chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

the suggestion box…

suggestion boxShe turned the key and flicked open the ridiculous padlock, raised the lid. As if someone might want to steal the contents. As if it said Money on the outside. She leaned over to peer inside. She always did this now, after the one time with the frog. But there was little to see. A couple of pieces of paper, a paper clip, a — what was that? — piece of gum? She reached into the box, gathered the meager contents, glanced in again, then lowered the lid and locked it up.

It had been part of the employee-empowerment mandate and nearly all that was left to show of the company’s lavish investment in the Consultant. Oh at first it had been great: the box stuffed with suggestions, some pure fantasy, of course, but some really practical, sensible, simple. She was emptying the box every other day back then. Smoothing out the folded papers, slipping them into plastic sleeves in the special, consultant-stocked three-ring binder that sat on the credenza in the CEO’s office.

But it didn’t take long for people to realize that Management was averse to suggestions, incapable of change. The consultant was window dressing, the expense resented as salaries stagnated and layoffs loomed. Then the box became a joke, and she, somehow, the messenger, caught between employees and executive in this distasteful ritual.

She trashed the gum, washed her hands and carried the rest to her desk. Three little notes. It had become a bit of a game, deciding which one to open first, trying to figure out which of the nearly 200 employees had deposited the note in the box on the wall outside the lunchroom door. She unfolded one: “Need brighter light over the back door. Can’t see the keypad.” That was a good idea, easy enough. She’d take care of it.

The second one was piece of copier paper that had been folded and re-folded until it was a little square about an inch on a side. It felt like a clenched jaw, seemed to vibrate with frustration. She smoothed it flat. Printed in pencil, in the middle of the sheet, were the words, “Im pregnent.” She set the note aside. She’d have to think about it, about who might have written it, whether she could help.

The third note was a piece of ivory letterhead folded twice. She unfolded it. It was the personal stationery of the executive VP, whose office was in the other facility. She saw him rarely, but they had chatted a few times in the lunchroom. She recognized his signature at the bottom. It was a letter — typed, formal, addressed to her. “Dear Ms. _____,” it began, “This is a bit awkward and I hope you will not take offense at my roundabout approach. But I know you carry the suggestion box key on your key ring and I know you will be the one to open this note. As you may have heard, I will be leaving the company soon. I’ve accepted a position with another firm and will start there after a short vacation. I am writing this note, after much deliberation, to tell you that in the seven years I have worked here, you have been the one bright light of my employment. I wonder whether, once we are no longer co-workers, you would consider going out to dinner with me?”

She touched her mouth, as if to keep the surprise, the pleasure, the smile, from leaping out. Bright light, she thought, noticing the parallel.
—–
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