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Episode 84: Steel’s Problems Get Deeper and Wider

Especially After a Call From Dixon Cider

Steel Bolt stepped out of the elevator.  “Good morning, Miss Breath.  I suppose you saw the Business Section this morning?”

“I did.”

“It’s not good.”

“No, it’s not.”

“It’s definitely time we developed a more aggressive strategy with respect to Hard Hinges.  I was all set to propose a merger yesterday, but that shit-shoveller told me I was through—so now I have no choice but to drive them out of business.  Of course we can’t formulate a plan until we’ve seen the quarter-end numbers.  Are you working on those?”

“I was just about to start.”

“Good.”

Steel sat down at his desk and went through the morning ritual of checking his email and reviewing the performance of various stocks on the international exchanges.  He was about to get down to some serious planning when Beth entered his office.

“Mr. Bolt,” she said, “we have a problem.”

“What is it?”

“I went to compile the quarter-end numbers, but they don’t seem to be there.”

“What do you mean?”

“The computer says that our sales records, inventories and projections are all unavailable.  I can’t retrieve any of our data.”

Steel immediately started looking for the numbers on his own machine, only to discover that everything Beth said was true.  “What’s going on here?” he said.  “Has someone tampered with our computer system?”

Just then the phone rang.  Beth reached across the desk and picked it up.  “Steel Bolt’s office ... Just a moment, please.”  She placed her hand over the mouthpiece.  “It’s Dixon Cider.  She wants to talk to you.”

Steel took the phone.  “Hello Dixon.  How are you? ... Good.... What? ... You can’t do that! ... I don’t care if it is a solid business decision.  Cider Construction has been a client of Bolt Fasteners since Day One.... Together my father and your father built most of the bridges, railways and skyscrapers in this country.  You can’t just decide to do business with another company.... What if I promise to give you the same price? ... Don’t be ridiculous.  His products aren’t better than mine! ... New alloys, my ass.... Well at least let’s talk about—No, don’t.... Don’t you dare hang up on me.  We have to discuss this—”  Steel stared at the receiver incredulously for a moment before slamming it down.

“Oh, Mr. Bolt, I’m so sorry,” said Beth, knowing that what he’d just experienced was akin to a death in the family.

“It’s not a problem,” Steel said stoically, turning back to his computer.  After only a few seconds of trying to recover the missing data he looked up and said, “What the hell is going on here!?”

Continue Reading: Episode 85: Upsetting Stories of Foundries in Peru