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It is a Wonderful Life; With an IT Staff Twist

Parker hadn’t slept for nights. Recently, Thatcher-Jenkins faced a tough quarter with reduced sales and canceled deals. Parker set forth big changes of the company’s management system. But, the majority of the experienced production staff resisted technological changes, fearing intrusion into the production line. The IT staff didn’t have sufficient resources for the comprehensive software execution, leading to production delays and process inefficiencies.

Tring! Tring!

“Hello,” Parker picked up the phone, visibly angry.

“When will you come home for Christmas Eve?” asked Mrs. Parker.

“I’m just closing up here.”

Parker drove to a liquor store. As he made his way out of the shop, he heard his name.

“Hey there, Mr. Parker, what a surprise. Merry Christmas.” This bulky man was his client.

“Hello Mr. Jack, wishing you the same,” Parker replied, waving his hands. The brandy bottle almost slipped out of his hands.

“What’s that?” Jack asked, looking curiously at the brandy bottle.

“We have this Brandy Alexander tradition on Christmas Eve!” Parker replied.

“Well, this sounds awesome. Have a Merry Christmas and convey my regards to the family. Let’s have a chat later,” Jack put forth.

Why did Jack say so? Is he planning to terminate the contract with my company? Oh no! If that is the case, I will have to lay off some people. The uncomfortable feeling he experienced some time back resurfaced to haunt him like never before.

He did not stop at his house but drove past it to a nearby bridge just outside of the town. After parking his car on the roadside, he walked to the middle of a  bridge. Suddenly, he was approached by a shadow from the other side.

“Christmas Eve is not turning out as you planned, is it Parker?” the voice revealed himself. The man had a short height, and he looked a bit older than Parker. The man wore a jacket and woolen cap.

“I’m sorry, do I know you? How come you know my name?” Parker inquired.

‘My name is Gary and let’s say, I know everything about you,” he said, “Why are you here on the bridge?

Sometime back, Parker was lost in self-pity. But now, he was overcome with fear. 

“Would you mind offering me a drink?” he asked.

“Why the hell are you bothering me?” Parker demanded as Gary tried to get hold of the brandy bottle.

“Please let me have it,” Gary pleaded.

Parker extended the bottle, and Gary took it, opened it, took a sip, and handed it back quickly.

“So, Parker, what are you doing here on Christmas eve?” Gary repeated his question.

“That’s none of your business,” Parker replied.

“I assume you planned to jump off this bridge?” Gary put forth.

Suddenly, reality dawned on Parker. Maybe he did want to jump off the bridge.

“I am not sure,” Parker replied, “Sometimes I feel people dependent on me would be better off if I don’t make important decisions.”

“Well…We can find that out now.” Gary said and rushed towards Parker. Parker moved aside as Gary jumped into the river. Parker was shocked. He quickly dropped the bottle, removed his coat. Then, he jumped in the river and swam after Gary. He got hold of Gary, who was struggling in the current, and brought him safely to the river bank.

Gary burst out laughing as they lay on the bankside. 

“What the hell! You don’t know what you were doing!” Parker yelled, shivering from the cold. “If I hadn’t jumped, you would have surely died!”

“How can you be so sure?” Gary said, “I am your guardian angel, stop feeling sorry for yourself before I tell you what I know about you.”

“There is no one guardian angel. You are a cranky old man! I just saved you when I thought of ending my life ten minutes earlier.”

“I may sound crazy, but I want to tell you that please don’t lose hope,” Gary shouted, “We will meet pretty soon.”

“Look, man. I’m headed straight home. Tonight is Christmas Eve, and I should be with my family, not wasting my time listening to a crazy old man.”

Back home, Parker found a weird car waiting for him in the driveway. He walked to the main door, water dripping down his body and he found his office IT admin waiting in the foyer.

“Where were you?” the man asked.

“How come you are here?” Parker asked as his wife arrived into the room.

“Our systems were hacked,” The IT admin started explaining, “The team at the office is getting things in order…but… why are you dripping wet?”

“Yes! Look at your state. What happened?” Mrs. Parker joined the conversation.

“What hacking?! It was just one hour ago I left the office!” Parker said, with desperation visible in his voice.

“Yes, Harold and Matt are doing their best to get things on track at the office. Brett will join them soon. We should be there in the office.” The IT admin panicked as he uttered these words.

“Wait for a second; you aren’t going anywhere. First, tell me why you are drenched, Mister,” Mrs. Parker’s voice was stern.

“I had to jump into the river to save a drowning man, darling. But, right now, my priority is to go down to the office to sort out everything. Pete, wait for me. I will change and come.” 

After quickly changing to fresh clothes and talking to his wife, he set out to his office with Pete. He was the IT admin of Thatcher-Jenkins. Pete had spent seven years with the company and was Parker’s go-to guy for IT. Pete was just 23 when he started his career with Thatcher-Jenkins. He was just out of jail after completing a sentence for IT hacking

Pete was also the son of one of Parker’s wife’s best friends. He initially decided to take him to help him, but eventually, he was more dependent on Pete for his computer skills. 

“What information do we have on the hacking incident?” Parker asked as they were heading to the office.

“As much as I told you right now. We tried hard to reach you. That’s why I rushed to your house. Even your wife was deeply concerned about you,” Pete said.

“Yeah..true…One of the craziest days of my life. I went to the bridge, and a guy came out of nowhere and jumped into the river. I jumped behind him to prevent him from drowning. Gosh! I had never seen this guy before in my life,” Parker said.

“So he knew you?” Pete replied in Gary’s voice. Parker glanced over. Alas! It was not Pete, but Gary who was driving the car.

“Oh my God! What is this?” Parker shrieked out in fear.

“You need not fear, Parker. I am your guardian angel! You don’t realize your importance to all those people around you.”

“Please stop the car! Please let me go.”

“I’ll help you,” Gary said as he turned on the edge of a road and bumped into the building.

When Parker woke up, he could not find his wife beside him on the bed. He ran downstairs. The house was similar to last night and not decorated with Christmas charm. When he opened the front door, he saw the snow and streetlights. The Christmas ornaments hung down from the street light. From the doorway of his house, he saw a well-dressed man walking down the unkempt sidewalk perpendicular to the road. As the man came closer, Parker recognized him. It was Gary!

“What have you done? Where is Jewel, my wife? My kids?” Parker yelled. Gary wore a top hat and a waistcoat, and he was right in front of Parker’s house.

“I promised you to show your importance. We are going on a tour. Please get dressed soon.” Gary replied.

“No, I am not coming,” Parker was adamant.

“If we can finish this sooner, you’ll be able to get back to your old life,” said Gary.

“I really don’t want my old life,” Parker yelled.

Then Gary exclaimed, “Then it’s time to change it.”

——–

Parker dressed up and sat on the driver’s side of the car.

“Good. I am a horrible driver. You can take charge, “ Gary remarked sarcastically, “Let’s go to your office.”

“Are you crazy?” Parker shot back.

“Not crazier than your feelings of loneliness and frustration,” Gary smirked.

“It has been a rough time for my business. The new system is messing up with the production process,” Parker stated, “The worst part is I can do little about this challenge. We’ve already lost two of our biggest accounts. Modernizing is costing us way too much. Things have changed drastically since I have started working there. At any cost, we may have to lay off a few people.”

“It might have been worse as well,” Gary explained while taking a left to the industrial park area. 

‘What? Worse? I have let my colleagues down.”

“No worries. I do understand,” Gary continued, “but things could have been far worse. Thank God for that.”

They reached the Thatcher-Jenkins offices, the place where the Thatcher-Jenkins office should have been. The building at the riverside on the north end of the industrial park lay vacant. The parking lot was not plowed. Parker got stuck up on the snowfield as he tried to get out.

“Oh, God…” Parker’s words trailed off as he plodded through the snow to the building.

Gary got out and exclaimed, “See, I told you how the situation could be worse.”

Parker turned around and shot a glance at Gary, “What exactly is happening?”

Gary smiled, “This is what happens when you don’t take the important decisions. Fifty-six people are laid off. The place is deserted and left vacant.”

Parker started walking back to the car.

They drove out of the Industrial Park towards downtown. As they went down Main street, Parker saw his wife, Jewel. She wasn’t herself, the usual well-manicured woman. Instead, she wore a heavy wool coat and hat with matching mittens. She stood in the doorway of George’s Hardware, taking in donations for the Salvation Army.

“She loves helping people,” Parker said as he rolled down the car window. As they drove by, Parker continued watching her in the car’s rear-view mirror before finally losing sight of her.

“She’s a wonderful person, but her life changed drastically in your absence,” Gary said, “Even though she married another person, she had miscarriages and finally ended up with a divorce. She is never happy as she was happy with you. She suffers every day.”

Parker’s eyes welled up. Gary handed him a handkerchief. Parker wiped his tears as they could see the towns pass by in front of them.

“Where are we going now?” Parker asked.

“You have to see two more things before you arrive at a final decision,” Gary responded.

Parker and Gary stopped in front of Ophelia’s Diner, situated on the east edge of town near the interstate highway. Gary took him around the side of the building to a camp set up about 50 feet behind the restaurant.

As they approached the camper, their noses could smell the faint smell of cigarettes, and their ears could hear muffled noises from inside. As Gary knocks on the door, there is some rustling and audible muttering before the door swings open. There stood Pete in the hallway. He had a stubble that looked two-day-old. He also had a cigarette.

“What the hell do you want?” Pete asked, without taking the cigarette out of his mouth.

“Pete?” Parker asked loudly. Pete looked as if he hadn’t taken a bath. His clothing resembled a cook’s dress without Apron. He did not have any shoes. 

“Yes. But, do I even know you?” Pete said in a hostile tone. 

“Well, I’m busy right now,” Pete slammed the door, leaving Gary and Parker in the snow.

“Let’s go, Parker,” Gary said as he headed back to the car.

“He had a rough time,” Parker said, “Jewel asked me to hire this guy who was just out of jail. Without me, his talent would have remained unappreciated. He is one of the best IT guys. He has been there with me for a long time, and I even wanted him to be my Chief Information Officer (CIO).”

When they reached the car, Parker had a last look at the camper and sat on the passenger seat.

“I understand the situation now,” Parker mumbled as they were driving back.

“Yes, people depend on you, Parker. Let me show you one more thing,” Gary said.

Parker remained silent. It was late afternoon, and it was turning dark.

“But how to get back?” Parker asked helplessly.

“You’ll get to know,” Gary said, “the decision will totally be yours.”

Then, they arrived at the supermarket. Gary walked into the store and went to the aisle where Thatcher-Jenkin’s best-selling product is usually placed. But, Gary pointed at the products from Capra Industries, the biggest competitor of Thatcher-Jenkins. 

“Now you seem ready,” Gary said with a smile, “Let’s go, Parker.”

The two men walked up to the exact spot on the bridge where they had first met. Gary reached through his coat and offered Parker a new bottle of brandy.

“Now, you are free to go home to your wife,” Gary said.

“Thank you, my guardian angel,” Parker said and put forth his hand. Gary didn’t bother to shake hands but put on his cap and abruptly walked away.

Parker drove home faster than usual. Once he reached home, without taking off his shoes or coat, he ran into his family room. He found his children sitting on the couch, enjoying their games on the tablet. His heart was filled with gratitude, and he made his way to the kitchen to meet his wife.

“Oh my dear, Jewel,” he said and hugged her.

“Wow, are you okay?” She asked him.

“Everything is wonderful. I love you, dear.” He kissed her.

Jewel was confused as she asked, “What happened to you?”

“I just had a rough day, and I’m happy to be back home,” he said.

Parker forgot about work for the whole next day. He was relaxing after a long time, in years. He spent the holiday with his loved ones, filled with gratitude, happiness, and confidence.

He returned to work very early post-Christmas. He noticed the MyTek business card lying on his desk. He called Pete to his office. He was determined to find solutions to his business’ IT issues.

“Sit down,” Parker ordered, “Pete, over the Christmas holiday, I had a reality check. It’s no secret that we have some technical problems, and if it continues, we’ll have to lay off some people.”

“Hmm, we’re trying our level best….” Pete started before Parker interrupted.

I’m not pointing fingers at you. Truth is bitter. I want to promote you as the CIO. You have done an excellent job.

“Are you up for it?” Parker pressed.

“Yes, sure, sir,” Pete responded.

“Wonderful, you are the best man for the job. First, you need more resources for setting up a new IT system. Then, we need to train the workforce and reskill them. It is needed for our company’s growth, and I am sure you can take on this challenge.”

“Thank you, sir.” Pete said humbly, “I think we should partner with MyTek to help us cover our regular management processes while we finish the deployment aspect.”

“You can take a call if it is within our budget. I’ll call a staff meeting later today to make your promotion public,” Parker answered. “For now, I need to take care of a few urgent matters.”

Parker shook Pete’s hand and walked him out of the office. 

I’m glad to announce that Pete’s plan was implemented shortly. The following week, MyTek, a Phoenix IT consulting firm, conducted the first assessment and soon took over the computing infrastructure and network management activities of Thatcher-Jenkins. The two companies continue to be full-time collaborators, and Thatcher-Jenkins is on a steady growth path.

Enjoyed the story? MyTek could breathe some new life into your business’ technology strategy as well. Do give us a call at 623-312-2440, and one of our expert IT professionals will help you out! Happy Holidays.

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