REPORT A PROBLEM
Evan came into work at 2pm when he saw the store manager James and Receiving Manager Lyle. James had just got back from a vacation in Europe and was sharing photos of his trip.
“Hi James,” said Evan. “Welcome back!”
“Evan! Good to see you,” replied James.
“Afternoon Evan,” said Lyle. “Three trucks tonight”
Evan winced. “Three?” he said.
“No, just one,” said Lyle with a laugh. All of them had a good chuckle.
“How was the trip?” asked Evan.
“Just amazing,” said James. Lyle handed Evan the photos and returned to his work.
Evan quickly thumbed through the photos.
“Just beautiful weather the entire time,” added James.
“Great! I’ll want to hear more but I need to get clocked in,” said Evan. “What’s on the agenda?”
“The second floor,” said James simply.
Evan rolled his eyes knowing already that was his project. For the last couple of months they’ve been trying to get the merchandise under control but with little success. The holidays were just three months away and more freight was expected.
“Everyone is scheduled tonight,” said James. “With only one truck, I want all of the back stock taken to the floor and every box gone through.”
“Sounds encouraging,” said Evan unhappily.
“Look it has to be done,” said James. “Something isn’t right and we need to look at the physical merchandise.”
“Okay,” said Evan. “I’ll head up there now.” He was in charge of six people whom he dubbed ‘The Wrecking Crew’. They were the best group of unloaders and stockers the company has had. Evan and James devised the team to handle special projects and they personally selected each member.
An hour later Evan returned downstairs to greet his team members and also went looking for the store manager.
“How bad is it?” asked Lyle.
“Difficult to say,” replied Evan. “Once we pull everything to the floor then we’ll have an idea.”
“I’m sure you’ll succeed,” said Lyle. Then James came into the receiving area.
“Hey James,” said Lyle. “The extra hallway is back!”
James looked up, smiled and then laughed.
“Extra hallway?” asked Evan.
Lyle pointed over to a side door where a delivery truck was parked. It was right up against the open doorway and the driver, inside, was gathering packages.
“It’s kind of a dumb story,” said James, “but it always puts me in a good mood when I think about it.”
“I’m up for a good story,” said Evan.
“About a month before my vacation, I was coming back from lunch and had a lot on my mind. I wasn’t feeling too good either and considered leaving work early. Anyway I was walking past the receiving area when I noticed the doorway there,” he pointed to the truck. “And for some reason it looked like a extra hallway with merchandise all over the floor.”
Lyle was snickering as James continued his story.
“I stood there for a full minute wondering ‘why is there a hallway that I don’t know anything about’?”
Evan started to laugh as well.
“I mean I’ve been manager of this store for five years and I’ve never seen that particular hallway ever!” James continued. “When I saw Lyle, I asked him about the hallway but before he answered, the delivery driver came around a corner and enter his truck! We both had a good laugh after that.”
All three laughed about it again.
“So did you go home?” asked Evan.
“Yes I did!” replied James. “I took the rest of the day off and started packing because when my vacation time came, I wanted to be ready!”
Evan laughed some more and then nudged James towards the office.
“I took a look at the second floor and I think if we started with furniture first and moved to bathroom supplies we can pinpoint the problem,” he said.
“Sounds like a good plan,” said James. “But there is one small glitch. You have today and tomorrow to find the error or we come in Saturday Night and work a grave shift.”
“What? Why?” asked Evan.
“Corporate wants the problem solved by Monday or I step down as store manager,” replied James.
“Serious?” asked Evan.
“Very serious,” replied James.
Evan sat down a moment to contemplate what he just learned.
“Don’t sweat it,” said James. “You’ll find the problem. I have faith in you and ‘The Wrecking Crew’! Now you need to get on it and don’t tell anyone what I just told you.”
“Okay,” said Evan. He got up and went to meet with his team.
The next two days went by with no success in finding the problem. Evan had Friday off but had to prepare to work a grave shift on Saturday. It had been three years since his last overnighter and he slept a lot.
James called Evan from his cell phone on Saturday morning to announce he was ordering pizzas that night. The whole crew wouldn’t be coming in but they got two others to volunteer.
That night Evan came in more determined than ever and suggested they hit the house wares department hard and thorough.
“I have a strong feeling that our error is there,” he said. “In just the last two days we’ve been pummeled with unwanted merchandise and I have an idea of where the problem lies.”
“Good,” said James. “If so, then we won’t have to come in Sunday night.”
They hastened upstairs and began to pull the household merchandise to the floor. They worked fast but it reached lunchtime before they could locate the problem. The four of them enjoyed some hot pizza in the manager’s office and each told a tale of their first day at work.
As the other three returned to the second floor, Evan decided to wander the receiving area. He always liked to go in there when he worked overnights as it was quiet and he could be alone with his thoughts.
He came to Lyle’s area and looked over at the side door.
Evan saw a delivery truck parked right up against the door and packages lying along the sides of the walls. Then he looked at his watch and remembered it was 2am! Deliveries don’t arrive at the store until after six. So what exactly was he looking at then?
He walked on into the ‘hallway’ still thinking it must be a truck.
“Perhaps the driver fell asleep,” Evan said aloud. “I’ll just pound on the back to wake him.” He walked over 100 feet and then realized this wasn’t a truck. The packages had no letters but strange symbols all over.
Evan wasn’t sure what was going on but rather than look further; he took off to the second floor to find James. Moments later he comes across the manager and starts to explain to him what he just saw.
James started laughing at his story.
“Thanks Evan, I really needed that laugh,” he said.
“Look I’m serious,” said Evan. “I know what I saw and trucks don’t make deliveries until after six.”
James studied him a moment and, seeing how serious he was, agreed to go down with him.
“All right,” said James smiling. “I’ll go and see for myself.”
They made their way down to the receiving area and over to the door which was now closed. Evan could already tell that James was becoming unhappy if this turned out to be a practical joke. It was one thing for Evan to tell him a funny story but to pull him away from a job that could save his job was another.
Without another word, Evan opened the side door and the security alarm immediately went off. James pulled out his keys and turned it off. The outside was warm and black. Stars could be seen but no hallway.
A security car pulled up and the driver got out.
“Is everything okay?” he asked.
James smiled. “Morning Harold! Everything’s just fine. We’re just getting some fresh air.”
Harold nodded in response and started to get back into his car.
“Hey, how about we get together for breakfast at the diner? My treat,” he said.
“Sound great!” replied James. “We’ll be there.” He closed the door and reset the alarm. Evan stood there a moment and stared at the door.
“You probably think I’m crazy but I know what I saw,” he said.
“I do believe you Evan,” said James.
“What? Why?” asked Evan suddenly.
“You want me to believe you don’t you, Evan?” asked James.
“Of course! But I don’t want you to because I asked you to,” said Evan.
“Look maybe you saw what you saw,” said James. “But for now let’s not worry about it. We still have a few hours to go and need to find our problem.”
“Well maybe I imagined it,” said Evan. “It has been a couple years since I last worked a grave shift.”
“Again let’s not worry about it,” said James. They then made their way up to the second floor.
It was just thirty minutes before the doors opened for customers and both Evan and James were seated in the office relaxing.
“We did it,” said Evan.
“No you did it,” said James. “It was you who noticed that several items had the same order number.”
“I knew we didn’t have a need for two thousand spatulas,” said Evan. They both laughed. Lyle entered with a handful of papers.
“Harold’s waiting for the two of you,” he said.
“Sounds good,” said James. “I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” added Evan. “Plus it will be nice to enjoy Sunday off knowing our success.”
At the diner James retold his story of the delivery truck and extra hallway then Evan recounted his story about his extra hallway. Harold laughed at both men and all three had a good laugh.
On the way home Evan was still chuckling about what he saw and was looking forward to a good nap before enjoying the
movie series on DVD. He occasionally got Sundays off which he usually used to hang out with friends but after last night’s grueling challenge he decided to stay in and relax.
Monday afternoon arrived and Evan made his way into work.
As he entered the building all heads turned. Some were talking others were pointing. At first Evan thought they were pointing him out as being the one who save the store from financial ruin but as he studied their faces he noticed that they had a look of concern.
Back in receiving he was greeted by Lyle in normal daily fashion.
“There’s our hero,” he said.
“Is there something wrong that I don’t know about?” asked Evan.
“Did you shower?” joked Lyle.
“Very funny!” replied Evan. “No, everyone was looking at me in a strange way when I came in.”
“Hard to say,” said Lyle. “You could just be tired.”
“Maybe you’re right,” said Evan. “I do have a vacation coming up next month; right at the end of October.”
“Plans?” asked Lyle.
“Fishing on a lake in Ontario,” replied Evan.
“Lucky!” said Lyle.
James appeared in the receiving area.
“Evan I need to see you in my office,” he said flatly.
Evan didn’t like his tone and wondered what happened. His mind went back to those who were looking at him when he entered.
“Sit down please,” instructed James. He closed the door and regarded Evan for a moment.
“I’m not going to beat around the bush but get right to it,” said James finally. "I just received an e-mail from corporate concerning you and they want to send the company’s psychoanalyst to speak to you.”
“WHAT?!” cried Evan.
“It’s because of that extra hallway you claimed you saw,” replied James. “It’s all over the store and someone made a call to corporate concerning it.”
“Well it wasn’t me,” said Evan. “And judging from your tone it wasn’t you. So that leaves…”
“Harold,” concluded James. “He’s conveniently on vacation and that is what I asking you to do also.”
“But my vacation is set for the end of next month,” pleaded Evan. “Can’t it wait until then?”
“Not at all,” replied James. “This store, myself included, is under careful watch by corporate. They are not happy with things over the last six months. I convinced the higher-ups that you were exhausted and overworked. I told them you would be taking a vacation and you will take some time off starting today.”
“But I don’t have enough hours saved up,” countered Evan.
“I’ll work it out with personnel and payroll,” replied James. “Don’t come near this store until next Monday.”
Evan left quietly unsure of what to do next. Usually he plans his days off in advance but now he’s at a loss. He leaves the store out a side entrance to avoid further whispering and pointing from his coworkers. He walks over to the parking garage across the street.
He decides to take in a movie, have some dinner and then see a second movie.
It’s a shame I don’t have a girlfriend,
he thinks. He considers calling his friends for a gathering but calls his parents instead.
“No Mom,” he says on his cell phone. “I’m not sick.”
“Your father and I haven’t heard from you since May,” said Evan’s mom.
“Just been very busy at work Mom,” replied Evan. “Listen I’ve been given some extra days off and I thought I’d drive up there for an few days.”
“Did you get fired?” asked his mom.
“No, Mom, it’s not like that,” said Evan. “I’m just overworked and I needed the time off. I’ll leave early Friday morning, around 4am and should be there for breakfast.”
“Wonderful! I’ll make my special blueberry pancakes,” she said. They talked for a while longer and then Evan crashed for the night.
James called Evan the next day to see how things were going. Evan recognized James’ cell phone number and, for a brief moment, considered not answering it.
“Hope you don’t mind the call,” said James. “Just wanted to make sure your not taking personal what transpired yesterday afternoon.”
“No, I understand,” said Evan. “You had a decision to make and I’m glad you didn’t go with the analyst.”
“Well Corporate likes to go to the extreme in situations like this,” said James. “I figured a few days off would make them happy and it might make you happy as well.”
“I’m going to see my parents on Friday,” said Evan.
“That’s great Evan!” said James. “Hey I gotta run. How about we have breakfast on Monday morning?”
“That sounds good,” said Evan. “See you then.”
Evan hung out with his friends, both Tuesday and Wednesday night, at the local bowling alley. They played pool and ate pizza. One of his former college buddies, Steven, was there. He recently got a job with the same security company that Harold worked for. He told them that he was his taking place as security guard at the store while Harold was on vacation.
As Thursday arrived Evan decided to spend the day at home. He began packing his suitcase for his trip, ran a few errands, grabbed some snacks for the road and considered going to bed early.
He pulled out a piece of paper, which had a girl’s phone number on it. He received it last night at the bowling alley. Her name was Bethany and she was very interested in him. Evan attempted to call her but hung up the phone. His last girlfriend jilted him so bad he was unsure about trying it again. He would call her on Monday.
That night he sat in his recliner eating while watching War of The Worlds starring Tom Cruise. His suitcase was already in the trunk, his CDs and snacks for the road were packed and he just completely relaxed watching the movie.
He started to drift off when his cell phone rang. It was James again and he answered figuring he wanted to wish him a safe trip.
“Evan!” said James in a frantic voice. “I’ve seen the hallway! The extra one!”
Evan smiled and then laughed.
“Good one!” he said.
“It’s true,” said James. “I’m inside the hallway right now!”
Evan bolted upright in his chair at this announcement.
“Are you telling the truth?” he asked.
James began to describe the packages he saw which were identical to those that Evan had seen.
“I’m going to the other end of this hallway and see where it leads,” he said.
“Wait, I’ll be right down there,” said Evan.
“No,” replied James. “If I wait it may be gone I want to—.”
His signal started to crackle and got distorted.
“James! I’m losing your signal,” yelled Evan. “Leave the hallway.”
Then a voice came on but it didn’t belong to James.
There’s been a breach in the hallway of Sector Tau. It is a human. Send a detachment of guards and apprehend it immediately,
” said the voice.
Evan was about to say something but feared being heard by whatever it was that came over the phone. Instead he grabbed his car keys and raced out the door to his car.
He got out onto the freeway and called Steven.
“Steven!” he said frantically but then quickly calm down. “Are you working at the store tonight?”
“Yeah,” replied Steven. “It so boring too. What’s up? You sound like you’re in a hurry.”
“I need into the store and forgot my keys,” said Evan. “Do you think you can let me in the side?”
“Not a problem Evan!” replied Steven. “How soon will you be here?”
“About five minutes,” said Evan. “I’ll park on the street by the door.”
“See you then,” said Steven.
As Evan got out, he did his best not to rush to the door.
“I need another favor,” said Evan.
“Sure,” said Steven as he unlocked the door.
“You know the side door to the receiving docks?” he asked.
“Yup! Pass by there about every thirty minutes,” said Steven.
“I want you to head over there and wait for me,” instructed Evan. “If I don’t come out the door in thirty minutes, call the police.”
Steven looked surprised.
“Police? What’s going on?” he asked.
“I got a call from James and sounded like he was in trouble,” replied Evan. He then slipped inside and make for the receiving area.
Fortunately for Evan, no one was on the first floor so he wouldn’t have to answer questions about why he was there. He reached receiving and practically ran over to the side door. As Evan expected, the door was shut.
The Tip Jar