Tuesdays were always a day of fear for Adam Reynolds. That was the day that the board of Kimberly-Clark held their weekly meeting, and as the newly-appointed Senior Vice President of Kleenex Affairs, Adam was constantly under scrutiny from the other members of the board, as their seniority meant that they felt they had the right to tell Adam how to do his own job. In Adam’s mind, this was ridiculous. It was also ridiculous in the minds of anyone Adam had spoken to over the last eight years, if only because he brought it up so much that the general assumption was that the way the board had treated him had to be egregious beyond belief in order to justify his rantings. Last Tuesday, the board had the nerve to tell Adam that the recent Minions: The Rise of Gru Kleenex tie-in was not as successful as they had hoped. To anyone with a brain, it was pretty obvious that no matter what children’s mascot you slapped on a package, the level of demand for tissues was not going to go up by any significant amount. As far as Adam saw it, the 7% increase in sales of children’s Kleenex was frankly remarkable, certainly worthy of at least a larger Christmas bonus, if not a raise. But the board wanted 10%, and so the only thing Adam received for his efforts was a reminder that his tenure as Senior Vice President was not guaranteed. This sort of willful ignorance of Adam’s obvious skill as a tissue mogul is why he entered the elevator to the sixth floor boardroom every Tuesday with visible sweat on his forehead, reciting a prayer that the others would go easy on him this time.
The two board members that seemed to particularly enjoy having a go at Adam were two Europeans that had moved to Texas to accept their Vice Presidencies. The first, Alan Rockwood, was a Brit, and his antagonism towards Adam seemed completely unjustified to him, as he had only been in his position as Senior Vice President of Scott Brands a year longer than Adam. Surely eight years of experience was not so inferior to nine that Rockwood could claim to be any sort of legitimate authority over him. The other Vice President to attract Adam’s ire was from Germany, and went by the name of Albrecht Rufenacht. Rufenacht’s claim to outranking Adam was slightly more reasonable in corporate logic, as his father Rudolf had previously served as the head of all Kimberly-Clark operations in Europe. But Adam did not agree with this reasoning, as he thought such claims of authority via nepotism were against all laws of economics. Despite this logic that he thought infallible, though, Adam was never able to defeat his adversaries at the Tuesday meetings, as the rest of the board did not particularly care who won the weekly dispute as long as it was over fast, and the Europeans had Adam cornered two against one every time.
Adam had taken precautions this week to make sure that he could finally overcome his adversaries. When the elevator let him off at the sixth floor, it was 9:47 a.m., thirteen minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin. As the board members typically did not arrive for a meeting until just before the 10 o’clock bell in an attempt to make themselves seem devoted to their actual jobs, this would give Adam the time he needed to prepare the boardroom in his favor with a presentation he had spent weeks preparing concerning a potential raise that he believed was long overdue, given all he’d done for the corporation. To Adam’s surprise, though, when he entered the boardroom, Alan and Albrecht were already there, discussing the Cowboys’ recent season-ending loss to San Francisco. Masking his fury at his adversaries for having somehow predicted his coup, Adam decided to join in on the conversation in an attempt to get in on his compatriots’ good side.
“Hey all, how goes it?”, Adam inquired.
“Pretty good! Glad to see you, Adam.”, Alan responded. “Say, Albrecht and I were just talking. How do you reckon the Cowboys’ season next year will end up going?”
Adam was wholly unprepared for this attempt to question the quality of his logical reasoning before the meeting had even begun. “Uhh, I’m not entirely sure. I feel like it’s a bit difficult to tell for sure until at least after the draft, y’know?”, he stammered, terrified of the reaction that would follow.
“I suppose a lot of things are still up in the air until then, but it’s an interesting topic to discuss, at least in my mind.”, Alan replied.
“Even up until the preseason starts, you never know how draft picks are going to change a team for sure.”, Albrecht added. “But the draft is a solid spot to begin predictions, I’d say.”
Adam was incensed at this repudiation of his suggestion. Somehow, eleven minutes before the board meeting had even begun, his European adversaries had already gotten the better of him. There would be no way to escape the oncoming humiliation now. The only course of action Adam had left was to extricate himself from the meeting altogether, and avoid taking the brunt of the punishment in-person.
“If you don’t mind, I’m going to, um, head to the bathroom real quick before the meeting starts.”, Adam said, and quickly left the room in favor of the staircase adjacent to the bathroom before Rockwood and Rufenacht could respond, leaving them to merely exchange confused looks instead. As he walked back to his office, defeated, Adam muttered to himself that it was a good thing that his therapist had a free hour after work today, because his inability to deal with his colleagues’ mockery was beginning to take a toll on him. At this point, he wasn’t even sure if the bomb he detonated in Rockwood’s garden the previous weekend had even phased him.
“And you’re sure that your hippocratic oath or whatever prevents you from talking about any of this to the authorities, right?”
Julia Ganado, Adam’s therapist, was understandably taken aback by this question. While it was true that therapist-client confidentiality forbade her from speaking about anything she and Adam discussed outside of their meetings without his permission, his sudden mention of the authorities was not a good sign. Jane had been worried that Adam’s ability to deal with his inferiority complex at work had been worsening lately, and while whatever was making him anxious about the cops could have been a variety of things, “good” was certainly not one of them.
“I can’t share anything you speak about here with anyone else without your express permission”, Ganado said, trying to mask her worry about Adam’s behavior.
“Alright, well then, you remember that Rockwood guy I’ve brought up a few times before, about how he keeps trying to get me fired?”
“Yes, you’ve mentioned him a few times before, as I recall.”, Ganado exhaled. Adam had brought up Rockwood at almost every session the two had had since he began seeing her about four months prior. Nearly all of these increasingly-angry tangents had seemed in Ganado’s mind to stem from either Adam misinterpreting Rockwood’s attempts to make small talk during board meetings as hostility, or him facing the consequences of failing to live up to his outlandish promises and guidelines he’d set for himself in previous board meetings as an attempt to “prove his worth to the company.” Ganado worried frequently that her sessions with Adam weren’t doing much to actually help him overcome his issues, mainly because he consistently refused to admit he had any.
“Yeah, well, last weekend I decided that if he wasn’t going to respect me in the boardrooms, I would make him understand my abilities at home. He lives next to me, you know.”, Adam mentioned, his body displaying increasing signs of uncomfort and agitation. Ganado did, in fact, know this, as it was another bit of Rockwood trivia Adam seemed particularly fond of repeating en masse. “So, I spent some time making a makeshift bomb, and I snuck it into his garden overnight and blew it up. But it seems like it still hasn’t gotten through to him that I’m more capable than he thinks. He didn’t even seem scared of me today when I talked to him this morning. I just don’t get it.”
Ganado was taken aback by Adam’s frank confession to the garden bombing that had been all over Dallas news for the last few days. She knew Adam had issues with needing to prove himself, but she never thought it would get so bad that it would drive him to blow up someone’s garden. Never in her twelve years as a licensed therapist had one of her clients told her something this damning, and without any developed method of dealing with something like this, she chose to let Adam continue to ramble until he arrived at a point where she could return to assisting him, or at least try.
“Anyway, I have bigger fish to fry than getting that scumbag’s respect now. That bomb cost me so much money to make that I’m starting to worry I’m not going to be able to pay my bills.”, Adam said. “I’ll need to get the money from somewhere, but I can’t figure out where.”
“Well, you have a well paying job. I’m sure that as long as you’ve learned your lesson about carrying out unwarranted acts of revenge, you’ll be able to pay them off eventually.”, Ganado replied. The room fell silent for a few minutes. Ganado noted that only five minutes remained in their session, despite the wide variety of topics that still needed to be discussed if Adam was to move on from this worrying turn of events.
Eventually, just before time was up, Adam’s eyes suddenly came alight after several minutes of deep contemplation. “I’ve got it!”, he exclaimed. “I can make my money back by taking what I’ve been contributing to the family vacation fund and using it for bills! That way I can keep showing Rockwood who’s boss!”
As far as Ganado was aware, none of Adam’s other family members had a job nearly as high-paying as his. “I don’t think this is a very well thought out course of action, Adam.”, she said sternly, finally allowing the ridiculousness of the situation to get to her presentation.
“Well, let me put it this way. What you’re doing here is pretty similar to what the French kings were doing right before the Bastille was stormed, and we all know how that turned out for them.”
“I don’t think that’s really comparable, I mean, I’m only one guy.”
“Now that I think about it, there’s actually a weird number of similarities between you and 18th-century France. You’re both obsessed with one-upping European rivals, squandered your financial gains attempting to attack them with only limited success, and now you’re trying to recoup those losses by implementing a financial plan that will do more to upset your family than actually allow things to return to a status quo, given how much of your family’s total income stems from your job.”
“Well, that’s just ridiculous. Nobody’s life can be that similar to a historical event, that sounds like something a college student would make up for a class about the French Revolution.”
“Made up or not, I think it would be wise to think about what you’re doing and whether it’s going to end up hurting you in the long run.”
Adam glanced at his watch, and realized that it had already hit 6:30. He bolted for the door, quickly stammering out a “thank you, see you next week” on his way out. It was a long day, and it wasn’t about to get any shorter, as the next item on his agenda was driving home and telling his family about his new plans for the vacation fund. It was an unfortunate sacrifice to make, but nothing that couldn't be justified in the name of finally getting to prove his name.
Three days later, Adam was driving home from work again, content in the weekend he was soon to enjoy. After the meeting ordeal, he had enjoyed a relatively stress-free work week, although the people who were worried about his sudden disappearance on Tuesday were a slight irritance. He had told them that he was simply being devoted to his actual job instead of wasting time on such frivolities, but he was starting to worry that wasn’t dissuading anyone from being nosy. When he arrived at his house, however, he noticed that something seemed to be amiss. A window was broken on the second floor of his house, and upon further investigation, he realized that it was the window belonging to his bedroom. He immediately pulled over, staring intently into the broken aperture to determine who had broken into his lair, only to notice his wife and children constructing some form of makeshift defenses from the wardrobes, pillows and mattresses of his room. The consequences of taking this path of revenge Adam had been warned about three days prior had come to pass.
Even still, Adam refused to change from the course that had led him to this moment. With one hand on the wheel, and another holding his phone to book a hotel room where he could stay until he got his family under control, Adam drove away from the scene sure that he would be able to overcome this obstacle, like he had so many others. After all, even if this was akin to the storming of the Bastille, just because Adam had lost the battle didn’t mean he would lose the war. Surely his position as head of the household would mean that his authority would end up being respected eventually, even if things were a little bumpy on the way there.