“Christmastime Again” Chapter I

It was Christmastime again. Mercy was grumbling under her breath as she went about her duties filing papers and straightening up the office. Everyone was saying Merry Christmas, every time she saw any of the owners or executives. They would nod and say Merry Christmas, Miss Adams, all day every day, since they had returned to work, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

“Over half the people in the software firm of ‘Windermere and Tate,’ were laid off from their jobs, the Monday after Thanksgiving, and no one seemed to care one, whit or iota, about them. These people make me so angry. The only person they care for is themselves.”

In her office alone three other secretaries, or office personnel, as Mr. Windermere, preferred to call them, had lost their jobs. It was heartbreaking for them, but Mercy was heartbroken also. What had angered her more than so many losing their jobs was, that just that morning Mr. Windermere had informed her of the company Christmas party, that was to be held the Thursday before Christmas.

“Tomorrow he is having a party and those poor souls who were laid off, will be worrying about keeping a roof over their heads, food, bills and simply surviving until they can find another job. That Scrooge needs to learn a lesson, if only I was smart enough to figure out a way, to be the one to teach him that lesson.”

Mercy was thinking about all the many things she wished she could do, when Robert Windermere strode into the room. He was so young and handsome, Six foot two, thick wavy dark brown hair, cut to perfection. His suits were the finest Brioni suits; Italy had to offer, one of the wealthiest men in America. Why did he have to be such a self-centered hateful person?

“Miss Adam’s, I forgot to tell you, but I will need you to order ten cases of champagne, for our party. Make sure it is some of the better champagne, not the cheep imitation variety. I believe “Pol Roger Brut 1998, should do nicely; after all, we will be celebrating our best year of profits to date.”

Mercy was shocked. Had Robert Thorsten Windermere the third, really said that this year’s profits were up, for the whole year? He must have said it, because he had also said the champagne was to be a “Pol Roger Brut, which may not be considered expensive by some, but at eighty-two dollars a bottle and he wanted ten cases, this was purely insane.

“Would you mind telling me why so many lost their jobs, and now we are going to celebrate record profits?”

“Not that it is any of yours or any other employees business, Miss Adams, but it was nothing personal, just simply good business and profit margins for the company,” he said with a definite snobbery sound to his words. Oh, and do not forget to call the caterers, to make sure everything will proceed as planned. I want them here to set up by noon tomorrow and not one minute late. Everyone will be getting off early tomorrow, since it is Christmas Eve.” Having said this, he started to leave the office for the day, only to stop as he opened the door and say,” “Oh yes, Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas, then none of my business, all in the same sentence… Did that spoiled little brat, really just tell me it was none of my business? Perhaps he thinks it is “not any of my business,” but… we will just see about that.

“I am so tired of hearing Merry Christmas, from those who do not care in the least, about any of the people who lost their jobs.” Looking towards the ceiling, she whispered a prayer, “Father, these people need a lesson in humility. I need your help to give me strength of tolerance, or I may scream the next time anyone, who does not in truth wish a Merry Christmas, for others, says it to me,” she said in prayer.

Nodding her head and smiling, as if she had received an answer from God. Mercy said, “Yes Father, thank you. I know he was just repeating his father’s words and attitude toward people and business,” and went about completing her work. She had just thirty more minutes until she could leave for the day. Then the work would begin…

Robert Windermere stepped out of the elevator into the private floor that offered the executives in the building, everything from a luxury heated pool, to a five-star restaurant, and headed straight for the door to the executives parking lot.

Quickly walking to his candy red and black, Bugatti Veyron sports car, he got in, never noticing its sleek opulence and elegance. To Robert, it was just a car. Raised in a home where elegant and expensive things were simply mundane needs, it never occurred to him that he was one of the few who had so much. Nor did it ever enter his mind, that there were so many needy people in the world.

Robert, at the age of twenty-nine, was next in line to inherit the family business, a business he hated. He had never wanted to create new software for computers. His love of computers was all in the hardware end of the business, a love that his grandfather and father had denied him, a long time ago. Since that day, Robert understood that he was to do as he was told, in all aspects of his life, one of those aspects being, the lovely, and utterly cold, Ashley Prendergast.

Looking at his watch, Robert saw that he had two hours to spare before he was be at Ashley’s home for their Christmas party. Ben and Evelyn Prendergast were a bit on the stuffy side, Robert thought, but Ashley… Lord, what was he going to do? “It’s Christmas again, and I still don’t have the nerve to say what I want to say,” he said to himself.

Deciding he was a bit hungry, Robert decided to stop in at a small diner he frequented. For some reason he had always liked the little nostalgic looking diner. It was an old Pullman dining car from the early nineteen hundreds and for some reason; he enjoyed going there.

At five foot six and easily two hundred and fifty pounds, the owner was a jolly old man, everyone called Nick. Robert wished his father and grandfather were more like Nick, easy with a laugh and always there with words of encouragement, for anyone who entered the diner.

Laughing sarcastically, Robert said aloud, “The only time I can remember my father or grandfather laughing is when they force someone out of business or a merger.” Sadly shaking his head, Robert parked his car at the side of the diner and went inside.

“Robert, it is so good to see you today. Where have you been? It has been weeks since you were here last,” Nick said, with a big smile on his jolly round cheeks, as he came around the counter to shake Robert’s hand.

“Hello Nick. I was in Tokyo, on business for two weeks. I see business is good for you today. Do you happen to have a table or booth for me?

“Actually, I believe a booth in the back has just been cleaned, follow me.”

As they walked to the booth, Robert asked, “Is this one of Faith’s booths? You know she is my favorite waitress.”

“I am sorry to say that my wife is out-of-town this week, but grand children refuse to be born when it is convenient for everyone. Mary just made us the proud grandparents of twins. One boy named, Adam and the little girl, she named Alana. They are two days old today.”

“Congratulations, when are you going to visit them?”

“I will close the diner Christmas Eve, then I will be on my way. It is quite a drive to Austin or I would have gone up for a quick visit already, but someone has to stay and work,” laughing, Nick informed Robert that his waitress’ name was Joy and that she would be there in a moment, then he left to go back to the front of the diner.

“Joy, I have just seated a customer in booth nine, please take him a glass of water and get his order, Nick informed her as she walked past him. She was carrying a tray filled to overflowing with food to table number five.

“Thank you, I will see to it as soon as I give the Morrison family their food.”

Groaning, Nick said a whispered “Good Luck,” to her as she passed him.

Rolling her eyes and smiling at Nick, she said, “Thank you,” and headed off to the dreaded Morrison’s table.

The fighting and screeching reached her ears well before she got to the table. As she started to put the plates on the table, Edgar jumped up and proceeded to squirt ketchup all over his sister, Ellen, and in the process, squirting it down the front of Joy’s uniform also. Squealing, Ellen grabbed the hot sauce preparing to strike back at her brother. Joy deftly sat her tray down on the next table and grabbed both the ketchup and the hot sauce from the children.

Mr. and Mrs. Morrison said nothing to their children. Mr. Morrison looked up at Joy and said, “I will be needing a fresh bottle of ketchup and do not take so long that the children’s French fries get cold, or you will be having to replace them at your own expense.”

Anger suppressed, Joy reached over and picked up the tray, grabbing the ketchup also. Placing the ketchup in front of him, along with the food, she said, “I will just leave the ketchup in your care then, so that you may see to both children, getting their equal share.”

Walking to the back of the diner, to booth nine, Joy was so angry she wanted to cry. How could people not see when they were raising little monsters? All the children wanted were for their parents to pay them some attention. Now they were to the point, that if loving corrective attention was not forthcoming, they were desperate enough for any attention at all.

Robert looked up when the screeching began at the table. He shook his head, watching the whole scene take place. He watched as the little boy squirted the waitress with ketchup. He could not help thinking how beautiful she was. Small with sun streaked short blond hair; she made him think of the fairy tales, his mother would read to him long ago.

After leaving their table she walked towards him, with ketchup all down the front of her dress, she was acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. This was strange to Robert, instead of acting angry and screaming at the child or the parents, she had smiled and quietly removed the weapons of choice from their reach. Everyone he knew had always screamed and thrown fits, especially his future wife. Ashley Prendergast.

“Hi, may I take your order please?”

Grinning, Robert said, “I do not mind waiting if you wish to go clean up.”

“Thank you, but I have learned, in the week that I have been here, to wait to change after the Morrison’s leave. I will take your order and then while the cook is preparing it, I will see if I can clean up a bit. If that is alright with you,” she asked in a shy voice.

Nodding in assent, he asked, “Why is it, that you did not even raise your voice, storm off or even order them to leave, after what happened?”

“It is not their fault, it…”

“What are you talking about? Of course, it was their fault. They were being spoiled brats and their parents are no better than they are, allowing them to do that to you.”

“It’s simple; I will not do anything to run customers off. Nick and Faith are both wonderful people and they gave me a job when I needed it. Besides that, as I said, it is not the children’s fault.”

“Parents now days are so wrapped up in their jobs and lives. Most are struggling, trying to survive from one day to the next. Somewhere along the way, they tend to forget the most important things, such as spending loving quality time with their children. By the time children learn this, they are so desperate for attention, that they are willing to accept any form of attention.”

Blushing, Joy quickly apologized for talking so much and took Roberts food order. Hurrying back to the kitchen to turn the order in, Joy was so ashamed of herself, how could she have told a complete stranger her theories on child rearing. Tears started to form in her eyes.

As she hurried past Nick, he reached out and gently stopped her. Joy, why don’t you try to clean up a bit, and then step out back for a break? I will see to the few customers we have, now do not argue with me dear, I know that look. I should know that look; I have been married for over half a century.”

Joy could not help but smile; Mr. and Mrs. Clausen were such sweet and wonderful people. They had given her a second job, after her father was laid off from the software company along with so many other people that day.

To be continued…

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