Alternative

“Wow! What a trip!” I blurted out in the truck, as I slowly made my way through the heavy road construction causing the repulsive, rush hour traffic along the Washington, D.C. Beltway to be worse than normal. Although my job had its fringe benefits, nothing could compare to what happened in the Great State of Florida during the freezing winter of 1981.

Since I was going to be in the southern part of the United States during one of the coldest spells on record, I readily accepted the challenge, and welcomed the incredible opportunity to bask in the soothing sunshine for as long as I could. But, after traveling extensively for almost three months in the south, I was really looking forward to relaxing for a few weeks up north. The timing would be ideal, as I would be welcomed by the beginning spring season. It was during that journey north that I was finally able to put everything in its right perspective, or at least I thought would, as the snail paced traffic backup, gradually broke loose.

Mile after mile, I continued to contemplate about what happened in Tampa, while making my way along the Atlantic Seaboard to meet up with my best friend, John Thomas. John and I knew each other since childhood. Although we went to different schools, we lived on the same street, and always hung out together on the weekends and during our summer vacations. I wanted to ask him personally if he would be the best man in my upcoming wedding, and I knew he would agree. He was moving into a large apartment building in the neon concrete jungle of New York City, and I didn’t have his new private telephone number handy. Nevertheless, I still would have waited to ask him in person.

The company was utilizing and going through some unusual corporate strategies along with location changes, and it was my job to make sure that all the acquisitions went according to plan, but I felt John could easily handle strengthening the development team in New York before I arrived, and he was sent ahead. The owner of our company instructed John to pack his bags right after I signed all the necessary legal paperwork in order to close the lucrative deal on the Tenner Building in late November.

It meant that John was going to New York, and I was instructed to set my sights on the south. Although, it was my responsibility to evaluate the personnel and tenants that we inherited with the new properties, and hopefully keep the right people in place while putting together a competent team to ensure a successful business outcome, I felt John could handle it once I closed the deal, and turned it over to him. But, it was only after flying back to our corporate headquarters and having a daylong meeting with my boss, that she grudgingly agreed.

Her and John didn’t see eye-to-eye on many issues, and it was something he needed to work on. He couldn’t quite understand that she was the boss, not him. His unruly outbursts would eventually cost him his job, but that’s another story. During our meeting, she essentially told me that she didn’t want anyone else handling any portion of the Brunner brothers down in Florida. She also felt that since I was the understudy of her late husband that there was no one else within the company that could handle ensuring the overall transformation went as well, but I assured her that John was capable of handling New York since I had already gone through everything. But, she still insisted that I remain vigilant with John while I was in Florida.

“Joe, I do not trust anyone else except you running my company.” Kathleen responded. “We both know the Brunners want more than we’re willing to pay for their building, but they nor anyone else needs to know what we’re thinking.”

“Kathleen, I agree. Trust me, I will get us that land and building under their asking price, or we’ll walk away.”

“Joe, you close that deal under budget, and you can have anything you want.”

“Kathleen, all I want is to honor Jeff’s memory and keep his and your dreams alive. I know you and John have issues with each other, but he is a good guy. Maybe he needs to feel more a part of the process? Jeff taught me everything he knew, well maybe not everything?” Tears welled up in her grateful eyes. “Kathleen, he would always tell me, ‘Joe, managing people means exactly that, you manage them as you would want to be managed, and everything else will fall into place.'”

“Joe, you know that you’re like a son to me. Before Jeff passed away he told me that he would have liked to see you run the company so he and I could travel alot more. Guess the good Lord needed him to be by His side? Joe, I want you to understand that this project is one that Jeff absolutely wanted in our portfolio, and so do I. You get this closed and you can have anything you want. I am ready to retire. I want to see the world. Joseph, I mean it! And, don’t you argue with me.” She said kissing my cheek softly, as we pulled into the drop-off area at the airport and she wished me good luck. “Call me at home when you get to your hotel.”

She popped the truck lid, güvenilir bahis and I stepped out of the car. “Yes Kathleen. I will call you just as soon as I unpack.” I closed the door and raced to the trunk and got my two suitcases out and closed it. I saw her looking at me thru the rearview mirror laughing. I grabbed the suitcases and walked back towards the passenger door. The electric window started to slide open and before it was fully open, she was speaking. I knew she was going to correct me.

“Joseph, did you not hear what I just said?”

“Kathleen, of course I heard you.” I responded chuckling. “I am not quite deaf yet. I’ll call you from the lobby of the hotel just as soon as I walk through their front door.”

“Joseph, you’re incorrigible. You wouldn’t have said that if Jeff was here.”

“Kathleen, now who in the world do you think taught me to say that?”

“Oh Joseph! Get going or you’re going to be late if you don’t hurry.” She countered as loving tears streamed from her eyes. “Please call me when you get there.” She swiftly sped away as the window was closing.

The flight down was uneventful, and as soon as I arrived in sunny Miami, I was ushered into meeting after meeting with the overbearing Brunner brothers, and their attorneys during the first two weeks. The brothers didn’t want to come down off their asking price, but when I walked out of a meeting we had together without their attorneys, and didn’t return for two days, they knew we were serious about walking away from the so called, “Deal of the Century.”

Although I was eagerly waiting to get outside, and truly enjoy the awesome weather and incredible winter splendor the ‘Sunshine State’ had to offer as often as I could, I never did find the necessary time or any sunshine at 8:00 p.m., which was usually when I called it quits for the day. Kathleen called my hotel numerous times after I walked away, and told me she wanted that property and that I should up our offer.

“Kathleen, we’ll get the building, but we have to have alittle more patience. The numbers don’t add up. If they call you again, which I am sure they will, use the same statement I said to them right before I walked out of their office. ‘You’re the ones who need to sell it. We do not need to buy it for more than its worth.'”

“Joe, I’ll say that when they call tomorrow. The older brother, what’s his name? Oh yeah, Gary. He is a real pain in the neck. William is alot more tolerate, but I don’t trust either one of them. Joseph, I do want that property.”

“Kathleen, we’ll get that property for less than three million. Or I’ll resign.”

“Joseph, you’ll do no such thing. You’re more important to me than any piece of property.”

“Kathleen, when they call you tomorrow, tell them I am leaving Miami tomorrow afternoon if they do not accept the final offer I am willing to present. They will either contact me beforehand, or I am flying home tomorrow night. But, we are not buying that property for more than three million. Just don’t tell them anything, and leave the rest to me. Remember, good guy, bad guy?”

“Yes I do.”

“Good! Remember that when they call. I am the bad guy, but I work for you, not them. I am going to bed. I am really tired. Goodnight Kathleen.”

“Goodnight Joe.”

William called the hotel right before lunch the next day, and we set a meeting for later that afternoon. They sent a limo over to take me to their office and we finally worked through all the legalities and finished sealing the deal in mid-December. Although they weren’t too happy with the final offer, they agreed and we closed the deal. I didn’t gloat. I told them we needed to shell out alot more money to modernize the building, and they knew full well that was true. They couldn’t find another buyer, so we bought it for 2.8 million.

I was ready to leave the beautiful City of Miami to check on our new building we had just purchased off them in Tampa. During the final day in The Magic City, Kathleen had a brand-new 1981 Dodge Ramcharger delivered to my hotel for my exclusive use (just in case I wanted to drive it on the beach), and it was loaded with some crucial items the previous owners gave us in order to close the deal. She also told me that she had a bunch of office supplies and whatnot getting delivered to the new building and they would be there before I arrived. She knew it was going to take me two days, afterall, I wanted to explore Miami thoroughly, and enjoy the beauty of Florida before getting started in The Cigar City.

Once we all shook hands and said our goodbyes, they guided me toward the entrance ramp I needed to take as I began my highly charged trek toward the beautiful Gulf Coast. Up to that point, the only part of my body that got any sun was my left arm from hanging it out the driver’s window while trying to find somewhere to eat during my couple of visits to the local fast-food restaurants. I did make a few necessary stops before arriving in the City of Tampa. I was hoping to leave Florida sometime before New Year’s türkçe bahis Day. However, I am glad I didn’t because it was alot better playing in the sand than the snow and, I’ll always have these celebrated memories.

After finding the leased condo, and unpacking some personal belongings, I changed into a well-worn pair of my favorite denim jeans, and began the quiet quest to locate my new temporary southern corporate office. As soon as I found the right exit, and arrived at the sprawling building, I quickly sought out the Building Superintendent. It was easy enough tracking him down within a few minutes. I introduced myself and asked him how he liked the building.

“I think this building could use alittle more landscaping.” He replied. “And, it sure would be nice if the owners would install new security systems throughout the building.” Jokingly, I asked if he liked his job. “Sure I like my job, and I care about this first class building and the terrific tenants who rent space here.”

“Well, that’s a step in the right direction.” I mentioned aloud. “Now, tell me how much it is going to cost to do what you believe needs done?”

He stepped back and looked at me kind of funny, and then blurted out, “what are you, some kind of jokester?”

“No, I’m not! I represent the new owner of this building.”

His jaw immediately dropped and he swiftly spoke saying, “have you made any decisions on replacing anyone here?”

“No, not unless you’re unhappy with your salary or your position,” I summarily replied.

“OH NO! I like everything just the way it is.”

“Except of course,” I laughed saying, “the security system and landscaping, huh?”

“No, no, they’re fine too!” He said anxiously.

“Mr. Winston, look, have some bids on my desk by early next week. Let’s see if we can make some timely changes around here that I agree with you on, okay?”

He sighed a big sigh of relief, “sure, whatever you want.”

“Well, for starters, how about the keys for my new offices? I want to get started in there right away.”

“Got a master set right here,” he said, as he tugged on his set of keys. “I’ll open it for you.”

“That’s great, I also want every lock changed throughout the building, and I’ll keep the only set of keys for my ‘Private Office’ that I am taking over on the sixth floor. Is that understood?”

“Absolutely!”

“Please make sure all of our tenants are made fully aware of what is going to be happening around here in the next few weeks. Although it will probably take us a couple of months to complete everything I have in mind. But, let’s just use the phrase as a few weeks for starters.”

“No problem, sir.”

“Please, you can call me Joseph.”

“Okay Joseph, no problem.”

“Good, I don’t like problems. By the way Mr. Winston, please make sure the office upstairs is ready by the end of this week for me to move into, and the ‘Reserved Parking Space’ out front is always to remain open. I travel alot, and I do not want to park too far from the front door whenever I drop in for a visit or while I am staying here in Tampa.”

“Joseph, I am very sorry, I didn’t realize the building had been sold yet, and I put the company pickup truck in that spot because I have some material to remove from the building today.”

“I understand Mr. Winston, but also understand this. I will be in and out of town for the next few months, and then afterward, I will be coming here unannounced at the very least, a few times every month during all hours of the day or night. Please always park the company vehicles or any sub-contractor’s who are here working in the rear of the building. I don’t want any of our tenants tripping over anything left laying around.”

“Sure, I understand Joseph. I’ll move the truck right away.” He said as he unlocked and opened the office door.

Stepping inside the inner office space, I was greeted with a mountain of boxes, mail, faxes and paperwork that needed my immediate attention. “Where in the world did all this stuff come from?”

“I’ll help you sort all this out.” Mr. Winston replied. “I put all these boxes and stuff in here. I just thought someone new had rented this space.”

“Thanks anyway, but I do believe you have bigger fish to fry, Mr. Winston.”

“I’m on it!” He replied, as he hastily vanished through the door.

The daunting assignment ahead would demand an essential pair of extra hands to help sort through everything, but I’ve always enjoyed getting myself buried right in the mix of things and didn’t mind the challenge. I also knew I needed someone locally, and bright enough too, to help begin and eventually run this new southern division.

During the two days of self-imposed exile from the Brunner brothers, I ran a stimulating help wanted ad in the local Tampa newspaper searching for an experienced Executive Administrator and, an Office Manager. The response was overwhelming which only compiled the massive amount of paperwork that was sitting inside the office doorway. Judging by the size of it güvenilir bahis siteleri and according to what Mr. Winston told me, there were at least eighty-six résumés to pour through before I could even think about having some much needed time off.

Before I left Miami, I prearranged to have a temporary secretary on hand from a local temp-hiring agency. Impatiently, I looked at my watch and it was already after 8:15 a.m. and, I instructed the office manager that I needed and must have someone here at 8:00 o’clock sharp! Looking through the large, plate glass windows overlooking the front parking lot, I was able to fully scan it yet; I still didn’t see any new cars pull in.

In the excitement to get started, I jumped on a bulky cordless phone as I swiftly gaited toward the front door. With my little black book in hand, I called ‘Tampa Temps’ and was assured by Gloria Katz, the owner of the company that my temporary secretary, Ms. Debbie Files, should already be there, and she would be driving a little red sports car. No sooner was I about to interrupt her and insist she send another replacement over, in through the parking lot screeched a little, bright red convertible.

“Gloria, you’re right. I do believe it’s Ms. Files is pulling in now. She must drive the pace car for the NASCAR circuit.” I said while chuckling into the receiver.

“That’s must be her alright, she definitely has a lead foot!” She exclaimed with a slight strain in her voice. “Joseph, if you want, I’ll send someone else over right away?”

“No! No! No! I’m sure she’ll do find, Gloria. But, if you could, please send over another secretary in two days? I will need all the help I can get while I’m down here.”

“Sure Joseph. I can do that. Do you think you’ll need anyone else to help you out?”

“First, let’s see how Ms. Files does, and the other secretary you’re sending over ON TIME this Wednesday morning works out. If they cannot handle the workload, there’s a strong possibility I’ll need another skilled person. But, I’ll let you know by late tomorrow afternoon. If that’s okay with you Gloria?”

“Great! Joseph, if you need anything, anything at all, please don’t hesitate to call me.”

“Gloria, you bet! Thanks again for sending ‘Speeding Gonzales’ over.” I responded chuckling. “I’m sure she’ll be hard keeping still.”

“No problem Joseph. Ms. Dulton, will be the temporary secretary that I am sending over on Wednesday, and she will be ON TIME! Joseph, thank you so much again for doing business with my company. You have yourself a great day and take care. Try to have some fun while you’re in our beautiful city. Goodbye Joseph.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll talk with you again tomorrow afternoon. You take care of yourself, too. Gloria, thank you for all of your assistance. Goodbye.”

I figured I’d tease this little lady just alittle bit before we began attacking the piles of boxes and paperwork. I was glaring at my watch as she began strutting with a slight limp towards me. I was tapping my left foot on the sidewalk and trying not to look too happy. It was virtually impossible to keep an unsympathetic look on my face because she was wearing a well-fitted outfit that hugged her curvaceous frame perfectly.

“Wow!” She had on a light grayish pantsuit with very thin burgundy stripes running through it. Her blouse was almost the same shade as the stripes. She was also wearing the same shade of light grayish colored heels, and carrying a matching, which I was sure was a purse but I swear it could have doubled as a personal suitcase. As she sashayed toward me, she flung her head back, and began adjusting her long, flowing, sun-streaked brunette mane.

She was breathtakingly beautiful! She was lightly tugging at the side of her well-fitted jacket. I stood there trying to keep staring as if, I was somewhat upset but when she smiled, I melted. I forgot everything, and let the biggest smile slowly spread across my astonished face. She graciously, extended her dainty hand, and excitedly said, “Hi! My name is Debbie Files. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I will do everything humanly possible to assist you in your endeavor here in Tampa. Together, we’ll get your company heading in the right direction.”

“Ms. Files, if your driving skills are any indication of your office capabilities?” I responded while chuckling. “I’m sure we’ll manage to avoid any unnecessary pit stops.”

She laughed saying, “I always keep the ‘Dirty Side’ down, and the ‘Sunny Side’ up!”

I cracked a smile saying, “I’ll bet you never lose control, unless of course you wanted too?”

“It depends on the circumstances? But to answer you truthfully, you’re quite right.” She said impishly. I smiled and began saying my name, and she politely interrupted saying, “Gloria has already told me alot about you, and your exciting organization. I am very sorry, I was running alittle behind schedule today.”

“Apology accepted, Ms. Files. Guess your boyfriend kept you awake all night?” I said jokingly.

“Oh, I don’t have one of those!” She said with a sparkle in her eye, and a playful gleam on her face. Before I uttered another word, she said tenderly, “could you please forgive me?” And, without missing a beat she rapidly volunteered to stay as late as I needed her to.

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