I knew from the start of the corporate merger, that my job was about to be drop-kicked into space alongside the newly non-existent planet, Pluto. I had worked as the “artist” in residence, who managed the extensive and very valuable art collection and shot candids of essentially everyone on staff, and portraits of the higher echelon. My artistic photo renderings were used for glossy publications and framed portraiture. What I loved best about my job, was the freedom to be in one of the seven buildings, on site, at any time and responsive only to my pager, when I was absolutely needed.I’d make routine appointments each week, for specific photo shoots to supply the art used in corporate magazines, newsletters and flyers. Then, I’d have time to develop the film, and a whole lot more time to shoot the bull with my buddies. Ever work in a dark room? It has plenty of advantages for a single guy. In my case, divorced. This was my favorite “perk.” I got to develop some pretty exciting relationships in that place.
When the time came to organize our belongings, in order to be escorted out of the corporate offices, I had to pick apart the ones that would leave with me, and the ones that would stay with the corporation. Most people planned to take some small items that didn’t belong to them--a stapler, a lamp, a few books, etc., but I had a much bolder plan.
After my formal dismissal on the last day of January, I was ready to open my own photographic studio, in a loft I had rented a month beforehand, and develop a business of my own. It would be based on the Rolodex of people I had met over the years at the firm. And there were many rich and famous people who passed through the halls of our company, who lived nearby my new worksite. By the time our company was ready to break apart, I had formed alliances with many notables who lived in, or nearby the wealthy enclave where I lived and planned to work. As I walked the streets with my dog, a standard schnauzer, we always greeted people and other dogs who walked with their owners. It’s amazing how these animals do away with the formalities of introduction, just when you want to be noticed.
I even smiled broadly; even when I was given my "walking papers." Many people asked me how I managed to remain so upbeat. I’d shrug and say, “Ya know, when life turns upside down, it’s really up to us to make it feel right side up.” A lot of people sneered at my optimism, but then, they didn't know my plans.
I made no sense at all to most of my work friends who were so shattered by the disembowelment of their lives, and they certainly couldn’t understand my rhetoric. The long road ahead for them seemed frought with fear and disappointment. But I planned to turn things around immediately. I didn’t expect to stand on my head and worry; I was set to get down to business from the moment we all found out that we were about to be kicked out on our proverbial asses.February first, however, was a Saturday, and I’d been told by many, that the office was still functional for those who were spared the dismemberment, and remained in the building, until the corporation moved to the new composite of headquarters, two hours away. On that day, I first muddied the license plates of the rented U-Haul so they couldn’t be readily identified. Once in view of the main building, I confidently pulled the truck up to the door, flashed my now dormant ID pass at the newly-hired “rent-a-cops” who took saw confidence and ID pass as acceptable. From there, it was a few short steps into the building with thirteen-year-old Josh, whom I brought along for help.Josh and I waltzed around the main building, looking at the finery. In the main board room used primarily by the CEO and other members of senior management, there was a long, highly-polished mahoghany table and twelve matching chairs, wall-to-wall intricately carved cabinets, filled with the finest liquor and wine to be served at convivial meetings, and chests of drawers that held Lenox china, antique sterling silver, and the like. I wanted to sit down at this table for a while and bask in the splendor, but my work required me to hastily pick up the pieces, one by one, with Josh, and shepherd them out to the truck. Every few minutes, Josh and I would reappear at the front door, holding these pieces, plus couches, smaller tables, massive desks, swivel chairs, arm chairs, computers, printers, copiers and everything else we saw and liked. It took me less than two hours to pack the truck full of of everything wonderful, large and small.
With a hearty wave and handshake with the “oh so secure” guards and a sign-off on the phony invoice I had drawn up, that stated the contents were headed to the new corporate entity, Josh and I drove off to my new studio. Once there, we arranged the furniture and equipment in feng shui order, so that all we had secured, was now in place. The highly professional copper entry signage atop the front door announcing the site of my new studio, was at last, in place.
By the end of February, the marketing plan I had developed before year's end, produced a functional office routine, regular clients and excellent word of mouth. Several Valentine’s Day portraits hung graciously, in my front window. I did learn, however, that on February third, when the remaining employees came to work along with the higher ups, many found their offices dismantled and in total disarray. Some were missing their state-of-the-art computers; others were missing easy chairs and the board room of upper management was stripped bare of its long mahogany table, matching chairs, wall units, bar and even the Glenlivit scotch and estate bottled wine, stored by the caseload, inside.At least ten of the head honchos screamed from the far ends of the main building, “Who did this?”They called the rent-a-cop security firm. The “pay for play cops” had no idea how this occurred. They did offer a description of a man of mid-height and weight, in his late thirties, with light brown hair who had a teenager with him. They arrived together, said the security officers, and left with a truck full of furniture and equipment, supposedly headed two hours, south.
The horrified CEO stood almost speechless, but managed to sputter, “Why on earth didn’t you get his name or even the type of u-haul and the license plate?
It seems that the less than secure cops didn’t give one single thought to what the ordinary guy who obviously worked for the company was doing. After all, said one, "He wasn’t armed in any way. "In fact," they said, "he was just a nice guy and seemed to know what he was here to do."
And the son?
"Well, he was just as nice as his father," said the now, out-of-a-job, defective detectives.
It took months for the Information Services Department to go through the endless lists of people in their employee files, who were white men of average height, in their late thirties, with brown hair, and an an ordinary build. They also culled the files for those identifiable men who had sons in young adolescence.
But I didn’t have one. The child who they believed to be my own, was my nephew, and he didn’t show up on any of the profiles they had stored in Human Resources or Information Technology.
So I managed to pull it off.
Why did I get away with it all, you ask? The reason is that I didn’t steal even one piece of the prized art collection which hung so casually on the walls and in the offices throughout the buildings. I knew that if I tried to sell any of their collection, or even displayed one of them on my new office walls, I’d be caught. The ordinary office items and techie tools would be worth nothing to me in the state penitentiary.
I am certain that the company has replaced the all computerized items by now, with even more sophisticated additions of hardware and software. But the beautiful wood furniture that sits at the new corporate site, I hear, is not nearly as glorious as the old.
I just adore meeting new clients at the helm of my mahagony table and I love to invite them to sit in the comfortable leather-padded seats that match the set. I even like offering them tea in my Lenox china cups and saucers,with antique sterling silver teaspoons to stir the brew. When the day grows long, and my clients stay longer, I offer Glenlivit or a wonderful glass of cabernet, as a show of good will.