Stanley Lieber (stanleylieber) wrote,
Stanley Lieber

SL/fiction 10.06.09 | I'LL MANAGE

916 words by Stanley Lieber

So he was unhappy, again. But when he halted to appraise the situation rationally, he found that nothing had really changed. Why, then, this morose disposition?

Each season, Plinth Mold selected the action figures that would comprise the next year's line. He did this alone -- that is, his decision was final -- because Plinth Mold knew that to consult a committee would signal weakness to the trade press. Such fanfare had been made of his spectacular rise, his subsequent reign and famously charismatic management style, that he was wary of reversing the polarity of this momentum, reluctant to sour himself in the public eye by demonstrating an acute lack of direction. He knew well that each word of praise committed in print represented an investment expected to yield generous dividends; that the looming weight of his success was not itself immune to the fearful and awesome properties of general relativity. In point of fact, there was a sort of balance to the world, and he was loathe to tip it off-kilter.

The problem was, finally, that these latest designs were not going to work. That is to say, Plinth could not decide between them. In years gone by such an impasse would have met with the unhesitant scrapping of the entire line -- Plinth would fire the responsible team and start over from scratch. But it was far too late for that, this year. He would have to make a choice from amongst what had already been placed in front of him. He knew it was imperative to come to a decision, but still he was unsure of his direction.

Yes, so something of some significance had actually changed. He cycled between each layout and reprimanded himself sternly for his indecision. Why was he making this so difficult? As he stared at each proposal, he could not determine to his satisfaction which was superior. They all seemed to consist of roughly the same elements. Each seemed equal in merit to the next.

"There is urine all over the front of this toilet," complained Maude Mold, Plinth's wife of some twenty-five years. "Sometimes I sit down and my pant leg touches it -- I can feel it."

Plinth looked up from his leaf. "I guess I'll need to clean that up."

"That'd be a good idea, so I don't fucking retch."

Previous flirtations with indecision had cost Plinth an entire season's work. He had ended up pushing a wave of repaints into the stores for Redaction Day. No truly new figures for over six months. Mention of that debacle was now off-limits in staff meetings, but the dark period lingered in his memory. Fatigued, he thought to himself that bouncing back from abject failure was a young man's game.

    To All Employees:

    Our Guiding Principles form the basis for how we should manage our day-to-day interactions with customers and each other. They are the unchanging foundation that supports how we conduct ourselves everyday. Along with our Business Plan objectives and Factors for Dominance, the Guiding Principles form the building blocks to ensure the Figures Department and ultimately UNIVERSAL MOLD's success.

    Click here to view the presentation of the month that discusses the importance of "Hold Yourself and Others Accountable."

    Act with Honesty and Integrity at All Times
    Exhibit a Positive Attitude
    Treat Everyone with Courtesy and Respect
    Do What You Say You are Going to Do
    Seek First to Understand Then Be Understood
    Communicate Clearly and Often
    Inspect What You Expect
    Execute Flawlessly Everyday
    Recognize and Encourage Continuously
    Hold Yourself and Others Accountable

    Thank you,

    Plinth Mold
    President, UNIVERSAL MOLD

"I can't believe I just wrote that," thought Plinth Mold. "I wonder how I would respond to a message like this, were I to receive it from my own employer." But of course, Plinth Mold did not have an employer. Had not, in fact, for some time. (Maude, it was true, was only his wife.) He tapped the appropriate region on his leaf's screen, causing his message to be sent. He hated these condescending dispatches, but this one had been necessary, something about gradated impacts that had bubbled up from Force Management, and if that were the case, it might as well bear his own signature instead of one belonging to some irrelevant middle manager. He sought solace through embracing the inherent nobility of his judgment, but, curiously, accepting his responsibility failed to improve his sagging mood. He still felt blank -- or worse, confused.

"When you sit there with your pen, scratching away, it almost appears as if you have friends," allowed Maude. "Your movements, these gestures toward what appears to be the composition of some sort of communique, are so realistic."

Plinth sighed, folded up his leaf and turned off the lamp on his nightstand. He removed his eye patch and laid it on the table next to his face, then ran his fingers over the concave surface where his eyeball should have been. His toes were freezing, but Maude would not countenance another blanket or any adjustment to the environmental controls. Perhaps he could show her the figure designs, see if she could muster a preference for one in particular. Immediately, he wondered what that would cost him in the event of an acrimonious separation, and so he closed his mouth. He'd better just do it himself. Like so much else.

"It's an expensive illusion, created just for you."

There was silence, then, but he knew that he had said too much.

To be continued...

Image by Degas, Portraits in an Office--The Cotton Exchange, New Orleans, 1873


1OCT1993 | INDEX

Tags: 1976, 1oct1993, creative_commons, fiction, maude_mold, plinth_mold, slfiction, stanleylieber
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