A “Cautionary” Christmas Carol
This is "A Christmas Carol" for employers. Based on a true story. Only the names are changed . . . well, and some details . . . to protect the guilty. The part of Scrooge is played by an ungrateful employee. Bob Cratchit is played by the magnanimous employers. Mrs. Cratchit will appear as Tiny Tim. This is a story of a generous employer taken advantage of by a selfish employee. But just as in the original Christmas Carol, goodness prevails.
Scrooge has been working for Cratchit & Co. for nearly 10 years, and has been an instrumental player in the growth of the business. It's not a big company, nor can we really say it's thriving during the "economic downturn", but it is surviving. Bob Cratchit has shown his appreciation by letting Scrooge occasionally take time off for personal business. A half day here, a half day there. Other employees cover when Scrooge is gone, but he's never gone long enough to threaten the smooth operation of the company. And thank goodness. No one else knows everything that Scrooge knows: payroll, accounts receivable, personnel record-keeping; Scrooge has the institutional knowledge of the business.
Even Bob Cratchit thinks Scrooge is indispensible. He praises him regularly, so we can tell. They feel like family. In fact, when Mrs. Scrooge was pregnant this last time, Cratchit & Co. gave Scrooge some extra time off with pay, so he could be home for a while to bond with the baby. Scrooge doesn't express it, but Bob knows he's grateful.
Life was lovely down at Cratchit & Co. Then the unimaginable happened: Scrooge got a hobby. Suddenly his periodic days off were not enough. He demanded a shorter workweek. "But we can't afford to have you gone that much," Bob Cratchit told him. "You know too much and we can't imagine getting along without you."
Yes, that was his mistake. He said it out loud. He never dreamed it would backfire. How can good works come back to bite you? With the growing demands of his family and hobby, Scrooge began to resent the Cratchits. Every request was a demand, now. Every deadline a curse, and every question an insult to his intelligence.
Work became less lovely at Cratchit & Co. Scrooge was resentful and tired, what with playing twilight golf and sitting up with the baby. Bob Cratchit's suggestions about playing less golf or sharing the family duties were met with derision and disdain.
Scrooge kept getting surlier and Bob Cratchit kept trying to help, even having his wife come in to take over some of Scrooge's duties. Nothing was enough.
Then Scrooge hatched a sly plan. "The Cratchits love me and want to help me. I will ask for a temporary lay-off. I can collect unemployment for a while; have all the time I want to play golf and play with the baby. Then I can come back after a few months. I am indispensible, after all. Mr. Cratchit said so."
Bob and Mrs. Cratchit, still wanting to help, went along with a no-fault separation, but they did not commit to a re-hire. That made Scrooge mad. On his EDD claim, he stated his reason for quitting was the Cratchits' fault. He claimed a stressful, even hostile work environment and broke the Cratchits' hearts.
But as the ungrateful Scrooge drove out of sight, chuckling with Mrs. Scrooge that "Our problems are over!" Mrs. Cratchit was heard to say "It won't stop me from loving and trusting people."
God bless us every one. (That last line came from me.)
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