i almost cut my hair.

Actually, I did.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I got 70,000 seven-inch adapters out of the trash.  But it was also weird – a notorious workplace sabotage guy, suddenly I seemed to care about my job.  They threw the adapters in the garbage, but I still asked the top guy if it was okay if I took them.  I knew nobody would care, but I asked anyway.

I found myself working longer hours, and running around like a madman.  Totally Type A, all day long.  Yelling at people, calling vendors on the phone and bitching them out, yelling at salespeople.  

One day, I was sitting at my boss’ desk and I had an argument with him.  He had a pen in his hand, and during the argument, he threw the pen across his desk.  It skipped off the top of his desk, flew across the room, and hit me in the chest.  Then it bounced on the floor.

“Did you just throw that pen at me?” I asked.

“I’m sorry.”

“Did you just throw that at me?!”

He just looked at me.

“Pick it up,” I said.  “Pick up that pen.”

He did.  Then he said “I’m sorry” again.  

We had a strange relationship.  We got along great, but were constantly yelling at each other.  I was his right-hand man, but he was also constantly putting me down.

“You’d never last two weeks in this business without me,” he told me once.  I didn’t know whether that was true or not, but I vowed to try, at some point.

One week, my boss was away on business in Dallas.  We had scheduled a visit from AT&T Wireless, the largest wireless company in the country, who we were trying to woo as a customer.  They were coming in on a Thursday.  My boss was supposed to get back from Dallas the day before – Wednesday.

On Wednesday, he called.  “I’m stuck here,” he said.  He explained that something had happened at the airport – weather, or something, I don’t remember – and he was stuck in Dallas overnight.

“What do you need me to do?” I asked.

“If the AT&T guys get there before I do, just take them on a tour of the factory,” he said.  “I’ll get there before you’re done.”

Seemed harmless enough.

Thursday rolled around, and the company’s full-time driver went to pick the AT&T guys up at the airport.  I called my boss on his cell.

“Bill is on his way to the airport,” I said.  “Where the fuck are you?”

“I’m not going to get back today,” he said.  “You’re on your own.”

I nearly shit myself.  This was a mulimillion dollar potential account, and I was on my own.

The CEO of the company came into my office.  “I hear you’ve got the AT&T guys by yourself,” he said.

“Looks that way,” I said.

“You’ll do fine.  Bring them into my office when you take the tour; I’ll tell them some stories and make them laugh.”  He had an uncanny ability to do this.  He really was a pretty special guy.

The AT&T guys arrived, and I took them on the tour.  We went to the CEO’s office and he told some stories.  We went back to my office and I answered a ton of questions, took them through the nuts and bolts of our program.  Did my best to sell.  My first-ever sales call, to the biggest possible customer we could have.

At about 6:00, my boss walked into the office.  He sat down and injected himself right into the conversation.  We kept going for another hour or so, and then it was time for them to go to dinner.  They invited me, but I had something else to do.

I immediately drove to the nearest strip mall barber shop and cut off all my hair.

I was embarrassed.  I was totally put on the spot, and felt completely comfortable with everything I was saying, everything I was doing.  I held my own.  But I was completely self-conscious about my hair.  It was long, slicked back and pulled into a ponytail.  I was completely out of place, trying to woo the biggest possible customer while looking like I belonged at a truck pull.  

I was 25 years old, and felt like it was time to grow up a little.

The next day, I got into my office early.  The CEO saw me walk in the door, and he bolted into my office.

“What the fuck did you do?” he asked me, nearly screaming.

“I cut my hair,” I explained.  “I was really self-conscious about having long hair yesterday.”

“You did great,” he said.  “You were worried about your hair?”

“I’m a professional,” I told him. “I’m representing your company.  I need to look like someone who people need to listen to.”

“You were the only rebel I had working for me,” he said.  “I really liked that about you.  I’m really pissed that you cut it off, and I want you to grow it right back.”

Certainly not the response I expected.

My boss walked in about an hour later, and stopped dead in his tracks.  Before he could even get a word out, I said “I’m growing it back.”

He never did tell me how he thought I did with the AT&T guys.  We got the deal, though.

~ by Al on June 3, 2009.

4 Responses to “i almost cut my hair.”

  1. 2 words.
    Steven Seagal.

  2. Yeah, yeah. I know. I wish someone would have told me THEN.

  3. c’mon… Billy D rocked the ‘well dressed man with the ponytail” look in the 90’s too. you were in good company.

  4. He had the ‘John Travolta Pulp Fiction’ thing happening when I met him.

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