Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hatchet Women

As Austin helped the actual event planners finalize the decorations, lighting, and music for the costume party, she didn't feel guilty. She was disappointed though that her offer to help arrange the strands of organge and purple lights didn't even win her a glare from Edit, Mona, or Becca.

Despite the ridiculousness of camouflaging the four hatchet women within the event planning department, Austin liked planning soirees. The looks from agents, district managers, and their spouses as they entered the Nicollet Island Pavilion satiated her willingness to help the planners.
The location was bald. Once a loading dock and warehouse for southbound Mississippi barges, the facility had been renovated for elegant see and be seens, and down-to-earth bashes brimming with kegs of Michelob Golden Light beer, a Minnesota must. The pavilion proper overlooked a series of tiered platforms cascading down to the river's ever-present rumble where it first flexed the muscles that finally bulged in New Orleans. The platforms had been tented to protect guests from the unforgiving gusts known to push surface waters into a fine but bitter spray. The tents were adorned with white lighting, disguising them as spacious gazeboes. Portable overhead headers also had been installed...
Yesm Austin easily could have been a full-fledged event planner had she not cast her lot with the Colorado Springs axe women.
Finished with the last light strand, she turned to locate the three other blades. If trying to find them after three years of looking for Edie's fiery red hair, Mona's devastating jet black locks and Becca's lackluster auburn proved a formidable task adding the outfits of Bat Girl, an obscure dark Jedi and a woman playing a doctor on TV made the challenge doubly difficult.
Austin stopped down from her ladder and crossed to the kitchen, where other blondes were assisting the caterers.
She felt a pinch on her elbow and realized Bat Girl had flanked her.
"You finished pretending you're one of them?" Edit asked Austin.
Without slowing her pace, Austin glanced up at her boss, "I was merely exuding esprit de corps. Aren't we all supposed to be pretending to be something we're not, or are you in fact the Dark Knight's kid sister?"
"This costume looked better when my hair was its natural color," Edie admitted.
"I didn't know Bat Birl was a red-head,"Austin said.
"Depends on the depiction," Edie explained. "Sometimes she's red-headed, sometimes it look more like Becca's hair..."
Austin surveyed the crowd. She didn't recognize specific agents or other home office employees. The employees would be well disguised. The agents were simply unfamiliar to her...
"Excuse me," she muttered as she brushed against people, collecting elbows with and startled looks. "Who is everyone crowding around?"
"Denis Laurent," a pirate said.
"Seriously?" she asked and immediately regretted saying anything out loud.
Eighteen months ago, Denis Laurent, a third-general district manager, had suffered a debilitating stroke. He'd first lose use of the left side of his body, but had regained functionality in his limbs six months later. His speech and gait were still affected, but he'd held his position and rallied support from his agents over his recovery.
It now made complete sense that he would make an appearance
As Austin slithered her way to the front, she couldn't contain her laughter and admiration for Laurent's outfit. Wearing a kitchen appliance box and a lamp shade as a hat, Denis kept one arm locked inside his daughter's and high fived the agents around his with his good hand. The box he wore had been painted to look like a cheat hotel end table. Whoever designed the costume had taken great lengths to make the furniture look old and dirty.
"He's a one-night stand!" an agent bellowed behind Austin...

Hatchet Women

By Nick Sconce

A wide spread of emotions was the main result of this book... One one end, I was laughing; on the other end, I was angry... First, I should state that my anger for insurance employees goes way back to my childhood when my mother scraped together pennies to meet the ongoing payment for policies. At that time, the insurance agent came to your home and you paid and your policies were kept up-to-date... I will always remember the date when the policies were, supposedly, all paid off... only to be notified by the company that they had been cancelled for non-payment. Yes, the agent had been keeping the money, apparently from quite a number of people...

This book is the modern, up-to-date version of that story. Only the stakes and the ability for insurance corruption is even higher now. The book had a little bit too much insurance details and, for me, did bog down at the beginning. However, once you sink into the totally absurd situation that has been created, you are hooked... At least I was... And there may be some personal bias showing through on this one, for which I will not apologize. If you are a woman who has been screwed by some organization (it doesn't matter what business) you will surely see through the farce that Sconce has created...

I quickly point out that the book was written by a man... I'm only reacting to it, so I challenge men to man up and read this book... One thing that must be accepted by American men is that most higher executives are men... So if a company is corrupt, the corruption started with the men... 99% of the time, not necessarily through incompetence, but rather due to the unwillingness or inability to routinely handle personnel issues, including discipline...

Here's the "brilliant" plan from the senior execs of a large insurance company... 

A team of women had been successful in another part of the company, so they were selected to move to Minnesota... They were to be organizationally hidden with the Events Planning Unit where all female women were required to have blond hair (alert 1). The four hired resented this requirement and subterfuge but they didn't see that they had a choice as new employees. All of the women bleached their hair to become non-blond blonds in a group of party planners

Get real! The job for this 4-member team was to gather, assimilate, analyze, and prove that employees were to be...fired....gotten rid of...terminated...hatcheted!

And soon the heads started to roll...

Unfortunately, for the senior execs who brought them, the company work ethic was so bad, that these extremely savvy, intelligent women easily found and proved that one manager after another had to go. Whistleblowing had even started...from some unit employees (Alert 2)

The funniest thing for me was that...the evidence was not turned over to management so that they could handle the supervisory firing... No... as men rarely want to get into that true management of personnel, the team members actually became the Hatchet Women. What was funny was that, after one in-office firing by members of this team, the execs didn't see that the news of what had begun would travel across the organization! The women were forced to remain non-blonds in the blond party planning unit, while, at the same time, they traveled all through the organization to say it, normally, men...are not good middle-management employees and become worse as they climb the ladder...

I was loving it! The storyline is so droll, farcical, ridiculous, and, all together true, that I had to wonder why more writers are not blasting the corporate/organizational entities that we hear about... Especially where the execs give themselves big bucks while blaming the subordinates who were allowed to slide into whatever fate they were forced into...

"A few weeks ago, Easton contacted me with an amazing experience that he wanted to share. It is been said that young men will have visions and our old men will have dreams. This is certainly true within the stories of the Old Testament, and God has validated this once again. As always I invite us all to reflect on Easton's experience and to find encouragement and reflect on Easton's experience and to find encouragement and strength in its faith affirming meaning."
..."About a month ago, I was standing on my porch...Seriously, though. It's an important detail in my story. Those who know me know that I was in a serious relationship with a woman in Oklahoma, and I personally wanted more than what Vatican II said I needed I wanted my girlfriend to convert to Catholicism from Episcopalian before we got married. But it wasn't to be. So here I am a Catholic single in a strange, bitterly cold land, but filling myself with the fire of the Holy Spirit..."
"And that's when it happened. I saw a vision in the center of my mind. Of a wheat field with a windless breeze, a coolness that seemed to pass through me without pushing me. I could see my ancestors in the distance...

The team of women became isolated, of course, with no real ability to talk about their work, except to each other, so their day's closing normally ended at a bar where both business and personal lives were shared. Edie was team leader with a strong character of leadership, while Mona was normally the one to actually apply the killing blow. Austin was also there during those meetings as the empathic employee liaison who saw the situation from both sides.. Becca was the statistical genius who spotted the problem areas and then pulled together data to prove what was happening.

Edie was the only team member who had an outside church-related life. And it was there that she first became attracted to a visitor who was sharing a vision with the congregation... While physically attracted to him, once she got to know him, she began doubting him...only to have her team encourage her to get to know him better...

The twist occurs when she discovers that he also works at the Insurance Company...and...also reports directly to her boss...

This novel is both a little dull (with details or an industry I despise, I admit it, but did learn about) as well as an exciting thriller like no other... The Hatchet Women are a formidable group that soon becomes role models on how to succeed in a corporation...

At least until they have proven to be tooooo efficient and effective... (Alert 3, they recommended the elimination of a long-term employee that senior management was not willing to suffer the repercussions...) At least in the unit to which they were transferred, they could let their hair grow back to natural colors... The end? No way! The action is just beginning! And you couldn't possibly have foreseen what will happen! A fascinating, mind-blowing, thoroughly satisfactory ending for me!

Hey I do recommend it, if you dare to read about the real world we live in... Yikes! 

Equality is always worth fighting for. Don't let anyone convinced you otherwise...


Born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma, Nick Sconce now resides outside of Oklahoma City with his wife and three children.
His interests include photography, recording music, cooking, gardening and studying the financial services industry.
His third novel, Hatchet Women, was released in October 2016. 
Edie Firebaugh and her team of young, career-oriented women, are coerced to dye their hair to blend into their insurance company’s event planning department to conceal their real work in special investigations, fraud prevention, and agent termination. As they ascend and infiltrate the company’s hierarchy, they uncover a layered scheme in the private placement annuity unit, which limits pay-outs to customers through mass murders designed to look like tragic accidents. The unit also happens to be the most profitable for their company. 
Pewter, Murder, and Loaded Dice and Structured Chaos are novels in a series involving Devin Predire and Alex Vinkler

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