Scrooge was back in his bedroom, after his visit with the Ghost of Procurement Past. He had seen the shadows of his childhood and youth, and how they had shaped his character and career. He had felt a mixture of emotions, from nostalgia and regret, to hope and repentance. He wondered what the next spirit would show him, and how it would affect him. He heard the clock strike two, and he looked around, expecting to see the ghost. But he saw nothing, and he heard nothing, except the wind and the rain outside.
He thought that perhaps the first spirit had been enough, or that he had dreamed the whole thing. He was about to lie down and go back to sleep, when he heard a loud and cheerful voice, coming from the next room. He got up and walked towards it, curious and cautious. He opened the door, and he saw a sight that filled him with astonishment and awe.
The room was filled with a bright and warm light, that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. The walls, the ceiling, the floor, the furniture, were all covered with green leaves, red flowers, white candles, and golden ornaments. The air was fragrant with the smell of pine, rose, vanilla, and cinnamon. The sound of music, laughter, and bells filled the room, creating a cheerful and festive atmosphere.
In the middle of the room, there was a large and splendid table, laden with a feast of food and drink, of every kind and variety. There were meats and cheeses, fruits and nuts, breads and cakes, wines and beers, and many more delicacies and treats. On the table, there was also a large and magnificent turkey, roasted to perfection, and garnished with sage and onion. It was the finest turkey that Scrooge had ever seen, and it made his mouth water and his stomach rumble.
At the head of the table, there sat a figure that looked like a man, but also like a giant. He had a jolly and friendly face, with a long beard and a broad smile. He wore a green robe, that was lined with fur, and a holly wreath, that was adorned with berries. He held a large and sparkling torch in his hand, and a horn of plenty in his other. He smiled at Scrooge, and invited him to join him.
Scrooge approached the table, trembling and bowing. He felt a strange mixture of fear and wonder, of reverence and curiosity. He did not know who the figure was, or what he wanted from him. He said, in a low and humble voice:
“Who are you?”
The figure answered, in a loud and jovial voice:
“I am the Ghost of Procurement Present.”
“Present?” asked Scrooge.
“Yes. The present. The here and the now. The time that is, and the time that matters. Come with me, Ebenezer Scrooge, and see.”
The Ghost rose from his table, and took Scrooge by the hand. He led him to the window, and opened it. He said, in a cheerful and lively voice:
“Look, Ebenezer, look. Do you know this place?”
Scrooge looked out of the window, and saw a familiar scene. He saw the city where he lived, and where he worked. He saw the streets, the houses, the shops, that he knew so well. He saw the people, the children, the adults, that he had met and interacted with. He saw the present, Ebenezer, the present.
He said, in a surprised and curious voice:
“Yes, I know this place. This is where I live, where I work, where I trade. This is where I continue, my journey of procurement.”
The Ghost said, in a warm and encouraging voice:
“Yes, Ebenezer, this is where you continue. And this is where we will continue, our journey of memory. Come with me, Ebenezer Scrooge, and see.”
The Ghost touched Scrooge’s heart, and they flew out of the window, into the day. They flew over the city, and the Ghost pointed out the places and the events that were important and significant in Scrooge’s life. He showed him the office, where he managed and supervised. He showed him the market, where he bought and bartered. He showed him the warehouse, where he stored and delivered.
The Ghost of Christmas Present took Scrooge to a busy street, where people were hurrying to and fro, carrying parcels and baskets. The air was filled with the sounds of laughter, music, and bells. The shops were decorated with holly, mistletoe, and wreaths. The windows displayed a variety of goods, from toys and books, to clothes and jewellery.
“Behold, Ebenezer,” said the Ghost. “This is the present of procurement, when you have the opportunity to make a difference in the world. You have the power to influence the quality, the sustainability, and the ethics of the products and services you buy and sell. You have the responsibility to ensure that your suppliers are fair, honest, and respectful of the environment and human rights. You have the potential to create value, not only for yourself, but for your customers, your employees, and your society. You have the chance to spread joy, generosity, and kindness in your dealings with others. You have the choice to be a leader, a partner, a friend.”
Scrooge looked at the scene with wonder and curiosity. He saw how the people were happy and grateful for what they had, and how they shared their blessings with others. He noticed how the products and services were of high quality, and how they met the needs and expectations of the customers. He observed how the suppliers and the buyers were in harmony, and how they cooperated and collaborated for mutual benefit. He felt a surge of curiosity, but also a twinge of envy. Perhaps there was more to life than money, more to business than profit, more to procurement than bargaining.
The ghost led Ebenezer through the streets to the offices of Cratchit’s Crumbs, where Bob Cratchit was working on his response to Scrooge’s latest RFP, which was due for submission on Christmas Day. He had been working on it for weeks, but Scrooge was never satisfied with the quality or the price. He always demanded more revisions, more discounts, and more proofs of Cratchit’s expertise. He never praised Cratchit’s work, nor did he offer any incentives or bonuses for his efforts. He was the most miserly and ungrateful customer that Cratchit had ever dealt with.
But Cratchit was a cheerful and optimistic man, who always looked on the bright side of things. He was grateful for having a job, even if it was poorly paid and stressful. He was proud of his work, even if it was not appreciated or rewarded. He was happy to have a loving family, especially his youngest, a serial over achiever, standing at 6’4″ and lovingly nicknamed “Tiny” Tim. He never complained or spoke ill of anyone, not even Scrooge.
As he was putting the final touches on his submission he heard a knock on the door. It was his wife, who had come to fetch him home for dinner. She smiled warmly at him and said, “How are you, my dear? Are you done with your work?”
Cratchit looked up from his desk and smiled back at her. He said, “Almost, my love. I just need to send this to Mr. Scrooge and then I’ll be ready to go.”
“Mr. Scrooge?” his wife repeated, with a slight frown. “He is your customer, isn’t he? The one who always gives you trouble and pays you less than you deserve?”
Cratchit nodded and said, “Yes, he is. But he is also a very important customer, and I must do my best to please him. He is a very successful and influential businessman, and I am lucky to have him as a client. He has taught me a lot about the industry and the market, and he has given me many opportunities to improve my skills and knowledge. He is a very generous and benevolent man, and I am grateful for his patronage.”
His wife looked at him with a mixture of admiration and pity. She said, “You are too good for him, my dear. You work so hard and so well, and he does not appreciate you at all. You deserve better than him, and I hope one day you will find a customer who will treat you with respect and kindness.”
Cratchit shook his head and said, “No, no, my love. You are too harsh on him. He is not a bad man, he is just a bit strict and frugal. He has his reasons for being so, and I respect them. He is a very wise and prudent man, and I admire him for that. He is a very loyal and faithful customer, and I value him for that. He is the best customer I ever had, and I hope he will always be my customer.”
His wife sighed and said, “Well, if you say so, my dear. I just wish he would pay you more and praise you more, and maybe give you a holiday once in a while. You work too much and too hard, and you need some rest and relaxation.”
Cratchit smiled and said, “Don’t worry, my love. I am happy with what I have, and I don’t need anything more. I have you and our children, and that is enough for me. I have my work, and that is enough for me. I have Mr. Scrooge, and that is enough for me. I am the happiest and richest man in the world, and I thank God for that.”
He then kissed his wife and said, “Come, let us go home and have our dinner. I’m sure it will be delicious, as always. And then we’ll sing some songs and play some games with the children. And then we’ll read some stories and say our prayers. And then we’ll go to bed and dream of a bright and beautiful tomorrow. What do you say?”
His wife smiled and said, “I say yes, my dear. I say yes.”