Friday, November 3, 2023

Late For Work - Episode 12: He's Going With Another Firm

Late For

Late For Work
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Late For Work

Late for Work is an interactive Choose Your Own Path story. Each episode, readers vote for the path they would like to take. Together, we will follow the path with the most votes.

Late For Work

“Dr. Yeager called.” What did he say?

  • He’s going to sign.
  • He’s going with another accounting firm.

Karen gestures for you to sit. You do so in silence, unable to speak as your thoughts race. If the doctors aren’t your clients, that means you’re free to see Dr. Mike again. But it also means—

Karen sighs. “This isn’t easy for me. You’ve been with us for a long time.”

You nod. “Eight years.”

“And in all that time, I have seen very little growth. Very little initiative. And, frankly, a great lack of professionalism. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you’re the right fit for this company any longer.”

You knew this was coming, but it still feels like a sucker punch to the gut. Especially after such a difficult morning. Karen is still talking, but you aren’t really processing the words. Something about clearing out your desk.

Eventually, Karen stands. That’s your cue to leave. As she disappears into her office, you continue to your cubicle. Packing your personal possessions takes a lot less time than you expect. Almost everything on your desk—computer, writing implements, reference books—belong to the company. Despite your tenure, you have acquired very few things. Your photograph of you and your best friend and your coffee mug fit in your bag, along with most of your other belongings.

As for the stuff that doesn’t fit? A Quick trip to the copy room solves that. You find a box of paper with only two reams in it. After placing them on top of the copier, you take the empty box to your desk. Or rather, the desk that used to be yours.

By lunchtime, your desk looks as empty as the day you started. You pass very few people on your way out. Most of your coworkers—former coworkers, that is—have gone out to lunch. Those still around are on the phone and don’t notice you.

Do they know you were fired? Will there be an internal memo to the company? Or will Karen wait for people to ask about you? How many would? Despite eight years at the company, you don’t really have many close friends.

As you climb into the car, your stomach rumbles. Lunchtime. Well, at least now you have time to go grocery shopping.

Wandering the produce aisle a short time later, a new concern festers in the back of your mind. Groceries are expensive. Rent is expensive. You have a little saved up, but you’re not sure how long it will last. You’re going to need to start looking for a new job this afternoon.

Unfortunately, those depressive thoughts result in lots of comfort food in your shopping cart. As you reach for a bag of chips, you hear someone behind you.

“Tsk tsk. As a doctor, I’m not sure I approve of the family-size bag.”

You turn to see Dr. Mike smirking. You glare in response. “I wouldn’t need the chips if it weren’t for you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

You hold up the family-sized bag. “This is my dinner. It’s all I can afford now that you got me fired!”

Dr. Mike steps back, hands by his shoulders in defense. “Whoa. Wait. I didn’t do anything. How exactly did I get you fired?”

“Your father decided to sign with another firm.”

“No. He didn’t. I was going to call you this afternoon to explain it all.” Dr. Mike sighs, pointing toward the far side of the store. “Listen. Why don’t grab some lunch and I can explain it to you?”

You’re not really in the mood, but curiosity gets the better of you. You shrug. “Yeah. I guess.” Good thing you hadn’t gotten to the ice cream freezer yet.

The hot bar has many options, but you could really go for soup and a salad. After paying for your lunch, you park your shopping cart at a bistro table in the corner of the store. Dr. Mike sits across from you a moment later.

“The fact is, Dad never wanted to hire an accountant in the first place.”

You raise your eyebrows. “What? That’s ridiculous. How could a medical practice not have an accountant?”

“He’s been working with this guy, Jared, since he started his practice. A one-man deal.”

“So why did you even come to Mackenzie and Associates?”

Dr. Mike shoves a forkful of salad in his mouth, chewing a moment before answering. “It was my idea. Jared is retiring soon. I thought he should start seeking a new accountant.”

“You just said he’s not going with another firm.”

“He’s not. Susan, the woman who handles our billing in the office? She’s also retiring soon. Last night, Dad asked her for advice. She’s the one that suggested we don’t sign with a firm like yours.”

You frown. “It’s not mine anymore.”

To your surprise, Dr. Mike smiles. “Good. Because Susan suggested we hire an accountant to replace her. Someone who could do the billing and the tax stuff.”

You push your soup around in its little cardboard container. You’re not that hungry anymore. “It would have been nice if someone told Karen. She blames my unprofessionalism for losing your account.”

Dr. Mike shrugs. “Dad liked you. I bet I could talk to him. You’d be perfect for the job. What do you think?”

You’re glad you don’t have any soup in your mouth at the moment. You probably would spew it all over Dr. Mike across from you.

Getting fired and a job offer all in the same day? And by the guy you like? This is some weird dream, right?

Dr. Mike is looking at you expectantly. How do you respond?

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