her great-grandfather had first started out so many years ago, she was elated and saw it as an opportunity to be of service to a firm that he had devoted his entire life to.
Her grandfather had made a point of staying away from the Drug industry because it impressed him as being too reliant on the miracle of potions and remedies to solve problems better left in the hands of God. He was the only one of the family to escape the genocidal intentions of the Third Reich because he left the fatherland before he could be rounded up and sent to a work camp. Amongst the effects that passed on to her parents after his succumbing to a bout with the flu in a dreary Eastside tenement was the original papers that her great grandfather gave to his son. She kept the ancient suitcase with the documents because they had interesting script writing in both English and German and she had used them to help her with her struggles in German 101 in High School.
Of course, the company no longer had her great grandfather's name as part of its title. In fact the newest evolution of ownership had completely reverted to the Chicago logo of the conglomerate that now held several dozen companies under its banner.
Sarah noticed that in the luxurious lobby of the thirty story skyscraper right in mid-town Manhattan there were several dated photographs including one that had her great grandfather seated at a conference table with other founding partners raising their glasses in a toast to the newest factory built across the river in New Jersey. She couldn't quite make out the date because the original photo was so faded but she knew from her own documents it must have been in the late twenties just before the famous market crash on Wall Street.
Two of the original founders had jumped from upper floors rather than face the loss of all their assets in the debacle but her great grandfather was already safely away in Europe and never believed in risking capital for greedy purposes.
Her mother was Irish and the daughter of immigrants from Ireland who still spoke with such a brogue that sign language was their best means of communication. Her father was an only child and as it turned out she was the only child in the family as well. Sarah was an exceptionally bright and cheerful child and she made her parents smile at their good fortune in having such a popular child. Unfortunately, their financial situation was not very promising and she had elected to go the safe route and find her livelihood in the learning of good basic office skills knowing she would always have employment as long as she had good health.
The first week at the company was filled with never-ending rules and regulations and the mind-numbing devotion to filing which seemed to have been waiting for her to show up to take care of it. The company owned the entire building and used it almost exclusively for its own operations. However, they did lease out the first three floors to firms with unrelated business interests. That was a wise decision because the income from that simple fact managed to pay the full operating cost of the entire building. It meant that the company had twenty-seven floors for their own use at absolutely no cost whatsoever.
Sarah was one of several new girls all hired on the first day of May.
The company liked to hire in groups because it made it more economical for training purposes and if one or two of the candidates fell out they would have a sufficient number to get the mission accomplished. She read all of the manuals and the training pamphlets religiously and made a conscious effort to memorize the important details. A couple of the other girls were not in the least bit interested because they considered the job just a stop-gap until they met the man of their dreams or found something a lot less boring and tedious.
She tried her best to be friendly with the other new-hires, but she had a gut-instinct that told her there was a certain element of competition to their relationship and she was unwilling to show her hole cards just yet.