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Teamwork

Febbraio 2015
A short story.

di James Schofield

File audio:

clicca qui per andare alla relativa traccia audio (contrassegnata dalla scritta "speaker")


Speaker: Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent)

The trouble began when Mr Finkel was made head of the office where I work as a secretary. He came with a big reputation for being able to improve teamwork.
I admit, we had a few small problems. Julie from accounts had stopped talking to Steve from purchasing after last year’s office Christmas party because he spilled a glass of red wine on her white skirt and didn’t pay the cleaning bill. Karen, our receptionist, was tired of Tony the sales manager always asking her to put money in the traffic meter for his car outside the building. So one day she made an anonymous call to the traffic police and asked them to tow his car away. And, yes, I gave Clive from the service department salt instead of sugar by 'mistake' for his coffee after he said I needed to go on a diet.  
We weren’t perfect, but we didn’t deserve Mr Finkel. Nobody did.

On his first day he called all twenty of us into the conference room and gave us a presentation about teamwork, full of slogans and photographs of dynamic-looking teams.
‘Remember, there’s no I in Team …’ he said importantly.
‘There isn’t a P or a Q, either,’ whispered Julie, which made me laugh.
‘… don’t think Me, think We!’ Mr Finkel continued, ‘because there’s no limit to what We can achieve …’
And so on for two hours. After that, he sent us a new teamwork slogan each week and at every meeting we had to explain how we were implementing it. It was driving everybody mad.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against teamwork, but as his secretary I could read all the reports he was sending to headquarters and I saw he was taking the credit for everybody’s work. Teamwork had suddenly gone out of the window.

Well, the day he sent us a slogan saying 'Unity in Adversity!' I realized I had to do something, so I organized a meeting for six o’clock in the pub opposite our office and told everybody what I’d discovered.
‘Unbelievable!’ Karen said. ‘He’s using us for his career!’
‘What about complaining to old Mr Harris, the big boss?’ suggested Clive.
‘He’s coming next week to see Finkel,’ said Steve.
‘Complaining won’t help,’ said Tony. ‘He’ll just think Finkel needs more time. We need to find a way to get rid of him.’
We sat thinking for a while and had a few more drinks.
‘I’ve got it!’ said Julie after her fourth vodka and tonic. ‘We have to use his teamwork weapons against him! You say Mr Harris is here next week? This is what we’ll do…’

Mr Finkel was nervous about old Mr Harris coming. He knew he wasn’t popular in the office, so if possible he didn’t want anybody else to meet the boss. As soon as Karen phoned to say Mr Harris had arrived and was going to the conference room he hurried off. I followed him down the corridor.
‘Mr Harris, such a … oh!’ he said, then stopped in surprise. The whole office was sitting there with Mr Harris.
‘Ah, Finkel, there you are,’ he said. ‘Your staff were telling me about the terrific job you’ve done here.’
‘We’re one team and one dream!’ said Karen. ‘You taught us that Mr Finkel!’
‘Oh... oh, thank you,’ Mr Finkel said suspiciously. He’d heard Karen saying that was nonsense several times. ‘It was nothing…’

‘Nothing?’ cried Clive. ‘From you we learnt that team stands for Together Everyone Achieves More….’
‘…and none of us is as smart as all of us …’ added Tony.
‘… because we’re twenty players with one heartbeat!’ concluded Julie and Steve simultaneously, while high-fiving in perfect harmony.
Mr Finkel’s mouth fell open. Julie and Steve!
‘Finkel my boy,’ said Mr Harris with tears in his eyes. ‘You’ve done it again! I’ve got big plans for you. What do you think about running a factory in San Francisco?’

Two weeks later, after Mr Finkel had gone, we all met for another drink.
‘I suppose,’ said Julie, ‘that in a way, he did turn us into a team. We had to work together to get rid of him.’
‘Perhaps that’s the secret of his reputation,’ said Clive. ‘It seems unfair that he got that cool job in San Francisco, though. Just because he 's such a pain.’
‘Well, it’s not the San Francisco,’ I said.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Tony.
‘Apparently, the factory Mr Harris was talking about is in San Francisco, Guatemala. It’s in the middle of the jungle with a population of about 8,000 people. It seems their most recent manager was eaten by an anaconda…’

If you want to listen to our interview with Buisness English expert James Schofield, the author of this short story, click here


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