The air conditioning rumbled somewhere on the roof, sending minor but perceptible vibrations through Todd's feet and chair. The wide open office had been built to accommodate 50 workers with bright airy cubicles featuring half walls topped with frosted glass partitions. Now it was just three lonely souls keeping the queue of support requests in check, keeping the servers up, keeping up appearances that a once soaring small business was indeed still thriving, despite being a shell of its former self.
The "Hope Economy" had been something of a tsunami. The early tremors that hinted that there was a far off undersea earthquake rattling the foundations of the economy was only the first widely ignored sign that problems were on the horizon. But the wave of destruction had been hard to ignore. Pressure had mounted first on sectors of the economy hit by the sudden collapse of the stock market that took an unusually long time to crawl out of its crater. Then the downstream sectors in the economy, well advised ahead of time, none-the-less stumbled as though sucker punched on the street.
That was when things started to slide around the office. Being well diversified across many market segments had forestalled the impact, but eventually it was inescapable. When the majority of customers had gone into crisis mode, the renewals of contracts had started petering out, new business hit a virtual wall, and existing customers started demanding more return for their investment. Getting new money was all but impossible, one or two jobs did come in, but eventually, the irretrievable first freight car over the precipice began pulling the long train of economically linked realities into the abyss and along with the layoffs went the health insurance, the Christmas parties, the annual catalog merchandise splurging, the free drinks and complimentary condiments in the kitchen.
From a high of forty eight highly skilled individuals, the ranks dwindled as finances dictated, and then the scent of blood in the water spread to the general population and the frenzy began as people began leaving the company for what appeared to be more solid employment. But few of those jobs lasted as things withered everywhere.
Now it was just the three of them: the President, the VP, and Todd, and the President and VP were busy working on other opportunities, lining up multiple income streams to blunt the eventual final blows that were sure to come any day. With great hesitation and long lingering loyalty to a company that was effectively dead, Todd had at last come to the acknowledgement that it was time to move on without the company. He needed to move carefully, but decisively, and he needed to make his move soon. What had been cordial lingering after the party had become something akin to an overstayed welcome. It was time to make a polite excuse and head for the door.