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

Business Spotlight - - CONTENTS -

“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

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