That was until, after a particularly poor day at the office through in Edinburgh, Wally came close to having a nervous breakdown by starting to rant and rave about the bank taking control of his finances after being asked a simple question by a member of the PR staff about the day’s events. The PR department was now left in the awkward position of being no longer able to flatly deny the obvious, but at the same time having to continue perpetrating the image of their favourite son as a successful and dignified sales executive. They barely managed to maintain this façade via a stream of positive memos about his multi-millionaire friends who were, they assured everyone, ready to step in to provide financial support, ignoring such details as lack of necessary financial resources, or possible criminal charges.
In contrast – you noticed that the company, and the PR dept in particular, seemed to be undermining your every move, questioning your motives and accusing you of irrational outbursts at the most reasonable requests for information or support in your daily duties. Some months before Wally’s outburst, he was involved in a disciplinary hearing alleging he had assaulted a colleague. It appeared to all within the company to be an open-and-shut case, with CCTV footage of the incident available as evidence. However, then a very strange thing happened – in his defence, Wally described the allegation as “ridiculous” and no sooner had he uttered these words, but PR staff were tearing around the office using the same terminology and issuing indignant memos to the effect that an “incredible” injustice had been perpetrated against Wally. The charges were subsequently dropped, much to the bewilderment of everyone outside the PR department and Wally’s immediate circle of friends, with little apparent difference between the first group and the second.
Around the same time, you were cited to appear before the Human Resources manager on the basis of information supplied by the PR department – which you knew to be full of Wally’s friends and cohorts – to face disciplinary charges in relation to two minor transgressions, one of which was actually dealt with at the time by a senior manager. Colleagues within the company were surprised that a matter that was already closed off by another manager had been re-opened by Human Resources under lobby of the PR department. The net effect of this was to make your defence of the new charge (the one not already dealt with by a senior manager) untenable. You were subsequently suspended from work for a period of a week, in which time Wally gained valuable ground in the chase to win important contracts. Although there were pockets of sympathy within the company for your plight, when you attempted to persuade anyone of a link in motive between the PR dept, Wally, and the pressure brought to bear on the Human Resources, you were faced with open hostility and slights against your mental health. It transpired also, that the head of Human Resources is a member of Wally’s family and that the majority of the PR department are also his direct relatives, but this cuts no ice with anyone within the company. Everyone now openly regards you as paranoid.
But worse was to follow – only a few weeks before Wally’s breakdown, you had begun to notice a definite pattern of mistakes by the office administrators that continually hampered you in your work – important files being misplaced, failure to record messages from key clients, falsely accusing you of transgressing company policies and other such occurrences on a weekly basis. This was bad enough, but you also managed to find out – despite the PR department’s strenuous attempts to censor the information – that some of these lost files were turning up on Wally’s desk, the missed phone calls from key clients were being passed to Wally’s office and Wally himself was regularly transgressing company policy with impunity. This continued for a period of a year, with your own performance deteriorating in direct correlation with these administrative “mistakes” that were encumbering you in your work. Wally was winning more and more contracts and by late summer had a complete monopoly on highly lucrative European contracts.
The steady increase in administrative mistakes and bad publicity had coincided directly with the urgency of Wally’s financial problems, which by now the PR department had simply decided to stop mentioning. It was anecdotally known that had Wally not secured those European contracts he would amost certainly have gone bankrupt, although the PR department strenuously denied this. With your prospects for fair redress dwindling by the day, you decided it was time to take the initiative yourself and pursue the matter with the new head of Human Resources (the previous one having left under a cloud but having been sorted out with a nice little consultancy role within the PR department through a family friend). So you sent him a letter requesting a meeting, outlining in some detail, your concerns, referring to a lengthy list of administrative mistakes which had beset you over the previous year and seeking some clarification and assurance on the matter.
However this request was leaked to the PR department – filled with Wally’s friends and allies – who reacted with fury and who immediately went on the offensive in an attempt to assassinate your character. Their response was to send out a memo to the entire company acknowledging that some mistakes had been made and the administrative department had indeed fallen below the standards expected, but that these errors in no way impinged on one individual to the disadvantage of any another and had been distributed according to a pattern of random chance. Not only that, but they then went on to blame you for this poor level of performance on the basis that your expectation levels – i.e. one free from repeated catastrophic error to your detriment – was totally unrealistic and constituted an intolerable stress burden on the poor unfairly maligned administrative team – one that no human being should be subjected to. They also presented as fact, accounts of several members of the administrative team and their families receiving abuse in the street, this despite strong rebuttal of the story from some of those supposedly on the receiving end. You were blamed squarely for the actions of the lunatics carrying out these acts (if indeed they existed) despite there being no evidence that any of these persons was linked to you.
The PR department then presented a paper from a retired administrator based in Englan as a character witness, strongly supporting the actions of the administrative team. You remembered this person vividly because when you met him earlier in the year he called you a “cheating bastard” and described your home as “the Glitter Dome” – but of course, the PR department censored any mention of his links with Wally or his hostile attitude towards you. The final string to this character assassination bow, was to wheel out several other sales executives who were obviously jealous of your level of success to recount stories of all sorts of imagined injustices they’d suffered, far outweighing anything you have had to endure. They go so far, in fact, as to state that the adminstrative team have actually been giving you undue support to the detriment of others, an incredible assertion that nevertheless is considered to be conventional wisdom within the company.
But the piece de resistance was when they wheeled out Wally himself to magnanimously defend the administrative team for their sterling work in the face of unjustifiable demands and pressure. Yes Wally – the man who has been poaching your client list as a direct result of these “honest mistakes”, was somehow portrayed as a sensible voice with no vested interests, the man who would never stoop to such levels of criticism, despite having had much more than you to say in condemnation of not only the administrative team, but Human Resources themselves in recent years. In a famous and sustained outburst two years ago, Wally accused the sales department of conspiring against him to fix the sales team rota to his disadvantage, despite the changes to the rota originating as a direct result of bowing to his demand for time off at short notice to prepare for a big French account that he subsequently made a mess of. Wally has continued to moan and bleat about this at regular intervals to the present day.
But despite all of this, his friends in the PR department managed to maintain an unblemished image of personified dignity and success, whereas your reputation now resembled a car wreck of paranoia and rage. Needless to say, the official response from Human Resources was merely a watered down, more polite version of the PR department’s smear campaign. This left you at an impasse with seemingly no further options available to confront and deal with your unfair treatment at the hands of Wally and his friends in Human Resources and the PR department.
With increasing desperation you applied for a job at Ingprem, the company down the road, that world leader in your field. But whilst they recognised your potential there were insurmountable legal issues preventing them from hiring you, not to mention resistance within due to the self-interest of their existing sales team. They also indicated that they would have to hire Wally too as a package deal – without really explaining why – but having witnessed his temperamental behaviour at a number of sales conferences across the country, particularly one in Manchester two years ago, decided against it. Although you were not involved in any of these episodes you had been tarnished by association in the eyes of the Ingprem directors being a fellow employee of Scotprem. This has not been helped by Wally’s friends in the PR department firefighting these personal crises by attempting forcefully to persuade everyone that this behaviour was a rare aberration, despite it happening repeatedly over many years. They also blamed some delegates from London for starting trouble, and the police of over-reacting to the ensuing kefuffle. They also deflected attention from Wally by insisting that this is something you are equally guilty of, a claim that could not have been further from the truth – having received several official commendations for your exemplary performance at these conferences. The PR department were very vocal in proclaiming that if Wally should be punished, why should you not be punished too.
This slur infuriated you but your protestations made no impression with colleagues. Your fellow sales executives resented your success and so were unwilling to offer any support. The furthest they would go was to criticise both of you equally, which more often that not meant criticising Wally for his unacceptable behaviour and then scrambling around to manufacture a similar charge to present against you. In fact, the more you attempted to highlight the harassment you were encountering, the more resentful they seemed to get – “You should put your own house in order first… you should be good enough to overcome it” they would say, blissfully unaware of the contradiction in telling you there was no harassment, but at the same time saying that you should be good enough to overcome the very harassment that did not exist. They were also fond of casting up a contract you won in Paisley nearly three years before, accusing you of impropriety in that deal, much to your bemusement, as if, even if such a claim were true it somehow cancelled out all of the naked agendas and skullduggery you’ve had to put up with since.
Once Wally had secured the sales executive of the year title and his monopoly on the European contracts at the end of the financial year, you thought perhaps things might die down a bit. There had been no talk of Wally’s financial difficulties for a long time, in fact the PR department announced in June that his house was no longer up for sale which seemed odd to everyone else, as although the for-sale sign had been removed from his garden, the advertisements were still running in the newspapers and estate agent windows. Still, on the surface, things seemed to be much better, and Wally was even able to afford a couple of new suits to help keep up appearances in his appointments with clients, although one was rumoured to be rented and the other was second-hand and well past its best condition.
But only two months into the new financial year it was clear the agenda and harassment was as strong as ever, in fact if anything, it was escalating, and Human Resources and the PR department were barely even attempting to conceal their hostility towards you by this stage. This had also made you deeply unpopular with the other sales executives. In October, you won the company a contract in Dundee, only to have it taken back off you by Human Resources. In the end, you managed to obtain another one from the same customer but the writing was on the wall. The very next week another important client file went missing only for you to find that it had somehow managed to turn up on Wally’s desk at a fortuitous time, allowing him to secure a lucrative order from the customer. It turned out a young secretary – Jilly Gollum – had mistakenly left the file in Wally’s office after being handed it by one of Wally’s pals, Kirsty Clubfoot. You were deeply sceptical of Gollum’s story and you already knew what a reprehensible chancer Clubfoot was, but it was hardly worth mentioning as you were only too aware of the inevitable hostile response you would receive, but still you spoke up.
This time, though, not only were you derided as parnoid, the PR department then levelled accusations that you had flown into a rage, phoned Ms Gollum and threatened to assault her. This was a ridiculous slur, and you strongly suspected that it was a set-up courtesy of a few of Wally’s friends in the PR department. After all, they had been exposed when one of them had carried out a similar act earlier in the year, posing as you in a company podcast and spouting a load of wild accusations and theories which were then used to justify slaughtering you reputation throughout the company. Of course the host of that podcast was a good friend of Wally and was only too happy to play along, although he denied this association and made a big show of claiming to be more friendly with another company in Edinburgh much to the amusement of most within Scotprem.
With the situation reaching a critical point, you turned to your Uncle Cesar, the most successful sales executive in the history of ScotPrem for advice. He said that this favouritism and harassment had been going on for 50 years, from Wally’s grandfather down to his grandson today, and that the only way to beat him was to be twice as strong. Grateful and heartened though you were for this advice, it didn’t provide any practical solutions and by now you were at your lowest point. You were only slightly behind Wally in terms of sales targets for the financial year but it was clear that Human Resources and the PR department were absolutely determined to put every possible obstacle in your way and things were only going to get worse. The future was looking bleak.
Then one day the auditor turned up.
A rogue member of the PR department had published a memo many months prior to this unannounced visit, speculating that an audit was on the cards due to some of Wally’s more questionable practices. However the rest of his PR colleagues were quick to play down this notion; after all the auditors were from the same stock as them and a full audit wasn’t due for several years.
So it was a shock to nearly everyone in the company when Mrs Windsor from Head Office turned up at the door asking to look at the books. Mrs Windsor’s requests were of the kind that could not be turned down. Human Resources and the PR department were immediately plunged into a frenzy of impotent attempts at cover-up and obfuscation. “Mrs Windsor isn’t expecting other debtors to meet their full obligations” they shrieked, “Wally is a company institution, you can’t do this!” they wailed. But of course, Mrs Windsor could do this, and she had every intention of doing so.
After a couple of hours it became clear things were not going well. Mrs Windsor had requested the assistance of Mr Judge and Mr Plod in her inquiries. Human Resources and the PR department were getting frantic, so much so that they came to you for help. All of these two-faced PR executives, their faces bloated on succulent lamb and red wine, who had vilified and bullied you for over ten years were now coming to you for help.
“The company can’t survive without Wally, you’ll need to help” they pleaded.
“Think of that joint contract you have with the brewery, that’ll hit the skids if Wally goes down” they cried desperately.
“I don’t think Mr Windsor will take much notice of a paranoiac nutcase I’m afraid” you ironically responded, knowing full well that it would be entirely possible for you to re-negotiate the contract on more favourable terms, or even secure a different buyer altogether.
Karl Ding and Jack Keithson, two senior PR executives, were now openly weeping. John Derekston was so distresses he couldn’t even finish his seventh pie. Tim Jaynor was wittering on about how a company in Airdrie from fine upstanding stock had gone through a similar problem and came back stronger than ever, their chairman even rising to president of Human Resources. These were hollow words however, and everyone knew it. The demise of Wally was on a whole new scale, and for a sales executive who’s unique selling point was bombast and superiority, the humiliation of bankruptcy and jail would be all but impossible to recover from.
And this is what was happening before our very eyes – Wally was going to jail.
Yick Cheung, Gordon Waffle, Kew Heevins… they all watched in stunned silence as Wally was led out of the building, Mr Judge and Mr Plod at either side and Mrs Windsor leading the way. Wally was heard pleading “but I am the company… You and me are the same Mrs Windsor, I’m one of your own, you should be protecting me! ” he wailed as he was escorted out.
As you peered out of the office window at the pitiful sight of this man being usherd into a police car, once Lord of all he surveyed, now a broken shell – Lil Beckie, a PR executive from Paisley suddenly confronted you. His tear-stained tie presented a different image to the one he had vigorously promoted for many years, a staunch Paisley man, defender of the wee guy against Wally and Timothy, the big bad bullies. His face was a deep shade of crimson and his eyes bulged in apoplexy as he bawled at you – “I don’t know what you’re smiling at Timothy!! Without Wally, you’ll be down the toilet with the rest of us!!”.
Casting your eye over a list of companies who would have big European contracts up for grabs in the coming months, you simply sat back in your chair, kicked back and said “Oh, I’ll be fine, Lil…”
“Timothy will be just fine….”