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 How We got Here (Part 3 - Re-Losing My Innocence)

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RobArnold

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Posts : 171
Join date : 2010-10-11
Age : 29

PostSubject: How We got Here (Part 3 - Re-Losing My Innocence)   Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:31 pm

9th February 2010

Where did all the time go? I keep asking myself this over and over. In about six weeks, I will have been a regular cog of society for two years. I will have been a married man for nine months. I will also be an impending father, a boy, due in May. I have to shove all these thoughts to one side however, as once again I look up from my position at the large desk which currently sits a further five men. It’s that time of the year again, the time where I have to listen to them all argue how we should go about marketing and advertising our next product.

It’s the usual suspects at the table, faces I’ve come to trust, distrust, like and dislike. Truth be told I have more allies on this table than enemies, and it’s a good thing too, because the enemies have had their knives out from the second I arrived here about eighteen months ago. I remember the day I joined, I was warned that this would be the case, that Webber and Harker would be after my blood from day one, and they were not wrong.

The deadly duo sit to my left, with the three men I have built up a close working relationship with, Simeon Yates, Gary Hall, And Jim Llewellyn opposite them on my right hand side. Those guys have always seen things my way, I’ve suspected in the case of Jim it’s because he is a bit of a kiss-ass, but I look past that. I’ve met the families of Jim, Gary and Sim, and out of the office they are even more pleasant than inside, and work very hard for their families. These are the kind of people I respect, and I trust, they have similar values to myself, and in businesses like this, it’s vital to have that common ground.

Back to the issues at hand however, as I so often do I have drifted away whilst they all argue their cases. The formula for these meeting are usually the same, I receive all their notes and ideas before the meeting, then I let them all slug it out for about twenty minutes, I’ll interject and make decisions. Normally these decisions annoy the hell out of Webber and Harker, but then what do I care? They’re complete tools. To be honest, in the last six months I’ve wound them up probably more than I should, just because it gives me something to smile about in this dump.

See, that’s the only problem with this work, it’s not Vortex, it’s not fun, and its certainly not wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’d want to go back, especially now with a family coming into shape. However this job gives me almost zero excitement and I just don’t have the passion to do things on a daily basis like I used to. Call me a sap, but most of my joy comes from being at home with Sharon, and my family and friends. I know I could give this job up any time I liked, but for the time being I want my investments kept as investments. I’ve always said I’ll only tap into them when I have to, and right now, things are manageable.

I’ve done it again…I keep drifting. I can’t think of a time my mind wandered this much. Still, with a look at my watch I notice I’ve given them a whole twenty five minutes, so time to interject.

"Gentlemen, thank you for putting your cases across, however I believe I’ve come to a decision, providing we’re in a majority agreement, I’m backing Sim and Gary." As always, I turn to the victors, and give them a reassuring nod, before turning to the losing side of the table, to see their faces drop time after time whilst I kept a straight face..well..I won’t lie, it’s like a drug to me.

The thing is, they don’t look at all bothered. This doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. This also slightly worries me. I’ve had this feeling that something has been up for weeks, and I’ve been repressing it. Being so busy at home I’ve been getting to the office and start overthinking or getting distracted, and I’ve failed to really pay attention to the fact that the normal knives have been withdrawn, something is happening, and for once, I’ve not seen it coming.

"Well Rob, that’s fine, let’s just see who else is in favor before we go implementing anything." Webber says slowly, almost with purpose, I think I know what may be coming, equally Sim and Gary have a rueful look on their faces.

"Well, obviously Sim and Gary are on board, Jim?" I look at Jim, and he returns a look that I’ve seen before. A look you hate to see, because you can never blame the person for what they’re about to do when they look at you like that. His eyes scream sympathy and you can almost see the strings attached to his body as Webber and Harker puppeteer the poor bloke.

"Sorry Rob, I’m with Simon and Chris here, I don’t think the economic recovery has been strong enough to campaign our new range in that manor, I think it’ll send the wrong message."

I now have a problem, a massive problem. Since I’ve been here my accountability has been low because I’m making decisions based on my teams findings, and the majority agree to the plans. However now if I go ahead with this, or any other decision I become very accountable. Coupled with the fact that in the last month or so I’ve been really disconnected, I haven’t been able to help my guys get a plan I can fully contribute with. Basically, for all I know, Sim and Gary’s plans could be the biggest pile of crap in the world and I wouldn’t know otherwise. I decide quickly to play this as cool as possible, do not give the wolves anything to attack. I lean back in my chair.

"Okay, well this is still my decision. I know we like to work with a majority however this hasn’t happened." I pause, watching the smiles widen to the left of me. "Normally I would have us go back and refine our plans, however there is no time for that, as we all know."
I pause again, I’m going to have to take a huge gamble.

"I’m still going with the plans, you guys haven’t let me down yet and I don’t believe you will this time." I say firmly, looking at my two remaining allies. I look at Jim, who looks devastated at what he’s done, knowing full well the ramifications. "Thank you for your time gentlemen."

I nod, and all five get up and begin to clear their work and filter out. All this time Webber and Harker are almost beaming, and it makes me sick. They say there’s a point in everybody’s life where you lose your innocence, where you realise the world isn’t what you dream it to be as a kid or a teenager. Most people only have to deal with that once, sadly, in just under half an hour, I’ve endured it once again. The saddest part of this is that I know Jim’s hand was forced, however how is still unknown to me. I doubt it’ll take much for me to find out, the big clue is Webber’s constant glances towards me, I know he wants my job and will do anything to get it.

Just as they all head to the door, I calmly look up.

"Oh, Simon, can I see you in my office in a few hours?"

Simon doesn’t look too surprised, I think he’s finally ready to try and be a big man and take me on. He confidently returns an "Okay Rob, I’ll be up at five-thirty" which I agree to with a nod.



After they all leave I slowly rise out of the chair and pack my notes up, having got them safely in my briefcase I head to see Jim. I’ve given them all enough time to digest what’s just happened, and I’ll deal with Gary and Sim tomorrow, they’ll be fine in all this, I’ll see to it that they are firmly protected. However right now, I want to know what made Jim turn on me.

Jim’s office is small and simple, a bit like Jim in some ways. He’s always struck me as so straightforward and simple. There’s never before now been secrets with him and I’ve loved that about him. He doesn’t notice me come in until he looks up from his paperwork and I’m sat opposite him at his desk. He yelps in shock as he realises I’m there, arms folded. He’s probably also very shocked I’ve even shut his door without him noticing.

"So Jim, I know you came for dinner with me and Sharon the other week, but I never thought it was our last supper! Come on Judas, Pilate has clearly got in your ear, but I know you, you’d never normally back him. So talk to me."

Jim looks genuinely mortified, though his eyes suggest he knew this was coming.

"Rob, look…"

"Before you say anything by the way, whatever happens, if anything bad comes of this, you, Gary and Simeon are all protected, I’m going to take all the shots headed your way should their be any. The thing is, will there be any? Do you believe this is the wrong thing to do?"
He looks around a bit, searching for an answer.

"Yes and no. Look Rob this is a risky strategy, but you have to understand that Simon put an offer my way, and well, you have worried all of us lately, you don’t seem like you want this any more."

He takes a deep breath, almost relieved to have got it out there.

"What’s he offered you if he gets my job?"

"His old job, split with Chris."

I shake my head, knowing that Jim hasn’t thought this trough.

"Jim, you are aware given the tight budgets we have that he’d most likely have to lay off either Gary or Simeon if that happened? He’d have to pay you the same rate as Chris and that would dent the budget too much, especially if he pushed for more money himself."

"What?"

"You’re not aware then." I quip. "Look, I know it’s a bit hypocritical of me to say it, but your head’s not right today, take the afternoon off, and tell you what, don’t come back till Monday. Go take Emma and the kids away for a few days, or even yourself, go down to Devon for a couple days and relax. I want you back here Monday so we can implement this plan, and if we have to make a couple of last minute alterations before I present it in front of corporate, well we’ll do that, I trust you guys, but you have to be in my camp remember?"

I get up and head for the door. Turning back as I open the door I look back at Jim, who looks just about ready to jump off a bridge.
"Jim, whatever happens in the next few weeks, it’ll be my choice, and what happens from that boardroom meeting is not going to be made accountable to you, okay?" He nods, and I leave, heading for my office.



A few hours later I stand in my office, facing the window, I’ve been in this position for the last hour. Before that I called Sharon and informed her I’d be slightly late, though not filling her in of what happened, she’s six months pregnant, no reason to put any more stress on her. As I’ve stood here I’ve been considering my position. I know it sounds premature, but do I really want to be somewhere where I’m not really wanted? Especially when I know I could do a number of things, or even just enjoy my investment pot for at least a few years.
I look at my watch, five twenty-five. He’ll be here shortly. I remove my jacket and place it on the back of my chair, and as I do I see him stood in the doorway.

"Simon, slightly early."

"Yes I got here a bit quicker than expected, I’ll shut the door yes?"

"Please." I say, and I walk towards my desk, though I choose not to sit down, Webber on the other hand struts in and takes a seat.

"Simon, do you know what I used to do, my profession before I came to JJB?"

"Indeed, you were a wrestler. Not a very good one from what I heard." This makes me laugh.

"Oh Simon, either you’re trying to take a cheap shot, or as I’m more expecting, your researching has let you down again. Either way, swing and a miss."

"Oh just get to the point Arnold, I’m fed up with our gentle verbal sparring over the years, let’s just have this out"

I tilt my head to the side, somewhat shocked by his outburst yet also perplexed as to where he suddenly found some testes.

"Alright Simon, I’ll bite to it. Why the hell did you make that offer to Jim? Other than to divide and conquer, I mean, we all know you want this office to have your name on the door."

"You’re right, I do, I thought it was mine this time around until you came out of the blue, riding on all your success from Vortex, you should have stayed there, because if this goes wrong, there’s no Alex Reid to protect your ass Rob and you know it." He growls.

"Quite right too Simon. In fact, I’ve spent the last hour wondering why I didn’t stay there when I gave up wrestling, then I remembered, I love the challenge, and I had to prove that I could do this job, handle people like you and Chris, and handle them well. The thing is Simon, I sit here and I’m starting to wonder if I am indeed up to this job. I’ve allowed myself to be pulled wide open in the last few weeks, and why? Because I’ve been so focused on my wife and unborn child that I forgot that somebody may be trying to stab me in the back. How foolish of me." I say this is such a manor he’d be mad to answer, and sensibly he doesn’t. I decide to change my angle.

"Your offer to Jim, you know it would have meant sacking Gary or Sim, don’t you?"

"Well, it had crossed my mind that the budget would be stretched if…" I cut him off with a punch to my own mahogany desk.
"Are you that power hungry? You would have let one of the two best people in this dump walk out the door for your own selfish needs? You arrogant bastard Simon!" I lean on the desk towards him, nostrils flared.

"No need for name calling Rob." He smugly looks at me, and at that moment, I snap. For the first time in a long time, I snap. Without hesitation I approach him and grab him by the tie, pulling him up and around against the desk. His expression quickly turns to one of terror as grip him tightly.

"Do you know why I brought up my background Simon? Because you remind me of being back in the business, that’s why. You’re some idiot has-been who wants to take a pot shot at the new, younger champion because somewhere, somehow you’ve found a pair of bollocks. The problem is the balls don’t belong to you, and you get found out in no time. Do you know what I did to the last person like you Simon? I broke his damn neck, without remorse."

I smile slightly twistedly, Webber begins to squirm, panting for breath and worry lines all over his face.

"Ohh, you’ve realised haven’t you? I don’t have security camera’s running in this room do I? I could lay a right on you and it would be my word against yours as everybody else has gone home. I know it’s early, but I sent them home, it’s going to be a busy few days and there’s no point the workforce doing admin work and stressing over that is there?" I laugh as his expression of panic grows. "Oh Simon, you don’t know how much of a sick man I can be." I smirk again.

"People like you are scum Simon, I left wrestling to get away from people like you, and I’ve sadly learnt it cannot be done." I pause, and grab his tie tighter. "Nobody makes a fool out of Rob Arnold, especially the likes of you. So, there’s only one way I’m going to allow this to end…"

Without hesitation I launch him across the room, he lands about five or six yards away on the floor in a heap, spluttering for air. I adjust my shirt and tie and walk over to him, crouching over his flailing body.

"You will have your resignation on my desk in the morning, it will be with immediate effect. You will also recommend Gary to replace you, do I make myself clear?"

He appears to ignore me, catching his breath seems more important right now, I respond my grabbing the tie and putting his face nose to nose with mine.

"Do I make myself clear?" I growl slowly.

"You, you can’t do this!" He splutters.

"Oh I can Simon, because I can also kick the living shit out of you, but knowing you have a family I’m not going to do that, I always give a warning. However I also have enough evidence to have you sacked on the basis that you are trying to contrive against me and believe me I’ve been collecting evidence to nail you to the wall for a while now. So, do you understand?"

He pauses, defeated.

"Yes…yes." I let go and he stumbles to his feet.

"Good, Go home now, I’ll see you in the morning, I want you out by ten, so come in early if you have a lot to clear out."

He starts to leave, but I’m not quite done.

"Oh and Simon, if today’s antics end up going against me like you planned, well, lets just say I’ll be coming to find you." I return to my desk and grab my jacket. Webber turns, looking petrified, before shuffling out as quick as he can.

I turn back to the window and shake my head. I am not at all proud of what I’ve just done, I thought I was better than that. Maybe I’m not though, maybe this is who I am.

Maybe I haven’t re-lost my innocence, maybe I’ve just remembered that I’m a competitor, a champion…

…I’m still Rob Arnold.
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