The new owners called it an international interchange program, where employees were chosen to work for a week at one of the company's foreign outlets.
"But I'm only a saleswoman," Denise whined. "How am I supposed to sell anything to someone who speaks a different language than me?"
"But it will be a great honor to journey to our new flagship France store," said the new manager in his high-pitched, foreign monotone.
"France, huh?" Denise said. "Is it in Paris, or somewhere else?"
The manager remained silent, staring at the ceiling in thought, his noticeably high and completely bald head shining under the fluorescent lights. Just when the moment began to feel awkward, he blurted out, "Paris. Yes. That is in France. You will go to Paris for ... a week."
"I've always wanted to see Paris," Denise said. "What else can you tell me about the program?"
"You will travel to Paris, France, where you will be cooked ... I mean booked into a luxury hotel. You will spend your days in our warehouse being fattened up, I mean fattening up our, er, profit margin. At the end of your week, you will be caramelized ... I mean recognized. On a plate."
"A...commemorative plate, which we will have...in the kitchen." He pointed toward the break room.
"Oh, well that sounds really nice." Denise was already picturing herself in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, noshing on pastries and coffee at some sidewalk patisserie. "How did I get chosen for such an honor?"
"Because you are the fattest saleswoman at this location."
"Fattest?!" Denise had been overweight her entire life, but suddenly she felt very small.
"Please to pardon," the manager said. "My English is not perfect. I mean to say ... that ... your sales numbers are the fattest in the sales department. You look delicious to management."
"Is that not a compliment in your language? Many pardons."
"Oh, that's okay." Denise blushed and looked away. "This all sounds so amazing. What do I need to do?"
"Just go through that door, there." He gestured toward a door she somehow had never noticed before. "Our colleague will prepare you for your trip."
She walked to the door and placed her hand on the doorknob. "What's this mean?" she asked, pointing to the single word printed on the door. "Abattoir? Is that French?"
The new manager grinned widely and nodded his large, egg-shaped head vigorously.
Denise shrugged and pushed through door.