Chapter 1 – The News

Bob knew something was going on.  Alice White, the department Vice President, had been acting strange these last few days.  She seemed distracted and was almost always in meetings with the executive team.  This morning she had been flitting around the office talking to almost everyone—except Bob.

At the coffee pot, Bob heard that several big meetings had been scheduled for later that day.  Most employees had been told to meet in the conference room at either two or three o’clock.  Bob, and several of his peers, hadn’t heard anything.  He was starting to get a little nervous himself.

As usual, Bob ate his lunch at his desk while he looked over the Wall Street Journal online.  He tried to keep up with the financial news as best he could.  Just as he was throwing away his sandwich wrappers, Alice stopped by his office.

“Bob,” she said a little nervously, “can I see you in my office for a minute, please?”

“Sure, just let me clean up.  Do I need to bring anything?”

“Uh, no,” she replied.  “I don’t think so.”

A few minutes later, Bob and Alice were seated at the small conference table in her office.  Bob could see signs of stress in her eyes.  Whatever they were going to talk about didn’t seem easy for her to say.

“Bob, as you know, sales have been off for the first two quarters this year.  In addition, our planned acquisition of G-Tech seems to have failed.  It looks like they got a better offer that we can’t afford to match.  What that means is that we have more staff now than we need and I’m afraid we are going to have to eliminate some jobs.”

Bob considered what Alice had said and his self-preservation instincts kicked in.  “I was afraid that might happen, so I have been looking over my staff and I think I may have some suggestions…”

Alice cut him off.  “Bob, thank you, but we’ve already reviewed the staff and determined how we want to restructure.  We have meetings scheduled with the entire company this afternoon to announce the new organization.”

“Which meeting do you want me to attend?”  Bob asked hopefully.

Alice collected herself before she started.  “Bob, part of the reorganization involves a reduction in force.  We have decided to flatten our organization structure and your position has been eliminated.”

Bob felt like he had just been punched in the stomach.  His head swam.  …

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