Jon barely had a chance to look up before a mountain of manila folders were stacked in front of him. Though the clerk who deposited them on his desk smiled, Jon wanted to scream. The files represented at least two more days of drudgery. Oh, who was he kidding? Once he got through with those, there would just be some more data to input. The drudgery was unending here at Cressen Furniture.
"You are Jon Pritchard, right?"
He'd been so lost in his self- pity party, he'd forgotten the clerk was there.
"Yeah, that's me. I need to sign?" Jon asked as he reached for the net tablet the clerk held. It was management's way of keeping tabs on them, to make sure no one could deny receiving the data later on if the work didn't get completed on time.
Looking at the wall clock, Jon saw he had at least three more hours before his shift ended. There was no way he could get through it without coffee. One of the perks of working at Cressen was coffee that gave such a buzz, it made Red Bull look like a mild fizz by comparison.
As he headed for the break room, Jon reminded himself for the umpteenth time to be grateful for this opportunity. Sure, the work bored him to tears and the pay stunk, but it was a job, something Jon hadn't had for the last eighteen months. When he'd graduated from the University of Philadelphia with both a bachelor's and a master's degree in software engineering, he'd thought he'd be in great demand in the workplace and have his pick of jobs.
Unfortunately, though the economy had improved, employment still remained very competitive in the software and technology fields. Though he had applied for mid-level positions for which he was qualified, Jon had found himself up against applicants with doctorates and many more years of experience. As he waited for something—anything—to pop up in the software and technology fields, he worked a series of office temp jobs to cover his rent.
Reaching the break room, Jon poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down at a corner table. This data entry job with Cressen Furniture had come just in the nick of time. He couldn't even remember applying for the job, but he'd applied for so many over the last several months, they'd all started to blur together. The temp jobs were coming fewer and fewer between, and the grace period for his student loans was about to expire. After two rounds of interviews, Jon had secured the job.
The probationary period didn't end for another three months, but after that, he'd get the full benefits as well as the dollar-an-hour raise he desperately needed. Data entry wasn't exactly what he'd seen himself doing as he'd studied and slaved over his software engineering degrees. But it was a steady paycheque, and the person from Human Resources said he'd be considered for any positions that became available in the IT department. So not a bad deal, Jon thought, trying to cheer himself up.
His thoughts were interrupted by his boss, Karl, and the department head, Leonard, who'd just entered the break room. "Why is he coming here now? His father never came to any of these meetings?" Karl asked.
"Don't know." Leonard shrugged. "Maybe he wants to show that he's his own man, and going to do things differently than the way Warren Sr did them."
Neither man seemed to notice Jon as he listened to them intently. Warren Sr was Warren Cressen, the former CEO of Cressen Furniture. He'd resigned a couple of months ago after experiencing a series of strokes, and his son had taken over.
Karl poured coffee for both himself and Leonard. "But don't you need more time on the rollout for the new line? I thought you said Junior would rip you all a new one if he sees what you have now?"
"He's probably going to do that anyway once he gets a look at the third quarter numbers. Not only are sales down, we've lost market share as well. It's not the way I'd hoped to welcome the new CEO."
Karl clapped Leonard on the shoulder. "That's why you get paid the big bucks, to give the bosses the bad news."