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Authors: Joanne Fox Phillips

Revenge of the Cube Dweller (27 page)

BOOK: Revenge of the Cube Dweller
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I put my cigarette out and chuckle at the thought of Buster being bilked by these two as I head back to Salon B.

When my name is called, I walk over to a small area that has been partitioned off to allow the minimum level of privacy.

Brenda, my HR representative, sits with her laptop, opens my paper file, and explains my “package.” It comes to two weeks’ pay—less my recent sick time, of course—and the opportunity to sign up for COBRA health benefits for a whopping $700 a month. She does her best to project real sympathy for my situation, and I am impressed with her sincerity, given that I am about her twentieth client this morning.

“Brenda,” I begin. “Would it be possible to get a copy of the review I was given in March? I didn’t take a copy at the time, but I want to have a one in case I need to show it to my future employer.”

Brenda flips through my file and pulls out the Bishop Performance Management Report from the blue cardboard divider. “Um, let me see if there’s a copy machine around here.”

I watch Brenda get up and consult with an older supervisor, then disappear from view. In her absence, I take out the manila folder and place my forged pay change authorization form in the back of the file. I smile at the outstanding job I have done forging Hal’s and Skip’s signatures on the approval line.

“Here you go,” Brenda says when she returns as she cheerfully hands me the requested report. “If you will please sign your exit agreement, Tanzie, we’ll be all done.”

“Brenda, I have a question,” I say, looking up from the form. “I don’t think my title is correct here. Last month I was given a title change to Audit Consultant. I remember signing a form, but I didn’t keep a copy. There wasn’t a pay increase, but Hal gave me the new title as sort of a pat on the back for a building security audit I did. Can you please check my file?”

Brenda gives me a look and then eyes the stack of ten or so other folders still needing to be processed.

“Please,” I repeat. “It’s really important that I give the right title on my resume.”

Brenda thumbs through my file again and stops when she finds the change form. “Oh.” She looks at me. “I guess this just didn’t get entered into the system.”

Brenda starts clicking on her laptop and then walks over to get her supervisor. I worry for a moment that the supervisor might question it, but she, too, is looking at a very long day. And so, just as I envisioned, my title change is finalized in the interest of moving the process along. Brenda crosses out and initials my exit agreement with the revised title. I shake hands with both women after I sign the amended agreement.

“I’m sure you’ll find something soon, Tanzie,” Brenda says.

“Thank you. I’m sure you will too, Brenda.” I turn away and leave the makeshift processing station.

Five minutes later, I am in my Lexus pointed south on Highway 75 toward Houston. With any luck, I will be enjoying a late dinner at the club with Beth and Grant.

After several months of monitoring email accounts, thanks to Baldwin’s predictable password selection, and attending secret meetings via conference calls, I have compiled quite a bit of damaging evidence. Although none of it can be used in court, it could certainly prove valuable in squeezing information out of others at Bishop.

I call my old friend Bill Matheson, the Houston lawyer who has been working on the explosion settlements. “Bill, this is Tanzie Lewis. Remember me?”

“How are ya, Tanzie! I’ve been trying to reach you for months now. Thanks for finally calling me back. What can I do for ya?”

“I need to find out about attorney-client privilege,” I begin.

“Why is that, Tanzie?”

“You have something I want, and I have something you need.”

In October 2010, the
Houston Chronicle
reports that a Houston sewer contractor has admitted liability for the pipeline explosion, for not observing the “call before you dig” protocol required, and I know my time has come. I send bundles to the Justice Department, DOT enforcement, the FBI Houston District Office, and good old Dan at the
Tulsa World

I suddenly have a ringside seat to the biggest corporate implosion since Enron. Jury awards to victims of the explosion are predicted to set records, as the recent BP Deepwater Horizon fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico is creating a lynch mob mentality toward oil companies. Bennet’s fear of margin calls and a credit squeeze were spot on.

Bad publicity makes creditors nervous, and one by one they call for margins and tighten credit limits on Bishop commodity trades. Plaintiff lawyers scream for potential damages to be placed in escrow to protect victims. In the course of two months after mailing the incriminating information, operating cash is drained, and bankruptcy rumors, once brushed off as nonsense, now look like a reality. Loyal coworkers who had built their careers at Bishop turn on each other like dogs after the same dead skunk.

Baldwin and Bennet remain loyal to each other, but both
are looking at very long, painful, and expensive litigation and criminal proceedings. Assets are frozen, and the trustees who will run Bishop on behalf of the bankers show up in Tulsa by the limo-full. The Bishop brothers themselves are no longer welcome members of Tulsa society. Their poor judgment has left Tulsa charities short-funded and hundreds of employees without jobs. Bill Matheson’s fortune is going to skyrocket, only immaterially affected by the loss of a particularly friendly black Lab.

“We received your funds transfer, Mrs. Lewis,” says the freshfaced banker. “If you sign right here, the trusts will be set up and you can be on your way.”


“You certainly are a generous aunt, setting up college funds for all those nieces and nephews. And the Matthew Mayhew Scholarship at SMU. Any chance you would like to be an honorary aunt to my two?”

I laugh as I get up, grab my purse, and shake his hand good-bye. “Thanks for your help on this,” I say. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.”


arrive for my first day at my new job in my black suit, my hair pulled back with a large barrette. It feels good to be slim again and even better to have a fresh face and neck sans wrinkles and sags. Framed photos of a fleet of coal-fired power plants hang behind my new boss’s balding head. I flash a Lumineer smile as I settle into the leather chair across from his desk.

“We expect great things from you, Tanzie. A promotion after only five months on the job is impressive.”

“Thanks!” I tell him. “It was so nice working for people who appreciated hard work. I’m really going to miss my old team at Bishop.”

“I read a little something about your former employer in
this morning,” my new boss says. “God, what a shit-storm that turned out to be.”

“I can’t believe it. They were just the nicest group up there;
like family, really. I had no idea any of that was going on. I hope you don’t think I’m a bad auditor.”

“Not at all, hon.”

“Thank you for taking a chance with me. I’m certain I can get up to speed in no time.”

“Oh, I’m sure you can. Take it slow and enjoy it. Just like you know what.” He leans forward and gives me a creepy wink.

I take a minute to compose myself, hoping that the disgust leaching through my pores is not visible to my new boss. Still, I feel a familiar twinge of excitement as I laugh and smile back.

“That’s a stunning painting in the reception area,” I tell him. “Do you know who the artist is?”

“No ma’am, but it cost a shitload of money. You can be sure of that.”

“I just know I’m going to like it here,” I say. “Thank you so much for this opportunity.”

I get up and walk to the door, but I stop just short.

“Have you considered performing a building security audit?”

“Now that’s a good idea,” he says. “How soon do you think you could get going on that, hon?”


JOANNE FOX PHILLIPS is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the director of internal audit for a midstream oil and gas company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is a CPA, certified internal auditor, and certified fraud examiner. This is her first attempt at writing something longer and hopefully more entertaining than an audit report. She thanks her friends, family, coworkers, and editorial team for suffering through early drafts and providing encouragement and advice throughout the process.

BOOK: Revenge of the Cube Dweller
12.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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