To sob stories by employees

   How was your day at work?" asks my wife, Fidelity, when I come home, hot and tired.
   "Fine," I reply. "Sales were good, the Gustafson contract was finalized, I met with one of the new landlordsÖ"
   "Snore, snore, snore," she says, cutting me off. "Cut to the latest gossip. Give me some dirt."
   She is referring, of course, to the continuing soap opera being played in my business, complete with a star-studded cast of employees.
   Itís one of the perks of my jobs. With about 45 employees, I get to hear everything. I am the Don Hopleone of what amounts to a family business.
   And over the years Iíve listened to some pretty juicy stuff. But Iím not prying, like Fidelity. The employees voluntarily come to me with their sordid tales. Why? Because Iím compassionate, wise and sincere?
   Nah. Itís usually because they need a loan to get out of some jam. They feel compelled to shell out details in exchange for cash.
   Because I had no red-hot stories to entertain Fidelity at the moment, we decided to sit down and award our top five employee soap operas. With hundreds of entries over the years, it was not an easy choice. All of the winners are former employees and all are true stories.
   Fifth-place award: This goes to Doris, a single-woman in her late 30s, who Iíll never forget bounding into my office one afternoon, huge smile on her face. "Iíve got some good news and some bad news," she chirped.
   "Give me the bad news first," I said.
   "Ok. The bad news is Iím pregnant."
   "Whatís the good news?" I asked, not without some trepidation.
   Her smile got even wider. "Iím going to have an abortion!"
   Thanks for sharing that with me, Doris.
   Fourth-Place winner: Congratulations go to Ken, who was one of my top managers. He came into my office one day and sheepishly announced that U.S. Immigration officials were outside and were hauling him away. It seems Ken was Canadian and in the United States illegally.
   He was carted off to jail. Of course, I loaned Ken $2,000 to post bail. Of course, Ken jumped bail, fleeing to, of all places, Canada. I never saw him or my $2,000 again.
   Third-place award: Al is the lucky winner. Al was a longtime employee, in his early 60s, thinking about retirement. A lifelong bachelor, he was a persnickety old coot who would throw tantrums if his stapler was misplaced. He was, in a word, incorrigible, and also, everyone assumed, very gay.
   Well, next thing you know he decides to go to Brazil for a vacation instead of his usual retreat to his sisterís house 40 miles away. While in Brazil, he meets a widowed countess, falls in love and returns to announce he is quitting to marry the countess and move to Rio, where they are living happily ever after in her penthouse on the Copacabana.
   Second-place award: This began with a phone call from Robby, one of my favorite employees Ė a good kid, but a little wild.
   "I wonít be coming in today," said Robby. "Iím in jail with a little problem."
   That Robby, I thought. What a character. Another wild weekend with his buddies. Probably got drunk and was caught stealing hubcaps. A day in jail would do him some good.
  "What are you in jail for," I asked shaking my head at his merrymaking.
  "Murder," he replied. "They say I stabbed him but I didnít."
   Three years later, Robby was acquitted of all charges.
   Grand-prize winner: Tough to beat an accused murderer, but after much discussion Fidelity and I selected Sarah, who was a quiet, unassuming and very solid employee.
   One day Sarah asked to see me, which was unusual, because she rarely spoke. "I have a problem," she whispered, ever so meekly. "I need $2,000."
   It had to be a sick grandmother or something. Sarah was so sweet.
   "I have another part-time job," she blurted. "I place bets for people and I got stiffed."
   It took a few moments, but it dawned on me. "Youíre a Bookie!!" I cried.
   Little Sarah started to sniffle. "Small time. But Iím getting threatening phone calls from the bigger bookie. If I donít give them the money by Wednesday I think they might break my legs."
    Now thereís a grand prize winner.



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