S tuff’s up. Head down, eyes open.

That’s about as HR vague as Deedee can get. I read the text again. I guess more is up than usual. It’s been a mess since the David Pearson meltdown.

I waved at security and scanned my badge at a turnstile to gain access to the rest of the building.

Are you here yet??

Deedee using two question marks. Wow, something must be up. I checked my watch — five to nine. I was on time, not early like I used to be, but not late. It’s been hard to get in early since the wedding. Ari has a shorter commute, it’s hard to leave him. So weird.

I walked past the reception and waiting area — it was dead, odd. Walked down the hall to my office, second to last. All the other offices had their shades drawn. Something was definitely up. My phone buzzed again.

Big conference room — NOW!

Okay, okay! I rounded the corner and saw the double doors of the large conference room, doors open wide. The place was packed: standing room only. I entered and nudged myself past receptionists, interns, entry-level people, to the front, where Deedee was making faces with her eyes.

“What’s up?” I hissed.

Deedee nodded her head in the direction of the person speaking. It was the chairman of the board of directors, what’s his name — Darius Lordes. I’d only met him once before. I listened to Darius, saw he was pointing to two women on either side of him, “Carrie Shaughnessy and Miranda Tino, our new CEO and director of operations—”

Oh, my. I stared at Deedee, remembering to close my mouth. Stuff’s up?! Understatement of the century. They fired Sandra and Peter. Things were bad, sure, but I didn’t think it was that bad.

“Did you know about this?” I whispered to Deedee, jabbing her slightly.

“Only a little,” she said. She tacked on, “And very last minute.”

“You’re the worst yenta ever.”

Deedee pulled a small smile. Everyone around us was clapping politely. The new CEO, Carrie, took center stage. She started with the classic “honor and privilege.” I started spacing out.

But then she said, “There has been a culture of deception and fear here, and working from the ground up. We’re going to change that.”

Deception? Fear?

That was code for I’m going after upper management — me! And ground up — basically threatening my job!

Carrie spoke for a few more minutes, but I didn’t process a word. All I could think was, did I do anything wrong, am I a target? Probably was the logical conclusion. I caught Deedee’s eye, she shrugged apologetically.

Carrie finished and then Lordes dismissed us all. I just stood there, a little shell-shocked. This was not what I had expected when I arrived at work. I took a deep breath. I was gonna be fine. I did great work, had a great work ethic, my clients adored me, my employees loved me. Even if Carrie and Miranda looked closely at me, they’d see, I’m not the “culture problem” here. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 620)