Professional Challenge

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The air around Eric curdled. Tension built as his ears filled with the peevish voice from his boss’ high pitch questions.

“Hey Marty, when’s that quarterly report going to be finished?”

Eric sighed as he fought to calm his nerves. “It’s Eric, and I’ll have it to you after I type it up. First, I need to run these numbers.”

“Oh, you better hurry up. The back office needs that report as soon as possible. I’ll try to run interference, but I don’t know how long I can keep them at bay.”

Eric was certain that his statement wasn’t completely true. Remain calm. Everything will work out. Focusing on his report, an odd feeling stopped his fingers from typing. A pair of eyes were still fixated on him.

“Is there anything else?” Eric asked his boss.

“Oh no, just watching.” He replied with a thin lipped smile.

“So you’re just going to stand there and watch me finish this report?”

“mm-hm”

Stay calm. Breathe from your abdomen. He’s just a poor pencil neck geek who needs a good roughing up. But, we’re not going to do that… today. A smile came across his face. Yep! Not today.

Bolstering at 6′ 3″ and weighing 258, Eric could see that his peckish boss was feeling the power of his position. It was the classic Chihuahua vs Great Dane scenario, where the little dog tries to bully the big dog. Given the situation, Eric didn’t have much choice but to remain calm.

Wrapping his attention around the quarterly numbers, he quickly typed out the next segment of the report. A quick tap on the F7 key revealed no errors. Moving to the next section, Eric fell into a comfortable zone. He could hear his boss giving interjections, but with everything falling into place, it was easy to ignore his snide remarks.

With the conclusion typed and his patience worn thin, Eric printed the report. Without saying a word, he went to the printer.

“Hey, is that the report?”

Glaring Eric calmly replied, “You know it is. You have been leering over my cubical for the last hour watching me type each letter, commenting on everything that popped into that peon brain of yours.”

Although his voice was low, it had a rolling thunder effect that silenced the whole floor. Realizing that everyone had stopped working and was now watching them Eric’s boss snatched the report from his hand.

“Do you know how much you have cost this company by delaying this report. IT WAS DUE LAST WEEK. YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL THAT I DON’T FIRE YOU FOR NOT MEETING YOUR QUOTA.”

With that his boss started to storm off but froze as a firm grip caught the back of his neck. In a reflex move, Eric had reached out and clamped his boss’ neck. He could let him go, but with everyone watching, Eric knew that the little worm would more than likely press charges. If he wants to fire me, let me give him a good reason. Stay calm. Don’t say anything. Go to the back office.

Eric began to walk towards the office without loosing grip. Determination flared in Eric’s eyes. He was going to get to the bottom of this. Perhaps he was wrong and his report was needed. Perhaps his boss was right and he was wrong. Perhaps…

“Here is your report Mr. Manning.” Eric replied.

An elderly gentleman sat behind the large desk. His suit was modest as the layout of his office. When he spoke, it was always calm and collect.

“What report are you referring to Mr. Green?” he asked Eric.

“The one that this gentleman stated, was due last week. I apologize for the inconvenience and cost that I have brought to this company.” Eric stood there, nervous and irritated.

“I see. Do you mind letting go of Mr. Lund?”

Eric quickly released his grip. Stepping to the side the petite bully started slandering about terminations and prosecutions. But none of this mattered to Eric. He was numb to the sound of his boss’ voice. Looking up, he could see the irritation in Mr. Manning’s eyes.

“You talk too much.”

Eric’s eyes opened wide. Did he say that? Those were the exact words that coursed his thoughts. No, he didn’t say that, Mr. Manning did.

“I am placing you on one week suspension Mr. Lund. Within that time I hope that you find the patience that Mr. Green here has afforded you. I have set here and watched you pick at this gentleman for the last three weeks. I am amazed at how much restraint he has shown. You and I both know that the quarterly report isn’t due until next Thursday.”

“But, Sir, I was only trying to get it to you ahead…”

“Of schedule. I got that, Mr. Lund. Now if you don’t mind, Mr. Green and I have a quarterly report to go over.” Mr. Manning walked to the door and gestured Eric’s boss to leave.

Not knowing if he was about to be reprimanded, Eric stood there in silence. A small chuckle broke the ice as Mr. Manning returned to his desk and asked Eric to set.

“How is it that you didn’t beat the snot out of that guy?”

Eric was struck by Mr. Manning’s informality. “Well, just because I can doesn’t mean I should. I try to stay as professional as possible.’

“You’ve definitely demonstrated that. I need someone with your mentality to run this floor. Would you be interested?”

He just offered me my boss’ job! As much as I would love the pay raise, personal parking, and private office, I really love my position. I would hate to see it fall on the account that I moved.”

Mr. Manning smiled. “Spoken like a true professional. I’ll talk to HR and we’ll get someone in for your to train. Until then, keep up the great work.”

Eric left with a great sense of pride. Today, professionalism won.

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