[The Tragedy of Success, 1,052 words, Genre: Realistic Fiction]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
Greg had been working for the company for a period of ten years. Over those ten years, he had distinguished himself as beyond competent. What does beyond competent mean exactly? It means that Greg achieved several sales awards including salesman of the year for several years running, he was also smashing his sales targets and was making his mark by obtaining recognition awards successively for employee of the month. He was generally liked around the office and most people got on with him fairly well.
Though he was a great employee. Not many of his co-workers gave thought to his social life. What he did with himself outside of work hours. While most of the other employees were raising children of their own outside of work hours. Greg didn’t have that. He didn’t have a social life. He was completely committed to his work role. He didn’t have a partner, didn’t have kids of his own and was estranged from his own parents and siblings.
At the mark of the ten year period he got into an argument with his service manager. The argument was over the fact that he had to take long service leave. Greg was opposed to the whole idea of long service leave. His manager didn’t understand it, what sort of person would refuse to take leave? And Greg was too ashamed to admit to the fact that he didn’t want to take long service leave for the very point that he didn’t have anywhere he wanted to go, nothing that he wanted to do. Work was his life. It was a simple fact to Greg that he lived for this type of thing. His co-workers and managers didn’t understand it. Nobody understood it. What sort of person would want to be at work all the time?
Never-the-less, after some form of dispute, Greg finally agreed to take long service leave. He booked himself a plane ticket to South East Asia where he would spend the time in a hotel resort, drinking pina coladas on a beach and just general relaxation activities.
The twelve hour flight to his destination produced no problems. But when he got off of the flight and into a taxi to take him to his hotel, there was some form of protest occurring in the streets. Greg didn’t understand any of the confusion. The taxi driver spoke very little English and couldn’t explain to him what was happening outside. But as he sat inside the taxi, he witnessed several local people walking past the taxi with machetes in their hands. They were pumping their fists in the air and calling out profanities in their local language. That is when things got scary. Some of the locals, when seeing Greg in the taxi, started yelling things at him that he didn’t understand. Then they began hitting the taxi with their machetes. The taxi driver attempted to put his foot down on the accelerator to plow through the people. When this happened some of the locals forced open the doors and pulled the taxi driver out of and started inflicting physical punishment upon his person. That’s when Greg really started to panic. He started to scream out for help, cry out for help, exasperate himself completely. The locals reacted to this by forcing the passenger door open and pulling Greg out onto the streets. He pulled his arms to his head in an effort to defend himself. But it was already too late, somebody took a machete and swung it towards his head.
Greg was lucky to have survived the incident. One of the only reasons that he was able to survive was for the fact that he had his passport on his person and he was easily identified by the medical staff who worked at the hospital. All in all, Greg spent his long service leave in a hospital with the exception of a couple of days of travel. His family never enquired about his wellbeing and if it were not for his manager being a personal contact on his list of emergency contacts on his medical file, nobody would have come to visit Greg.
His manager, who felt incredibly guilty for forcing Greg to take his long service leave, caught the first flight to visit him in hospital in the foreign country. This was partly due to the medical staff explaining to his manager that his own family didn’t want anything to do with Greg. When they explained this. His manager understood who Greg was now. Greg was the guy who dedicated his life to his work because he didn’t have anything else.
As the manager sat beside the hospital bed with the unconscious Greg, she thought about what she had done. All of the guilt, inflicted by her Christian upbringing and her own deep sense of morality, played deeply, down upon her thoughts.
When Greg regained consciousness, he was not the same. He still retained some of his personal characteristics. But had lost a large amount of his mental capacity. It was a tragedy. A man who had spent his entire life dedicating himself to the service of others, who had nobody to care for him and now he was incapable of taking care of himself.
His manager booked him into rehabilitation services within his home country and accompanied his disabled person on the flight back home. Greg spent the next several months attempting to regain control of his mental faculties.
When he was well enough, the manager arranged him to recommence employment. Though in a severely down-graded role. It wasn’t actually a role exactly. They paid him enough money so that he could take care of his own finances and gave him simple tasks around the office.
He was dressed in a suit every day. Not one of his co-workers could recognize who Greg used to be. He had suffered severe brain damage. And couldn’t understand things as he used to. But the company cared about him and made sure that he was well looked after.
Especially the manager who, feeling guilty, assisted him getting dressed in a suit every day for work. She washed his clothes, she did his ironing, she even made sure his tie was pulled tight around his neck. Having lost everything else, he still looked the part.