CHRISTMAS AT THE TOY FACTORY • by Jay Adair

The toy factory was bustling. Christmas was but a few days away and there were countless orders to ship out.

Ryan Stanopolous strolled through the sea of smiling faces. The holiday spirit was clearly alive and well in his workforce.

Herbert Stanopolous, Ryan’s father, had owned and operated the factory for thirty-five years, longer than Ryan had even been alive. Ryan knew of the good relationships that his father had developed with his employees, and had vowed to keep that strong bond when he inherited the factory. However, Ryan often found that maintaining his father’s level of engagement in the day-to-day operations was impossible. Business deals and a mountain of emails occupied most of Ryan’s time.

With the holiday season approaching, Ryan felt a walk through the shop floor and a holiday greeting to his employees would be a good gesture, particularly in light of mandating overtime this close to Christmas.

Ryan walked down the main aisle, beaming and on the lookout for familiar faces.

“Hey there, James,” Ryan said, affably slapping the middle-aged machine operator on the shoulder. “Thanks for doing that overtime shift this weekend. You rock!”

“No problem. I need the money!” James replied with a grin.

“There will be lots more overtime where that came from in the new year,” Ryan said as he continued across the shop floor.

He approached a pair of grey-haired women sitting, arms crossed, at the inspection line.

Ryan stuck his head between them. “Hello ladies. Not slacking off, I hope!”

The smaller of the two, Rita, turned to him with a surprised but pleasant expression.

“No, sir, we would never slack off. Line is down, so maintenance is working on it,” she replied.

“Well, I wouldn’t want you two working too hard anyways! Merry Christmas.”

Continuing on, Ryan’s face lit up when he saw a young Spanish man working at the painting table.

“Manuel! How are you, my friend?” Ryan said, observing the Rudolph ornaments the young man was painting. “These look fantastic.”

“Thank you, sir. I do my best,” he replied.

“Keep up the good work, Manuel.”

After a few more brief stops, Ryan went back to his office and snatched his coat and scarf. Happiness glowed inside him like an ember in the wind.

Before he left his office, he grabbed a small gift bag from his drawer and brought it to the reception desk.

“Hello, Rosemary. I have something for you.” He removed the package from behind his back.

“Oh, Ryan, you shouldn’t have.” She took the package and set it on her desk. “Happy holidays. Have a great vacation.”

“I will,” Ryan replied. As he stepped outside, he took a moment to admire the large white snowflakes drifting without urgency to the ground.

***

“There will be lots more overtime where that came from in the new year.”

James watched as Ryan walked away.

“That stupid ass,” James muttered to himself. “He takes vacation and I’ve gotta be here every day over the holidays. Great Christmas this is gonna be.”

***

“Well, I wouldn’t want you two working too hard anyways! Merry Christmas.”

Rita turned to Margaret after Ryan had left.

“So what I did was, I took one of the maintenance guy’s wrenches, and I jammed it in front of the sensor at the back of machine. They won’t get it up and running again for at least an hour.”

“Thank god,” Margaret replied, leaning back in her chair and shutting her eyes. “I’m so hung over I could die.”

***

“Keep up the good work, Manuel.”

The young man turned to his colleague.

“Two weeks ago it was Pedro. Now it’s Manuel. What the hell is wrong with that guy?”

“Don’t worry,” the colleague replied. “One day he’ll get it right, Steve.”

***

Rosemary heard the tires squeal as Ryan zoomed out of the parking lot in his BMW.

She glanced into the bag that he had left. A ten-dollar bottle of whiskey.

“Cheap bastard,” she muttered to herself.

She turned back to her computer and clicked open the email that had just come through. It was titled “Don’t let Ryan ruin Christmas” and had been sent by Ryan’s father, Herbert. It read:

Rose,
Check the safe in my old office. Combination is 4321.
Make sure everyone has a good time. Cabs are on me.
— Herb

Rosemary went into Herbert’s old office, now Ryan’s office. She opened the safe that Ryan had deemed “impossible to crack”.

Inside was a liquor store’s worth of alcohol.

“Thank you, Herb, you wonderful man.” She grabbed a bottle of whiskey — an expensive one — and trotted back to her desk.

She clicked the page button on her phone, broadcasting her voice throughout the entire factory.

“Alright, people, listen up! The evil one is gone and Herb has a Christmas gift for everybody that you’re really going to enjoy. So everybody get to the conference room!”

Though there was a large concrete wall between her office and the factory floor, Rose could hear a joyous roar from the shop as the workers abandoned their machines.

She went back to the safe and drew as many bottles into her arms as she could hold. As she turned to leave the office, she looked up at the large pictures that dominated the space; one of former CEO Herbert, one of new CEO Ryan.

She nodded to Herbert’s photo. “Thank you for everything, sir, and Merry Christmas.”

She turned to Ryan’s photo.

“See you in January, dickhead.”


Jay Adair is an office worker and music instructor. His work has appeared in 101 Words, Jitter, Escaped Ink and Hawk & Cleaver’s The Other Stories. He is also a drummer and can be heard on recordings with Jon Creeden & The Flying Hellfish, Chad McCoy, and Just in Time. He can be reached at jayadairwriting@hotmail.com.


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