The Ring

The ring was a gift from his grandfather. It was made of gold and it was brilliant. The ornament was as strong and as old as their family name.

“This ring has been passed down for generations – take good care of it and wear it with dignity,” his grandfather said.

The man slipped the ring onto his finger. To his surprise, it fit perfectly, as if it had been forged just for him. At first it felt unwieldy, but his grandfather assured him that after a while, he would no longer feel its weight. The man wore the ring proudly and after some time, he no longer noticed it. The ring became a part of him.

People noticed the ring and gave him compliments. The gold circle gave him the feeling that something good was going to happen.

Shortly after, he ran into a former colleague who offered him an enticing business proposition. “Come work for me,” his friend said. “I have a great opportunity for you and it’ll make you a king.”

Convinced this meeting was a sign, the man accepted the offer and soon began his new position in his new corner office in the city’s shiny new skyscraper.

After a week on the job, his friend pulled him aside. “One thing, though. That ring’s a bit flashy for this place; best to leave it at home.”

The man was bothered by the idea of removing his ring. But the job required it, so he began leaving it on the bureau before going to work. Everyday when he came home, he slipped the ring back on.

Things moved quickly at the new job. The accounts grew exponentially and there was talk of mergers and unprecedented growth.

The man noticed the ring had begun to feel a bit heavy each time he put it on, but after wearing it a while, the feeling eased.

By the first anniversary, the company’s shares had catapulted to an uncharted threshold. To top it off, the man received an enviable promotion. There were black slaps all around and the beer flowed into the night at the local bar.

The vice presidents announced that a new business model would be launched and it would require changes across the company. They appointed the man to lead them all into a bold new era. But this cutting-edge vision meant that certain people could no longer be part of the journey. The man had to make a difficult but necessary decision.

“But it’s me,” said his colleague who had hired him a year ago. “We’re old friends; we make a good team.”

“I regret this, but it’s for the good of the company,” the man replied.

The promotion demanded long hours and many weekends. He came home late and began to forget to put on his ring. Sometimes he would remember his grandfather’s words and ashamed, he would quickly slip it on. But the later he came home, the more often he forgot until one day, he studied the ring a moment, and remembering how cumbersome it felt, he shrugged and left it on the bureau.

I’ll have to remove it anyway before going to work, so why bother, he thought.

His wife complained about his extended hours and weekend obligations. “Something has changed. You don’t even wear your ring anymore. Is everything all right?”

“Never better,” he assured her.

One ordinary day, the man noticed the ring on top of the bureau. It had been a great while since he had worn it; he’d forgotten what it looked like. He picked it up and was reminded of its heft and fine workmanship. He put it on his finger. How awkward and heavy it felt. He turned the ring around and around and mused at the simple gold band. He wondered how he once thought it was such a grand ring. He smiled to himself and shook his head. He tugged on the ring to remove it.

It caught before the knuckle and wouldn’t budge any further.

I must have put on some weight, the man thought. He pulled at it again. It would not give. He recalled a home remedy for removing stubborn rings so he lathered his finger with soap and pulled again. As before, it slipped to the knuckle and stopped. He wrestled with the ring for some time until his finger was red and sore.

“Now this is ridiculous,” he said aloud.

He rinsed off the soap and dried his hands. A red welt had formed under the ring.

“This can’t be happening,” he cursed. “I can’t wear this to work!”

With the sharpest knife he could find in the kitchen, he lopped off the swollen finger, removing the ring with it. He threw the finger in the trash and tossed the ring back on the bureau. He pressed the stump until the bleeding slowed and carefully, he bandaged it. He prayed the bleeding would stop by morning.

Tomorrow was the public launch of the company’s new vision.

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