Career highs and lows
Wie wär’s mit einer Grundsanierung nach irdischem Muster, um die himmlischen Geschäfte wieder zum Laufen zu bringen? Kann das überhaupt funktionieren? Von JAMES SCHOFIELD
“Mr Porter?” said a very small angel wearing large glasses and carrying a clipboard. “I’m the Archangel Gabriel. The Commissioner will see you now.”
Paddy Porter stood up and followed the angel as he fluttered ahead of Paddy towards the enormous doors of the Commissioner’s office. He was a little bit nervous about applying for this job as personal assistant to the Commissioner, especially since he’d only just joined Heaven PLC.
But a successful career on earth working as head of PR for a large company had taught him that the best way to get nice things was to take them away from somebody else who already had them. And Archangel Gabriel — the current assistant — was in trouble. All the religious KPIS (key performance indicators) looked bad: church attendance was down, blasphemy was up and polls showed that trust in the earthly management — the bishops, priests and vicars — was at a historic low.
Soon, people might begin questioning the necessity of the Commissioner, and if that happened, well, it was all over, wasn’t it? No more choirs of angels, no more cathedrals, no more supervising royal weddings. The Commissioner would be forced to spend his time touring gospel churches in Bible Belt America or doing miracle videos on Youtube.
The doors opened and Paddy found himself in a room that reminded him vaguely of St Peter’s in Rome.
“Yes?” said an enormous voice. The Commissioner was sitting on a large, uncomfortable-looking golden throne reading a business newspaper carved out of salmon-pink marble. “What do you want?”
Paddy took a deep breath. Time for his elevator pitch. “Commissioner, thanks for taking the time to see me. I won’t go over last quarter’s figures. You know them already and you know you have a problem. I want to offer a solution. What you need is a makeover: I’m thinking interiors, outfits and appearance to start with. Later, we can move on to buildings and equipment.”
There was an ominous silence and Gabriel moved closer to a pillar to hide behind it if thunderbolts started flying.
“Young man, you’re new here, aren’t you?” said the Commissioner finally. “You do know this interior, my outfits, my appearance… were all styled by Michelangelo? Michelangelo, possibly the greatest artist your earth has ever known?”
“Great job, Commissioner, of course, but, hmm…” Paddy paused. This trick always worked with powerful people.
“What do you mean, ‘hmm...’?”
“Well, Commissioner, to be honest, it all makes you look a bit old-fashioned…” They always hated to hear that. “…I mean the beard is great, but you definitely need some tattoos.”
“The Commissioner is divine,” cried Gabriel from behind a pillar, “not some heavenly hipster!”
The Commissioner looked thoughtful. “He may have a point, Gabriel. Perhaps we should give him a chance to design a makeover for us.”
“But that’s my job! And the last one was only 500 years ago. Is it really necessary?”
“You’ve seen the figures, Gabriel. We need to do something. Why don’t you both come up with
“WHAT YOU NEED IS A MAKEOVER: I’M THINKING INTERIORS, OUTFITS AND APPEARANCE TO START WITH”
separate reports by the end of the month on how to increase my appeal? Then I can choose. I don’t think we should be the kind of organization that stands in the way of people with bright ideas, do you?”
Paddy smiled. Gabriel wouldn’t have a chance.
For the next few weeks, Paddy was very busy. He put together a team of interior and fashion designers, a hairdresser and a tattoo artist. Together, they worked on creating a dynamic new profile for the Commissioner. Everything was going well, but there were two things that puzzled Paddy. First, he couldn’t find anybody else with PR experience to help him develop a campaign. Second, Gabriel didn’t seem to be doing anything apart from his normal admin work. Paddy decided Gabriel must have given up. This was going to be easier than he thought.
“So, young Paddy,” said the Commissioner, “what have you got for me?”
It was the big day and everybody in Heaven had turned up to watch. Paddy ran through the points of his presentation, using a model to show the stylish new haircut, the remodelled beard and a tattoo of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse drawn across his back. “Very nice,” said the Commissioner, “especially the tattoo. What else?”
Paddy showed the models of the new office they’d designed. It was all glass, metal and black leather, with some dramatic artworks planned for the walls. “Well, the chairs certainly look more comfortable than this old thing,” said the Commissioner, touching the arm of his golden throne. “I like! Anything else?”
“Absolutely, Commissioner. I’ve developed a very forward-looking PR campaign to bring your message across more…” To Paddy’s surprise, everybody in the room suddenly started murmuring. Except for Gabriel, who was smirking at his clipboard.
“Just a moment. PR? Did you create this campaign yourself?”
“Um… yes, Commissioner,” said Paddy nervously. “Is there a problem? I couldn’t find anyone else, so, as I have experience…” “Experience? Working in PR? ” Gabriel fluttered over to the Commissioner and whispered something in his ear. “Well, well, thank you, Gabriel,” the Commissioner said. “Mr Porter, I’m afraid Gabriel tells me HR has made a mistake. As part of the carve-out agreement with my former business partner, Mr Lucifer, all people with a background in PR are supposed to be in his team, not mine. As he explained, PR is basically lying, which is his core competence. You shouldn’t be here…”
“Bye-bye, Paddy!” said Gabriel cheerfully. Paddy felt himself falling, falling, falling…
“Well, that’s a pity,” said the Commissioner. “What’s your plan for bringing people back to church, Gabriel?”
“I prefer the old-fashioned crisis approach, starting off with some climate change, a bit of nuclear war in Asia, followed by a global plague. Always works!”
“All right. But I still want that tattoo, understood?”
Paddy picked himself up from the pile of burning coals that he’d landed on and brushed himself off. It was very dark and smelly down here.
“Excuse me,” he said to a passing devil. “Where can I find Mr Lucifer? I need to have a word with him.”
PADDY DECIDED GABRIEL MUST HAVE GIVEN UP. THIS WAS GOING TO BE EASIER THAN HE THOUGHT