A Corporate Fable

You know what we’re going to need, right? Better customer engagement practices! Better product feature presentations! And better logistics management!

Gloria Goose wanted to vomit. How many times did she have to endure these endless staff meetings where some asshole director gets up there and shits nonsense out of his mouth. At least once a week, apparently.

“Give me a fucking break,” she whispered to her friend sitting next to her, Pedro Pig. He gave her a commiserating look back and shook his head.

“We are also going to need to put in more hours while we wind up our fiscal year. As you all know, this is our big push going into the holiday season, and we’re going to need all hands on deck to be able to support the biggest selling season of the year.”

“Jesus,” moaned Pedro Pig. Gloria Goose gagged out loud.

Across the table they could see poor Svetlana Squirrel looking like she wanted to put a bullet through her head. The existential pain in her soul-less eyes was almost unbearable to witness.

“We gotta get out of here,” whispered Pedro Pig.

“You’re telling me!” stage-whispered Gloria Goose, a bit too loudly.

“Do you have something you wanted to say, Gloria?”

Walter Wolf wasn’t going to allow Gloria to steal the spotlight away from his very important business speech – and more importantly his insatiable need for attention. “Is there something you’d like to share about how important this season is? Maybe you were going to say something about how if we don’t make our numbers, we’ll have to let some of you go, huh? Maybe you were about to say that in this competitive marketplace, we can’t afford to have any staff members who are distracted or who can’t seem to bring themselves to have a positive attitude. Was that what you were going to say, Gloria?” asked Walter Wolf, clearly enjoying his overacting.

“I’m sorry,” said Gloria Goose, as she looked down at the table in front of her. “I was just excited. About the holiday season.”

“Well,” glissed the snide Walter Wolfe, “I certainly want you to be excited about bringing in double the sales we did last year. That’s something worth getting excited about, for sure. But if you think the holiday season means it’s time to loaf, you’ve got another thing coming. Now, I want us to take the next thirty minutes and brainstorm ideas on how to increase sales. Let’s go around the table and everyone throw out their best ideas. Let’s start with you, Rosie.”

Rosie Rabbit’s alarm was so intense, that she somehow managed to blanch through her gray fur. Her eyes became even larger than usual and were dilated. She was as still as a stone statue, paralyzed with fear, as rabbits can sometimes be.

“Come on, Rosie, speak up! What are you going to do, as our senior sales rep, to ensure that we’re on track to hit our marks this year?”

Rosie started to move a little, and the room sighed with relief. “Um. I guess we will need to make more calls and probably go back through the older leads and see if we can make any sales to those people who have been, um, inactive lately.”

“Well, that’s an idea,” condescended Walter Wolf. “I mean that’s a good start, I guess. But is that enough to double sales? I think you’re going to have to go back to the drawing board, Rosie. We’ll come back to you later. Let’s see, who’s next? Birtha, you’re up. Where are you, in customer service, is that your department?”

“No, I’m in IT,” said Birtha Bobcat, in a way that broadcast her annoyance that Walter didn’t even know what department she was in, much less what she did for ten miserable hours a day.

“Oh, right. IT. Our favorite department. When will you guys ever catch up with those damned help desk tickets, huh? I’ve been waiting for a system upgrade for, oh about a year.” Walter looked around the room, waiting for agreement from the others. A knowing smirk or chuckle. It was silent.

“Anyway,” continued Walter, “What are you going to do as an IT staffer to increase sales, Ms. Bobcat.”

Birtha looked right through Walter at the white board behind him for a long minute. Then robotically she replied, “I will do whatever it takes to support the other teams and provide them with the necessary technology to do their jobs most effectively and efficiently.”

Walter burst out laughing. “Well, the Academy Award goes to…Birtha Bobcat for most half-hearted staff meeting performance.”

The staff shifted uncomfortably in their chairs and a couple of the animals coughed. “When will this be over?” they silently asked themselves.

Walter wouldn’t drop the schtick. “OK, next up. What’s your name, son? You’re new right? What’s the rookie got to offer?”

“Um, yeah. I’m Terrance Titmouse. I um, just started interning this morning in the PR department, and um I am really excited to help out with the sales going up um.”

“Wow. Wiser words were never spoken, Terrance,” said Walter through a shit-eating grin. “With wisdom like that from our newest player, we can rest assured that our company is in great shape for years to come.”

Gloria whispered to Pedro, “This is so fucking painful. I can’t take it. I’m going to implode.”

“Try to remember the gooselets in your nest, Gloria,” Pedro warned. “You’ve got to keep this job for them. Try to just ignore that ass. Let it go.”

“I wish I could,” said the defeated Gloria. “I sure wish I could.”

Just then a loud noise came from the hallway outside the conference room that sounded like an explosion.

Walter yelled, “Stay calm everyone! Just stay in your seats and stay calm! I’ll go see what’s going on.” He opened the door and in rushed a cloud of thick smoke. Walter closed the door quickly behind him. Then there were sounds of a scuffle, and then a full-on fight, and then another explosion!

Stan the Security Seal came thumping in from the hallway and yelled, “It’s the PooPoo Terrorists! Hide under the table!”

All the animals dove under the conference table as instructed. The PooPoo Terrorists were no joke and needed to be taken very seriously. All the newspapers and news shows reported on the horrors perpetuated by the PooPoos which seemed to occur almost daily. It was constant bombings, hijackings, and abductions. The animals were terrified of the PooPoos, which was as intended.

The scuffling sounds started to die down and then stop. Stan opened the door a tiny bit to look out and see if the danger was over. The animals under the table looked at Stan with trepidation and hope. Were they safe? Was it over?

Stan lumbered back and let the door swing open on its own as he stared into the hall. The animals watched as his jaw dropped. What was he seeing in the hall? Had Walter been killed? Was it a massacre?

Pedro yelled, “What? What is it? What happened, Stan?”

Stan slowly turned toward the group and quietly said, “Please don’t anybody move. For your own sakes. Don’t look into the hallway.”

Just as Stan finished his sentence, in burst Walter. Or what was left of Walter. He was mostly bald – it looked like his hair had been burned off and his skin was still smoking. One of his ears was missing and one of his hind legs was too, from the knee down. He was bleeding from his mouth, his abdomen, and his leg stump.

The animals came out from under the table and just stared at Walter in shock. Stan fell against the wall, almost fainting. Birtha helped him back onto his flippers. There was a heavy silence as Walter limped to the front of the room and tried to steady himself against the white board.

“Has anybody called an ambulance?” shrieked Svetlana who fainted whenever she got her blood drawn if she didn’t eat enough hamentaschen beforehand.

“Oh um right!” said Stan and pulled out his cell phone from his vest. He dialed 911 and started giving the dispatcher the details of the emergency.

“No need,” said Walter.

“What do you mean, Walter?” asked Stan. “You should sit down and put pressure on your wounds until the ambulance arrives,” said Stan nervously.

Walter was in such bad shape that the animals couldn’t believe he was still alive. They worried that if he didn’t get help soon, he would soon not be alive.

“Nonsense!” yelled Walter, as his lost blood started pooling around him. “I’m fine. And don’t think that this lets anyone off the hook for finishing this meeting! It would figure that you’re all looking for some excuse to get out it. How did I end up hiring such parasites?”

“But Walter, you’re bleeding from multiple wounds,” pleaded Stan. The ambulance will be here soon. Please lay down and rest. Let me put a tourniquet around your thigh so you don’t lose more blood.”

“No way,” cried Walter. “I’m fine. And we need to finish this brainstorming session.” His voice was starting to waver. “Charlie Chicken, you’re next! What are you going to do as our digital strategist to increase sales this quarter?” Walter fell over and started spasming.

The animals gathered around and started tearing up their clothes and using the scraps to put pressure on his wounds. Stan applied a tourniquet.

“We must double sales! Don’t you animals want to succeed? Or are you happy to continue being mediocre slobs? Don’t touch me! Get back to your seats! We must make our numbers! Why do you think you’re here? What do you think this is all about? On your death beds are you going to be regretting time taking your needy kids to ballet lessons? No! You are going to be ashamed of yourselves for being such losers! If you’re not making money, you are worthless! And all of you are worthless!”

Walter then had a huge spasm after which his eyes went blank and his mouth opened. Stan listened to his heart and put his flipper under Walter’s nose. “He’s gone,” he said softly.

The animals were devastated. They had hated Walter’s guts, but now that Walter’s guts were spilling onto the conference room floor, and they found themselves feeling sad and sorry.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” said Gloria, shocked.

“Me neither,” said Pedro. “I mean the guy was an asshole, but he didn’t have to die.”

“Exactly!” chimed in Rosie. “I hated him as a manager, but I didn’t want him to get blown up by the PooPoos!”

The EMT Eagles arrived and Stan told them what had happened. They confirmed that Walter was dead and switched from “reviving mode” to “picking up a body mode”.

“What about the PooPoo Terrorists?” asked Terrance. “Are they still out there?”

“No, they’re out of the building,” said the EMTs. “The city is on high alert and the Police Penguins are trying to track them down now.”

“What a day this has been,” said Charlie. “I’m a bundle of nerves. Can we just go home now?”

“I think that sounds like a good idea,” said Gloria. “And let’s never come back.”

“Even better,” agreed Pedro.