I heard that James had died. It was sudden and unexpected. Everyone in the office was astonished – and then felt sad for his family. His daughter’s wedding day was near.
It had nothing to do with us, but someone at Head Office would have to sort out everything. The company car, mobile phone, clear his desk, do something with his e-mail and hard drive and who-knows-what-else – all would need to be dealt with as soon as possible to allow his family and friends to get on.
It’s not too callous, I hope, but the workload increased, and we were all too busy to dwell on such things.
Time passes quickly, and the company recruited a few new people who had never known James. I thought Alan was one of them, but it turned out that he did know James – and that he had worked at this company with James for years, many years ago.
Alan went through the usual forms and inductions, and was given a company phone, car and a desk with a laptop. Nothing unusual in all of this until last week.
Last week he started receiving weird phone calls from a sobbing woman. After a while he discovered that it was James’s daughter.
The company had given Alan James’s old phone and phone number, and James’s daughter had been regularly calling to hear her dad’s voicemail message – to hear his voice. This was a comfort to her. She’d been talking to him, leaving long and emotional messages about her wedding and then about her pregnancy.
When Alan answered, she got such a fright. She then realised that Alan could hear back her very personal messages – and that she would never again hear her daddy’s voice because Alan had erased the outgoing message with his own.
Of course, Alan, immediately erased all her recordings, and apologised as best he could.
Surely there ought to be some kind of procedure for this sort of thing? Something better than what happened here.
Is it better that Alan knew her, that he knew and worked with James? Or would it have been better had he been a complete new start to the firm?
A modern world brings modern ails.