NOTE: This short story is a part of my challenge to write an ongoing collection of stories based on photos I come across. You can see the collection of photos HERE.

These are quick and short stories, not polished or fully edited, partly for you to enjoy and partly for me to see if I can really do this…and for how long!

This story is called: Prototype.

Hi, Henry, thanks for coming in. As you know, I am on the committee looking at this round of promotions and it looks like you are on the list. Congratulations!

This won’t take too long. My role is to walk through your work history with you and identify things that might have relevance to your moving up in the company.

I was surprised to see the part about the dimmer switch. I forgot you were the one who made the recommendation to do away with that old floor switch and move it to the steering console. That was quite the thing as I remember, since we were the first to make that change. If I recall, it involved quite a bit of redesign of the electronics, but your team figured it out and even lowered the overall installation costs in the process. The increase in sales that year was significant as well. You ought to be proud of that one.

And then, let me see, you were a part of the group that led the addition of cruise-control as well, weren’t you? Well, I guess you weren’t talking about adding it, but changing the size of that lever so it was easier to reach and not so easily confused with the turn signal lever. It says here that one thing alone reduced our service line calls by almost 38 percent. Very nice.

And this is impressive, Henry. You led the groups that drove the reducing of rear fin size, reducing the profile of front and rear bumpers, replacing metal components with durable plastic and fiberglass. Again, that one step not only reduced production costs but increased fuel economy, and pretty-well drove the entire line’s marketing theme for the next three years.

Then there were the air-conditioning temperature control modifications, the improvements in the shatter-proof window glass, the child-safety hardware for the automatic windows, the auto-anti-glare controls on the rear view mirrors, and that’s still just a partial list.

This is quite an impressive work history, Henry. Looking at this, I have no doubt that you should be at or near the top of the list as the final considerations for promotion are reviewed by corporate.

But I am sorry to say that I’m afraid that just isn’t going to happen, Henry. You’re nodding, so I imagine you already know what I’m talking about.

It was that seatbelt prototype you designed, Henry.

I mean, everyone understood it was just a prototype, and prototypes are always challenging and normally reveal many issues that point to needed improvements.

But, Henry, the list of lawsuits was, I guess I can only say, a bit overwhelming.

There were, let’s see, oh my, seventeen, um, rather nasty incidents. And there were reports of several dozen other, oh, well, let’s just say your prototype created kind of a mess for everyone around here, Henry. And I’m afraid corporate has a long memory about things like that. The lawyers, you know?

So, well, thanks for coming in, Henry.

Maybe next time.