The Lesson Learned
Not all that is gold, glitters, you know. Look at me. I’m a handsome Prince in disguise: I’m a rich man in a poor man’s garb; I’m Einstein in a lunatic asylum.
One day, I thought I’d go and take a look at my father’s company’s Head Office in Hounslow, Hertfordshire. I was wearing my usual stuff – jeans and a Tee-shirt – trainers and a baseball hat – like I said, not the kind of clothing you normally associate with the wealthy.
I was just getting into the lift – that one for the CEO and his minions – that one with gold buttons – that one that is the only one to go to the 43rd floor – my dad’s Penthouse flat/office.
I knew he’d be up there, doing all that vital stuff he has to do to keep his firm up there with the best – practicing his putting stroke into an upturned empty coffee cup lying facing him in the opposite corner of the room.
“How was your day, dear?” my Mum would ask him as he stepped through the front door.
“Been hard at it all day, love”, was his usual reply. I knew better.
The lift door opened, and there in front of me was a man in what we used to call a pin stripe suit.
“Hey,” I said, “I didn’t think anybody still wore those things!”
The man straightened with annoyance. The hair on the back of his neck stuck out like a porcupine’s bottom. This man was angry, I could tell.
“And just where do you think you are going?” he asked shirtily.
“Oh, just up to see the old man,” I replied.
He stiffened again.
“I don’t think so, young man,” and he barred my way and pressed one of the gold plated buttons – number 43.
I took another lift.
“I can walk the last one, I said to myself. I went to the next lift and pressed the UP button – the door opened, and a man in blue denim overalls greeted me.
“Going up, Sir?” he asked.
“Sure am,” I said cheerily”, and up went the lift.
“Which floor, sir?” I pointed to 42.
“I can walk the last one,” I said.
“Bbbut, sssir, you can’t go to the 43rd!”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because the boss will be busy. He’s always busy in the afternoons.”
“I know,” I said, “that won’t be a problem.”
“But you need to make an appointment, everybody does.. except ….”
“Except his CEO, right?”
“Exactly so, sir” the man said. “He doesn’t like surprises.”
“He’s going to get one today, isn’t he?” I laughed.
“Sir, sir, let me come up with you so that I can knock on his door.”
“OK, sure, “I said, “come with me.”
On the long trip up to the 42nd floor, I got to know Mr. Bloggs, the cleaner. I got to know that he was a very honest man, that he loved working for my Dad, and that he would do anything for him.
As the lift stopped and we trudged up the stairs to the penthouse suite, the man in the pin striped suite appeared above us.
“And just where do you think you two are going?” he shouted stiffly.
Before I could say anything, Bloggs was whispering to me.
“This is Mr. Smith, the managing director, nobody likes him.”
I whispered back, “I’m not surprised.”
Suddenly, Smith was pushing the little cleaner backwards. He spun past me and banged his head on the corner of the wall. Insensible, he fell down the stairs and lay dead still in a heap.
“Why did you do that?” I shouted up at Smith.
“He had it coming,” Smith hotly replied.
Suddenly, the landing light went on above us. My father appeared, red in the face and looking slightly frightened.
“Robert, what are you doing here?” he asked me.
“Coming to see you, Dad,” I said.
“DAD??” said Smith shakily.
“Yep, that’s right, Dad.”
That was all last year. The brass plate on the CEO’s door now reads
Smith cleans the stairs and landings.
Robert L. Fielding