The phone rang so Delta answered it.

Florida: “Delta, can you please explain something for me?”
Delta: “Sure thing. What’s up?”

Florida was the finance controller for the group. And, she was tough as nails. Most of the people in the group dreaded her calls. But, Delta had worked hard to always remain on her good side. When she called, he dropped everything. When she emailed, he replied right away. Why not? She was the final approver for expense reports, and Delta had never had one returned. Kindness always paid dividends.

Florida: “Well, there’s a sent package on your FedEx invoice that requires explanation. On the 15th your office sent a package up here to the international group. Can you explain why? Can you explain why your office would be sending a package to Bonnie Cell? And, it had to be a large package too, based on the cost.”
Delta: “Florida, I will have to ask around here in the office. I do not know what that could be. Can I call you back?
Florida: “Yes. Please let me know soon, though. Month end billing has to be completed tomorrow.”
Delta: “Not a problem. I will get back to you asap.”

Delta hung up the phone and thought “shit and fuck” at the same time. Everybody knew who Bonnie Cell was. Everybody knew why she was getting packages from his office. And, that everybody included Florida too. That Florida was calling him meant she wanted someone else to do the dirty work. So, Delta went down the hall to ask Virginia about this most recent package.

Delta: “Virginia, I just got a call from Florida. She’s questioning the most recent FedEx bill. Can you please fill me in on what the latest package to Bonnie included?
Virginia: “Well, I had meant to tell you about it. I’m sorry I didn’t let you know before you got the phone call from Florida.
Delta: “That’s alright. I know he does this stuff behind my back. I don’t hold you responsible. What was it this time?”
Virginia: “Well, he came up to me right at the end of the day. You were out with the clients that day I think. He handed me a box and told me to send it to Bonnie that day. Well, FedEx had already come by and so I had to take the package to the drop box and ended up missing my train.”
Delta: “You have got to be kidding me? He made YOU take it?”
Virginia: “Yes. It wasn’t a really big deal, though. I was able to take the next train and it all worked out. It’s just that I was late to choir that night.”

Virginia’s husband was the minister. Being late to choir rehearsal was not good. That she was telling Delta about missing the train at all meant she was really mad about the situation. Normally she wouldn’t say anything. It took a lot to get her mad. But, even when mad, she would still say it was no big deal. Delta regretted terribly that she was having to deal with this stuff.

Delta: “Virginia, I’m terribly sorry about this. I’m sorry you were late to choir. And, I’m sorry he has put you into these situations.”
Virginia: “Thank you. But, it really wasn’t a big deal. In regards to your question, though, I do know what was in the box. It contained a backpack.”
Delta: “A Backpack?”
Virginia: “Yes. It was one of the backpacks from the client’s promotion last month. He must have kept one. I had thought we had accounted for all of them properly. But, I guess not. I will try to not let that happen again. He hadn’t really arranged the backpack in the box correctly and so I couldn’t tape it shut. So, that’s how I saw what it was.”
Delta: “That’s just great. Let’s see here. He steals a promotional item from the clients. He gives it to his friend. He uses the company FedEx account. And, he has you do the dirty work and causes you to miss your train. Did I miss anything?”

Virginia didn’t respond.

Delta: “Never mind. I just like spouting rhetorical questions. Please don’t answer. Thank you for the information, Virginia. Again, I’m sorry.”

Delta returned to his office and called Florida. Since she was also not one for the pleasantries, he jumped right into it.

Delta: “It was not business related. He sent a gift to a friend.”
Florida: “Then, he will need to send a personal check to me for the amount of the charge. The company will need to be reimbursed for this personal expense. Please have him send the check today.”

Delta: “He isn’t here today. He’s out golfing.”
Florida: “Then call him or leave him a voicemail.”
Delta: “Ok. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

She obviously was not going to be the one to make that call. She wanted Delta to do it. And, she wasn’t going to let this one slide either. That she was forcing this upon Delta annoyed him a little. That she was making an issue of this practice, though, did hearten him a little. He had been hoping that the bean counters might finally notice the ‘activities’. Maybe this was the time.

After thinking about it a little, he decided that he didn’t want to try to handle this deal over the phone. He needed to be able to see Bravo’s eyes when he brought this up. So, he waited until the next day, when Bravo was in the office.

Delta: “Bravo? I have something real quick to ask you. You got a sec?
Bravo: “Sure. What’s up?”
Delta: “Florida called me yesterday. She was looking at the FedEx invoice and asked me about a package we went sent up there recently.”

That got his attention. He turned his head away from his computer quickly and looked very intently at Delta. Since Bravo was notorious for continuing to look at his computer when having conversations with people, getting his attention could mean only one thing. This was sacred territory. Delta paused and looked out the window. He told himself he was glad he’d done this in person. Bravo had several tics…and the eyes were giving away plenty.

Bravo: “Which package?”
Delta: “It was one sent to Bonnie Cell back on the 15th. Florida questioned the business purpose. She suggested that if it was a personal package you would need to send her a check.”

There. He’d said it. He’d gotten it out there. Florida couldn’t fault him for failing to deliver the message. True, she might object to how it had been communicated. But since she wasn’t present, she wouldn’t ever find out. Delta had crossed the line though…

Bravo: “She said WHAT? She questioned the business purpose?”

Delta had never seen Bravo yell before. He took a step back.

Delta: “Yes, that’s what she said.”
Bravo: “Well…(long pause)…well…(Bravo looked out the window)…well…(he looked back at Delta)…here’s what I have to say about that. You tell her that it was not personal. You tell her that it was for a business purpose. You tell her that she can call me if she has a problem. You tell her I said that.”
Delta: “Ok. I got it. Thanks. I’ll tell her. Sorry for bothering you.”

Delta returned to his office and called Florida. He repeated what Bravo had said. She thanked him and ended the call. She never called Bravo back about the issue. Bravo was never asked to send a check.

Bonnie Cell had been Bravo’s secretary when he had been based in the home office. Years after he’d been transferred, they still spoke regularly. Bonnie Cell was 15 years his junior and a single mother. Bravo scheduled regular monthly trips to the home office, often including a weekend stay.

The packages continued.

File Under: AND AND AND

Copyright (c) 2005 Jamoker. All rights reserved.