It was a typical December day in the sleepy beach town known as Bethany, its population a mere seven thousand during the off-season and soaring to well over a hundred thousand in the middle of the summer, when the town was frequented by partying college students and vacationing families eager for some fun and relaxation in the sun.
It was a cold and windy day in the resort town, the streets void of half-naked tourists lugging suntan lotion and beach gear. The promise of a white Christmas was possible, according to this morning’s weather forecast, and the downtown area bustled with the usual holiday activity. As for Mara Newton, who was driving to work in her 2006 off-white Jetta, she was relieved she only had to work a few hours today. It was Friday, the day of her company’s Christmas luncheon and she had spent hours last night baking a three-layer lasagna along with an apple turnover. She was a bit fatigued now, very much looking forward to the luncheon and ending the short day afterwards.
“Hmmm, guess you didn’t get the memo.” Julia, the receptionist, commented dryly when Mara burst through the office door, barely managing to juggle both pans in her arms in addition to her oversized Coach briefcase. With a heavy sigh of relief, Mara set down the food on Julie’s desk. “There is no Christmas luncheon today. Amanda sent everyone an e-mail last night, telling us not to bring in anything.”
Mara had not received the e-mail from her boss as she had not checked the computer all night, too busy in the kitchen, baking entries for a party that was never going to be. She shook her head in disbelief, wondering why they had not been informed sooner. Who cancels an office party at the last minute?
“Why did she cancel the party?” Mara wondered aloud. “I was looking forward to this. I made lasagna and an apple dessert, too! I did all this work for nothing!”
“Read your office e-mail,” Julia responded with a sniff. “We’re still working only a half-day today, if that. I’m sure everyone would love to sample your goodies, though, Mara. Leave it in the kitchen so people can have some before they leave.”
After dropping the food off into the fully equipped office kitchen, Mara retreated to her cubicle and booted up her computer. She worked as a staffing consultant for Work Today, a temporary staffing agency that operated on the third floor of a three-story office building. The office suite was rather small with only six employees plus Amanda Redding, the owner. Mara had been with Work Today for the past five years and her co-workers were like family to her.
When the e-mail icon pulled up on the screen, Mara clicked on it and logged into her account.
A moment later, she was reading an office memo from Amanda. Everyone had been sent the same memo, she noted.
Dear staff members:
As of today, December fifteenth, Work Today will no longer be in operations. The entire building and its offices has been bought by the lingerie company Bedtime Buddies, who will turn the building into a catalog-fulfillment call center. If you wish to work for Bedtime Buddies, you may apply online at their website. Like you, I am shocked by this recent turn of events as I was only informed last month that today will be our last day. I realized I should have told my employees sooner that your jobs will be ending, but I could not risk everyone quitting at the same time and finding other jobs while I still needed you. After giving this careful consideration, I have decided to cancel our annual Christmas party, for I know all of you will be upset over this and I am deeply sorry. Please spend your time today gathering your belongings and cleaning out your desks. I will mail your final paycheck next Friday along with a fifty dollar holiday bonus. Also, feel free to take home any food that is in the kitchen as it’s yours to enjoy. I won’t be in until late today but I wish each and every one of you a wonderful and healthy holiday. Thank you for your dedication to my company and best wishes. Regards, Amanda.