In “My Condolence,” a new hire in a corporate communications team serving another captain of industry finds himself in the position of writing his own condolence note following the death of his brother. Chairman Jim is so moved by this exchange that he demands to meet his correspondent, and now the new hire must try to figure out how he can take his own publicity photograph. He hatches a plan with the chairman’s executive assistant, a tough, loud woman who labors furiously to maintain her boss’s illusions, and when the plan fails and the truth comes out, our hero finds that the illusions he’s created have not, as he fears, cost him the job he desperately needs, but opened doors to the very heart of corporate power.
In submitting for publication the Transcendent Guide to Corporate America, my collection of stories about work and life in the corporate era, I recently wrote a detailed description of the book for Northwestern University Press. It turned into a story-by-story summary about how themes in the stories relate to the general themes of the guide. I thought I'd present them here, one story at a time. This is the second. As for what the individual stories are actually '"about," you're on your own.