Written by a Life Notes Subscriber
This is another attempt to take a story from the Bible and put it into a modern setting. Like the first story I wrote, this won't be eloquently written or filled with suspense.
The story of Job has intrigued me for quite a while. Even when I believed wholeheartedly in the Bible, the story never sat right with me. A decent human being, who loves God, is allowed to suffer in extreme ways by God. This is seemingly all done in order to prove a point to Satan. It's essentially a wager between two supernatural beings with a human caught in the middle. It seems to me that God would've already known the outcome of the "trial" of Job and could've spared him the entire process.
This story isn't meant to offend anyone personally. Feel free to respond however you like or ignore it completely. Thanks for taking the time to read.
Employee of the Month: The Story of Randy
Jeff looked out of his office window on the top floor as he sipped his coffee. He liked mugs that you had to use two hands to hold. He liked the view from up here. Looking out over the city reminded him how much he’d accomplished. He had the tallest building in town, relationships with all the top city officials and law enforcement, and was easily the most powerful man in town. He’d started his business from nothing and had been through so much to get to this point. In the beginning, things went smoothly. All his employees were hand picked and were the closest thing to perfect he could expect. Everyone worked together and the company flourished. Sure, the papers would say it was because he had no competition and that he’d created a monopoly, but that didn’t bother Jeff..usually. If only the eyesore at the end of the block wasn’t there. He wasn’t sure when things had started to go wrong..
Stan enjoyed working for Jeff. Jeff always took care of his employees, and Stan was the number one sales representative for the company. Jeff was fair enough as a boss. Occasionally, Stan thought he could run the company a little better, but he decided he didn’t want to create too many waves. After all, since he was the top employee, Jeff had actually provided a house for him in a gated community to be closer to work. He didn’t want to let his pride ruin his perks.
Jeff started to notice a change in Stan. He seemed to be distant when they talked and occasionally walked off mid conversation. Jeff didn’t like being embarrassed or ignored. At the company picnic, he noticed that a lot of his employees spent a lot of time with Stan and completely ignored him. Maybe he was overthinking the situation. He desired to be loved more than anything and this obsession sometimes caused him to overreact. He decided it was nothing.
One day, Jeff overheard Stan undermining his authority to the other employees. As much as he loved Stan, he couldn’t stand his authority being challenged. It infuriated him. He immediately terminated Stan and all the employees that he’d seen spending time with Stan. He couldn't take any chances with the team’s morale. All told, he ended up losing about 1/3 of his staff that day.
As if losing so much of his work force wasn’t bad enough, things really turned sour when Stan opened up his own place right down the block from Jeff. This was a personal jab. Stan had always hinted that he could do things better and he was determined to prove it. Jeff tried not to let his anger show. At first, he acted like it didn’t bother him…pulling the blinds on his windows so he didn’t have to see the construction going on down the road.
Things were humming along for Stan. He had learned so much from Jeff and was determined to show him up. He knew Jeff wouldn’t go quietly, and he knew that if Jeff wanted to, Jeff had enough power with city officials to shut him down. Stan was counting on Jeff’s pride. He knew that Jeff would allow him to conduct business just so Jeff could try to show him he’d made a huge mistake. Stan’s plan was to attract some of Jeff’s employees to level the playing field.
Jeff noticed that Stan’s business was booming. And not just with production, but employees from his own shop. People that Jeff had bent over backwards for…given them everything. He couldn’t understand why they’d choose Stan over him. He offered the best retirement plan and a structured work environment. Stan’s benefits were temporary and Jeff knew that he was lying to people to get them on his payroll. He secretly admired Stan’s tenacity and his ability to lure people despite having an inferior product. Of course, he couldn’t let anyone know this..he had to maintain his public disdain for Stan. In fact, he had to ramp up his public campaign to thwart Stan’s efforts. He needed something to retain his top employees. Currently, when workers jumped ship for Stan’s, he immediately evicted them from their company houses in the highly sought after gated community, changing the security codes to ensure they wouldn’t have access. This didn’t seem to be doing the trick. People were still leaving regularly and Jeff was growing concerned. He couldn’t believe they were willing to give up order and structure for Stan’s progressive, party work atmosphere. He thought about threatening to murder anyone that left his shop for Stan…then he decided that was extreme. He’d been having these cracks in his composure lately.
Randy was Jeff’s top associate. Jeff loved how much attention Randy gave him. A day didn’t go by that Randy didn’t tell Jeff that he appreciated him and was grateful for everything he’d done for him and his family. After all, Jeff had moved Randy and his family into a house in the gated community he owned…the one that used to belong to Stan. Randy knew that Jeff was his ticket to paradise. He had given him so much and promised so much more if Randy kept up the good work.
Jeff was starting his monthly board meeting. Usually, they just went over how nice it was to be employed there and talked about ways to spruce up the place. They had only recently started to have actual meetings, since Stan presented legitimate competition for the first time in the company’s history. Jeff was nervous, but he didn't let anyone know his thoughts. His right hand man, Gabriel, had even asked him point blank and he denied it. He didn’t know why he was starting to have these character changes…he’d never lied before. He was known by everyone in the entire city to be the most honest person around. Gabriel was going over marketing strategies when a murmur started amongst the other board members. People started looking at the doorway in the corner and then over to Jeff. Stan strolled into the board room. Jeff quickly commanded that the lights be turned on. He demanded to know how Stan got into the room and security offered to remove him. Secretly, Jeff knew exactly how Stan had gotten in. He’d allowed him to keep his employee badge when he sent him packing. Deep down, he had a connection to Stan and he didn’t think it would ever go away. He wished that Stan would've backed down on his comments against Jeff and joined him again. He said Stan could stay and say his piece.
Stan walked into the boardroom and saw an unfamiliar sight, people actually doing work…coming up with ideas. He was impressed. He didn’t show it though, he was here on a mission. Stan had been able to take so many of Jeff’s employees that the tables had turned. Stan’s business was much larger now. Jeff’s protocols were so strict and he was overbearing. Stan knew this firsthand. He decided to make his shop more welcoming and allow people to express themselves more. He was here for Randy. He’d heard how great of a worker Randy was and knew that Jeff valued him more than anyone. He’d tried to lure him away before, but Randy was very loyal. Every time he talked with him, Randy reminded him how much better Jeff’s retirement plan was, how great the house in the gated community was and Randy enjoyed the overall structure of his environment..job security was important to him. To Stan, this was personal. If he could get Randy to leave Jeff, he knew Jeff would be devastated emotionally.
Jeff could see that Stan was up to something devious. He had that look about him. Jeff possessed the same mean streak, but he held his close to the vest. He envied the way Stan was so free with his comments and desires. Sometimes living up to people’s expectations got exhausting. Jeff longed to live like Stan..even lived vicariously through him at times. “What do you want?” Stan told him that he had a wager for him..Jeff was intrigued. He loved wagers. He told Stan to go on. Stan told him that he thought he actually had the more desirable workplace and that the only reason Randy stayed with Jeff was because of all the perks and the fear of change in his life. “I bet that if you stopped protecting him in that gated community and took away some of his benefits, he’d stopping singing your praises”, said Stan. Stan was again counting on Jeff’s ego here, Jeff couldn’t stand to lose or be embarrassed. Jeff knew that Randy loved working for him. Sure, it helped that he’d treated him so well, but Randy had earned it. It’s not like Jeff had a favorite employee from the beginning, he believed in earning what you had. Jeff was confident that no matter what Stan offered Randy, that Randy wouldn’t budge. After all, Jeff had the ace up his sleeve…retirement package. There wasn’t a better retirement plan in town. Jeff would take care of Randy for the rest of his life. He’d be safe in his mansion behind the compound walls and financially secure.
Stan could see that Jeff was conflicted. Jeff probably wanted to tell Stan to get out, but something kept him in the conversation…pride. Jeff loved bets no matter the risk. Stan went on to say that he would offer a compromise in the bet. Jeff could let Randy keep his retirement, but that everything else was fair game for Stan to manipulate. Stan was willing to do anything to show Jeff that his employees didn’t really prefer his shop, but that they stayed because of the comfort it provided. They didn’t have to step into the unknown or wonder what else was out there. He knew that Randy would actually enjoy the environment at his shop if he just gave it a chance. He had to show Randy that Jeff was actually a sinister person, not the saint that he presented himself as. Stan was about as terrible as a human could be, but at least he was honest about it. He’d seen the way Jeff had acted in private meetings, Steve Jobs had nothing on Jeff. Jeff would rant about kicking people out of the gated community just for not showing him enough attention or thanking him on a regular basis. Once, he saw a person doing the landscaping for the building on the wrong day and he’d actually whispered, “I’d like to kill that guy…I specifically told him not to do any work on Saturday.” These weren’t isolated incidents. Stan had heard him threaten many people and seen him kick people out of their houses for nothing more than eating shrimp in the break room, or anything else Jeff thought was disgusting.
Stan said, “You give Randy everything. Let me take some of the things from him and make sure he knows you did nothing to stop me and see what he says then.” “What exactly did you have in mind?”, asked Jeff. Stan smiled, almost devilishly and replied, “Let me into the gated community to set his house on fire.” Stan absolutely loved fire. Jeff didn't want to let Stan do this, even though he loved fire. He’d spent so much time building his neighborhood and keeping it safe. Nobody that wasn’t living there had the key code to the main gate and each house had its own gate that only the homeowner and Jeff had. That way, not even other members of the community could get onto the property without the permission of the owner or Jeff. This was his crown jewel. His employees could live the rest of their days in peace here once they were done working for him. He didn’t want to allow Stan back in there. He knew what Stan was capable of…
Stan waited to see how Jeff would respond, again, he hoped ego would rule the day. Jeff didn’t want to take this bet, however, how would it look to the other board members if he didn’t show confidence in his employees. He knew that the guys wouldn’t take kindly to allowing Stan to rob Randy, but he hoped they’d see the big picture. He accepted. “You’re free to take anything he owns, just don’t hurt him.” Stan thought for a minute…he was ready to up the ante and put Jeff on the spot. “I’d like to kill his pets and children and destroy his house.” Jeff thought this was crazy, even for Stan. He couldn’t back down now though. “You can do anything you want to his family and pets, just don’t hurt Randy personally.” Stan couldn’t believe Jeff was actually going for this..he thought by putting him on the spot with such a crazy proposition, that Jeff would be forced to swallow his pride and back out of the bet. He knew Jeff’s ego was irrational, but this was a new level. Although, he did recall when the landscaper was picking up around the building on the wrong day and Jeff said he’d like to kill him…maybe this wasn’t too far out of character for Jeff. “You realize that Randy will know you gave me his personal key code to his gate, right? He’ll know that you didn’t protect him and allowed me to murder everything he loves.” Jeff said that no matter what Stan did, Randy would still stay with him and be grateful for everything Jeff had done.
It had been a few days since all of their children and pets had been murdered. Randy was obviously devastated..he shaved his head in despair. His wife had told him that this was Jeff’s fault. Jeff had obviously failed to protect them. Randy knew Jeff had allowed someone onto his property and that person had killed his children..yet, for some reason, he was still thankful for the fact that Jeff had hired him and put his family in the gated community to begin with. His wife kept telling him that they had to get out of there. That Jeff was a psychopath for allowing something that he could’ve easily prevented. She knew they weren’t safe. Randy told her that they had nothing before Jeff and that life without Jeff was too uncertain. Besides, the only other place he could go would be Stan’s and that wasn’t an option. Randy eventually decided to talk to Jeff about what had happened. Maybe Jeff’s security system was hacked. He needed to find out. He hadn’t questioned anything Jeff had ever done before, so he was nervous. As nice as Jeff seemed to be, he’d heard the rumors about his violent temper. Plus, it seemed that he might be partially responsible for something that was more evil than anything Randy could’ve imagined.
Jeff told Randy to take a seat. Randy looked nervous. Jeff wasn’t sure how to play this. He liked Randy and knew it was out of character for Randy to ask to see him. Randy must’ve at least considered the possibility that he’d allowed his family to be put in danger. He wasn’t sure if he should just deny this and say there was a malfunction in the security system. He only knew he wanted Randy to stay, that’s how he’d win the bet. Randy told Jeff how sad he was…his life had no meaning anymore…he wasn’t sure if he could continue working here, or anywhere for that matter… “What happened?”, asked Randy. “Was there a malfunction with the security system?” He wanted this to be the case so badly, but deep down, he knew the system was rock solid. Jeff was silent. Randy told Jeff that he should’ve noticed something was wrong with the system. Jeff finally answered, “The system is fine. I have the master key code. Nobody gets in that I don’t want to get in.” It took a second to sink in. Randy had looked up to Jeff so much. He told everyone about how great his boss was. He’d made sure that Jeff knew how grateful he was on a regular basis. How could someone be so calloused? “How could you do this to us?!? You’re a murderer, or at least an accomplice!” Jeff knew Randy was right, but he couldn’t play this the wrong way..he decided to meet him with arrogance and crush his spirits even more. “Where were you when I started this company? Do you know how many dinners I had to sit through with city officials? I trained everyone from the beginning.” Then Jeff completely lost it.. “Do you make horses strong? Do you make them leap like locusts? Do you make horses laugh at fear? Do you make hawks soar and spread their wings?” Why am I asking these questions of a man whose family I just allowed to be killed, Jeff wondered…he continued, “Do you make eagles build high nests? Do you help them spy their prey and feed the blood of their kill to their young?”
Randy was so confused. The questions Jeff was asking had nothing to do with anything that had happened. It was clear to Randy that Jeff was a psychopath. He was being irrational and screaming that Randy and his friends needed to learn some respect. Randy slunk down in the chair as Jeff stood over him. Randy had thought about leaving, but now he feared Jeff. If Jeff was capable of allowing the slaughter of his children and animals, Randy feared for his own life and the life of his wife. He decided that even though he was furious with Jeff, he didn’t want to anger him any further. “I’m sorry, Jeff. I shouldn’t have doubted you. I know that everything you do has a reason and I’m sure that it was for the best. I’ll head back to my desk and get back to work.”
Jeff stopped…it had worked. Randy was so defeated. And scared, especially scared. Jeff didn’t care. He knew that most of his employees stayed with him out of fear. He knew that’s why they always told him how much they liked him. He didn’t care though. He loved hearing it. He told Randy that because of his loyalty, he’d give him even more pets and make sure that he was approved to adopt some new children. Sure, having new children didn’t exactly make up for the original ones that Jeff had allowed Stan to murder, but that was the past. Randy was staying. Jeff had sent a clear message to Stan that he was the most desirable boss. That’s what was important…well, that and winning that bet. Jeff went to the window, oversized mug resting between his hands…he brought it to his smirking lips…