Monday, March 21, 2016

The Controller - Installment #7 -- a bite to eat

After church Allen invites Melanie out for a bite to eat. They decide to walk to a little place around the corner.
On the way, Melanie asks Allen what he thought of the service.
“Not really my style, sister. I think your pastor is a bit of a showboat, as mom would say.”
“He’s really caring and I like him. He listens to what God tells him and speaks it out…Hey, look there’s that old yellow dog the pastor mentioned.”

After they order lunch Melanie surprises Allen with a question, “What should we do about the old place?”
“I live there!”
“Well, mom left it to us, both of us, and  I moved, so shouldn’t you be buying me out or something?”
“I thought you might be moving back, after you got this out of your system.”
“I don’t think so, bro. No offense but I can’t see myself living with you for the rest of my life. And, you’ll be wanting to get married sometime.”
“Who, me? There is no one like that in my life.”
“Right now, maybe not, but there could be.”
Allen decides to bring the topic back to a comfortable place, “You are saying you want me to buy you out?”
“Or, we could sell the place and divide everything. That would be fair.”
“Let me think about it.”

 If I’m not mistaken—and I rarely am—this is a God set-up. Allen would like some money to invest with Nick. Selling the house would get him that. These are big decisions. Is he going to pray about them? More critically, is he going to listen to what God tells him? Or, is he going to need his guardian angel to rescue him as some future point?

After lunch, Allen pays the tab, “My treat.”
They walk back to the church parking lot together. “Do you want a ride anywhere?” Allen asks when Melanie stops to say good-bye.
A few of us are practising for a play.
It's a fundraiser. We are putting on as a fundraiser. Do you want to come to it?
If you're in it...maybe. What's it for?
I told you to raise funds.
The church of course.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 6 in which Allen is introduced to his sister's "church"

When Allen gets home that evening he finds Melanie, his sister, packing her things. Melanie and Allen have been sharing the living space in the family homestead ever since their mother died three years earlier. “I’m moving out.” Melanie tosses her long blonde hair sideways as she throws the things on her dresser into a box.
“Don’t worry. It’s all good. You know that church I’ve been going to…well a place in a house a few streets over from the church opened up and they invited me to live with them. It will be so much handier to get to stuff.”
“You sure this is a good idea? You already spend most of your spare time at that place.”
“That’s just it. Now I can walk there.”
“It’s your life, but….”
But, what?” 
Never mind.” Allen leaves her to it in her room and heads for the kitchen. He doesn’t want to say too much, after all he has never set foot in Melanie’s church. He just knows church has become a very big chunk of Melanie’s life since she started there a few months back.
Melanie pops her head into the kitchen, “You should check my church out sometime. You might really like it. The music is great. So is the pastor. He is so funny.”
“Okay, how about this Sunday?”
That settled it. They arrange for Allen to meet Melanie at Powerhouse Church that very Sunday.

Mork here, again. I’ve been talking to Mercy, Melanie’s guardian. Mercy has had her work cut out for her.

Sunday comes and Allen sets off for Powerhouse. He gets there just as the worship team finishes the sound check. Drums, electric guitars, huge amps…soon the place vibrates with sound. People, mostly young people start jumping up and down to ‘There is no God like Jehovah.’ Melanie finds Allen standing at the back of the darkened room. She leads him to a seat about a third of the way up in the long narrow room. She almost shouts as she introduces him to the young man in the seat next to her. “This is Ian. He lives in the house next to the one I live in.”
Five songs later, the pastor stands up and introduces himself as Pastor John and asks visitors to stand. “We’ve got a gift for you.”
Two ushers sweep the room handing out little packets to the visitors sprinkled throughout the congregation. Allen tries to stuff his packet in his pant pocket.
Melanie stops him.  “You are supposed to use the pen and fill out the questionnaire.” 
Obediently Allen follows her instruction. Pastor John is doing a talk on tithing, the best way to get favour with the Lord. He is rather passionate. When the collection plate comes by, Allen slides in his questionnaire with a $5 bill. He knows Melanie gives something as well, just how much Allen can’t tell.
Pastor John, head down, struts back and forth across the stage at the front of the church. Finally on his third pass he stops dramatically just left of centre stage. He lifts his finger and points at a woman seated directly in front of him. “You,” he says, “Yes, you. God wants you to know you need to make a clear decision. Don’t let anyone sway you. Not your parents, not your pastor, not anyone. You have to know in your heart what you have to do. It may not be easy, but sometimes you have to let go of things that are dear to you.”
The pastor puts his head back down and continues strutting. Then he turns, points at the drummer, “Hit it.”
The worship team members, who have been standing as still as idols, spring to life with, “Where you Go, I will Follow.”
After the song the worship team quietly leaves the stage and it becomes the Pastor John’s show. “I was walking to church today when I met some boys out there close to the church. They looked about ten and they were all looking at that old yellow dog that’s been hanging around here. I thought maybe they were thinking about hurting the dog so I asked them, ‘What are you doing to that dog? One of the young fellows told me, ‘This is a stray dog and we all want him, but only one of us can take him home. We decided that whoever tells the biggest lie can keep the dog.’
I was a little taken aback and told them they shouldn’t be telling lies and told them what God thinks about that. I told them that when I was their age I NEVER told a lie.  So they gave me the dog. He’s out in the parking lot.”
Melanie pokes Allen’s rib. “See, I told you he was funny.”
Allen grimaces, “Heard it before.”

The pastor is rambling on and Allen looks like he's somewhere else. I can tell he is thinking about Nick’s offer. Guardian angels can sense these things. Humans are in some ways very predictable. You basically have to watch the body language. His eyes are down and every once in a while he rubs his chin.
I can also see that Pastor John is sensing he is losing his audience—time for another joke. Ohhh, sorry, I got that wrong. He is saying something shocking instead.

“So that church the worship team and I visited last week, we don’t want to go there again. No siree. Not with the way the head pastor there is using the backroom to roll the secretary.”

He has the people paying attention now and he’s going right on with his sermon. Half of them are wondering if he actually said that.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 5 in which Mork, the angel, acknowledges frustration

A month later, just as Jenny and Allen finish inventory and Allen is ready to call Nick, Nick breezes in. He looks around. “I see the decorator hasn’t been here yet. Here’s his number...better give him a call.” Nick pulls out his phone and rattles off a number. “His name is Alphonse.”
Allen obediently writes the number on a notepad. 
After they go over the list of company assets, Nick leans across Allen's desk, “I have to get your take on truthful with me.” He fixes his smoky blue eyes on Allen. “Years ago I made a major investment in a goldmine in South America. Well, it’s paid off. They hit a major vein. It looks very much like I’ll have returns rolling in for at least 10 years. I want to invest that money into this company.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“So, I’m counting on you to come up with an extensive expansion plan for ABC. Think big. We will have the money.”
“Right. Is next March still soon enough?” Allen asks.
“Sure. There is just one other thing.” Nick sits down in front of the desk. “I need to set up a way to get my money out of Brazil and into Canada. That involves the courts. It’s just a regulatory thing. Anyway I need about $5,000 to get that done. I am wondering if I could borrow from this company. You know a temporary loan, a month at the most.”
Allen sits down and writes the cheque. He calls Jenny in to co-sign. He hands the cheque to Nick.
Nick waves the cheque on his way out, “here’s to a bigger and better company.”

Mork here. Sitting on my hands. What is the use being a guardian angel that can’t do a bloody thing? Excuse the language. Allen could have said at least one little prayer before he handed over that cheque. Not that the money doesn't actually belong to Nick, but a word of wisdom would be helpful here. All I can do is watch my boy fall into a trap. 
A month to the day Nick comes back to the officeagain waving a chequethis time it is one that he made out to the company. “Here is the $5,000.  The money will be flowing now. And the gold vein is richer than originally predicted. That mine is worth at least $14 million and possibly over a billion. Listen if you have any extra money looking for a place to invest, let me know.”
“How so?” Allen's curiosity is piqued.   
Nick sits down to explains, “To get maximum benefit out of our mining operation we are setting up a refinery—our own gold refinery right on site. That takes an initial investment, but by my calculations our own refinery will easily double our profits. Any investment you make at this point will bring in one hundred percent profit for you within two years, guaranteed.” Nick stands up to leave. “Let me know. I’m only making the offer this generous for a few insiders, so to speak.” Before Allen has a chance to respond, Nick is out the door.

Okay he better pray about this one is all I have to say. Well, look at that he is.

Allen looks down at his desk, “Lord, what should I do with this?” he mutters.

That’s a start. Now, listen for the answer buddy. You might be thinking a prayer like that would give me some work to do, but I will have to wait and see. In a case like this the Lord just might speak to Allen directly, in fact that’s what I’m thinking he will do. He really likes talking with his children. He calls it communing with them. If, say, He tells Allen to invest $10,000 and that the money will be there for him to invest, then He will definitely be telling me to go about helping Allen get the $10,000 to invest. Fat chance that will happen though, and I will tell you why. I suspect Nick doesn’t have a gold mine. We’ll have to wait and see, but all the signs are pointing that way. I also suspect Allen is in for a life lesson here. Hopefully he learns it.
Okay, I see the Lord’s answer coming in. The Lord’s answer is one word: nothing. The problem is  Allen is already finished praying. He's back on his computer. 

Jenny comes in a little later surreptitiously to check some figures, “I couldn’t help but hear what Nick was saying. So, what are you going to do?”
“I think I just might invest a little something. This sounds like a once in a lifetime deal.”
Sounds like something you should think about...maybe even pray about.
Allen looked up at Jenny. I actually did say a prayer."
What do you mean, and?"
“What did the Lord say?
“Nothing, of course.” Allen looks somewhat confused,  Jennie, I'm a bit concerned about you. God is real, but he doesn't actually talk to us. 

You see what I have to put up with? 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 4 in which Nick applies his charm

The next morning Nick shows up with Star Bucks' for both Allen and Jenny. “I don’t know how you two take your coffees.” He pulls a handful of creams and sugars out of his suit-coat pocket. While they are fixing their coffees, Nick agrees that Jenny take notes during their meeting. “It will keep us accountable. I think this company has to run on integrity.” 

Like the good book says, "Evil people say things to make themselves look good, but they keep their evil plans a secret."*  Mork is standing in the window frame behind Allen's desk. 

“This company has always valued integrity.” Allen reminds Nick of the company motto, ‘Rental equipment you can count on.’ When your dad was alive and running this place...." 
Nick cuts him off. “I’ve been thinking, I would like to change our name…not right now but within a year or so. ABC is basic.” Nick looks at Jenny. Maybe you could come up with a name.” He smiles a warm friendly smile and leans back in his chair to sip his coffee.
“So, Allen, what I want to know from you is exactly what this company is worth…a list of all the assets, so to speak. I also want to make it worth more. Whatever it is worth I want it to grow.  And, that is where I need advice from you. What is the best way to move forward?”
Now it is Allen’s turn to lean back in his chair. He strokes his chin. “Well, there are a few things to consider. This is not a simple question." 
“I'm not expecting an immediate answer. How long do you think you need?”
Jenny waits, ready to write whatever Allen says.
Allen continues to stroke his chin. “He looks at his calendar. We have inventory coming up this next month. After that would be a good time to formulate a plan. Something like this needs some solid research.”
Nick pulls out his phone. How about I set a deadline for next March, six months from now?”
Allen nods.
Nick smiles and finishes his coffee. He sits back and looks around the office. “You should get your office spruced up. I know a decorator. I’ll send him over. You just tell him what you want it to look like.”
Allen looks around as if he is noticing the surroundings for the first time. “Really Nick, I don’t need this place redone. It is perfectly functional.”
“I insist—we can’t have my most essential employee working out of a hovel. I don’t want to hear no for an answer. Besides, this decorator owes me a favour.” With that Nick stands. On his way out he turns to Jenny, “When he’s here, you tell the decorator how you want your office done as well.”

"Many people are nice to a generous person. Everyone wants to be friends with someone who gives gifts."** Nick knows a few things.

Allen and Jenny make sure Nick has left, before they speak. “Well, things aren’t looking so bad,” Jenny comments as she looks over what she has written. “He wants a list of assets and recommendations on how to grow the company, not to mention a spiffy new look around here.” She slaps her notes down on Allen’s desk.
“Thanks Jenn.”
“You are more than welcome. I’m going to mull over a new look for my office.” She skips out, once more nearly tripping. 

Marvel catches her just in time.

* Proverbs 26:24 ERV
** Proverbs 19:16 ERV

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 3 in which we glimpse the inner workings of the workplace

Allen bows his head and then looks up. “Jenny, we may be in trouble...Nick is our sole boss now.”
“He told me the board is a thing of the past.”
“So maybe that's good. No more waffling on decisions. There is only one guy to say what goes.”
Allen strokes his chin. “And no one to stop him from doing whatever he bloody-well wants. There are over a hundred happy people in this company. I want it to stay that way. This has always been a good place to work, even if the decision-making process is...was a little convoluted.”
“I think you are just a typical accountant. You want things to be predictable.” She smiles a little knowing smile. “We’ll just have to pray that all goes well.” With that Jenny bounces out of the office.

For a moment there, I thought I might have something to doAllen actually looked like he was going to pray...wishful thinking on my part perhaps. Well, maybe, there will be something heading down the pipes. I can feel it in my wings. If I know humans, and I’ve been around for thousands upon thousands of years and seen a lot of them, I judge that Nick could get a little sleazy. Too bad I can’t warn Allen...might save some grief. That’s the thing about my BOSS, he always holds out for the best to show up in everybody, and I mean everybody.
Hitler is a prime example. That guy was one bad apple. Yetand I still don’t truly understand itGod gave that man every chance under heaven to turn his life around. That’s another thing about God: He is true to his Word. He said He’d give man charge over the things in this world and that is what He does. It’s totally up to them to ask for His help or He stays out of it even if Satan gets in there messing things up.
I just hope Allen asks for more help than he has been or this will not go well and I have to be here sitting on my hands doing absolutely nothing. My boy's spiritual ears, are closed and his spiritual eyes are totally undeveloped. What's an angel to do?  At least he reads his Bible…when he has time. 

A week later Nick calls Allen, “Listen I need some advice. Do you have time to see me?”
“Sure, boss. Any time that works for you.”
They decide Nick will come in first thing the next morning. “It shouldn’t take more than an hour, I don’t think.” Nick says.

 I can see that Allen is somewhat baffled. He goes back to work, but every ten minutes or so he looks up, ponders, wrinkles his nose, twitches, and generally looks confused—you get the idea.

Finally Allen rings Jenny to come in. “Jenny, tomorrow the boss is coming in to seek my advice.”
“He is?”
“Don’t look so baffled. I give sound advice.”
“I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but since when does he take advice?”
“Well, that’s why I want you to be involved. I’m thinking this might be the start of something good. I'm guessing Nick has realized he needs us to make this company run smoothly. The thing is we both know he doesn’t shall I say it? He doesn’t always come away from a situation with an understanding of what took place. A little ADHD possibly. So...I would like you to be taking notes. Of course, I’ll ask him first. Tomorrow morning if I call you into the meeting that’s what I would like you to do. Any questions?”
“Okay, I’ll be there with my steno pad...and I thought you hired me for bookkeeping. Good thing I’m flexible.” She winks at Allen and leaves.