04 Aug Chapter 25: Detective

The pile of work that greeted me when I returned to the office after a week away is finally down to a manageable level. I would say I need another vacation but then the cycle would just repeat all over again.


Laik strides in my office holding a printout. “You need to see this, I think I found something.”

This day might turn out better than I thought. “What have you got?”

Laik points to a set of numbers on the sheet. “There are some large expenses here that I can’t account for. Whoever spent this money… has covered their tracks really well. I haven’t been able to work it back any further.”

“Which planet did the expenses originate on?”

“Not another planet. They were incurred right here in the office.”

This gives me pause. What was the money used for? Guns maybe, or dangerous chemicals? “How do we find out who spent this money?”

“There’s no way to from the info, but I did find a clue. See this pale blue smudge in the corner on the printout? I think it was from a paint drip… probably from when someone was personalizing their office.”

I slap Laik on the back. “Good work, detective!”

“I’m not sure how it helps us though, we don’t know which office it is.”

“There’s one way to find out—we go through the whole building until we find the guilty paint job. I’ll go get Marcs—meet us on the top floor, we’ll work our way down.”

I collect Marcs and fill him in with the plan while we head up in the elevator. On each floor the three of us fan out in our search for the offending paint color. Some of the employees think I‘m there to review their work and try to look as invisible as possible. Others take it as an opportunity to tell me about their latest accomplishment, which I quickly congratulate them on while informing them I’m late for a meeting. None of us has found the right office yet.

A few floors down Laik yells from the other end of the hall, “I think this is it!”

Marcs and I reverse direction and head straight there. Laik is standing in the doorway of an interior office separated from the hallway by a glass wall. I squeeze past Laik and enter the small space. There’s an empty desk in the back, and a smaller one near the door that a woman in her thirties is sitting at. She says, “Hi?”

Laik hands me the printout and I hold it up to the wall. The light blue on both does look like an exact match. We trade introductions with the employee, who I don’t think is used to all these people being in her office.

Her desk is covered in binders and stacks of paper. I reach towards one of the binders. “May I?”

She rolls her chair back a bit. “Oh, sure, be my guest.”

I pick up the thick binder and leaf through a few pages. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. “So you’re the one!”

Laik and Marcs look at me wide eyed. Marcs asks, “What should I do? Should I pin her to the floor?”

I chuckle. “No, Marcs no need for that, it’s not that big of an offense.”

I flip through to the end and look at the employee, who’s getting more nervous by the second. “Did you produce this?”

“Yes?” It comes out like a question.

“So you’re the one who creates those awful twenty minute long customer surveys. Look at all these pointless and repetitive questions!”

I try not to raise my voice. “It’s disrespectful to ask our customers to take this much time out of their day for something that benefits us, not them. And some of these questions are horrible! ‘Did your customer care representative provide you with excellent service today?’ You know you’re going to have a bad experience whenever you hear crap like that.

“Or this one: ‘Did your care representative speak positively about Mizem products and services?’ Right, so now we’re asking our customers to play secret police collaborator and turn in Mizem reps who tell the truth about our mistakes? I hate it when corporations do shit like this.”

She looks like she’s about to cry. “Am I going to be fired?”

“No one’s going to fire you. The directive for this came from your boss, didn’t it?” I hold up the binder.

“Yes, he used to sit over there, but he resigned a few months ago.”

“That’s what I thought. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble.”

I pace around the room and announce, “All of this has to change.”

Laik nods. “I’m on it.” He walks out and down the hall.

Marcs is at the empty desk looking through the drawers. He pulls out a report in a fancy binding and takes a look inside. “I think this is where the money went. Expensive consultants who were paid to improve efficiency, lower call times. There are dozens of these.”

“Lower call times? It should be the opposite. If a customer has a serious problem the rep should be efficient but stay on with them for as long as it takes. That’s customer service.”

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