General Fiction posted January 24, 2023 Chapters:  ...50 51 -52- 53... 


Abby visits with E.J. and decides to go back to work.

A chapter in the book Some Call It Luck

Some Call It Luck - Chapter 52

by Jim Wile




Background
A brilliant and beautiful but insecure, nerdy young woman befriends a going nowhere older alcoholic caddie. Together, they bring out the best in each other and collaborate on a startling new invention
(See the Author Notes for a description of the main characters.)
 
Recap: Abby and Kenny get married, and E.J. is an usher at the wedding. Over the next few years, he completes his bachelor’s degree and enters a master’s program at Penn State. He is a teaching assistant during those two years and feels his life is finally on track.

After getting her master’s degree, Abby goes to work as an actuary at an insurance company. She has two children, and her boss welcomes her back each time after she spends a year at home with each child. Her boss retires and recommends Abby for his replacement, but the company hires an outsider who treats her poorly. She eventually quits.
 
 
 
Abby Payne
October, 1999
 
Several years passed, and I stayed home with Claire and Greg until Greg was old enough to go to kindergarten. I hadn’t seen E.J. in a few months, so I gave him a call one day. He had recently become an assistant professor of computer science at Penn State after having worked in the business world for a few years as a networking consultant for a large real estate company. We agreed to have lunch together at a restaurant about half-way between Altoona and State College.

“Hey, old friend,” I said when I came over to his table. He stood up and gave me a big hug.

“It’s so good to see you, Abby. You look great. Motherhood seems to agree with you.”

“Well, thanks. You look good too. So how is it being a professor now?”

“I love it. I liked working in ‘the real world’ for a few years, but I guess my heart has always been in teaching ever since my TA days. I hope to make associate professor one day and then full professor, but I’ll need to start on my doctorate soon for that.”

“I’m sure you’ll make it. Just look at how far you’ve come since your caddying days!”

“Almost like a fairy tale, isn’t it? But I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“You helped me too, you know. Remember, I hadn’t had a lot of friends before I met you, and you helped me build confidence in myself. You certainly helped me relax around Kenny, and look where that led.”

“I still think you did a lot more for me than I ever did for you. So, what’s going on with you and your family right now? I guess Greg’s in school full time, so how have you been spending your days?”

“Well, that’s just it. I’m starting to feel the need to get back into the workforce now, but I’ve been out of it for a few years, and didn’t depart from it on the best of terms, and now some of my old doubts have crept back in.”

“Abby, they were idiots at that company. They didn’t deserve someone like you. You were right to leave them. You are a brilliant mathematician and an excellent analyst, and I’ll bet there are hundreds of companies out there who would kill to hire someone with your skills. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding new employment.”

“Aw, E.J., you’re always just the right person to talk with to help build my confidence. I hope you’re right about that. I guess I’d better start getting my resume together.”

We had a very pleasant lunch. E.J. told me he had met a woman named Susan who was a para-legal, and they had begun dating. I was very happy for him and suggested that the four of us should get together soon.
 
 

I spent about a week putting together my resume and doing some research on nearby companies that looked promising. I sent them out and began hearing back within a couple of weeks. I even went to two interviews, but neither one seemed like a good fit for me.

I was sitting in my den one afternoon, doing some more research, when the phone rang. I picked it up and said, “Hello.”

“Hi, Abby. This is Leroy Evans. How have you and that beautiful family of yours been?”

“Leroy! It’s so good to hear from you! We’ve been doing very well, thank you. How have you and Martha been?”

“Just fine. We’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling these past few years since I retired. We actually bought an RV and have been all over the country, visiting our children and grandchildren and taking in the sights of this beautiful land.”

“Well, that’s so nice to hear. As you know from the last time we spoke, I decided to take a few years off from work and just be with my family, but I’ve been getting the itch lately to get back into the workforce. Greg is now going to school fulltime, so—it’s time.”

“That’s wonderful, Abby, because that’s actually why I called. There has been a rather large shake-up in management at Merton recently. Apparently, after both you and I left, things started going downhill. You told me once how Stuart Larkin had stolen a lot of your ideas, but he seems not to have understood them very well, because his implementation of them was a dismal failure. Both he and William Hurley are out now, as well as the ones who hired Hurley to be my replacement. I’ve actually been re-hired as an interim manager to manage the actuarial department while they figure out what to do.”

“Are you sure it was their implementation of my new models that was a failure and not the models themselves?” I asked him.

“Absolutely. You and I had talked about a number of your ideas, and what I’ve seen of their implementation hardly resembles what you and I had discussed. Your models were never given a fair chance. Anyway, the reason I’m calling you is to offer you the job of department manager—the job you should have gotten when I retired. I’ve already gotten the okay from senior management, so it’s yours if you want it. I sure hope you do.”

I could hardly believe it. It took a few seconds for me to respond to this bombshell. “I’m flattered that you have such faith in me. Do you mind if I take a day to discuss it with Kenny and let you know the answer tomorrow?”

“Take all the time you need. You and Kenny talk it over, and I’ll wait to hear from you. You can call me at the office or at home.”

“Thank you so much, Leroy. I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

“Okay, honey. Goodbye.”

“Bye.”

Oh, my goodness! What a high that was. For the next few hours, I was in an ebullient mood, but after a while, some of my old doubts started creeping in.

As I said before, I had never been a manager, unless you count being the troop leader for Claire’s brownie troop last year. What if I was no good at it? Would I be able to be firm and decisive? I would still be the only female in the department. Would I be able to supervise a bunch of men, many of whom were a lot older than me?

Kenny and I discussed it that night.

“You know, sweetie, you used to love it there while Leroy was the manager, and your co-workers loved you too. Things only went south when Hurley and Larkin were in charge. Everyone who’s still there knows that it was your ideas that Larkin tried to pass off as his own.”

“I know. I know. They may have loved me, as you say, when I was the cute, young co-worker, but that doesn’t mean they’ll love me as their boss or even like me.”

“Well, they don’t have to love you or like you, just respect you and do what you tell them to. But I’m sure they’ll love you. How can they not? You’re so nice and lovable!” he said with a big smile as he took me in his arms.

“You’re sweet,” I said as I hugged him and gave him a big kiss.

The next morning, I called Leroy back and accepted the position. He was thrilled and was happy that he would be able to retire again with confidence that he would be leaving the department in good hands this time. I just wish I shared his confidence.
 




Abby St. Claire: She has just started grad school at Penn State University where she is a math major. She is intelligent and beautiful, yet shy and awkward with most people her age, having been picked on quite a lot while growing up. She worked at the snack bar and as a waitress at Brentwood Country Club during the summers where she met both E.J. and Kenny, who is a member at Brentwood and became her boyfriend and eventually her husband.
E.J. Budrowski: A 40ish alcoholic with a traumatic past (an abusive father and a mother driven to suicide) who is a caddie at Brentwood CC. One day he finds a dirty old golf ball on the edge of a pond that seems to have unusual powers, for he makes two holes-in-one with it. He and Abby become friends when she encourages him to take up both golf and bridge again after long layoffs. He finally quits drinking and returns to college.
Leroy Evans: Abby's former boss and mentor at the insurance company. When he retired, he recommended Abby as his replacement, but the company had other plans, which soon caused Abby to resign.
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