Contest entry. Needed show (not tell) certain words (in red). A snapshot of the life of a construction consultant.
“So, Mr. Smith why do you want to work for Wasatch Industries?”
“Not sure I do.”
Mr. Jones stammers. “What? Not sure? Then why are you here?” Easily distracted.
“Because somebody in this fine firm sent me a letter asking me to come here and talk to you. I believe that someone was you.”
“Well, ah, well, ah yes, that was me.”
“So, why did you want me to talk to you. Your email was rather vague, and you didn’t respond to mine.”
“Respond to your?” Unreliable
“Yes, I asked for clarification.”
“What kind of clarification?”
“Oh, silly things such as direct or contract. If direct what is the job, the responsibilities, would I be supervising anyone, salary, workplace, retirement, healthcare. If contract, the rate, duration, and nature of the assignment, you know, the trivial issues.”
“They were not in my email?”
“No, they were not in your email.” Indecisive
Mr. Jones cocked his head. “So, why are you here?”
“Because you sent me a plane ticket with hotel reservations, and I’ve never been to Salt Lake before. I figured I could give you a day or two. You did promise to pay all my expenses. And Acme has a good reputation. What did I have to lose except a couple days?”
“So, you’re not working?” asked Mr. Jones, making notes. Nosy.
“You do understand the nature of consulting, don’t you?”
“That’s not an answer.”
I nodded. “It is, you just don’t recognize it as one. As a consultant, my time is pretty much my own. I have an assignment, but I can’t do much until I get their estimate and schedule. When they have them, they will send them to me electronically. I can review them from anywhere, even Salt Lake.”
“You don’t like Salt Lake?”
“Haven’t seen much of it, just got in last night. I was hoping to spend a little time looking around. My return is open, and you did make the hotel reservation for a Sunday departure. I could have the weekend to look around.”
“No reason to stick around, if I’m not coming back.”
“Do you think you’ll come back?”
I shook my head. “It’s not looking promising.”
Mr. Jones smiled. “What would make it promising?”
“An attractive job description, good salary, great perks, and a nice office.”
“What if there was no office, a mediocre salary, and you did whatever I told you to do?”
“Then, I would say, you’ve already made up your mind. I either have the job and you wanted to meet me, test me. Or,…”
“You like to waste your money and my time.”
“What do you think it is?”
“First, you’re not Mr. Jones. You’re Ronald Atwater, President and sole owner of Wasatch Industries. According to ENR, you have a project in trouble. You’ve been through three project managers and looking at significant liquidated damages if you can’t turn it around, turn it around quickly. You’re in trouble. You want me, or somebody like me, to pull your chestnuts out of the fire. Why this little subterfuge, I can only guess.”
“Don’t guess, tell me what to do. Tell me what you’d do?” Quick witted.
“Not for free, I won’t.”
“How much for a day of your time?”
“$2500 plus expenses. Assumes a 10-hour day. Much longer than that and it’s $250/hour. Any less than that and it’s still $2500.”
“That’s not a bad rate. Can I buy the next three days?” Adaptable.
I nodded. “How many construction managers have you been through?”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know, do you?”
“Same CM, Sam McCord, an old friend.”
“That may be your problem. Can I talk to him and your current PM? Any chance to talk to the other PMs?”
“Yes, to Sam and Tom. Don’t think the other PMs will talk to you.”
“Probably not, but I’d like to try. Still have their contact information?”
He nodded. “I can get it. Sam is just a phone call away. Tom is in his office. You want me to call him?”
I shook my head. “I’d like to meet both of them for a drink…”
“Sam doesn’t drink.”
“There’s always coffee or milk.”
He laughed. “Quite so. Where and when?”
“Tell them it’s for drinks, but if it goes well, it will be for dinner. Even if it doesn’t go well, I’d like them to stay for dinner. Make drinks at 6:00, with dinner at 7:00. Is my hotel any good for dinner?”
He shrugged. “It’s okay. There’s a rib and chop restaurant a couple blocks away that’s better. Want me to make reservations?”
I nodded. “You understand, you’re not invited, right?”
He smiled. “I wouldn’t have come if I was.”
My turn to smile. “You have a favorite place for breakfast?”
“Not really. Should we say your hotel about 9:00?”
“That should work.”
He picked up his phone and made the calls.
“Daily reports for the last month, all monthly reports, schedule with status, and the construction estimate. Have you done a risk assessment?”
He nodded, not looking at me making notes. He looked up. “Want to do lunch?” Social.
“Not if you can get me those reports. Yes, if you can’t.”
“Would you like an office here or work out of your hotel room?”
“I’d like the office, but my computer is back at the hotel.”
“May I send somebody for it? You may have some questions I can answer.”
I smiled. “As may I. Yes, I’ll call the hotel. Someplace quiet where I won’t be disturbed.”
“Of course. Follow me.”
I waved to Ron as he entered the lobby. We went to the restaurant together. “So, what did you find out?”
“You can keep your new PM, but you will have to fire your friend. No way you can pull this rabbit out of the hat without spending more money than you’ll lose in liquidated damages. You made a bad contract and your engineering group did not do you any favors. Construction has not helped. If it were possible to start over, that would be my suggestion…” I held up my hand. “I know it’s not possible, but that’s how bad it is.”
“How bad is it?”
“It’s time to shoot your engineers and finalize design. Your friend, Sam, is too nice a guy. He should have put his foot down long ago. Changes kill a project; they are killing your project. I haven’t talked to your Engineering manager, but Tom tells me the changes are coming from the client. Changes without change order requests. You have lost project discipline. Tom inherited a sinking ship. I think he can turn it around, if you quit second guessing him. He is in charge; all changes have to go through him. How important is this client?”
Ron closed his eyes. “Very important.”
“I was afraid of that. He is now running your project. Soon, it will be your company. You’ve got a lot of hard, tough decisions to make. You got yourself into this mess. Only you can get yourself out. Hungry?”
It was a quiet breakfast. When the check came, I put it on my room. As I shoved the tray away, “You’ve still got another day coming, but there’s not much more I can do for you. You know what you have to do. Do it, and I can help. Don’t and it would be a waste of my time and your money. And frustrating as hell.”
He folded his napkin. “They told me you were a hard ass.” Adjustable.
I nodded. “That I am, but I won’t lie to you, cheat you, or let anyone else.”
“Nor I you.”
Ron slid a paper across the table.
Mr. Smith smiled.
Mr. Smith nodded. “Acceptable.”
Word count = 1309