‘It seems you’re unperturbed by all this,’ Miriam says to Janie.
They’re the only two seated at a round table for six. A coffee plunger is in the middle, along with a plate of Kingston biscuits. Janie’s favourites. She sips her coffee and reaches for a bikkie while pondering Miriam’s…would she call it an accusation?
Janie nibbles at the Kingston. The sugary crumbs dissolve on her tongue; the choc filling takes longer to melt in her mouth, and she watches Miriam squirm while she takes her time responding.
Would she say she’s not concerned by the situation? No, if anything, she feels antipathy towards the new leadership in the business. They’ve swanned in, sacked most of the middle management and brought in their own ‘talent’—a term Janie despises to describe the human workforce. All too often, in her career, she’s discovered that those who’re referred to as talent, bear anything but. They’re often lazy, ill-informed, and ambitious only in the sense of being remunerated handsomely for little output and effort. Some have even been what she’d describe as stupid.
The latest events that Miriam refers to are, to Janie, a horrendous way to run a business. The new owners have withdrawn all the existing policies and procedures and replaced them with new editions that ‘better reflect Hamlet and Harrison’s ethos’. The issue for Janie is that these new editions are not available to staff. Nothing is transparent. Nothing that is crucial business is communicated. No staff member could even guess at Hamlet and Harrison’s ethos, or mission statement, or values.
Actually, Janie can take a stab at the core value: money over people.
Finally, as Miriam clears her throat, as if to remind Janie she’s waiting for a response, Janie replies, ‘Miriam, I’m disgusted by what they’ve done to this business. In fact, as of this very second, I quit.’
Miriam’s mouth gapes in shock. ‘But you can’t. Don’t leave me here.’
‘Sorry. I’ll clear my desk right away. You can expect my resignation letter via email before the end of the day.’
Tears trickle down Miriam’s cheeks. Janie feels bad, but she can’t stay here and tolerate this nonsense just to maintain a colleague-type friendship.
‘Miriam, for me, to stay is to condone this new style of leadership. And I can’t do that.’
‘I know.’ Miriam sniffs. Her hands are in her lap, palms facing upwards. Janie can see tiny beads of sweat glistening in the reflection of the overhead lights. They almost look like diamonds.
‘I understand,’ Miriam continues, wiping her hands on her suit trousers. ‘I’ll make sure your resignation letter gets to Mr Hamlet.’
Janie reaches over and squeezes Miriam’s hands, glad that they are no longer moist with sweat. They’re still clammy though and Janie regrets the interaction.
‘Good luck then,’ Janie says, rising to leave.
‘Stay in touch, yeah?’ Miriam says.
Janie’s at the office door. She pauses, turns her head back to look at Miriam and nods. But she has no intention of doing so. She closes the door with a gentle click.