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Stolen Identity (Ch. 2)

Make sure you read the original chapter before starting chapter 2.
Meanwhile, nearby, William George Hornblower was experiencing his own transformation.
Willy G. (everyone called him Willy G.) has been superintendant of the Ashforth Printing Works Ltd. for more than 30 years, from 1970 up to his recently promised promotion to Vice-President of Production. To be perfectly candid, VP Production of a printing company employing 35 craftsmen is not a great deal different from being Superintendant over the same group of diligent workers. But as Hank Ashforth (always referred to as Mr. Ashforth) President and Owner of the same company, pointed out to Willy G. as he boosted him up the executive ladder, ‘Vice President’ meant he was now a full member of the Executive. “Well, no. That didn’t actually mean a boost in pay. Times were tight. Nor did it mean a change in his office or even his job description. Times were tight. But it now meant he could use the Executive washroom”—a privilege only enjoyed by one other, Hank Ashforth himself! Mr. Ashforth solemnly passed Willy G. the key to the Executive lock. Willy G. appreciated the importance of the promotion and the solemnity of the occasion. It was agreed that his ascension to Executive rank, would be announced to the staff on the first day of April. That would give Willy G. a little time to plan for the change and plan as to just how he was going to operate in the future.
Willy G. intuitively recognized that becoming a full-fledged Executive member was going to require some changes to his manner and dress. From now on he had to act like an Executive and dress like an Executive. But he didn’t quite know how.
Then he remembered. While walking through the mall one day, he had spotted a man who looked exactly like a reserved but effective executive. He was about Willy G.’s height, weight and colouring. He had similar brown hair and his face even bore a resemblance to Willy G.’s. But the outstanding thing about this man was his greyness. Willy G. was impressed by this restrained greyness. Willy G. had an epiphany! This all encompassing characteristic was what Willy G. knew would be just right for him in his new Executive position.
He determined, over the course of a week or two, that this stranger made a habit of walking through the mall at noon, often dropping in at Toni’s Alfredo’s for lunch. Willy G. made a point of surreptitiously observing him at these times. Willy G. purchased grey looking suiting that created the same aura. He noted his menu preferences and followed these tastes. He even practiced making the same facial gestures as his model.
He did not know this stranger’s name nor anything else about him. Well that’s not quite accurate. He did follow him to the car park and noted the kind of car he was driving. Willy G. was in line for a new car—well not a NEW car but a second hand one—and he was able to trade up and buy a similar coloured Volvo sedan of about the same vintage.
At one point, during this duplication exercise, he discussed the project with his wife, Mary. “You see Mary, it’s sort of like this. If I’m going to be a really honest-to-God Executive then I’ve got to look and act like one. I can’t go out to the pub with the lads from the plant anymore. In fact I don’t really think I can still be ‘Willy G.!’ Do I know any other Executives called ‘Willy G.?’ I do not!” Willy G. neglected to mention that he really didn’t know any other Executives of any name!
Mary seemed only mildly interested. “I wondered about your change of clothing. Is this grey stuff part of pulling you up a rank or two?”
Willy G. huffed a bit. “Mary you don’t really understand. This isn’t like a promotion. It’s more like a… it’s more like a rebirth. I’ve got to be a new me and ‘Willy G.’ just doesn’t fit anymore.”
“Gee willikers. If you change from Willy G. I may not know who you are.”
“Oh don’t worry Mary , You’ll still know me. I’ll still be the same person with you.”
“You’re sure?” Mary wasn’t sure at all. She felt uncomfortable with this whole change thing. But then, of course, she wasn’t sure she even knew what an “Executive” was. Willy G. made it sounds so impressive.
“I think I’ve got it!” exclaimed Willy G. suddenly. “I’ll be ‘W. George Hornblower!’ Then, you see Mary, it won’t really be a change for you. Those really close to me—family like—will call me ‘George.’ The rest can call me ‘Mr. Hornblower.’”
Mary thought about this for awhile. “Don’t you think your friends in the plant are still going to call you “Willy G.?’”
“That’s just the point, Mary. That won’t be appropriate any longer.”
“But ‘Mr. Hornblower?’ That’s quite a mouthful. I can’t see them calling across the plant, ‘Mr. Hornblower. Mr. Hornblower. Mr. Hornblower. Come and take a look at this!”
Willy G. had to digest this thought. She was right of course. “Hornblower” was quite a mouthful. She continued, “What about ‘Mr. George?’ Would that work? What do they call your boss, Mr. Hank Ashforth. What’s ‘Hank’ short for anyway?”
“‘Hank’ is short for ‘Henry.’ But they sure don’t call him that—to his face anyway. They call him ‘Mr. Ashforth’ when they are talking TO him. They call him ‘Ashie’ or ‘Ashes’ when they’re talking ABOUT him. But you’ve got to understand, Mary, there are Executives and there are EXECUTIVES. I’m just an Executive—so far.”
“If you want my advice George, I suggest you settle for ‘George.’ It’ll be hard enough to get them to change at all, so make it simple. I used ‘George’ just now and it came out real easy.”
“OK,” he said rather reluctantly. “From now on, I’m ‘George.’”
“Right, George. But how about this guy you’ve been following around in the mall. Isn’t he going to get suspicious that something is going on?”
“Oh I don’t think so, Mary. The new grey me is very… what’s the word?… subtle. I look like a background guy, but I’ve got a foreground mind. That’s what so executively subtle about me.
“As far as the mall guy is concerned, he… well I don’t even know his name! I’ve got his license number but I’m not sure how to use it to find out his name. Anyway I don’t need to know his name. I’m sure he doesn’t want to change his name anyway.”
“I don’t know Wil… George. Aren’t you sort of stealing this guy’s identity? I’ve heard a lot about “Identity Theft’ on TV and it’s really not very nice.”
“Not to worry Mary. I’m not stealing anything from him. I’m just, well, IMITATING him. Didn’t someone say that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,’ something like that.”
“Well, if you’re sure. I’d hate you to get mixed up with something criminal.”
“I’ll be careful, Mary.”
On April first, at the plant Mr. Ashforth called a foreman’s meeting. When they were all assembled (there were 3 others besides the two Executives) and after all had got their coffees fixed to taste, Mr. Ashforth called the meeting to order.
“Now I want to talk about a particular person who has been so indispensible in running this plant efficiently and safely.” The gang looked around at each other. Each secretly suspected that he was going to be talking about “me.” “This person has been with us day after day and has hardly every had a day off—except for his holidays, that is. I’m sure you know who I am talking about.” Each person was quietly patting himself on the back. “I mean, of course… Willy G.!”
A distinct aroma of disappointment pervaded the room. Mr. Ashforth continued, “In recognition of his outstanding service I have promoted Willy G. to Vice-President, Production and a member of the Executive Team.”
There was a titter of applause. “Now Willy G., perhaps you would like to say a few words.”
Willy G. was stunned. This was so unexpected. He hadn’t prepared anything. “Ah, well, let me see, ah,” he coughed to allow for thinking time. “Ah, thanks Mr. Ashforth. Er, I’m not sure I’m wor… no, no. I mean I am sure, but, er, what am I sure of?” He looked around for help. All eyes and ears were upon him. “Look, guys, I’m going to do what I can, see what I mean.” Everyone nodded. “Like I need your help. See. Can I count on you?” More nods. “Look, there’s just one thing. I don’t want to be Willy G. anymore. I just want to be plain George. It sort of goes with the job, don’t you think?”
Joe, the unofficial leader among the foreman, expressed it for all of them. “Sure Willy G. No sweat.”
<>
Author’s note: Now there will be readers out there who will say, “He’s done it again! He’s left us hanging wondering what this new Willy G. character will do next.” Frankly I don’t think it is worth your time to follow Willy G.’s (or George’s) glacial climb up the corporate ladder. It took him 30 years, in a company of 35 employees, to make it to VP! So I’m just going to let him dangle in mid step. My next posting, in two weeks, will return to Lanc and Clare where real, maybe even important things are happening. See you there.

6 Responses to “Stolen Identity (Ch. 2)”

  1. Barry Westhead says:

    Good one, Lyman. Now we’re all hooked!

    Barry

  2. Toni Henderson says:

    Nice work Dad. I think I’m more hooked on Lanc and Clare so looking forward to seeing what happens in the next installment. The best part is getting to brag about my 90 year old Dad who has his own blog, and posts a short story every fortnight!

  3. Rose says:

    Well done Lyman. Keep them coming.

    Thanks,

    Rose

  4. Jack Long says:

    Good work Lyman. This is the best yet. I actually laughed out loud a couple of times. Looking forwaqrd to the next one.

  5. Silvana Ness says:

    Hi! Lyman,

    I had a good chuckle too.

    As “Mr .Hornblower” has become the grey man, it will be interesting to follow Lanc’s new experiences. The wives of both men seem to be much more with it than their husbands. Are you giving us a lead?

    Happy New Year!

    Silvana

  6. charles Kirby says:

    I am one of those who DOES ask: “And then what happened?” So, 35 years makes a difference…EH ? Good cliff-hanger !

    CWK.

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