We forgot to thank Joe and it nearly cost us the company. And our lives.

The mistake manifested itself as an innocent enough comment on our year-end blog.

Little did we know that behind that tearful emoji was an ex-employee whose feelings had been irreparably damaged. A ticking time bomb that in the subsequent 48 hours would end in a very public arrest in our office – the day our whole personalised gift business nearly went up in smoke.

Out of all the curveballs of running a start-up, I didn’t see this one coming. 

There was something fishy about Joe’s resume when we interviewed him.  He seemed to flounder when it came to staying in a job for a decent stint of time. He said he had worked at a calendar factory until he got fired for taking a day off. He was a primary school teacher but claimed it made him go cross-eyed and ultimately he lost control of his pupils.  And he worked in a bank until a woman asked him to check her balance and he pushed her over. Despite his track record, we really liked Joe and decided he deserved a chance. We placed him in the customer happiness department where he quickly excelled. His sense of humour, patience and reassuring manner were loved by our customers.  Joe’s real passion was for writing, so he moved into the marketing department where he was responsible for our social media posting and blog.  He had had some experience of posting previously for a local fencing company. Joe turned out to be a very talented writer with a particular affinity for the pun,  sprinkling them liberally throughout his work and earning himself the title King of Pun. Like all writers, he had a vivid imagination. He told us he once swam in an ocean of orange soda. It turned out to be pure Fanta sea. In the end, he went too far. He filled an entire social post with jokes about unemployed people. None of them worked.  We had to say goodbye to him. It was ironic yet amicable. 

Fast forward a  year and Joe reads my year-end blog post where we dedicated a piece of artwork to all the past members of The Book of Everyone team,  thanking them for their contribution to our journey. But we forgot Joe. 

A simple oversight with devastating consequences. All the kindness and patience he had so naturally displayed during his time in Customer Service,  all the calmness and good humour as a writer, snapped. We were the one company where he had successfully held down a job, where he had nurtured his passion for writing, and we had forgotten him.  The king of pun had been erased from the history books. According to his girlfriend (who later retold the story to the police), he thumped out the comment on the blog on his keyboard so hard that when he hit the key for the crying emoji it bounced out of its socket –  he wondered why the key was getting bigger for a split second, then it hit him.

A rage of injustice consumed Joe and he plotted his revenge on The Book of Everyone. He turned to his girlfriend, who stood there fearing the worse, and said candidly, ‘You know I have a split personality!’. She nodded, she was well accustomed to Joe being Frank with her.  He then grabbed a sports bag containing a blunt heavy object and blinded by fury climbed out of the window.

By the grace of God, the security guards at our office saw the bare-chested Joe approaching and dialled the police.

The police arrested Joe in the lift – he had a car battery in one hand and a firework in the other – it was wrong on so many levels.   The police officer read him his rights and led him down to the station. We later heard that for the car battery, they charged him. For the firework, they let him off. 

We’re truly sorry Joe. You are not forgotten and will always be in our hearts and our puns –  even those annoying insect puns that bugged you. Please accept this revised artwork as reconciliation.  

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