John Fielding had accomplished a lot during his twenty years as Chief Executive Officer of the Shiny Lightbulb Company. Profits rose ten percent each year under his reign, the company had successfully branded itself as the environmentally friendly lightbulb company (even though John didn’t understand a thing about the technology that went in to achieving that result), and he oversaw the takeover of their nearest competitor,. He had had a good run, but now it was time to retire and enjoy what all of those ridiculous hours he put in had earned him: a portfolio big enough to pack up and move someplace tropical, where no one had ever heard of the Shiny Lightbulb Company.
There was just one final task to complete: hosting the annual summer picnic. It was an incredibly lame affair, or at least he always thought it was. For the life of him, he could never figure out what was fun about three-legged races, eating hot dogs, or making small talk with your coworkers’ spouses. But the troops always seemed to enjoy the event; especially the awards parts.
Each year, the company handed out certificates, trophies, and cash bonuses (depending on the importance of the achievement) to the employees that management felt had accomplished something extraordinary. It was all very proper and supposed to inspire others to up their game over the course of the following year, but to John it was just something else that confused him. Why were they giving out an award for Highest Sales? Wasn’t the Sales Team hired to make sales? Then they should go out and do what they were already being paid to do: make sales.
The day before the picnic, John got a list of the winners from his secretary. What his secretary didn’t realize was that John had secretly compiled his own list of winners and had trophies made up for them in advance. There would be no Highest Sales trophy this year, no sirree, but there would be prizes for categories that had previously never existed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, staff of Shiny Lightbulb Company, I’d like to welcome you and your families to the annual summer picnic,” John said accompanied by applause. “As you know, I like to recognize those that went the extra mile and achieved things others may not have thought possible. I’d like to call those people to the stage now. Eric Bell, Lydia Morrissey, Theo Antonis, Robert Chong…could I have you all come to the stage please?”
As the four of them made their way to the stage, the crowd applauded once again, although this time with less enthusiasm now that they knew they wouldn’t be winning anything.
“Eric, the first award is for you. You’re only what, twenty-eight years of age? As tech savvy as you young people like to think you are, it always amazes me how stupid you really are. For instance, did you not think we would find out that you’ve been using company computers to apply for jobs elsewhere? For that, I award you with a two-week severance package. If it’s another job you seek, I am hereby granting you all the freedom in the world to find it. Come here and get your cheque, kid.”
At first, the staff of The Shiny Lightbulb Company wasn’t sure if their CEO was joking or if he was serious, but the look on Eric’s face when he opened the envelope containing a cheque for twelve hundred dollars and his separation papers told them he was.
“Now Theo, I know what a fan you are of on-line games, and how you stay up to all hours of the night playing them with people across various time zones. I’m assuming that’s the reason you come in late every single day; which is why at this very moment I have someone inside your house, setting up alarm clocks every five feet in every room. They’ll all go off at precisely 7 a.m. If, what I like to call The Up and At ‘Em Award doesn’t wake you up on time, then nothing will.
“As for you Robert, I’m not going to lie. You’re a whiz at operating machinery, but when it comes to basic social skills you’re completely inept. No one wants to hear about your seahorse collection, but that’s you ever talk about and for that, I present to you the Is He or Isn’t He a Future Mass Shooter Award.
“The final award goes to my secretary Lydia. I don’t know how many of you know this, but Lydia is responsible for typing up all of my correspondence. I’m not sure if any of you also know that we turned a fifteen million dollar profit last year. We could have turned a twenty million dollar profit, but I had to spend hours upon hours correcting Lydia’s typos. Now I know what you’re saying – ‘Why didn’t you fire her then?’ Because, here’s something else you may or may not know. Lydia is actually the secret heir of this company, but her father will disinherit her if she doesn’t do honest work beforehand, so I got stuck with her. I felt like a bit of a prostitute, trading my sanity for the big fat paycheque that came with babysitting Lydia, but what are you going to do? Everything in life is a trade off. Anyway, Lydia I’d like to present to you the Why Nepotism is Bad Award. Here you go.
“Well, that about wraps things up. Thanks for coming out everyone, enjoy your gross tubes of meat byproducts, and I’ll see you all next year. Oh wait, I won’t because come tomorrow at this time, I’ll be jetting off to paradise, a place I know I’ll never run in to any of you again because none of you can afford to travel there. Well, Lydia will be able to once the old man kicks off, but the chances of someone as dense as she is finding it on a map are pretty slim. God, I’m glad the nightmare of corporate life is over. Bye!”
No one felt like clapping after that, but they did take John’s advice and go on to down an unhealthy amount of meat byproducts. As for Lydia’s father, he decided that it would be best to cancel the awards portion of the picnic moving forward, and for that his company went on to save ten thousand dollars in annual bonuses. He at least had John to thank for that.