Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 8 - The Manager's Meeting

By 10:00 AM, Mags Davidson was on the mend, and sitting upright in the Tool Town Training facility.  The training facility amounted to a single room with cement walls, and four postage-stamp-size windows.  Metal folding chairs had been assembled around the rectangular table.  Mags sat in a plush rolling chair, in case she needed to be whisked away quickly for further medical attention.  Kitty Richardson and Barbie Baxter sat on each side of her.

"How's your head?" Kitty asked Mags, as the managers began filing in, each holding a neon Tommy coffee mug.

"It feels like I got hit by a two-by-four," Mags said.

"Can I ask you a question?"  Barbie said, smiling a dazzling smile.

"Sure," Mags said.

"How'd you ever survive your childhood, Mags?"

"Plastic bubble," Mags quipped.

"Did you ever meet John Travolta?" Barbie asked with a giggle.

"No, but I got his used bubble," Mags said. 

At that moment, Reeve Stockwell strolled in, carrying a liter-size bottle of Mountain Dew.  All three women groaned.

"You distract him, Kitty, and I'll grab the Dew," Barbie whispered.

"Too late.  He's killed half of it already," Kitty said quietly.

"He's making notes, and he has the shakes," Mags whispered.  "Look at him.  No, wait.  Don't look at him, he's looking at us."

"He hates us," Barbie said.

"He does not," Kitty said defensively.  "We just drive him nuts.  Besides, he only hates me, because I keep throwing his fritters out when he's not looking."

"I'll bet there are some seriously sugar-high wildlife specimens living by our dumpster," Mags said, a little too loudly, and all three women laughed.

"You three behave or I'll split you up," Reeve chastised from his position in front of the group.  Miles Longworth had taken the chair next to Stockwell.  He studied a folder open in front of him.  Suddenly he looked up.

"Did you say something about the dumpster?" Miles said, directing his question at Mags, Barbie and Kitty.

"We were making a joke about it," Mags said.  "Why?"

"I was just curious," Miles said, looking anxious.

"You got a body hidden in there, Miles?" Kitty asked, and Miles went pale.

"Why would you say a thing like that?" Miles asked.

"She always says crazy shit like that," Mags said.

"We need to talk about your profanity, Mags," Reeve Stockwell said, his voice firm.

"I want to know why they think I have a body hidden in the dumpster," Miles said, and Reeve Stockwell rolled his eyes and shook his head.

"This is why I hate meetings," Reeve said. 

"Seriously, why do you think that, Kitty?  Did you see something?" Miles asked.

"Miles, shut the hell up," Stockwell said, sounding seriously irritated.

"People please," Slick Mitchell said.  No one had heard him come into the room.  Everyone was busy swearing, and speculating about the serial killer tendencies of Miles Longworth.  The women put a cork in it, and Miles looked like someone who desperately needed to use the bathroom.

"I'll be right back," Miles said, and Slick Mitchell tossed his pile of papers on the table. 

"Make it quick, Miles.  We need to talk about sales, and watch a video," Slick explained.

"Is it Justin Bieber?" Barbie asked, and Slick threw her a look that shut her up instantly.

"I hope it isn't a video of me," Mags said, sounding forlorn. 

"You could have your own safety video," Kitty said, and Slick Mitchell starting gritting his teeth.

"That's the kind of stuff that goes viral," Barbie said.  "Too bad someone didn't get a clip of you getting clocked with the wood this morning."

"That's mean," Mags whined.

"I suppose, but look at that zombie kid.  He's gonna go to a job interview in fifteen years and someone's gonna ask him if he likes turtles," Barbie said, and everyone laughed.

"People, please!" Slick Mitchell said.  "Do you think it would be too much to ask to discuss some kind of Tommy business when we're assembled in this room?  When Miles returns, if he ever does," Slick said, looking at his watch, "we're going to go over some figures, toss around a couples of "atta boys," and watch a serious video about bomb threats.  Then, if you all don't shut up, I'm gonna plant a bomb somewhere so I can get a whole new staff.  Maybe I'll get people who are willing to talk about business in a BUSINESS MEETING!"

"Jeez Louise," Mags whispered.

"Is that a threat?" a voice sounded from the back of the room.

"Consider it a promise," Slick said, and the room grew incredibly quiet.  "Now I know you all think I just stroll around here for name's sake, and don't give a shit about this place, and Stockwell, if you say anything about my use of profanity, I'll drag my ninety-five-year-old grandfather down here and have him fire your ass."

Stockwell spit Moutain Dew on the table in front of him.

"Excuse me?" he said, and Slick looked at him.

"Just seeing if you're with me," Slick said.  "Lay off the sugar, man.  You're an important part of this family. I don't want you to wreck your car some night on a dark road, because you're reaching for a fritter."

"Thanks, I think....  You know, I bring a lot more to this store than thousands of calories in the form of high fructose corn syrup," Stockwell said.

"No one's arguing that.  I'd just like to see Kitty spending as much time training cashiers as she is keeping notes in the Stockwell food journal."

"That's uncalled for," Kitty said.

"I'm beginning to like meetings.  This is like the best one ever," Mags Davidson said.

"Mags, put a sock in it.  You could learn to watch where you're going.  You've single-handedly increased the cost of our worker's comp insurance by four-hundred percent.  Pretty soon I'm going to start docking your paycheck," Slick said.

"Take a chill pill," Mags said, and an audible gasp rose from the crowd.

Now look it, everybody," Slick said.  "Let's start over.  Let's pretend that Miles is actually here, and let's get down to business.  What I was trying to say before the sun hit Stockwell's Mountain Dew and I was distracted by dancing prisms, is that I sincerely care about this store, and the people in it, and not just customers, because a lot of them really try our patience.  I care about you, the Tommy family.  So much so that I am going to play a larger role in how this Tommy's is run.  We're going to look closer at policy, and see what works and what doesn't, and, Kitty, don't look so panic striken, you can still wear all your paraphernalia.

"Thanks, Slick," Kitty whispered.

"Wouldn't be Kitty without it," Mags said, and Kitty smiled.

"Let's break for five, grab some fresh coffee, and hopefully our donuts will be delivered by then, and we'll see what this bomb threat video is about.  I'm sorry I said I was going to blow up the store.  I was only kidding."

"Thank God," Nichole Deans said.  "I just redid the entire kitchen display area.  If you blow that up, I'll come back as a ghost and haunt you for all eternity," Nichole warned.

"I'll consider myself warned," Slick said.  "Incidentally, Nichole is tearing things up with her design ideas.  And, as long as she keeps up the good work, we'll stop measuring the size of her earrings."

"Thanks, Slick," Nichole said, with a satisfied smile.

"All right, let's break," Slick said.

Tommy Tool Towners scattered like cock roaches, leaving only a few choice players behind.

Nichole Deans remained, and stood typing a text message, with lightening speed.

Kitty waved to Nichole, who normally stood in the back of the room, probably because she couldn't sit in her mini-skirts.  Kitty and Nichole had become confidants in their passion for creating a better Tommy's, and often hob knobbed over how to keep Stockwell alive.  Kitty secretly coveted some of Nichole's earrings, and her design abilities.  Kitty lived with her mother and ancient grandmother, and wondered if Nichole could design a sound proof kitchen.  Kitty's life would improve immensely if she couldn't hear the two old biddies bickering as they argued over how to stack the dishes in the dish drainer.

"What happened to Mags this time?" Nichole asked, making her way to where the three cashier managers still sat.

"Beaned by some two-by-fours," Barbie said.

"Wasn't it a similar thing last time?" Nichole asked.

"Nope," Barbie said.  "Last time it was a toilet to the foot."

"Gotcha," Nichole said.  "I've gotta hit the girl's room.  "Don't let Stockwell near the donuts."

"We won't," Barbie, Kitty, and Mags said in unison.

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