Flight Of The Canary

“I am warning you Samuel, keep cool.. you don’t have to say anything.

“What if I am asked? Should I lie?” A frustrated Samuel asked.

“No, but you can be evasive. You just report the general framework without getting into any details. You need not talk about the dirty laundry, after all it shall not change anything and it will only put you in the cross hairs of some powerful people.”

They were on their way to a very important meeting to discuss the results of a week-long investigation of changes to the work flow process and production evaluation. When everybody was finally seated in the conference room, they were all relaxed and jovial.. donuts and coffee added an air of celebration to the gathering marking the end of the week-long hard work. There were four regional managers, and nine technicians and the meeting was headed by one of the global managers of the multinational company at its American headquarters in Chicago. The boss went around the group asking questions and taking notes. He was obviously pleased as everyone was painting a rosy picture of their findings. Finally, the marketing manager stood up and started a power point presentation with many extraordinary numbers. He concluded, ” impressive as they are, I believe this coming year we shall exceed these numbers.”

The meeting ended on an upbeat note. Samuel was never asked to speak, so he kept quiet.

A week later, Anita, the development manager came to Samuel asking,

“Did you send an email to Vittorio ?”

“I send a lot of emails to Vittorio. He is my manager.” Sam answered.

“Yes, yes.. I mean about last week’s meeting ..” she asked

“I am sure I must have.. I am required to send a report about all my work to Vittorio” Sam replied again.

“Could you please forward this email with the report to me .. ” she asked with a smile.

“Sure.” Sam answered with a smile.

Shortly that day, the phone rang and Samuel’s regional manager greeted him with an unusual statement,

“Hi Samuel, you have made quite a name for yourself at Central headquarters.”

“Hi Cain, what do you mean?” Sam wondered.

“This report you sent to Vittorio.. it is causing a big stir .. I have been asked to travel to Europe for a meeting next week.” Cain answered.

“I don’t see what the fuss is about. I just reported what I saw .. I did not manipulate anything or fudge anything..” Samuel said innocently.

“I am sure .. I don’t question that.. but these numbers are not supported by the findings of other departments, and some of the questions you posed in the report are seemingly out of line.” Cain spoke with a tinge of sarcasm.

“out of line?” Sam was astonished.

“Well, remember I told you whatever you do trying to help others will not count towards your evaluation.. so you better stick to your own duties and never mind what happens in other departments” Cain spoke in a more conciliatory tone.

The following week Anita came smiling to talk to Sam,

“I have a very important case which I hope you shall have time to take care of.”

“Sure.. what kind of case?” Sam asked jovially

“It belongs to a customer from Philadelphia .. He happens to be a close friend of the CEO .. everyone who saw it seems to be frustrated with the results for some reason.. I was told you helped R&D with a similar situation a few months ago.. so I thought you may be able to handle this one.. you can take as much time as you need, as long as we can get it before the week-end..” she giggled.

“you mean you have to get it by tomorrow.. today is Thursday !” Sam giggled back.

After lunch, Sam went to see Anita,

“your case is ready .. and I sent it to you.” He said

“I saw it.. it looks beautiful .. I wonder why everyone had a difficult time with it?” She answered

“I wonder too .. but I must point out.. this has to go to Philadelphia and then to production.. if anyone so much as touch it or try to tweak it in any way, it shall be completely messed up and I shall have to restart working on it from scratch !!” Sam warned with a smile .. and left.

Samuel was having lunch with the members of the team a month later when Francois said,

“there is an earthquake in Europe.”

“You mean the one in Italy?” Sam asked.

“No.. I think he means the one in our company .. The global head of the production departments has been ousted.” Victor said laughing… they all laughed.

“this guy was with the company for a very long time he was one of the most powerful old guards” Sharma said.

“May be he is also one of those who do not consider me to be a human.” Samuel said in a sad bewildered voice.

“What do you mean?” Asked Sharma.

“I sent a case back to the developer and explained the problems with it .. his reply was.. I was not human” answered Sam with a sad smirk…then he added, “I don’t think animals can used computers and emails .. can they?”

“maybe this is why the company shares were declining steadily for the past years.?” Francois said.

“Yeah.. at one time it was upward of $80 a share.. where is it now?” Victor asked.

After lunch, Anita stopped by Sam’s desk,

“There is a request to check on all the cases included in your reports for the last 6 months. I hope we can have access to these cases !”

“I am sure I can collect them .. I never get rid of any cases ..” Samuel said quietly.

“Very well.. a team of independent examiners will be assigned to check all these cases.” She said smiling.

“Fine by me.. glad to hear it.” He replied.


The independent team spent three weeks collecting information… asking questions and forming a report. They left and Samuel never heard about it again, until Anita came to him once more declaring that he should not discard the examined cases because the CEO wanted to examine them personally.

A large convention was convened with much pump and fanfare.. to celebrate the end of the year..

A huge number of delegates from various departments attended. During one of the breaks two people came to see Samuel. Teresa the head of the QC department in Europe and Rodriguez in charge publications.

“Samuel, I wonder if it is OK for me to use the illustrated guide you have created for your local QC department in our department as well?” Teresa asked.

“it would be my pleasure, I shall send you the files.” Sam answered graciously.

“well, while we are at, I would like to circulate the power point presentation you use for educating new employees to all departments globally. Is this OK?” Rodriguez said smiling.

“I don’t see why not. Let me go over it again to make sure it is complete .. you understand, when I do it here I make comments orally as I present it.. so when you distribute it, these explanations might not be available.” Sam explained.

“Excellent .. thank you. And I shall circulate the illustrated guide Teresa was talking about to all branches as well.” Rodriguez said gleefully.

During one of the meetings, headed by the global development manager Sam pointed out,

“I don’t understand why we are not including this additional feature I see employed in our competitors products?”

“I was told it shall take too much time while it is not real significant.” The big boss answered

“It is already developed .. it only needs some testing.” Sam replied

“It is not significant enough according to the managers in charge.” Insisted the boss.

“I am afraid I disagree .. if I were a client .. it would make my life a lot easier.” Sam stubbornly answered.

“We shall get to this later.” Cain The regional manager interfered.

“So what shall we do about it now” Sam said in frustration.

“Nothing.” The boss answered in a final tone.

“OK.. now I have a question .. if we do the end to end test and we could go through all the steps to the end.. then found out that more than %76 of the cases failed .. should we consider this a success?” Sam asked with half closed eyes.

“Yes..” came a stern unqualified answer from Gypsy, the new global testing manager who was going to replace Vittorio…

One of the developers attending started to explain the new process they were suggesting to utilize in the new product… It was rather complicated and cumbersome.. so Samuel suggested a different approach. Cain hastened to the defense of the developer,

“The first approach is better because it is easier.”

“Easier for who?” asked Samuel.

“Easier for the developer to create.” Cain emphasized.

“I don’t care what is easier for the developer.. I am more concerned about what is easier for the client to use our product.. after all we are competing with others to entice the customers to use our products rather than the competition. You must admit the approach I suggested will make it much easier for the end-user and more appealing.” Sam explained earnestly.

Unfazed, Cain decidedly declared,

“We shall try both approaches and decide which to use later.”

After exhausting efforts and numerous challenges, Samuel’s approach was approved.

Later on, at the conclusion of the convention, the same global Marketing manager made his usual power point presentation with glorious numbers and beautiful graphs in the presence of the large assembly gathered from company departments around the globe. The applause was nonstop and the celebration was in the air.. however, poor old Sam saw a glaring omission in the marketing report. He mentioned it to Vittorio after the final meeting.

“Ok, send me your observations and I shall look into it when I return home.. I am on my way to Hong Kong and Tokyo .. when I am back in Europe I shall check it out.” Vittorio promised.

A month later, a meeting was called and the local general manager was attending, “I was told that we have too much waste, and we are trying to reduce this unnecessary cost for the company.”

“A very simple stat will reveal what needs to be done.” Sam said.

“What kind of stat?” asked the good man.

“We must have .. somewhere .. the information of which products are more popular, which products have the highest percentage of failure, which clients are ordering more and which clients stopped ordering .. and we should ask why.. this is the logical approach.” Sam explained.

“Sadly, I don’t think we have such information..” the general manager flatly stated.

There was silence in the room for a while, until Sam replied,

“We can still collect the information and generate a report.”

“I don’t know who would have access to all this information .. it must be scattered in various departments.” The good man queried, “can you do such a report?”

“I don’t have access to such information.. I don’t even have a list of all our clients__” Sam replied before he was interrupted by Anita,

“If you don’t have access to this information, then how come you concluded that we have waste … and problems in marketing in your report to Vittorio?”

Everyone in the room was stunned. After a brief tense silence, Sam answered,

“My report to Vittorio was based on the missing information from the marketing director power point during the convention.”

“Why should you always stick your nose in everyone else’s responsibilities?” She asked sarcastically.

“There were more than a hundred people attending this presentation.. everyone who saw that should have immediately noticed the glaring absence of some crucial information.. the presenter gleamed over how many clients we acquired over the last year, but he never mentioned how many have left? Just an example, mind you.” Sam challenged her.

When there was no other comment.. he continued,

“Now based on our discussion here, we discover an even bigger problem .. this multinational company with all these employees, does not have a single person who keeps track of such crucial information.”

Another awkward silence followed, and finally the general manager declared,

“we can end this meeting now, but before we go, I like to inform you that Fatima, the new testing regional manager will arrive tomorrow.. she was appointed by Gypsy, the global manager replacing Vittorio who has moved to head another department… we shall meet again next week.”

The following week in the same meeting, the general manager went over several issues and finally he said,

“Mika, the QC local manager told me that she has some information which can help in our latest discussion.”

“Hi everyone,” Mika started, “based on our discussion of last week, I thought I may have access to the information needed .. I was not sure, so I did not say anything back then. But I collected the data of all the orders which passed through our department for the past year.. and I put it in a spreadsheet. I have it here on a flash drive, because I didn’t know who should get such information.”

“very good, this should not be sent company wide .. this must be confidential information.” Anita jumped in immediately.

“OK, Thank you Mika.. I think we here should go over this information and see what we can do about it.. so please just send it to this group as we have discussed the subject and may be next meeting we discuss the findings.” The general manager declared before he dismissed the group.

The following Monday was a busy day.. Samuel got an email from Vittorio .. ” we received the Mika information at Central headquarters, will you please do some analysis of the data and turn the report into a graph, then send it back to me.”

Naturally Samuel was very pleased to oblige. The data revealed some horrible facts. The number of clients leaving the company exceeded all expectations .. there was no follow-up by anybody regarding the reasons of those clients grievances .. the reasons were clear from the analysis Samuel provided.

 Fatima, the new local manager, called him to her office in order to look at the resume of a new applicant to join the department. He knew the applicant from a previous encounter at I.C.I.O .. a company where both of them worked. He checked the resume and smiled.. then Fatima asked,

“What do you think .. ?”

“I do not think this is a fit .. even this glorious resume does not show he has what we need.” Sam was blunt.

“Well, wait until you talk to him.. maybe you change your mind.” She said and called the applicant to enter the room. Abubakr entered the room and warmly greeted Samuel.

After the usual pleasantries, Sam asked a few question while Fatima listened. Then the applicant left the room and the manager asked again,

“Now what do you think?”

“When an applicant lies in the his resume .. and then lies even further in an interview, I don’t consider that to be an appropriate employee to even consider. I happen to know that he is lying because I knew him from a previous encounter. I know what he was doing, what he is capable of and what he has lied about. Sorry, this is not a fitting person to do anything in this department.” Samuel answered definitively.

“I have already hired him, so make sure to help him out to learn the duties.” She declared.

“so if you have already hired him, why did you ask my opinion?” Sam asked

“I just wanted to let you know he needs your help.” She said bluntly, “and by the way, I want you to show him how to use the Microscope.”

“I have created a step by step document with all needed illustrations at the request of Vittorio before he left.. you have that document already..” Samuel answered.

At that point, the writing was on the wall ..

A few days later, Samuel got a package from the marketing department with a special request.. “this is an important product which shall be used as a representative of our company in a global convention.. please see to it that it will be in perfect shape to compete with products of other companies”

When he checked the package, he found the product shockingly defective. He took it to Fatima, and explained,

“This is hopelessly defective.. they should have asked us to do the case from start to finish and send it to them.. besides I was told to stick to my work only .. that helping other departments is not supposed to be part of my duties… I do it only if I choose to, and have time to do it.. now they are creating this emergency and ask for a miracle.”

“I don’t care.. if they asked you to do it, then you have to take care of it. The reputation of the company depends on it.”

“OK, the global head of oversight is here in Chicago and I shall have to explain this to her.” Samuel said and left the room without waiting for an answer.

He found the intended manager and showed her the case while Anita was watching,

“This is almost hopeless.. and is going to take a lot of correction ..” Sam complained.

He explained the numerous corrections needed to make the case work, and the manager agreed with him wondering,

“I don’t understand why they threw this into your lap, when it is their responsibility.”

“I guess they realized that the case failed.. and did not know what to do.. so they tried to find either a scapegoat or.. a miracle worker.” He joked. They laughed.

Samuel worked on the marketing case for the following two days to meet the deadline .. while he was sweating it out, Abubakr came to him asking,”

“What is the meaning of gouging ?”

“What?” Samuel looked at him in bewilderment, “what do you mean? This is English.. it is supposed to be you first language.”

“Yeah .. but I don’t understand it ?” the new employee asked again with a wide smile.

“Check it out in the dictionary.” Samuel was irritated.

“I also want you to show me how to create an excel sheet.” Abu asked again.

“I am very busy.. ask Victor to help you. You are supposed to know these things already according to your resume.. better yet ask Fatima to show you if she knows how to do it.” Samuel answered angrily.

The following day Fatima came to Sam saying,

“You are not helping Abu, and you are refusing to support other employees”

“I am too busy right now..” He answered curtly.

“Your vacation request has been denied.” She said angrily

“I have already asked to transfer to another department so we don’t have to cross roads again.” He replied tersely with disgust glowing from his eyes.

The HR manager called Sam and asked to see him. When he arrived, she was all smiles and asked him to explain why he submitted the application to transfer to another department. He went through the grievances he had to face since the reorganization of the department ..

“So you find Abu not suitable for the position?” She asked.

“He has none of the qualifications required to fulfill his expected duties. He lied in his resume.. and he lied again in the interview. Would you think of such an applicant as suitable ?” he challenged her.

“Since you know the proper qualifications, would you help me find the right person?” she asked

“Gladly.” he answered.

“Very well, I am going to forward some resumes to you and you can give me some feedback about each applicant.. and please include what would be the required qualification to make the proper choice.” She said with a wide smile, “I am on your side Sam..”

A week later, the HR manager was going over some of the comments Sam made about the various resumes.. she asked bluntly,

“Would you agree to interview some of these applicants ?”

“I know that I promised to help .. but shouldn’t Fatima do that?” he asked

“Fatima does not know about these things.” She answered with the usual smile.

“She does not know.. yet I was passed for that position twice in favor of others who don’t know about these things?” Sam wondered sarcastically.

“It is Gypsy’s decision.. so will you help me with the interviews?” she pleaded.

“I promised to help you. But I see no result for my request to transfer to another department. The only possibility we have to resolve these issues, is either I find a place in another department or in another company .. that is the conclusion you want me to reach?” he declared.

“Unfortunately, we have no open positions that fit you in another department yet.” She said.

“And when I told Gypsy that I do my duties flawlessly, he accused me of messing up the cases of the marketing department.. the same department that sent me a failed case to turn into a masterpiece.. how is that fair..?” Samuel’s eyes were wet with tears.

“I am sorry you feel that way.” She said unmoved.

“I guess the writing is on the wall. Since my request for vacation has also been denied, I should probably travel to Arizona in a sick day?” he declared and left the room with a heavy heart.

The final insult was inflicted when the HR manager joined Fatima to inform Sam that he was terminated and asked him to collect his personal stuff and leave the premises immediately without so much as a good-bye to his team members. He wished both of them well and left to join another company in Arizona.