Having completed my Leadership part with a colleague I can return to the new novel.A snippet.
The subway center at Grove Street was like a boiling cauldron. Hundreds of people were waiting on the platform for the next train from Jersey City to New York. Sweltering and perspiring from not only the heat but the record humidity of this summer day they dreaded the oppressive oven like experience that was awaiting them. This was the height of the rush hour, and there was no escaping the sardine can experience that was soon to happen
Sal La Greca waited in the midst of the crowd and felt like a mussel pressed against stone.He had no desire to get on the crowded train because he had in the past experienced claustrophobia on the subway. His seersucker suit was already becoming moist, and he could feel the trickles of sweat cascading down his neck. The screeching sounds in the tunnel alerted the passengers to the oncoming train, and the jockeying for position began. As the doors opened Sal felt squashed but there was no alternative. Aware that the ride to Wall Street would make him anxious, he tried to secure a position near the door. As the doors opened the mass of humanity pushed forward and Sal fortunately secured himself a tiny space near the door. Lurching around the curves passengers swayed and what ordinarily was a rather short ride seemed longer today .The temperature rose due to the heat exuding from all the persons literally pressing against each other.
Finally the train arrived at the Wall Street staion . As the doors opened the heat which had intensified seemed a welcome companion after the subway ride. Sal straightened his tie, and carried his jacket as he climbed the stairs and exited the station. The walk to Werthheim was short, and to his joy the elevator to the fourteenth floor was almost empty. Making his way to his desk he exchanged morning greetings with his fellow employees, and despite the oven like heat poured himself a cup of coffee.The entry position that his sister arranged was far from the college dream of his working as a reporter, but he was grateful to have it ,and believed that after his forthcoming stint in the service he would e able to pursue his reporter dream. Ever the optimist, Sal seemed preoccupied recently with an uneasy feeling about the direction of his life, but dismissed the concern this morning and began to attend to his responsibilities.
Mid-morning Sal received a notice from the secretary of the managing director that he was to report to the director’s office at 11:30. His immediate thoughts centered on “I hope that I did not do something wrong, and why in hells name would the Director want to see me?”He buried himself in his work, but found that every few minutes he gazed at the clock on the wall at the end of the corridor. At 11:25 he put on his jacket and made his way to the director’s office.
Robert Emmanuel the director was respected by everyone at Werthhem due to his calm gentle leadership style. He was brilliant but made it his business to regularly interact with all of the employees. He had the ability to be aware of the contributions of each member of the staff. Sal had met him briefly on the first day of his employment, and was impressed with how much the director knew about him.
Nervously fidgeting with his tie while waiting to be summoned, he was more than slightly apprehensive about this meeting. Mr Emmanuel’s secretary Jane motioned for him to come to her desk.”Mr Emmanuel is ready to see you. Just knock and enter through that door “Sal knocked and heard a voice say come in” Good Morning Sal thank you for coming here .” Sal thought that the opening remark was strange. What other choice did I have Sal mused to himself. “Please have a seat and as you are certainly aware it is beastly hot in here so please feel free to hang up your suit jacket .Mr Emmanuel came from behind his desk carrying a Manilla folder, and requested that Sal sit in one of the two plush leather chairs that were positioned next to each other. Before opening the folder Mr Emmanuel began the conversation by asking. “I know that you have been with us for almost two months. What has it been like working here?”Sal slowy responded to the question, and cautiously selected his words.”I am most grateful to be here,and have been pleased with the work and assignments that I have been given,”Good replied Mr Emmanuel,”and I see in your dossier that you were a Journalism major.Am I speaking to someone who will write the great Americam Novel?” The question was accompanied by a smile, and Sal felt relaxed by the friendly manner of the director”.I will probably at some point in time have to spent two years in the army.When I am discharged I will pursue a journalism career”The director intently listened to Sal’s response.It was apparent that this was not to be a session where he would be reprimanded on any performance issues. “I had hoped to land a junior position at a newspaper but my draft status prevented that from happening.” There seemed to be a long silence on the Director’s part when Sal finished responding.
“You have made an excellent impression on everyone that has worked with you in your brief stint here, and I am sure you are wondering what is the purpose of this meeting.” Sal did not know whether he should respond to that statement so he said nothing.”Well I have called you here to discuss an idea that came to me over this weekend. “Sal was amazed by the fact that the director would somehow think about him over the weekend. The director continued “You may not know it but the firm has a large number of wealthy clients, and through the years they have requested that we do more than manage their stocks and investments.They often request our assistance in managing their wills,charitable involvements,family trusts and issue’s which are not always directly related to stocks and bonds.My idea is that it may be time to have someone in charge of these matters because dedicated service to our clients benefits us as well as them. “Sal found this interesting but could not initially fathom how this in any shape or form connected to his work at the firm”He however did not believe that it was appropriate to ask the reason for the meeting
“This is where you come in Sal. I am considering having you take a new position that will eventually be responsible for dealing directly with a select number of clients on these issues.”Sal was dumfounded by this statement and replied”But Mr Emmanuel I know nothing about stocks, and how would it work”?The director smiled and said”I am not talking about throwing you in the lion’s den without prolonged training. My initial thought is that if you accept this I will personally guide you through a development program, probably over a two year period. I would envision a position where you in essence would become a member of my staff ,and also there would be an educational component as well. I don’t expect you to make any immediate decision ,and if you concur with the opportunity we can nail down the details later.”.Thank you Mr Emmanuel but honestly I had no idea why you wanted to see me, and I am overwhelmed at what you have just proposed. “Catching his breath Sal said”I am most grateful that you have such confidence in me ,but never imagined that in such a short period of time this would happen.Also I must remind you that I could be drafted in this time period. “The director paused and standing up walked over to his desk and took a cigarette from his pack. He offered one to Sal and both lit up.Taking a deep drag the Director said.”There are a couple of things that I need to put forward.First is that when we are together here or at a meeting there is no need to call me director or Mr Emmanuel .I would prefer that you call me Bob. Is that agreeable to you?” Sheepishly Sal nodded his head.The second thing is that I would like you to take a week or so before making a decision about what I have discussed with you. Is that agreeable? “Absolutely, and please know how grateful I am for your taking the time to consider me for this position “You are perfectly welcome” the director rose from his chair,shook Sal’s hand and it was obvious that he meeting was over.
The rest of the day found Sal constantly coming back in his mind to the morning meeting, Did it really happen or am I dreaming he mused to himself. He knew that this was a golden opportunity, and yet he felt very ambivalent about the offer,. Initially he pondered the possibility that this discomfort came from the overwhelming learning curve of the position ,but somehow he knew it was more than that.
Concentration was literally impossible for the rest of the day, and the voice in his head kept spewing out the same message”are you stupid?Take this opportunity and run with it” That made incredible sense ,but something was missing. It was not clearly the fact that this is no way connected to his desire to be a journalist., It was more than that, but he could not put his finger on the source of his discomfort.
Glancing at his watch he realized it was time to return home.Walking toward the subway he was unaware of the reality that the heat and humidity had reached record proportions, and was not even slightly bothered by the awful conditions in the jammed subway car. He was so oblivious to the stops that he missed the Grove Street station, and went on to the Journal Square station. Instead of taking the number 9 bus home he decided to walk which was not the best choice on this blistering day. When he arrived in his neighborhood instead of going home he walked an extra two blocks to Lincoln park.Arrivng at the park he made his way to his favorite spot a bench next to the beautiful statue of a Fireman. He sat down and tried to collect his thoughts.”Why am I not excited about the offer Bob Emmanuel made to me ?“The benefits are so fabulous. It has implications not only for me ,but when I marry it wiil benefit my wife and children.It means security ,a new home and a host of other benefits. All of this seemed so reasonable and should have dispelled the discomfort, but somehow none of these hit the core of what was troubling him.Deep within his soul was the need to make a real difference in the world ,and though the idea of handling the entire portfolio of the select wealthy was appealing it did not currently meet with his desired purpose and meaning.There was appeal but no passion, and he was almost angry that the new job proposal did not meet the standards of his soul.He sat on the bench for almost an hour when he heard the familiar sound of the church bell. It was from the bell tower of St Aloysius church making him aware that he was late for supper.
Rising slowly he began to make his way but when he came to the corner where he should go left he kept walking straight and somehow made his way to the St. Aloysius rectory. He rang the bell and after a few moments a woman answered the door.”May I help you she inquired” I would like to speak to Father Mc Nulty.”I am sorry she said but he is having his dinner”Undaunted by this response he offered”Please tell him Sal La Grecca needs to speak to him.”The request did not apparently please her but she said”Please come in and wait in the vestibule.” After a few moments Father McNulty appeared with his napkin in hand and smiling ’” What a pleasant surprise “.He led Sal to an nearby office and said kiddingly “well what is so important that you prevented me from my dessert?”Sal sat there in almost catatonic silence and then blurted out”I think I want to become a priest”Both he and Father Mcnulty were stunned by this statement ,and for the next hour they explored the reasons for this awareness. At the end Father McNulty advised that Sal should think and pray over this, and perhaps it would be wise not to share it with anyone else until they had the opportunity to chat again.