Staring at the paperwork spread across the restaurant table, Bob Kessler’s brow furrowed. Sweeping the crumbs of his half-finished Spicy Shrimp En Croútito off of the documents, he looked closer and ran the numbers again. This time, there was no doubt:
They were coming up short.
A fist of cold formed in his stomach and began to slowly drive itself through his solar plexus. How? How could this have happened? He had been so careful, so precise. There should have literally been no way that such an amount could have slipped by him. Damn it. He thought. This was his job, wasn’t it? His only job? The one he had been doing tirelessly for almost twenty years? So tirelessly, in fact, that he is the only one trusted to do it at this point by the higher-ups; that job?
And yet, there it was, in ink black as night and plain as day. A fiscal loss of nearly 10,000 dollars. It seemed almost unbelievable but, as he was so fond of reminding others: Numbers don’t lie.
Ten thousand dollars. From at least seven different accounts. And not just a few of the piddling ones, no; some of that had come out of a few of big ones, too. The load-bearing ones; the ones that the company was both expected to manage effectively, and in-turn, they would keep the company trusted in the eyes of its’ shareholders and therefore solvent. The company whom, Bob Kessler ruminated, trusted him in-turn and kept him solvent.
Ten. Thousand. Dollars.
Though he knew in his heart of hearts that it wouldn’t change anything, he picked up all the papers in front of him and, bringing them close, proceeded to go over each line on each page, individually, in order to verify, once and for all, that his situation was truly as horrible as he initially thought.
12 pages and 45 minutes, later, he was finished and, to his increasingly-sickened non-surprise, the figures remained the same; with even one of expense reports looking about $500 worse than he had initially calculated.
The fist of cold began to work its’ way through Bob’s digestive tract as he sat back in his chair and considered his situation.
Inside his head, he began to scream. This was his fault, he knew. His calculations, his documenting, his overconfidence in his own ability.
By the end of the fiscal year the coming Monday. The company would be short ten-thousand, five-hundred twelve dollars and sixty-three cents; not a small amount. And he had let it happen.
Most definitely not a small amount, Bob thought, but still too damn small to hurt the company in any meaningful way.
Angrily shoving the papers in his briefcase, he left cash for his server and stormed out of the restaurant. All that planning, all those calculations, and the worst he could manage was a measly ten grand? That was piss in a bucket to these people; they would never notice that, even with an audit. And he would be stuck chained to that damn desk for at least another fiscal year; maybe even two.
Bob took a deep breath, and collected himself. No. Now was not the time to get down on himself. He had become complacent, too sure of his own skills. The long-weekend would be good for him; he reasoned; it would clear his head and bring him back on Tuesday with a renewed drive, and sense of purpose. He knew his was better than this; he wouldn’t make the same mistakes, again.