Jack had never met Jeremy, the CEO before. An appointment to come to his sprawling office had appeared in Jack’s calendar a week before. There were no options to refuse or accept, it was just there.

And so for the past week, Jack’s imagination had run wild with reasons as to why Jeremy would want to see him, and as he sat outside Jeremy’s office door, waiting for the overly-happy secretary that stood guard to let him in, his mind was filled with ridiculous scenarios and his shirt filled with sweat.

“You can go in now,” said almost insanely happy secretary.

As Jack stood the leather chair made a suspicious squeaking noise and Jack tried to match the secretary’s ludicrous smile as he walked past. If anyone had walked in at this moment, it would have seemed the two were comparing teeth.

“Jack, my boy. How are you? Have a seat.” said Jeremy, not looking away from his laptop. Jeremy was perched behind a dark brown desk made of some sort of wood that Jack properly couldn’t even pronounce. His chair was more like a throne and the leather look soft enough to sit on naked.

Jack sat down on the much smaller seat opposite and looked over Jeremy’s shoulder and through the floor-to-ceiling windows to a stunning view of the bay.

“Funny,” said Jack. “I’ve got a similar view from my desk.”

Jeremy didn’t look away from his laptop, but raised his eyebrows with uncertainty, “Really?”

“Well, sort of. If I turn around I can see the coffee machine… so that’s something.”

Jeremy offered a slight smile. “I’ll be with you in a moment.” He continued staring at the screen, and lent back in his chair, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

Jack waited, resisting the urge to drum his fingers on the arm of his chair.

Eventually, Jeremy reluctantly looked away from the screen. “Apologies Jack, no rest for the wicked. You know, I wanted to be a CEO my whole life and now I want to go back in time and warn myself not to do it.” He laughed loudly.

Jack laughed politely. He noticed that Jeremy was wearing an open necked shirt, in breach of the company’s ‘must wear a tie,’ rule.

“So Jack, I hear you’ve been doing great things for us.”

Jack wasn’t sure whether to agree or not, and if he’d be agreeing to Jeremy hearing something, or his doing of great things. So he just nodded.

“So, are you ready to take a step up to the big leagues?”

“Ummmmm….yes?”

“Well good,” said Jeremy. “Because we need people like you to take us to the next level. In this economy, it’s important we are all aligned. If we not strategic, there’s no way we going to be able to compete and part of that is making sure we bring through the right people.”

Jack stared blankly at Jeremy. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be disrespectful but all those words you just said – what do they mean? I mean really?”

Jeremy laughed. “Sorry, you spend too much time in the executive offices and you forget that not everyone speaks at the top level. Don’t worry, I’ll get you there.”

Jack’s mouth fell open slightly, he managed to stop himself begging Jeremy not to take him anywhere. “Great.”

“So, I’m promoting you to Senior.”

“Oh,” said Jack. “And what does that mean?”

“New business cards, new opportunities, a whole different paradigm.”

“Do I get a pay rise?”

“No, this is a step toward a pay rise.”

Jack nodded thoughtfully. “Do I get more autonomy? Like, can I have flexibility in my hours?”

Jeremy shook his head. “Flexibility? You’ll have far too much to do –  I’m going to be giving you a lot more responsibility.”

Jack looked suspiciously at Jeremy.

Jeremy looked back.

“Just to recap,” said Jack. “I’m going to get more work, more responsibility, but no more money, flexibility or autonomy.”

“It’s a fast track role,” said Jeremy excitedly. “You’re on the management path.”

“That’s not fair,” said Jack pleadingly. “I’ve been working really hard, I don’t deserve to be on the management path.”

“It’s a good thing Jack, it shows we see your potential.”

“I’ve seen managers Jeremy, I see how miserable they are and all they seem to talk about is how brilliant they used to be. I’m not exaggerating when I say, I would rather rip my own ears off and replace them with molten lava than become a manager…no offence.”

Jeremy nodded sternly. “That’s fine Jack, but I must say I’ve never had anyone turn down a promotion before.”

“Perhaps they weren’t paying attention.”

Jeremy turned back to his laptop. “Thanks for your time.”

Jack left the office, compared teeth with the secretary once more and returned to his desk, thankfully still not a manager.