- By Corey Brown - By Corey Brown

Severed the book

© 2019 Corey Brown

The Gift of Receiving: A Christmas Story

December 25th was a week away and I was confused. As rule, I don’t like Christmas. All those smiles, all that cheer, it bothers me. Not really sure why. Maybe it is because during the other eleven months of the year everyone is so crabby that I distrust their sudden U-turn into decency. As if they’d been on some sort of Bataan death march since January then whoops! Lookie here, it’s December and we’ve discovered a cornucopia of joy and happiness; spiritual chants at noon followed by special time for sharing, then the glorious Kool-Aid.


My name is Spinner, Rick Spinner. It may be Christmastime but I’m still a consultant, I still carry an ID badge. And all this silly talk about goodwill toward men doesn’t change a thing: I still don’t like Christmas.


Anyway, it was a week before the big day and I was confused because I found myself feeling happy and cheerful, almost generous. Talk about painful. It was the seasonal equivalent of a root canal performed with a butter knife and a pair of pliers. Trouble was, my good natured-ness was starting to show. I was saying things like ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Nice to see you’ and even ‘Hello’.

I knew it was bad when my partner, Nacho Flaherty, asked if I needed an enema.


The phone rang. Feeling the Christmas spirit, I snatched up the handset and said, “Happy holidays, Rick Spinner at your service.”


At your service? Jeez, what was that all about?


“Ah, yes,” the caller said. “The infamous Rick Spinner, just the person I was trying to find.”

“Well, Sir, you found me. How may I help you?”


Helping people? I was lost in a no-man’s land of irrational exuberance.


“You, my good friend, can help me by stopping by my desk.”

“I’d be delighted,” I said. “Is there a problem?”


Delighted? It was hopeless, I was a goner.


“Oh no,” the man said. “There’s no problem at all. But I would like to give you a small token of appreciation.”

“Really? You want to give me something? Why?”

I felt positively giddy.


This had to be a joke. I felt giddy? Who writes this crap?


“Such modesty,” the caller said. “Well, this Large Corporation really appreciates what you did, the way you took charge of those projects and finished them under budget.”


Projects? Uh-oh.


The only project I knew of involved drinking and I was pretty sure it had gone way over budget. I knew for a fact it was not yet finished.


“So why don’t you stop by my desk? Say, in ten minutes?”

“Uh….oh..kay,” I croaked. “Ten minutes.”


I replaced the handset in the cradle. Now what? I was about to receive an award for something I couldn’t remember doing. I looked at my partner. Nacho was fiddling with an inverse propagated knobby thing, the IP address hanging out at a precarious angle. It was a delicate operation, I couldn’t bother him. So I was on my own, I had to think this thing through.


Nine minutes and fifty-eight seconds later, I stood and walked one yard up the aisle to the next cubicle.

“Rick,” the man crooned, getting to his feet. “I’m so glad you could make it.”

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world,” I said.


What can I say? It’s not my fault the guy was calling from next door.


My aisle-mate reached for a piece of paper, a certificate emblazoned with bold, curly lines and a corporate logo. I read the designation: For Achieving the Goal of Completion. Rick Spinner, Project Manager of the year.

He thrust out the certificate and gave me a man hug, slapping my shoulder with his free hand.

“I’m so proud,” he said. “I’ve never printed anything like this before. You’re the first.”

“It’s an honor,” I said, taking the document, clapping his shoulder, then extricating myself from the embrace. “I don’t know what to say.”

“No need for a speech, I understand you have cases to work. I just wanted you to know how much we appreciate your efforts. Now go on, you big lug.”


So I went.

Back three feet to my own cubicle, wondering why I had been given this certificate, wondering about that man hug.


By now, Nacho was done fiddling with the knobby thing, the IP address was in pieces on the floor, he’d given up. But he didn’t look frustrated. Rather, he seemed bemused.

I pointed at the mess by his shoes. “Sorry things went bad.”

Nacho shrugged. “Doesn’t matter, the address is out of warranty. That’s a nice certificate you have.”

“You like it? I was just named Project Manager of the Year.”

“Hey, that’s terrific. Tell me, have you ever managed a project?”

“Oh sure,” I said. “Lots of projects. Well, maybe only a few. Okay, none so far but I have the award to prove that I manage them better than everyone else.”


Several cubicles away we heard a loud voice saying, “But I managed all three of those projects, why didn’t I get a certificate? And who the heck is Rick Spinner?”


Ah yes, I had the gift of receiving. I love Christmas.