Hemmel slapped the file down on his desk, opened it up and began skimming the pages, while Holden sat in silence. He would occasionally mutter under his breath, small phrases, things like “interesting” or “ahh” or “I see”.

“Mr. Kort,” he began, “are you aware of why you are here?”

Holden thought he should probably try to play it safe. “I’m not really sure, sir” he stated, simply.

“I thought not” Hemmel replied. “Do you know,” he continued, “that the workers on the tempering line have found no fewer than six half formed pieces this afternoon alone? They aren’t meeting their quotas, Mr. Kort. Now, how do you suppose that happened?”

“I’m not sure, sir.”

“You are aware, I’m sure, of the cost involved with attempting to salvage these malformed pieces. The loss in time and materials.”

“Yes sir, I am.”

“And you are also aware, I believe, that as long as you are stationed at quality control, it is your job to ensure that such failures do not make it as far as tempering?”

“That is the job, sir.”

“One that you are failing at miserably, it seems. Now, it is this factory’s policy to extend a certain amount of leeway to our workers, even in this current job market. With the high number of refugees flooding into the city we could easily replace any one of you, but the owners feel that a certain amount of job security is important for morale.”

This was news to Holden, he had been under the impression from day one at this job that they would gladly replace him with the slightest mishap.

“Under that policy your poor performance today would merit a strong reprimand and likely a temporary suspension. However,” he said, waving his hands over the large file on the desk before him, “in light of your past performance I would hesitate to call this an isolated incident. You have proven over and over again that you are either incapable or unwilling to perform your job in anything approaching a satisfactory level. Tulg has given you a fair number of passes, though I certainly could not begin to guess at why. Unfortunately your performance today is simply completely unacceptable. I am going to have to ask you to leave.”

“So, home early for the day then?” Holden asked. He knew what Hemmel meant, but he was feeling a bit surly about it, and wanted to try to ruffle the guy’s feathers.

“Quite droll, Mr. Kort” he responded. “We will no longer require your services. A note has been passed along to the payment counter to prepare your final recompenses, I suggest you stop by on the way out. Good day.” And with that Holden left the supervisor’s office for the last time.

He flipped a coin in the air as he walked away from the payment counter and out of the factory. Any other day he would be furious, or at least worried. Today it just took one problem off of his plate. He no longer had to worry about when he was going to quit. And he had the afternoon off to plan his celebration for tonight’s win.


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