oblique (oh-BLEAK), adjective

Indirectly or deviously achieved.

When Richard decided he wanted a promotion, he decided to work harder. He wanted his wife to be proud and his son to go to graduate from college debt free. He started saying hello to the manager who no one ever said hello to. He started writing his name bigger on reports in hopes that it would be remembered. He said his name more often than was comfortable, but he could not tell if it was working.

Then it occurred to him that maybe he should provide more stimulating work so that he would be noticed. In a company of only one hundred people, he was certain he could make his work stand out. What an idea! So he stayed in the office late, tidying up projects that were only going to the middle man anyways. He formatted his reports with three different tables, all representing the same thing, when really he needed none. Richard worked so hard his wife worried about him and his father finally admitted he wasn’t half bad.

On Tuesday, Dale got the promotion.

Richard was not devastated, he was outraged. Did no one see his hard work? Did no one notice what talent he brought to the company? Richard was much better looking than Dale and Dale had never even made a diagram to show how they could better serve their customers. This whole month was a waste, but his son was still starting college next fall and Richard’s goals had not changed.

He decided he would take a more oblique approach. Dale was now his superior, but they were hired at the same time. They were the boys chatting in the coffee room about this new job and what they did before. They became friends and coworkers, but now Dale was a superior. Richard knew what Dale’s previous job was. Dale confided in Richard in their early years and Richard now relished the fact that he has never been a very upfront person, never one to chat the day away because someone was there to listen. Dale was just that. He told Richard about the time he and his brother stole a candy from Mr. Thompson down at the corner store in their hometown. He told Richard about the time his wife cheated on him and he couldn’t take it anymore so he moved out. Dale told Richard just how easy it was to steal, though he actually used the words permanently borrow millions from his previous company, then how he lost it all in the divorce.

Richard went home and discussed his dilemma with his wife. Richard was an honest man and meant to work his way to the top diligently, but this was simply unjust. His wife and he decided on the best plan of action to reveal Dale before he takes down the company and everyone loses their jobs. Their plan seemed perfect, legitimate and at no risk for Richard to lose his job over it. He might even get the promotion.

The next Monday, when Richard walked into work, Dale was leaning against his desk. His ass wrinkled Richard’s last report and all the perfectly ornate diagrams that went with it.

“Good morning Dick,” smiled Dale. “We’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve worked here for how many years together?”

“Seven,” said Richard.

“And in those seven years we’ve sure learned a lot about each other. Which is why, Richard…” The use of his formal name perked Richard up. Maybe all his planning was unnecessary, maybe Dale remembered what an asset he could be to him.

“…I have to fire you.”

Richard deflated in his chair. He calculated how in the world he and his wife could miss this. He had meant to very gently blackmail Dale for all the knowledge he held, but Dale had thought of that too. Then Dale said something else.

“I’ve always liked you Richard, which is why I’m giving you this.” He handed him a business card with the name Jack P. on in. “Jack’s a good guy and he’ll help you out. I know your son is just starting college, which is why I have to fire you.”

“What the hell, Dale?” Richard whispered, not sure of why he didn’t yell it. Dale patted him on the back.

“I’d call Jack as soon as you can, Dick.” He stood up from Richard’s desk and winked.

“I’ve got big plans for this company, Dick. Real big plans!”

Richard watched Dale walk away, letting the morning’s events soak in. He realized then, that Dale was the same guy he’d met seven years ago in the copy room. Richard piled up his papers, shook his head and laughed. He looked at the card Dale gave him and dialed the number on it. That was pretty nice of him, Richard thought as the phone rang.

“Hello, Jack here….”

“Hi Jack, Dale gave me your number. I’m looking for a new job. Maybe something in marketing.”

“Sure, Dick. I think I’ve got just the thing.”


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