RIF (#5 of N)

Driving home, Scofield recalled how he and Bob Thompson had first put together what became the Kronsys calibration unit about a dozen years ago.

Calibration, in this technical area, is a rare talent. It requires — almost — someone with Asperger’s syndrome-like skills in attention to detail. Bob Thompson had this — the ability to pick up on the slightest disharmony among the instrumentation.

As with traditional piano tuners and their set of forks, there was in their sort of instrumentation a physical, ‘ground truth’ to what they did.  That empirical ground truth was located in a specific, custom-modified six-amphere wire from a standard microwave gun that Bob had devised. It was Scofield who had figured out a means of putting a company together, the traditional garage-and-credit-card based startup.

Thompson’s hack was reliable, clever, and (unfortunately) unpatentable. And considered a trade secret by Kronsys, once they had brought bought them out to acquire their technology. They hired on Thomson and Scofield to run the new product group.

Coming back to the present as he pulled the car into his driveway, Scofield guessed that Bob and the others had been unceremoniously RIFed. In other words, fired. His old friend had probably been seen out the door with nothing but his pictures of his kids in a box under his arm. They had built that unit from nothing, and now it was gone.

Once he was back in his apartment, it didn’t take Scofield long to dig out Bob’s old AOL account and open it to a chat window. Then, he popped open a beer to wait.

At 9:30, Bob logged on.  He sent over a few lines of text:


Coffee? Now?

“I must have Moscow Rules”



…and then the daughter window closed, a little ‘hung-up phone’ picture taking its place

James looked at the screen a moment, leaned back and cracked his knuckles as he was wont to do when puzzling something out, and then got up. Time for him to visit the local Dunks’, it appeared.

But Bob never arrived. It turned out, as he learned late that night, that Bob Thompson was dead.

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