March, 1980. Gary D’Ambrose comes home to tell his young wife Maria that he’s been laid off. It was three months after the birth of their second son.
Gary soon found another job, working for a brand new Company started by two brothers and their team of cronies. Eventually the Company was bought out by another, larger Company. Through the years, Gary remained one of the top salesmen until the Company had to downsize and he once again got laid off. A few months later the Company was bought out by yet another Company which was relatively new and owned by two business partners: Boss R. and Boss H. They (re)hired Gary, made him Director of Sales Accounts and gave him a corner office in Corporate Headquarters. He was being groomed for a VP spot.
Boss R. was more of a silent partner. The Company was actually run by Boss H. He was portly but stout with a neatly trimmed salt & pepper beard, and no matter the season he always had a perfect tan. He looked like The Most Interesting Man in the World’s bastard cousin, The Most Indecisive Man in the World.
He was also clinically insane. Granted, that’s my own prognosis. I worked for the Company during off seasons at college, so I had a decent amount of exposure to Boss H. If you couldn’t see it in the man you could definitely see it in the way he ran his Company. Gary noticed that VPs were hired and then fired within months. This went on for years. They put more and more pressure on Gary before finally offering him the VP spot.
He turned it down.
Then on August 9, 1995, Gary had a heart attack. Two heart attacks actually, a half hour apart from each other. They had to use the shock paddles to bring him back. After six weeks of recovery, the Company cut Gary’s salary in half but kept him as the manager of all sales accounts. He was relocated to the Engineering Plant, a much older building about a hundred feet away from Corporate Headquarters.
Gary worked from a cubicle in a trailer-type room shared by five other cubicles, all occupied by middle aged women. It got too cold in the winter and too humid and stuffy in the summer. There was strong evidence of a mold problem. He spent the rest of his years at the Company in that cubicle. More people got hired and even more got fired. The Company had to sell plants (factories, divisions) and shrank under the poor management of Boss H.
But Gary survived.
See, Gary knew his shit. Whenever some new young professional was hired as Director of Sales, Gary would inevitably have to teach and train that person, when technically each of them were his boss. Eventually Boss H. “retired,” presumably to spend more time hunting, traveling, and being a dick. So the Company passed to Boss H’s nephew, Boss J., who was nearly as bad if not worse than his uncle. However, the bureaucratic wheels keep on turning. By the time Gary had reached retirement age, the Company was now under the ownership of the son of Boss R. (Boss H.’s original partner)–that son we’ll call Boss M. He was the last Company owner that Gary would ever work for.
“And he’s an asshole too.”
Boss M. received his masters at Wharton. If know-it-alls are a virus then this guy is a vicious contagion. Dad is retired now. On the phone the other day he said he recently ran into Boss M. By this time I had lost track of all the assholes who owned the Company so I asked him to refresh my memory.
“Boss M. is Boss R.’s son. Boss R. is the other guy who owned the Company with Boss H.”
Right. So Dad ran into Boss M. as they walked in opposite directions through the doors of Shop Rite.
“Hey Mike. How’s business?”
Yeah right, you fucking liar. What Plant did you close today? How many employees did you lay off?
Then Dad cut to a scene that happened just before he retired.
Boss M. was giving a tour to visitors from the plant in Puerto Rico. He brought the guests into the trailer-room with the cubicles.
“We were all standing at attention,” said Dad.
Someone mentioned Gary’s upcoming retirement.
Boss M. said, “Gary, I didn’t know you were retiring!”
“Gee Mike, I’m disappointed. I thought you knew everything.”
Dead silence. Boss M. doesn’t even crack a smile. One brief moment of complete triumph. Understand, my Dad was loved by almost everybody at the Company. He was one of the last Originals. He was way too smart to make such a blatant attempt at destroying someone in one line. That’s one of the reasons he was still fucking there after getting in when the Company started and lasting through 2 corporate buyouts. He had not been laid off since the early 90s. Even after the financial collapse of 2008, he hung on for a couple more years to reach 65.
When I asked Dad what in the world made him say that out loud in front of everyone, he said, “Marc, it just floooowed.”
Now that’s good company.