The boss's daughter sets up shop in her father's real estate office.
John Bergeron’s Daughter
Sonia moved the computer screen so I could read the ad. She was the boss’s daughter; I had to be careful with my response. If I loved her creation, I didn’t want to go overboard, like I was sucking up. If I hated it, I didn’t want to discourage her or get fired.
“Sunny Disposition?” I tiptoed through the minefield. “As the lead to describe this property?”
“It hooks buyers in, Charles.”
“Does it, Sonia?”
“Well, it hooked you in.”
She was a snot-nosed twenty-three-year-old with no real estate experience. Oh, but she had a college diploma, which I didn’t. And, more importantly, her dad, John Bergeron, owned the company. Since the moment she walked through the agency’s door, I had gone out of my way to encourage her and make her feel welcome.
Her father stood in the corner of the room, arms folded. His icy glare sent a shiver.
“John, do you think this is the best way to introduce this particular property?” I asked.
“It is an oceanfront property in Florida, Charles,” he said. “I think it’s brilliant.”
John Bergeron and I had been friends for years, or so I thought. He changed once his daughter came on board. He had less and less time for me. We didn’t go out to lunch anymore, and our golf outings were non-existent. And now, he was giving me the cold shoulder. I was beginning to wonder if Sonia was my replacement and John was trying to phase me out.
I had lost many a fair-weather friend through the years, but I thought he and I would grow old together, sharing prune juice cocktails at the old folks’ home. Now I wasn’t so sure.
“I guess it is kind of cute,” I said.
“Charles, may I see you in my office?” he said as he headed in that direction.
It was not a request; it was a command.
I did the math: If he fired me, I had enough money to get us through about four months. My wife would have to get a job. At fifty-eight, I would be hard-pressed to find anything lucrative that wasn’t in direct competition with Bergeron Real Estate.
John closed the door.
“Charles, please have a seat.”
Here we go.
“I must make it look like I’m reprimanding you. Sonia is watching. And she will report back to her mother. And her mother will climb all over me and tell me what a bad father I am for letting an employee walk all over her. So I must make it look like I’m shooting you down, putting you in your place.”
“And my blessed ex will start demanding more alimony, just for the hell of it if I don’t.”
I was so confused.
“I am really confused, John.”
“Don’t be so supportive and encouraging. She’ll never leave.”
“But I thought—”
“She’s so demanding. I want to go out to lunch with you and play a few rounds of golf. But, no! She expects me to be by her side every minute. Just like her mother did when we were married!”
“But I thought—”
“Of course, I love the girl. I’d die for her. But she isn’t cut out for the real estate business. Sunny Disposition. Really?”
“But I thought—”
“What was I going to say at that moment? That you were right?”
“I guess not.”
“So, Charles, don’t be afraid to correct her,” he said as he paced, flailing his arms around. “Of course, I will have to reprimand you when you do.”
“Of course,” I said.
This could get old real fast.
“Eventually, she will doubt her abilities and get disillusioned. And then bored.”
The scheme seemed mean, especially for a father to have hatched it, but I did not want to lose my job. I was good at selling homes, and I needed the money.
“Within a week she’ll go running back to her mother and we can get back to our old routine,” John said.
He waved his hand toward the door. “Pretend I just reprimanded you.”
It was either Sonia or me. I’d play the game. I’d bide my time.
As I walked past her desk, I said, “Sunny Disposition. Brilliant. I wish I had thought of it.”
“Told you, Charles,” she said in her whiny, condescending voice.
I gritted my teeth, and counted to ten through a fake smile, as I walked toward my desk.
Yes, this was going to get old real fast.