Incandescence (Part I)

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Moving Forward

I spent over an hour on the phone with Jacob, no doubt I missed his company. I really did love him but I knew it wasn’t fair to give him false hope. Yes, I loved him; but I wasn’t in love with him and as hard that was to admit, I told Jacob how I felt. I knew I had broken his heart and I hated myself for being the one to do that do Jacob. Hurting him was the last thing I ever wanted to do; but I couldn’t stay with him – that wouldn’t be right for either of us.

Jacob kept telling me how much he missed me, how he wanted to talk to me, hold me, love me. As much as it hurt, I told him that he needed to move on. I told him I wasn’t in love with him and that he deserved to be with something that reciprocated his love.

Jacob’s behavior was a becoming little erratic which had me on high alert. I honestly thought a clean break was the best for him, but after today’s message and some of the things he was saying on the phone, I was starting to worry about his mental state.

Jacob wanted to see me but I told him that I was busy with my new job and that I didn’t have the time. He knew how important my career was to me; but just begged and pleaded with me – he was determined that we meet up and I could tell that unless we met up one last time, Jacob would never move on. I was genuinely concerned that he would harm himself, so I reluctantly agreed to meet for lunch later on in the week.

We said our goodbyes, he told me he loved me and I ended the call. I hated feeling this heartless, but I really couldn’t see any future in our relationship and I was too honest to lead him on.

After a hectic day, I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.

The following morning I arrived at work early; I was really wanting to pick up where I had left off. Jackson the Chief Financial Officer was already in his office, busy shuffling paperwork and working on his computer. I gave him a quick wave hello before entering my office.

I pulled out the files on ex-employees and decided to work through them in a methodical order. I sorted the files by department, deciding to work on departments with the highest staff turnover first.

Surprisingly, the Accounts Department had lost two-thirds of their employees in a 12-month period. 67% staff turnover in a year was huge. Now I needed to find out what was going on in that department. It was no wonder Jackson was in and working at the crack of dawn; there must have been a huge backlog in work with the constant staff changes in his department.

With the Accounts Department located on that same floor as Bradley, I couldn’t help but wonder if the high staff turnover was a result of Bradley and his persona.

I pulled out files for all 28 employees that left the Accounts Department. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I was hoping for something, anything!

File 1: Emily Atkins. Period of employment 6-months. Resignation Letter included in the file; reason for termination: To pursue other interests.

File 2: Britany Craig: Period of employment 4-months. Resignation Letter included in the file; reason for termination: To pursue other interests.

File 3: Penny Cutler: Period of employment 7-months. Resignation Letter included in the file; reason for termination: To pursue other interests.

Going through all 28 files, they all read the same. No-one stayed employed for over 15-months. All employees were female, varying in age between 20 – 32. All women resigned and all resignation letters stated the employee wanted to ‘pursue other interests’.

I’d been in HR for long enough to know something was not right. I picked up my phone, deciding to call each ex-employee. The only way I was ever going to find out the truth was by speaking to each person and determining what exactly happened. I started with Emily, but to my disappointment her mobile telephone number had been disconnected.

Not wanting to feel disheartened, I quickly moved on to Britany. I dialed her number only to be greeted with the same message ‘The number you have called is disconnected, please check the number before trying again’.

I spent the rest of the morning going through files, finding contact numbers and attempted to contact the remaining ex-employees; only to be greeted by the same result each time. Something sinister was going on and I didn’t know what to make of it.

It was 1:00pm and I had been in my office since 7:00am that morning, working non-stop but had nothing to show for it. After my unsuccessful attempts at telephoning the ex-employees, I tried emailing them on their private email accounts that were stored in the payroll system. All 28 emails came back as 'Undeliverable'.

I made my way down to the cafeteria, hungry and frustrated. I collected my lunch before making my way to sit next to a young lady that I’d recognized from the Accounts Department. I asked if I could join her and we sat together chatting about nothing in particular. I learned that her name was Mandy and she had been in the Accounts Department for just over 5-months. Just as we were getting to know each other, Jackson appeared as though out of nowhere. His presence startled Mandy and she quickly got up to return to work, leaving Jackson and I.

Jackson was very friendly. I was surprised to learn that he was only 31 and the Chief Financial Officer. Jackson told me he had been with the Company for almost 5-years, so if anything, he should know exactly why his department was experiencing such high turnover. I had so many questions running through my mind when Jackson took me by surprise.

‘I don’t usually do this, but you’re incredibly beautiful’

‘Jackson’ I gasped, shocked as I was not expecting any attention from my colleagues ‘I’m flattered, however I’m not looking for a relationship’

‘Who said anything about a relationship?’ Jackson said casually

‘Whatever it is you’re propositioning, I’m not interested. From a HR perspective there shouldn’t be any relations between staff’.

‘Suit yourself’ Jackson stated before getting up abruptly and walking away.

Fabulous, I thought to myself. This was my second day on the job and I’d managed to get a Senior Manager and Director to hate me. What made this worse was both men worked on my floor. Pushing those thoughts to the side, I sat there for a moment wondering what on earth just took place. Did the Chief Financial Officer just hit on me? Was he suggesting a one night stand? Could he be the reason staff turnover in his department is at a record 67%? Maybe Bradley wasn’t all to blame. I couldn’t sit around wondering, I had to do some investigating.

Before heading back to my office I made my way into the Stationery cupboard, I knew I was going to need lots of files. I entered the room and quickly ducked into the section I needed and started collecting supplied.

‘Get here now’ I heard a male voice say. ‘What the hell were you thinking Mandy, you’re asking for trouble if you continue to have lunch with her’

‘I didn’t mean to’ I could hear Mandy’s voice tremble ‘She sat with me and started talking. What was I supposed to do?’.

‘I’m not going to warn you again, go anywhere near her and the whole office will know how you seduced an engaged man. Don’t push me because I can and will end your career’

And with that, they both left the room; leaving me stunned. What had I just overheard? What secrets were lurking in this business and how was I going to find out when I couldn't speak to anyone?

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