a merry and a happy.

The company holiday party.  It was on December 14, at a high-end country club.  Fred decided to spare no expense.

At my previous company, each Christmas we received a bonus check along with a gift certificate to a department store.  On top of that, each employee was asked to pick out one item from a catalog of small appliances (one year we got a waffle iron that we still use), and the Vice President – an older, Jewish man – would dress as Santa Claus and hand out the “presents” from a giant sack.

At this company, Fred put a few cases of wine in the cafeteria and sent his secretary around the office, instructing all the office employees to take a bottle when they got a chance.  There was no festivity.  There was no bonus.  I was pissed – a lot of people had worked hard to get this new product line up and launched in less than a year, putting in long hours under tremendous stress.  Even if I didn’t get a bonus, which I would have understood, the staff should have gotten some sort of reward for all their work.

When we got to the party, Sandy and I hung out with Danny and his wife for most of the night.  It was fun enough – there was dancing and drinking and plenty of good food.  Occasionally we’d have to mingle with Fred, but he seemed to be in good enough spirits.

Gradually, though, his behavior started to change, and I started to get irritated by some of the things he was saying and doing to his employees and their spouses.  Finally, I decided it was time to go.

We said goodbye to everyone, and then walked over to Fred with Danny and his wife.  I shook his hand and thanked him for the evening.  Sandy leaned over and gave him a small peck on the cheek, and said “Merry Christmas.”

Fred looked at Sandy and said “I pay your husband all this money, and that’s all I get?”

I snapped.

I lunged at him.

Danny jumped in the way.  “No, dude.  No, no, no, no, no.”

I fought him for a minute, trying to get at Fred.  I just wanted one shot.  And just as quickly, I realized how stupid that would have been.

So I walked away.

I don’t think anyone actually saw it – not even Fred.  Danny stepped in too quickly.  I was actually being physically restrained from beating up my boss.

A week or so later, I received word from a company I’d been interviewing with since the fall.  After going back for four or five interviews, meeting virtually everyone at the company, and being told – point blank – that it was between me and one other candidate, the company advised me that they’d chosen the other candidate.

The night I found out, I sat in the living room with a glass of Scotch, listening to John Coltrane, staring into space.  When Sandy tried to console me, I looked at her and said “I’ve been working on this for months. Even if I got an interview with a company tomorrow, by the time I went through the whole ballet of getting the job, by the time I actually got the job, it would be April.  And I have no interview tomorrow.”

“It’s going to be springtime – at least – before I get out of here.”

~ by Al on November 25, 2009.

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