Fran was one of the better District Managers, especially coming after the two Ken's. He seemed genuinely concerned about underlings, morale, District performance. During several meetings he reiterated, "My office is always open. I check phone messages, and I will respond." He was way too conscientious, and deserved better.
Because this was still Sound Warehouse.
And I was bored one night.
I relaxed in the back office, and had been "caught out" twice. Once by the new girl Todd simply called FPH. Five minutes later by Dan, who was more perceptive, and more dangerous.
"You're awfully industrious. What are you writing about? Stories about this place, and all our lovely coworkers?"
I was writing about the store. Making notes about the creepy, aging newspaper columnist, who gravitated towards store hotties. I couldn't tell Dan that, however. It would be public knowledge within fifteen minutes. I launched my stock lie.
"Writing my Mom, Dude."
Couldn't tell if Dan believed me, but he refilled his coffee mug and departed. I packed away my notes. I was superstitious, and assumed if a third person walked back, that would be third strike. Luck out.
Went to the phone to check the time.
Found myself on the metro line ... and phoned Dallas.
Phoned District HQ. Followed the prompts to Fran's voice box.
I decided to leave an anonymous voice mail.
"Hello, Fran speaking."
Damn! I wasn't expecting that!
"Oh, hello? Are you - - are you that guy?" I adopted the slurred speech of an alcoholic loser.
"You've reached a wrong number, I'm afraid," Fran said politely.
"Better not be. This is - - Is this - - Aren't - - You're Sound Warehouse, right?"
"Sorry, yes. This is District, however. And offices are closed. You probably want to phone -- "
"Don't you hang up on me! Before I - - you sold me that - - I'm going to have you fired!"
"Were you trying to reach the Greenville store? Would you like -- "
"Don't deny - - Pile of no good crap - - think it's funny - - you sold me that fake Fab thing."
"I am sorry," Fran apologized, "I really don't know -- "
"You were the guy who sold me that Milli Vanilli disc! Now you think it's a big joke. Ha ha, me."
"We haven't ... " Fran paused, "we haven't stocked Milli Vanilli in three years."
"Pair of faking, lip syncing, dancing queens. You owe me - - I wanna refund!"
"But no stores have -- "
"Or else I'm gonna phone the police," I ranted. "Hold a press conference. You will be so fired."
"Sir, if you'll only listen for two seconds, I can explain -- "
"Sure," I continued interrupting, mashing words together, "think you can hide in some penthouse suite. Cheating all us - - I'm just a little person - - but I have rights! You know - - Congress made inquiries - - I vote."
"How about, you bring the Milli Vanilli CD into Greenville or Knight & Lemmon, and -- "
"Right! You already knew, didn't you? That I lost my copy. Big shot. Is there - - who's in charge there?"
"Listen, why don't you jot down this phone number?" Fran spoke persuasively.
I couldn't believe how patient Fran was. Anyone else would have slammed the phone ages ago. Still, what if he was analyzing, trying to figure out who the caller was.
"You guys! I just - - Sometimes I wanna - - I get so mad - - I wanna grind you up and use you for fire ant bait!"
Plopped the phone back on the receiver. Clocked back in from lunch. Headed onto the floor.
Tried not to answer the phone that night.