November 15, 1996

Dear Dromdary,

Please accept my sincere apologies for the rather “scathing” letter I sent you.  To say I feel like a big “asshole” is a great understatement.  Although I have been burned a few times, there was no reason for me to lace into you.  My information about the JC/Dromedary situation was obviously erroneous.  I should have realized that there are two sides to every story.  Forgive me for jumping to conclusions.

I’m sure that you will be successful in your next venture, and I wish you luck.  Having been in rock bands for more years than I care to admit, I have met a lot of jerks (I have to include myself now, but I assure you that will change) along the way.  I am very touched that you took the time to respond to my letter (I probably would have tossed it) with such dignity.

If my check does arrive, please keep it.  Based on the content of your letter, I’m sure the industry will sorely miss your presence.  Good luck!  Again, please forgive my temporary insanity (looking over my letter, I can’t believe I mailed it – SORRY).

In reading his response to me, it’s pretty clear that I must have told him I was shutting down the label – so my telling of the story in this prior post was a little inaccurate.

Still, it was awfully gratifying to get the above letter.  I never did receive his check, and he has no idea that his letter was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back (pun absolutely intended).

Meanwhile, it was time for my annual review at work, and I absolutely did not give a shit.  Couldn’t have cared less.  By December of ’96, I was done, crawling into work at 10:00 or later, sitting in the gas station parking lot for two hours during lunch, eating Skittles and Combos and drinking massive amounts of Diet Pepsi, filling my days with unnecessary meetings and trying to avoid as much interaction with Fred as I could.

Fred did not give me the review.  His wife did.  She called me down to her office, and when I got there, she was on the phone.  I sat outside her office, talking to the secretaries, for twenty minutes.  Then I went in.

“How are you today?” she asked, pleasantly.

“Wonderful,” I said.  “And you?”


Then, she shuffled through her papers, and her eyes went down to her desk.  She could not look at me.

“Al, you’re great to have here,” she said.  “You’re a big team-builder, a big morale builder.  You’re very intelligent.  You’ve got a tremendous future ahead of you – I really think there’s no limit to what you can do.  You’re going to be running a company someday.”

“And?” I said.

“And we think you need to become more well-rounded.  More open to the ideas of other people.  You’re myopic.”

“How am I myopic?” I asked.  Knowing the answer.

The answer was that she couldn’t answer.  She didn’t know what the word myopic meant.  Twice she changed the subject, twice I brought it right back to myopic, asking her to explain to me how I was myopic.  I felt like a cat, playing with a mouse, letting it start to run away, then grabbing its tail.

She was, essentially, parroting what Fred told her to say.  I knew that, and I understood.  Fred didn’t have the stones to sit down with me and do a review himself, so he handed it off to his wife and made her do it.  Fred didn’t do confrontation, just bullying.

Eventually I said “I did exactly what I came here to do.  I did exactly what you wanted me to do.  This company built a brand new product line in less than a year.  And it’s been nothing but a headache.”

We went back and forth for a half hour or so, then she broke out the paper with the money.  She was giving me a $2500 raise.

Twenty-five hundred dollars.

“Okay,” I said.

“Okay?” she asked.  I think she expected an argument.  She wasn’t going to get one.  I didn’t give a shit.

“Well, I haven’t really proven myself this year,” I started blowing smoke.  “I did some things well, but didn’t really work to my capabilities.  I think I need to work out a plan to grow the rest of the company’s business.  I think I need to focus more on new products.  I need to travel more.  As soon as the holidays are over, I’m going to get on the road and do more selling.”

“I’m glad you see it that way,” she responded.  I was not a salesperson.  I was never supposed to be.  I was a product manager, a marketing guy.  They wanted me selling.  That’s never been me – I’ve done it when I had to, but that’s it.  When I had to.

I shook her hand and thanked her.  Then, I walked out of her office and right into Fred’s office.  He  was alone, sitting there, glass of vodka on his desk.

“Hey, Fred, I just wanted to thank you for the raise,” I said, extending my hand.  He shook it, nodded his head and smiled, and didn’t say a word.

I had just been completely dumped on, and I didn’t even care.  I didn’t care what they did to me.  I had gotten to the point where I took absolutely nothing personally, and invested nothing of myself in the job.  I had told my publicist and most of my vendors that I was looking – Fred was afraid to fire people, so even if it had gotten back to him, it wouldn’t have mattered.

I even started talking with customers about going to work for them.  I was so desperate, and cared so little about Fred, that I didn’t care who found out.

One day, I actually did a one-hour phone interview from inside my office.  Another time, I went to an interview right in the middle of the day.

These are things that don’t seem like a big deal, but they’re simply not the kind of things I would do, by this point in my career.

I had completely given up.

~ by Al on November 26, 2009.

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