The bell rang as Bob Crachit walked through the door of Scrooge and Marley’s Counting House. Ebenezer Scrooge, with the epiphany of the previous night still singing in his heart, welcomed his faithful clerk. The familiar cold of the room to which Crachit had become accustomed, was absent. A fireplace full of coal crackled in the corner, reflecting the warmth now present in Scrooge’s once-dismal heart.
“Good morning Bob!”Scrooge said as he clapped his industrious clerk on the back. “Merry Christmas again. It is but a day afterwards and yet I still feel alive with the Host.”
“Good morning Mr. Scrooge,” Crachit replied removing his comforter and hanging it. “I was hoping that today we might discuss my affairs.”
“Ah yes Bob. I made you many a promise yesterday. I promised to give you a raise and to help Tiny Tim etc, etc. Come sit down and let’s see in what way I can give you a bit of help.”
Crachit opened up his personal ledger. “Now my dear Mr. Scrooge. In the delirium of your mood on Christmas Day you mentioned a raise. Have you given any additional thought into that proposal?”
“A promise Bob,” said Scrooge. “It was a promise! And yes, I have. How does an additional 3% sound?!” The old man grinned from ear to ear. He so eagerly awaited Crachit’s exuberant affirmation that he resembled a puppy hungrily anticipating a scrap of goose dropped from a table.
“Uh…3%?” Crachit raised an eyebrow. “You were visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past Present and Future and that’s the best you can do?”
Scrooge looked puzzled. A 3% raise was 3% more than Crachit should have expected and therefore, Scrooge thought, he should be grateful. Crachit was a fine employee but really nothing to write home about if he was being honest. Scrooge, remembering his name emblazoned on the cold granite of the graveyard and wishing to sponge away that fate, gritted his teeth. “What did you have in mind then, Bob?”
“40% and a company carriage.”
Scrooge nearly swooned at the audacious ask of this clerk. This Crachit guy had some stones on him asking for that amount. “A company carriage? 40%! Have you gone mad! You don’t even travel for work.”
“I’m sorry,” Bob replied calmly. “I was under the assumption that your eternal soul was in peril. That if you did not become a more giving, generous man that you would be doomed to be clasped in the iron chains of greed for all of eternity, like Jacob Marley. Was I mistaken?”
Scrooge looked into the embers of the expensive coal burning in the corner of the room. His coal for which he had paid. Scrooge saw Marley’s face in the red glow, though it flickered and evaporated like a vapour. “Very well. I suppose I can swing that,” Scrooge replied. “I acquiesce Bob. I acquiesce with a – ahem – a merry heart.”
“Ok, so that’s item number one. Item number two: Tiny Tim’s medical bills. Tuberculosis is an expensive disease my good sir. We can set up some sort of Health Care Savings account or something but this is going to be a doozie for you.”
Scrooge silently cursed his ghostly apparition of a friend once called Jacob Marley. Scrooge’s soul had been preserved, but his money was quickly spoiling.