The great thing about working at Veridian Dynamics is they're always full of surprises. Well, no - actually nothing the company does surprises me anymore. But the great thing about working with Veronica is that she always finds a way to make the inevitable interesting.
Like this morning in my office.
"The little girl with the marketability-tested curly hair-"
"Rose: my daughter."
"Rose, that's what I said. Exactly what is her hourly rate?"
Ever since Rose and Veronica hung out, Veronica's been looking for a replacement human shield. She's tried a few avenues, but none of them have been as effective.
I'm proud of Rose, but I'm also thinking about changing our names and moving to Iowa. I imagine that happens to most fathers eventually.
"Rose doesn't have an hourly rate. She doesn't have a job. She isn't - and I really can't stress this enough – for hire."
"I understand, as her agent-"
"Father, that's what I said, you'd want to ensure competitive pricing."
"Yes, that's exactly my main concern."
"Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Ted. Even lower than Saturday Night Live skits. I'd hoped to do this amicably, but you leave me no choice."
She handed me my contract, which I didn't remember signing in blood.
"Ignore that. Pete did the collating."
Paper Cut Pete has never met a cellulose-sourced derivative that didn't aim right for a major artery. The team building exercise for his department was a two-day hike through the woods; he had to be helicoptered out for a transfusion on the first night.
"I have to remind you that Rose does technically belong to the company."
"I'm almost certain that wasn't in my contract."
Although, now I think about it, there was a lot of small print. And some of it was only visible under an ultra-violet light.
"How long have you worked here, Ted?"
Actually, I've been with the company almost ten years. Linda suggested I should mark the occasion with some kind of wake. She's a kidder.
"Veronica, children born to employees don't fall under intellectual property rights."
"Don't they, Ted? Don't they?"
"No. Look, why now? What's going on?"
"The Feldman Conspiracy."
"I'm almost certain that's meant to be Contingency."
"Is it, Ted? Is it? Never mind - as you know, it was leaked and now they're taking heads. I like my head. Striking features and almost inhumanly powerful hair aside, it carries many of my fondest memories."
The Feldman Contingency is a series of possible scenarios and corresponding strategies for keeping our largest sponsor happy.
Although blackmail features in just four of the fifteen solutions, the details are kept absolutely top secret, which means they're only accessible by the CEO, the heads of department and anyone with root access to the company servers.
In retrospect, forcing early retirement on the person who runs IT – and who also happens to produce the company newsletter – probably wasn't a good idea.
Anyway, back to Rose and Veronica.
"What exactly do you think Rose can do?"
"Apparently a great deal more than you do. Have you always been so disparaging of her abilities? Is that why she's so short?"
"I – what? She's not short, Veronica, she's eight."
"I can give her the opportunity of a life-time, to look on the inner workings of the heady world of corporate politics. To stand at my side – or just in front of me – and witness the greatest minds of our generation turn soggy with evolutionary sentiment.
"Can you truly deny her such an experience?"
"I can try. Really hard."
"I'm disappointed in you, Ted. And I weep for the future of your child. Or I would, if I had functional tear ducts."
In the end I just asked Rose. I thought it was a decision that she should make for herself and it's not like I was expecting her to say yes.
She said yes.
But that's another story.