The Reset Manifesto
CopyrightÂ© 2016 by Lazlo Zalezac
Rebecca abruptly headed for the door saying, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Where are you going?”
“To the ladies room.”
Rebecca was finding the wait exceptionally wearing. She didn’t like it when things happened without being planned. She didn’t like change. She didn’t like having to be around people all of the time. What she really wanted was to curl up in her living room with a book and let the rest of the world go by.
“I’ll go with you,” Patricia said.
Ten minutes later, they returned to the waiting room. Upon sitting down, Patricia asked, “Who was that woman?”
“I don’t know. I’m not really sure. I think she might have been the personal assistant for Ann Randal at one time.”
“She sure sounded like she was in love with Pete. Did he have any mistresses?”
“Are you sure?”
“Quite sure. Peter wasn’t like that.”
Gale Roberts was escorted to the office of Peter Moore in the Human Resources Department by a large man who looked like he ate quarterbacks for breakfast. He was big and threatening looking with a scowl that was completely natural. Not sure why she was there, she timidly entered the office.
“Have a seat, Miss Roberts. I’m Peter Moore,” he said in a frigidly cold voice.
Taken aback by his manner, she halfheartedly replied, “It’s nice to meet you.”
“You do realize that you are a probationary employee, do you not?”
“I know. I’ve got two and a half months left on my probation.”
She had celebrated her third month on the job by taking herself out to dinner. Three months was an important landmark since it represented the time when she would start receiving full medical benefits. The health insurance was one of the best any company provided an employee.
“Then why did you do it?” Peter asked in an accusatory tone of voice although there was no hint in his words what he was accusing her of having done.
“Act like you did.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Peter held up a folder and said, “I have a signed complaint here that you’ve been making racially offensive comments to some of the employees, here. We do not tolerate such behavior.”
“I didn’t do anything like that!”
“According to our records, you went through a training session concerning hostile workplace on the day that you started here. In light of that, you should know exactly what is acceptable and what is not.”
“But I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“The affidavit in here says otherwise.”
“I am recommending that you watch the tape on hostile workplace again, and sign the form stating that you’ve been given additional training.”
Once again, Gale protested her innocence, “I didn’t do anything. I never made any racist statements. I don’t say things like that.”
“Remember that you are on probation.”
“I didn’t say anything wrong.”
“If you’ll come with me, I’ll take you to the training area.”
Gale followed behind Peter as he led her through the office area. He stopped in front of a woman’s desk and said, “She needs to watch the hostile workplace tape again. Have her sign the paperwork.”
“Yes, Mr. Moore,” the woman answered carefully looking down at her desk in a remarkably submissive display. Her whole manner was so odd, that Gale wondered what was the story there. It was like she was terrified of Mr. Moore.
“Watch the tape and learn something from it this time.”
His admonition brought her attention back to her situation. She protested, “I didn’t do anything.”
“I find your continual protests out of line. Think about what you’ve done and don’t repeat it.”
He walked away with her sputtering her innocence. The woman at the desk wouldn’t look up until long after Peter was gone. Gale wondered if she had somehow wandered into Wonderland or something.
It was just four days later and she was summoned, once again, to the offices of the Human Relations Department. Gale was not walking meekly to her this meeting with Peter. She was angry and ready to unload on him about being unjustly accused of something that she had not done.
The big and nasty looking guard stopped about halfway to the office and warned, “Don’t try anything cute. I’ll be watching.”
“What will you do? Rough me up?”
It was the first time she’d seen anything that could pass as a smile cross his face. It wasn’t a friendly smile; there were angry and evil overtones to it that sent a chill down her spine. She didn’t think anyone he roughed up would ever want to cross paths with him again. He resumed walking down the hall with her following him.
Upon entering Mr. Moore’s office, she went on the attack, “Why did you call me down here, again?”
“I have complaints that you verbally abused two women by claiming that they had ratted you out and that you were going to make them pay for their actions. We do not tolerate that kind of behavior.”
“I didn’t verbally abuse anyone! Someone is lying to you.”
“Obviously, that someone is you. There were two separate complaints against you documenting different confrontations. Neither of the individuals filing charges have anything to gain by it. Now I suggest that you come clean and start telling me what is going on.”
“I wish I knew what was going on. I don’t know why people are telling lies about me. It has to be a case of mistaken identity.”
“There are no mistakes. I showed them a photograph of you and they confirmed that you were the one making the racist remarks and threats.”
“They’re lying,” she said getting angry again.
Peter sat back in his chair and studied her. There was a hard cold expression on his face. He took a deep long breath and said nothing. His flat unemotional stare unnerved her.
“You are only making the situation worse for yourself. If you won’t work with us, we can’t work with you to resolve this situation. You will not leave us any choice except to fire you for cause.”
“This is not right! I didn’t do anything.”
“Can you prove it?”
“How can I prove a negative?”
“That’s a good point, but the evidence against you is quite convincing. I have to act on the evidence I’m presented. I’m recommending that you watch the harassment video again.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” she protested weakly.
She knew that her position was weak. He wasn’t giving her any details about who was making the charges or what it was that she was supposed to have done that would allow her to refute them. There was basically no way she could defend herself.
He led her to the waiting room outside the training room and left her there to watch the video again. It was the third time she would have been forced to watch it. Due to scheduling, she was forced to wait two hours before she could watch the training video. Once again, she was struck by the strange behavior of the woman at the desk in the training center. Anytime anyone of any standing in the company entered the room, the woman went totally submissive, staring down at her desk as if terrified of making eye contact with her superiors. It was kind of sickening.
Three hours after having been left at the training center, she returned to her desk. Having missed her lunch, she was not in a good mood. Her boss was waiting for her and he didn’t look happy. One look at him and she knew that HR had been talking to him. Her horrible day was just going to get worse.
“Gale, would you step into my office?”
Although it was phrased as a question, it was spoken as a command. He had the same expression on his face that Mr. Moore had throughout his interview with her. Obviously she was in trouble with her boss.
Once in his office, her boss thoroughly chewed her out about the charges against her. He explained how he couldn’t afford to have a PA who went around insulting people with racist comments. His reputation was being hurt by her actions. He told her that she needed to learn how to control her mouth or else he was going to have to take steps to get rid of her.
Not having been offered a chair, she stood in front of him coming to a slow boil. Her protests, once again, fell on deaf ears. She left his office moving stiffly. Her spirit had become a battleground of emotions: anger, fear, despair, helplessness, and a strong desire to lash out at someone. She sat at her desk fuming.
That afternoon, the harassing telephone calls began. Some were relatively benign with women telling her that she had better act right or else. Some were threatening. She didn’t recognize any of the voices. It was so bad that by the end of the day she didn’t want to answer the telephone, but that was not an option. Sprinkled in amongst the threatening calls were calls to be forwarded to her boss and calls dealing with issues associated with her job. Not answering the phone was not an option. Each time she picked up the telephone, she had to act like a warm professional at her job.
The day ended poorly, with the security person at the desk at the entrance telling her that she needed to learn how to deal with people in a civilized manner. After a long frustrating day, she was ready to snap at someone. She was about to say something when she glanced up at the security camera. She clamped her jaw tightly and marched out of the office building.
Peter sat in front of his vice-president’s desk waiting for the man to get off the phone. He chuckled about something and then put down the telephone handset. He gave Peter a great big smile.
“She’s about to blow.”
“I’m going to let her stew a couple of days. She’s not going to know what hit her.”
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” Peter answered with a wicked smile. “By the time I’m done with her, she won’t know if she’s guilty or not.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I figure that she’s really going to start losing it when people start coming up to her and informing her how shocked they were when they overheard what she was saying to someone.”
The vice-president grinned. He was impressed. This young man was showing a level of initiative that would take him high into the company.
“Who are you getting to do that?”
“The lesbian manager, June from janitorial, and Shaky Sandra.”
“Which lesbian manager?”
“The one who was caught last week using the strap-on on her PA. She was in my office begging that I remove the complaint from her file. I figure I’ll offer her a deal. She’s so stupid we can get rid of her anytime we want.”
“That would be Casey.”
“She is as stupid as an ox, but she’s useful. After she gets done with one of our problem women, they aren’t a problem anymore. She’s got a nice cruel streak in her that’s lovely to watch in action.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Why Shaky Sandra?”
“Shaky Sandra will do anything for a hundred bucks. Payday is three days away and she’s broke. She’ll do anything to support her habit.”
Nodding his head in approval, the vice-president said, “I wasn’t aware that you knew she was a user.”
“It’s obvious if you know what to look for.”
“I suppose it is. Why June?”
“June is a racist. She hates Whites with a passion. She particularly hates White women.”
“You’re definitely management potential to discover that so quickly.”
“What’s with Gale’s boss? I had to tell him twice that people have accused her of making racist remarks. He should have been all over her ass after the first time.”
“He’s too busy lusting after some guy in Accounting to pay much attention to his job.”
“Yes. If you ever want a truly good blow job, he’s the guy to go to.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Peter said giving the vice-president a knowing nod. He added, “When he’s working for me.”
One of the things Peter had discovered was that what might pass as bisexuality was rampant in the upper levels of the company. It wasn’t really anything to do with sex or sexual interest, but one of power. If you were high enough in the corporate structure, it was expected that you’d bend your subordinates over and show them exactly who is the boss. There were rules to the game, though, and for now he was somewhat protected from having to play that game. When he hit the director level, he’d have to submit. Until then, he was safe.
“You’ve got it figured out already, don’t you?”
“Maybe,” Peter said.
“If someone wants to rise in the company, he’d better learn how to play for both sides, as well as be willing to play in the catcher or pitcher position.”
“You pick up things quickly. You’re definitely management material.”
“When are you going to get on your knees and suck me off?”
“Right after I’m promoted to Director,” Peter answered with a wry little smile.
Genuinely amused, the vice-president gave a hearty chuckle. He liked this guy. Maybe he was short and not quite executive looking, but a lot of short guys had the kind of take no prisoners attitude they liked in the company. He could go far, maybe all of the way to the top.
“Get out of here and make someone’s life miserable.”
“Make her suffer. We’re watching you closely.”
“She’ll never understand what hit her.”
Gale returned from the women’s room and took her seat at her desk. A woman she had never seen before followed her into her office. With disgust in her voice, the woman said, “How dare you talk to someone like that? I couldn’t believe the kinds of racist things that spewed out of your mouth.”
Taken completely by surprise, Gale stared at the woman in shock. She couldn’t think of a single thing to say in response. Her mind was a complete blank.
The woman walked out of the office, pausing for just a moment at the door to turn and give her a snort of disdain. Then she was gone.
After returning from lunch in the cafeteria, another woman stopped by the office. She was a nervous sort who kept looking around as if seeking something. She said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but you have to be a lot more careful of what you say to people. Even I was offended and I don’t get offended easily.”
“What are you talking about?” Gale asked. “I didn’t talk to anyone at lunch.”
“I know what I saw and heard,” the woman said and then fled from the office.
Her boss came out of the office looking upset. Frowning, he said, “I’ve been hearing disturbing things about you. You just can’t keep your opinions to yourself, can you?”
“I didn’t say anything to anyone,” Gale asserted hotly.
“A lot of people are saying otherwise,” her boss said bluntly. “I don’t like what I’m hearing.”
“I’m telling you, I haven’t said anything to anyone that is the least bit offensive.”
Her boss just grunted and returned to his office. He closed the door behind him. She sat there staring at the door wondering how her life had turned to such shit in such a short time. It was almost like someone was playing with her.
It was mid-afternoon when one of the vice-presidents of the company sauntered into the office like he owned the place. Gale recognized him, but didn’t understand why he would be there to see her boss. He wasn’t someone to whom her boss reported.
“Is he alone?”
“Good. We’re not to be disturbed,” he said while opening the door.
She watched him enter wondering why on earth the vice-president of sales would be coming here to meet with the director of IT. If anything, her boss should be going to his office to meet with him. It seemed to her that her boss had a lot of very high-level people in the company stopping by for half hour visits. It never seemed like he was tasked with any work as a result of those meetings. She frowned when she heard the door lock, but turned back to her work hoping this had nothing to do with her.
It was nearly a half-hour later when the vice-president and her boss came out of the office. They stood there for a moment talking about nothing in general. It struck her as odd when her boss told the other man as he was leaving, “Come back anytime.”
“I will. The pleasure was all mine,” the vice-president said with a grin.
The vice-president stepped out into the hallway and then moved just out of sight. His movements were so odd that Gale wondered what he was doing.
At that moment, a member of the janitorial staff entered the office. Seeing Gale and her boss there, the woman broke out in a relieved smile. In a voice that was so sweet that sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth, she said, “Sir! Would you stay here while I empty waste baskets? This woman says the nastiest things to Black people and I just don’t feel comfortable being alone in the room with her.”
“Sure, June. I’ll stay here.”
Gale was ready to explode. She could hear laughter in the hallway outside the office. Her boss turned to look at her.
“Keep a civil tongue in your mouth.”
“I didn’t say anything,” she replied barely able to keep her anger in check.
June said, “Look at her. She looks like she’s ready to bite my head off and all I’m trying to do is my job.”
“I didn’t say anything to anyone,” Gale said.
Her boss said, “You don’t have to, the expression on your face says it all!”
Gale sat at her desk staring at the computer screen while June told her boss about what everyone was saying about her. She was fuming. She wanted to hurt someone, and June would have made a wonderful target of her anger, particularly since she was the source of much of it. Her boss wasn’t helping. In fact he was encouraging June to tell him more.
When Gale parked her car in the parking lot of her apartment complex, she could never remember being so happy to be at home. Her entire day had been horrible. She didn’t understand why people were saying such nasty things about her. She hadn’t done anything. She grabbed her purse, got out of her car and headed towards her apartment. With the typical beep-beep, the car locked behind her when she pressed the button on her key fob.