Janitor Promoted at Company Picnic
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TULSA, OK -- Mel Mathis had no idea that fortune was smiling on him last Saturday, when he attended his company’s summer picnic. Mathis, a custodial engineer for Swift-Tek in Tulsa, was actually rather shocked that he was even invited to the picnic. “Usually,” he says, “people just ignore me. They pretend I don’t even exist.”

Mathis wasn’t sure if he wanted to attend the picnic, since he’d have no one to talk to and he’d probably just end up cleaning up afterwards. But he decided that it was worth the free meal, so he went. At around 5:00, he arrived at the Richmond Street Park and helped himself to as much food as he could carry.

At about 8:00, just as Mathis was thinking that he had stayed long enough—that he’d made his appearance and had his face painted, and it was now okay to leave—he was approached by Guy Hanselman, the CEO of Swift-Tek. “Hi there!” said Hanselman. “I’m Guy. What’s your name?”

As Hanselman shook his hand, Mathis shyly introduced himself and struck up a conversation about the maple syrup industry in Canada. Apparently, Hanselman had spent much of the afternoon and evening by the cooler, where he had consumed so many cans of Schlitz that the caterers had gone scrambling to find more.

As the picnic started to break up, Hanselman continued to talk—and Mathis continued to listen, occasionally nodding. After two hours, Hanselman, convinced that he had found a new friend, patted Mathis on the back and said, “Mel, I like you. You’re a super guy. And you’ve got leadership potential. Whaddya say to a new position?”

“I couldn’t believe it!” Mathis retells. “I thought, Wow! Head custodian! How cool!

So he accepted the position without knowing exactly what he was getting himself into. Hanselman excused himself and stumbled up to the microphone at the far end of the picnic area. He clung to the microphone as he thumped it with his index finger, making sure it was on. “Hey, everybody! This is Mel. See Mel over there? Hi, Mel! Mel’s our new Vice President of Marketing!” he slurred.

Afraid that they’d lose their jobs if they questioned Hanselman, everyone who was still there went over to congratulate a shocked Mathis.

On Monday morning, Mathis settled into his new office and immediately began writing up Swift-Tek’s new marketing plan. Hanselman, who has no recollection of the promotion, is still too embarrassed to admit that he acted rashly, so he refuses to go back on his promise and return Mathis to his custodial position.

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