One-Size-Fits-All Story


Episode One, Mainstream Fiction - "File Sharing Error"

The last thing Beau and Trixie wanted was to be teamed up in their jobs as TechnologyTech software sales reps. They were tied on sales dollars for the fiscal year, down to the penny — a curiosity for which Trixie had once tried to calculate the odds — but their competitiveness had steadily driven their boss crazy.

"Managing these two is like herding cats," he had told the CEO in disgust while they stood side by side in her big corner office.

The CEO had grinned and uttered the ugliest words either sales rep had ever heard: "If you can't manage them, make them manage each other. They can share the Chicago territory and split the commissions."

They had tried for four days to change the boss's mind. Since one of those four days was a Saturday, he was especially irritated by the time he made them a deal. "Bring in SuperiorCorp as a new customer," he told them. "They're the newest addition to the Fortune 500 list. If you can get us that business, I'll put you back on separate assignments."

For the next two months, Beau and Trixie battled each other and the SuperiorCorp gatekeepers, desperate to close the deal and end their involuntary partnership. Fourteen screaming fights and one slightly damaged rental car later, they were in the middle of a reluctant truce as they waited in the conference room at SuperiorCorp for their big meeting with the Purchasing VP.

"Have you even read this thing?" Beau asked, rippling through the pages of the business proposal on the conference table in front of them.

"Are you kidding?" Trixie replied. "Nobody reads those things. I don't think the proposal writers even read them. They just cobble them together out of proposals written in the '70s."

Beau wasn't listening, silently reading the proposal in horror. "Oh, no!"

"What's wrong?" Trixie rolled her chair over beside his and tried to read over his shoulder.

"Listen to this." Beau read in a trembling voice. "'TechnologyTech Enterprises will bring significant synergies to SuperiorCorp through the mutually beneficial capabilities we can offer to you through our highly developed network of industry-leading innovations designed to take your business to the next level.'"

Trixie stared at him. "That doesn't mean anything," she said.

"I know that!" Beau shook his head. "There isn't a single sentence of actual content in there!"

Trixie paged through the proposal. "Why would the proposal writers give us schlock? Hey — I thought it was your job to read the proposal before you actually sent it to the prospect!"

"You're on this account, too," Beau muttered. Then he sighed guiltily. "I might have accidentally let the proposal request sit on my desk for a couple weeks before I actually gave it to the proposal writers. I guess they were a little mad. When they gave me the finished booklets, one of them asked if we ever actually read their work. I said yes."

"And they believed you?" Trixie raised her eyebrows.

Beau grimaced. "I guess this was their little test to see if we do read these things!" He shook his head. "What are we going to tell the purchasing VP? He finally lets us submit a proposal after two months, and it's nothing but nonsense jargon!"

"Uh-oh… there's also a reprint of the entire text of 'Jaberwocky,'" Trixie noted, pausing on the second to last page. "Is 'frabjous' a word, or did Lewis Carroll just make it up?"

The handle on the conference room door turned, and they looked at one another in despair, united for a moment in their misery and their desire to kick all of the proposal writers in the shins.

The Purchasing VP swept into the room, spun his chair, and dropped into it. "TechnologyTech people!" he cried. He smacked a copy of the proposal onto the table. Trixie swallowed hard, and Beau closed his eyes. "Congratulations! The business is yours!"

The sales reps stared, exchanged looks, and stared again.

"But — the proposal… I can explain —" Trixie stopped when the VP shook his head violently.

"I don't know how you did it," he said. "I don't know how, but it's like you could read our minds. It was exactly what we wanted. I mean, synergies! You're the only ones who even proposed them. I don't think your competitors even know what synergies are."

"Oh, I seriously doubt that they do," Beau agreed.

The VP pulled a manila folder from beneath his copy of the proposal. "Here's a copy of our contract," he said.

Beau reached for it, but the VP pulled it out of his reach and his face grew serious. "You understand, of course, why I can't email it to you." His voice took on an eerie quality. "There are spies all over the internet. We're taking a risk by even releasing this document at all. It could fall into our competitors' hands. You'd never let that happen, though, would you?"

"No, of course not." Beau took hold of his end of the folder.

"Good," the VP said, still hanging on. "Because if anyone other than TechnologyTech personnel sees this document, you'll never get a cent out of our company. And we'll probably sue you." He grinned and let go of the folder. "So, welcome to the SuperiorCorp family!"

"All we have to do is file this business at the home office, and you're history!" Trixie crowed as they walked down the busy Chicago sidewalk.

"Me?" Beau snorted. "You're the one who's benefiting from this partnership, don't forget. I bet you I'll make my quota and yours next quarter!"

"Oh, yeah?" Trixie cried. "Well, I'll tell you what I think—"

They crashed into someone walking the opposite direction and ended up in a tangle on the sidewalk. Trixie sat up, stunned, and Beau glared at her before turning and saying, "I'm sorry, sir. My partner here was distracting me."

"Quite all right." The gentleman smiled and began picking up files that had fallen everywhere.

"It wasn't my fault. You ran into him, and then you fell over right into me." Trixie grabbed two files and gave Beau a look.

"I did not! I can't help it if you were in my personal space."

"You're just trying to change the subject from the sales quota. You know you're nothing without me."

"You're crazy!"

"No, I'm a better salesperson."

"Uh , folks?" The other man had stood up and was looking down at them where they continued to argue on the sidewalk. "I'm just going to go now, okay?"

Trixie struggled to her feet, and Beau did the same. "Sorry," Trixie said. "Have a good day."

The man smiled stiffly and moved past them.

"Well, I think I made my point," Beau said. He ruffled through the files in his hands. "Hey… Trixie? You have the SuperiorCorp contract, right?"

She narrowed her eyes at him, but the genuine fear on his face stopped her from commenting. She examined the files she had picked up. "I thought you had it!"

They stared at one another for a moment, frozen in terror at the thought of an eternity as sales partners. Then they turned and ran after the man, Trixie screaming, "Wait!" and Beau crying, "You have our file!"

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