Of all the days to break my glasses! Peter thought.
He fumbled for the intercom button. “Miss Wembly?”
“What time is it?”
“It is a quarter to eight, Mr. Tumby.”
Peter sat back in his chair, swore under his breath. Even if he called his wife and asked her to bring his spare set, the teleconference with the C.E.O. would be over by the time she arrived. Nor could he ask Wembly for help in reading off the figures. Mr. Meminger was a notorious sexist and would make Wembly’s life miserable with snide remarks.
Peter leaned forward and squinted at his computer screen. He could just make out the spreadsheet filled with projected advertising and overhead expenses, revenues, and gross and net earnings. He tried to zoom in closer, but he still could not clearly make out the numbers.
Peter had a lot riding on this teleconference, His past projections had seldom been wrong, but he had recently experienced bad luck with them. The past two Black Friday sales for United Mart had been far short of his projections. He had wracked his brains extra hard on his figures projections for this year. ‘This year we will be finally out of thered, he’d thought with a smile as he’d driven into work while listening to AC-DC’s song “Back in Black.”
Then he had tried to adjust his glasses after opening the spreadsheet, only to accidentally bust them in two.
Peter sighed, thought, Crap, I have no choice but to wing it.
“Good morning Mr. Meminger,” Peter said when the C.E.O. called at eight sharp.
“Good morning, Tumby,” Meminger replied. “Do you have your projections for me?”
“Yes I do sir. Um, I have it, uh… right here.”
For the next ten minutes Peter struggled to read his figures, punctuating every other word with “um,” “I think,” or “uh.”
“Tumby, are you drunk?” Meminger finally asked.
“Then what is it?”
Peter froze. He remembered when he had been late for a teleconference and candidly admitted it to Meminger, who had promptly scoffed and said, “I don’t give a flying fuck what the traffic was like!” and proceeded to dress Peter down for ten minutes. His tirade has resulted in the infamous “Tardy Managers” memo sent out to all department heads. Peter had gotten a stream of sarcastic e-mails from his colleagues as a result, the mildest of which asked, “When you next screw up, can you leave the rest of us out of it?”
Peter felt sweat beading on his forehead, thought, Oh fuck, if I tell him about my glasses, he is going to go nuclear. He could see the memo now.
“Tumby!” Meminger shouted.
“Sir, I… I…uh…”
“Quit screwing around!” Meminger shouted. “Speak now or get ready to start looking for a new job.”
“I broke my glasses,” Peter finally confessed. “I can’t read my report.”
“What?! You butterfingers… why didn’t you get another pair?” Meminger bellowed.
“Because of the meeting, sir. You always wanted us to be on time.”
“Why didn’t you ask your secretary for help?”
Peter snorted. “I think you know why I didn’t, sir.”
Meminger sighed. “Fair enough, but Tumby? I want you to quit trying to read your fucking spreadsheet and give me a plain and simple idea about how we can make this Black Friday a winner.”
Peter blinked. “Well…”
An idea suddenly blossomed.
“…what if he had a sale on Thanksgiving as well as Black Friday?”
“Holy shit…” Meminger said.
Peter braced himself for another verbal depth charge attack.
“… Tumby, that is absofuckinglutely brilliant!” Meminger gushed. “We can announce our Black Friday sales in advance, but as soon as Turkey Day nears, we will make a sudden announcement we will be open on Thanksgiving too! Our competitors will have to eat our dust.” Meminger chuckled. “My boy, you just might have saved United Mart. In fact, I think we should have a special sale on glasses to commemorate it.”
Peter’s jaw dropped. “Are you serious?”
He got a roar of laughter in reply. “No Tumby,” Meminger finally said. “’I’m just kidding about that part.”
Very funny, Peter thought as he felt a wild urge to reach through the phone and strangle Meminger.