June 21, 2015 by helenwaldron
It is a truth universally acknowledged that English language teachers live together in one big house and share their resources, work and income.
That’s how it seemed to Speakeasy, as tried to explain to one of his Cosmecreme students why he wanted to look in the intranet for some contact telephone numbers in HR.
Helmut was nice, but he looked little puzzled as he complied.
Surely, his look seemed to say. They are all good friends really. They are always happy. It is not like real work.
“You know how your company tries to fight the discount pharmacists who copy your products and sell them more cheaply?”
“Oh, yes,” replied Helmut, who was in charge of the legal budgets. “Our whole legal department has been extended to fight this practice. We have put years of research and development into our products and that’s why we charge more.”
“It’s the same thing with trainers. We put years of experience into writing our concepts. You can’t just pass it on to someone willing to do the work for half the price. It’s our intellectual property.”
Another problem, Speakeasy discovered (after Helmut had swiveled round his computer monitor so that both of them could see the departmental organization charts he was conjuring up), was that it was hard to find a responsible party.
“I don’t know either of these names,” he said mystified, as Helmut handed him a small sheet of company notepad with two names and telephone numbers neatly written on it.
Helmut returned to the intranet.
“Hmm. “EXT.” That means they’re both temporary workers.”
“The inquiry came from a …” (Speakeasy peered at Writewell’s old notes) “…Carmen Schmidt.”
Helmut shook his head as he scrolled the mouse up and down.
“There’s no Carmen Schmidt here. No Carmen at all, in case she got married.”
And he typed in more details.
“Perhaps she belonged to the Procurement Department. I would think the order came from HR, but Procurement would decide how much money to allocate.”
But Carmen Schmidt seemed to be yet another corporate missing person.
“Bad news,” said Speakeasy.
He didn’t want to text Writewell with it, but she hadn’t forgotten and called him on Skype to hear the outcome.
“It was obviously someone at Cosmecremes who passed on the concept, but I don’t know who and I can’t go around accusing people left right and centre. It’s definitely a violation of intellectual property and copyright. We can send a solicitor’s letter, but do you know how big the legal department at Cosmecremes is?”
“And we might lose our other work there,” added Writewell. “It wouldn’t exactly contribute to goodwill. Is Deborah still teaching it?”
“As far as I know, yes.”
There was a pause.
A data packet of thought, not speech, seemed to leave one receiver. It was converted from an analogue format into a digital one, divided into small pieces and then sent through the Skype network to be reconstructed at the other end.
Neither of them said anything, but both of them knew this was the one that got away, and their legacy to Deborah.
“Though it would be nice if she never worked for HamLang again after that,” typed Writewell into the chat section, because the data packets were now being reconstructed in the wrong order and Speakeasy and Writewell had lost their oral and visual connection.