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Jennifer Lynn Steele spun slowly around in her desk chair and stared out the window that overlooked the machine shop floor. Across the large steel building, massive machines hummed as they spun, milled and ground steel to amazing tolerances, some so tight they could only be seen and not felt with the fingers. It was this feat that amazed her, and of course what gave the company their competitive edge.
Turning back around to face her desk, Jennifer took a moment to survey the room. A grin spread across her face at what she had recently acquired. Only a month before, she had been standing on the opposite side of the desk, listening with shock as her father spoke two disturbing words.
It was a combination of words Jennifer Lynne Steele never thought she would ever hear her father speak. By all accounts, her father was a workaholic, a man that had spent his entire life making a small fledgling toolworks company into a thriving business and Jennifer was enraged that he would be willing to place it into jeopardy.
“What are you thinking father? Why now when we are so close to getting more contracts,” she remembered saying in anger?
Since that day there had been many conversations between the two of them, but whether it was a true desire to start towards his degree, or just a mid-life crisis, it did not matter. A month had passed, and now Jennifer sat at this side of the desk and held the companies reins.
Leaning back in her chair, Jennifer sipped at her mug of coffee and reviewed the machine shops weekly schedule. It only took a minimal glance, for now that Jennifer was the Chief Executive Officer of the toolworks company, she kept it memorized and made sure it was adhered to with the utmost diligence. As the columns of numbers began to add up to favorable profits, Jennifer reclined a bit more in her chair, slid one leg over the other and began to unconsciously dangle her shoe from her toes. As it danced from the tip of her toe, Jennifer gave her foot a little flick and watched as the shoe clattered to the carpeted floor.
Without question, Jennifer’ dressed the part of the powerful business woman, complete with black pinstriped miniskirt, match black pinstriped blazer, and a white button up blouse that just peeked from underneath and around the edges of her blazer. Below the skirt, Jennifer wore a pair of beige nylons that were so sheer, so smooth that it left the machinists guessing as to whether she was wearing nylons or bare-legged. That reason alone was the sole reason she chose to wear such nylons. Her shoes however were her weakness, and in the carpeted confines of the offices, Jennifer seldom wore them. Even now, barely an hour into her work day, Jennifer reached down and pulled the black three inch stiletto heel off her other foot and placed it neatly under her desk. As she did, the buzzer sounded in the shop behind her and the employees began to stop their machines and began to gravitate towards the break room.
“God damn buzzer, I don’t think her father would be too happy about the way she has been treating us,” one machinist grumbled on his way into the break room.
“I know he wouldn’t. That Bitch has only been in charge a week and she’s installed a buzzer for break and lunch, antalya escort started this mandatory overtime bullshit and increased our health insurance contributions. She keeps this up and no one will be here,” another machinist stated as lunch pails began to open up and the sound of the microwaves began to hum inside the break room.
“Well we have that visitor from the Air Force Contractor coming here today to look into that big contract for making those aviation parts. If it derailed that contract she would realize she could not do anything without machinists to make it.”
“We can’t do that John, that would only hurt us. No we need to do something that would not jeopardize the contract and make the shop look bad, just her.”
“Yeah like put down a big spot of coolant on the floor and watch her slip and fall when she walks over it in those stupid high heels she always wears.”
“Or just take her shoes in the first place,” Tim said quietly. Tim was the Shop Supervisor and seldom spoke up in the break room when management issues arose. The fact that he spoke now, spoke volumes about how he felt and the other Machinist’s listened intently.
“She would look pretty funny trying to put on her perfect business woman persona without any shoes on her feet. I think we ought to do it. If we all stick together what can she do, fire us all?”
It only took a few moments to craft a plan. As the buzzer sounded and the machinists began to go back to work, Steve and Scott grabbed a broom handle and a roll of duct tape and waited for Jennifer to leave the room. With three cups of coffee into her by mid-morning, it did not take long for its effect to take hold and she went into the office bathroom. As she did, Steve wrapped a big wad of duck tape to the end of the broom handle, then by opening up a ventilation grill that vented the stuffy office air out into the shop, Scott slipped the broom handle across the floor and stuck one of her high heels onto the duck tape. It only took a matter of seconds to retrieve both shoes. She was returning from the bathroom as the two employees quietly squirreled the stolen shoes into the men’s bathroom and hid them above one of the ceiling tiles above one of the urinals.
Through the glass that separated her office from the shop, the machinists watched with great delight as she sought in vain for her missing heels. They could see her pace back and forth, first searching around the desk, then in the closet and even out to her car. She asked the receptionist, before out of desperation she finally called Tim into her office.
“Tim I cannot find my shoes anywhere, and I have that Air Force Contractor coming in here in an hour to tour our shop. I’m thinking the Machinists are playing some sort of game with me?”
“I don’t think it is a game Miss Steele, I think this is serious.”
“This is childish Tim and as Shop Supervisor I demand that you get my shoes back to me now.”
“No, I was your Shop Supervisor, now I am looking for a new job, just like half of those machinists out there,” and he began to get up.
“How dare you speak to me like that? You would never speak to my father like that, so why should I allow you to do the same?”
“Because your father would serik escort never have done this, he treated his workers with respect. He would never have installed a buzzer. These machinists are adults; they don’t need some timer to tell them when to go to break. They don’t need an extra hundred bucks taken out of their checks to pay for health insurance when they barely make enough money now. Your father understood all that. He treated his workers good for a reason…they treated him good in return.”
“So they are going to derail this contract just to get even?”
“No Jennifer, they took your shoes so you look bad, not the company. Think about it. You have eighty machinists out there hoping to death that they get this contract so they can continue to work. That is all they want, but they don’t want to work in some sweatshop.”
“Some changes were needed Tim.”
“I agree. Hell they agree, but you could at least show them respect.”
“I do respect them Tim. They work in ten-thousandths of an inch every day and make part after flawless part.”
“Then tell them that Jennifer, not me,” Tim stated as he got up from the chair and walked out.
Jennifer took a deep breath and reflected on how things had spiraled out of control. She stared at her blank computer screen for a moment, and then down at her feet clad in the semi-opaque fabric of her nylons. A quick glance at her watch showed that she did not have much time to reorganize the troops.
It was a long walk down to the machine shop floor; one where she hung her head low and thought about how she was going to address the machinists. It was almost ironic, her heart feeling as cold as the concrete floor with only the most meager of material of her nylons separating her bare feet from the cold concrete floor.
As her speech began to materialize in her head, she had Tim stop production and had the Machinists gather around her. There was an eerie sound of silence as the machinist’s milled about, all of them mum.
“It seems I owe you all an apology. As all of you know, my father has left this company to me for the next few months and I really thought I could handle the job. In fact I thought foolishly that I could improve upon a good thing. The fact is, I have been to the best business college there was, taken some great classes and had some great professors. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you how to interact with your employees very well. After talking with Tim today it has become very clear that I have a lot to learn about managing people.”
“It has come to my attention that a lot of you are planning on leaving. I guess I cannot blame you. Still without you this company can not survive, let alone grow. In an hour we have an Air Force contractor coming here to take a tour of our shop. This is a great opportunity for us to add more machinists, do some great work and make more money.”
“Now you don’t have to answer me out loud, but for those of you that realize I have learned from my first horrible week as a manager, and that I will right some of the wrongs I made, and eventually become a better manager, you can start cleaning this shop up for this important tour. I guess for what it is worth, I am sorry I treated side escort you so disrespectful.”
It took a second for someone to move, but when he did; Tim walked quietly over to the rack holding up the shop brooms and started to sweep the floor. His actions showed more dedication than any words ever could and slowly the rest began to grab brooms, dust pans and began to fan across the shop to clean it up. That is except for one employee. Steve walked quietly over to Jennifer and spoke to her quietly.
“I have to tell you Miss, I was the one that stole your shoes and that no one else was involved in that. If you are going to terminate me for stealing, I understand. In fact I’ll go get them for you.”
“Actually I don’t want them back Steve, I think I can use this little incident to make us stand out from the other machine shops.” Steve was left in confusion as Jennifer smiled and returned to her office.
An hour later, and struggling to control her nervous voice, Jennifer pushed the intercom to the receptionist. “Please, let him in,” she said and then stepping out behind her desk greeted the Air Force Contractor as he stepped into her office. After the traditional pleasantries were exchanged, Jennifer sat down behind her desk, crossed her legs and watched as the man’s gaze ran down her long legs and paused at her uncovered feet. She could see a little smile grow upon his face at the appreciation of her fine legs stretching out from the hem line of her skirt to the very tips of her toes.
“I suppose I should explain something Mr. Thalheimer. When I took over this company I made a little bet with the machinists that if they made it through a whole day without any machinist’s errors, I would give them something for their diligence. I figured it would be ice cream or something. I should have known better, but they are always making fun of how I wear high heels in a machine shop. The bet was, I would not wear my high heels for an entire day. So of course that was yesterday so of all days, today I had to live up to my end of the bargain,” she rambled on, making up her little white lie as she went.
“I certainly hope you do not look unfavorably upon us, I assure you we are a very professional company and having eighty machinists having a perfect day is quite the accomplishment considering the tolerances we work with. I figure if looking a little foolish for a day improves moral in here, then I could do it. I’ll probably be picking metal chips out of my nylons tonight, but I try to keep the machinists happy if I can. So I do have to apologize for my unprofessional appearance.”
“Miss Steele, let me assure you have no reason to apologize. In fact I think it is great that the management here is willing to look silly if you will, just to improve moral. I came up through the machinist craft myself and today all I see is companies trying to manage employees with a heavy hand. I think it’s great that you are willing to keep things loose in this shop.”
“Well,” Jennifer said as a smile came to her face,” if you are impressed with our management smile then I think you will also be impressed with out quality and skilful machinists…”
As Jennifer began to trail off into her rehearsed speech about the company’s merits, she could not help but look down at her bare feet, her red painted toes just peeking through the thin fabric of her nylons. Never in her wildest imagination would she have believed that talking off a pair of high heels would have meant so much for the future of the toolworks.
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