Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 81 - Golden Boy

          I got a call from Henry’s son this morning. He and Henry are currently operating another yacht business in Clearwater, Florida. Henry’s daughter has been doing their accounting, but she is leaving to take another job in North Carolina. Henry wants me to come over and take her place. This is almost attractive at the moment, although I’ve had enough experience with Henry to know I’ll have to be very careful how I proceed from here in order not to get on the short end of the ‘bidness’ yet again. Still, they know me and I know them, and if they can make the money right this could be just what I’m looking for. I’m driving over there tomorrow to see exactly what they’ve got in mind.
          When I left Quilnutz, I gave 6 weeks notice. I was teaching a class of high school students at my church in preparation for their receiving the sacrament of confirmation. I didn’t want to leave them until we were through, and confirmation wasn’t scheduled until the end of April. Albatross was okay with this, and Quilnutz was happy to have sufficient time to find a suitable replacement although they wasted several weeks of that time trying to convince me to stay.

A Fine End to Arkansas

          After two years of almost constant grief at Quilnutz, I was suddenly a lustrous resource they couldn’t afford to lose. They promised to match the salary that Albatross had offered. They offered to move me to Florida. They treated me with an enormous amount of respect and deference. Finally they put me on the company jet and flew me to Florida to pick my brains in a week long conference about systems and accounting issues facing the whole company. They even let me interview some of the candidates who’d applied to replace me.
I talked to three applicants and recommended the one I thought would be the best fit. They picked another candidate, one I hadn’t even talked to. They felt they wanted someone younger with higher class credentials. They were looking for a guy on a faster career track. I had recommended a more desperate guy, one who was more likely to put up with their crap. Their last act of second guessing my considered opinion worked out way better for me than it did for them.
Their new guy couldn’t start until my absolute last day. That meant I only had one day to train him. I did the best I could. He was a bright and personable young man, and he had good experience although not in our business. Things were going pretty well until we got into the financial statements early in the afternoon. He was surprised—no shocked—to find that we had been losing money. It seems that no one he’d talked to thus far had bothered to tell him that things weren’t going so swimmingly for us. He seemed pretty distracted by this new and unsettling bit of information for the rest of the day, but still managed to make some sense of what he was going to have to do. Corporate finance was going to send my favorite analyst down to help him with closing so I didn’t worry about it too much.
I had a big party that week-end. All my friends came from work, from church, from my writers’ group. It was a big deal. I had a grand time. I drank too many martinis, swapped funny stories, got slapped on the back by a lot of well-wishers. It couldn’t have been any better. Monday I packed up two weeks worth of clothes and set out for Alabama. My wife was going to join me when we sold our house. I stopped by Quilnutz on my way out of town to say my final good byes. Two things of note happened.
First, and perhaps most surprising under the circumstances, Alicia gave me a hug and a card. I opened the card. She had signed it with ‘love.’ I don’t know if she meant it or not, or to what extent. If she had any affection for me at all, she had a strange way of showing it—not unlike Henry who regularly professed his love for me, often at the very moment he was trying to fleece me. I would love to have been able to give Alicia the benefit of the doubt, but the fact is that she had enlisted with Fische to make the previous two years of my life, years that should have been exciting and fruitful, become instead rife with frustration and disappointment.
The second surprise of the day was that my replacement had not shown up. Apparently he spent the week-end stewing over the accumulated losses and decided that it was not quite the opportunity that he’d been led to believe. It was too late for me to do anything other than gloat. I tried to do it in a nice, mature, and unassuming way. There was no one there from corporate to see it anyway.

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