Thursday, August 12, 2004

...The Rest of the Story

Not in all ways, but in some ways, I’m a typical guy. I can think of no greater way to spend a Sunday than watching the 10 o’clock & 1 o’clock NFL games on CBS or FOX, followed by watching the 5 o’clock game on ESPN. I hate chick flicks. I love beer and professional wrestling. And when I’ve had a few drinks in me, I lower my standards in women.

People in my industry rarely, if ever, leave the industry completely. I think this is because it’s somewhat of a niche industry. After you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time gaining knowledge about a specific type of technology, it seems like a waste to enter an entirely different field where this information will be entirely useless. Once you meet someone in my industry you know you are going to see or at least hear about him or her again in the future. Maybe they’ll be working for a different company, maybe they’ll have a slightly different title, but you never completely lose track of anyone.

Tuesday, Sean, one of our vendors, took the four of us (me and three guys I own this company with) out to lunch. We had already gone through his product line at the office, so lunch was mainly spent gossiping about different people and different companies within our industry. In talking about one of the competitors to his product, Sean made the off-hand comment that, “Kelly seems to be real happy there”.

My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. Would Ryan and Kevin let the comment fly or would they feel compelled to tell the story? When Ryan started laughing uncontrollably, I knew the latter was going to be the case.

Five years ago, all four of us worked for a large, nationwide company that held the first of what would become an annual national sales meeting in Atlanta. Since the company was so big, the sales meeting also included an industry trade show held just for the employees of our company. Vendors traveled from all over the country to exhibit.

The CEO of our company was a 30-year-old wunderkind, who had merged several small-medium sized companies together to form a national powerhouse. The company eventually went bankrupt, he was forcibly removed as CEO and was named as a defendant in several financial impropriety lawsuits. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, despite his high-level position in the company, in many ways he was a typical young person in that he loved to party. And he loved for people to party with him. He kept an open tab at the hotel bar for all company employees and vendors who would be exhibiting at the show to take advantage of.

There is a level of drunkenness that reasonably responsible people try to avoid unless certain criteria are met. These criteria are:
A) Everything is free
B) You don’t have to drive home
C) You don’t have any major responsibilities the next day

Seeing as anything we wanted to drink was on the house (I lost count of how many $14 tequila shots I did), the only ride we needed to take to get “home” was the hotel elevator and the only thing we needed to do the next day was make a cursory appearance at the trade show, all of the above conditions were met. I know that, at least after college, it’s more pathetic than cool to brag about how wasted you got on such and such occasion, but I feel it is necessary to make my level of intoxication on this particular evening known just so the rest of the story is understandable. I had spent the early portion of the evening (at least several hours) bar hopping in Buckhead and upon returning to the hotel immediately made use of the free tab at the hotel bar. I was well beyond shitfaced.

At one point during the night, my friends and I found ourselves sitting on a couch with a woman named Kelly who worked for one of our vendors, Tronex (not their real name). Tronex was a major success story, having a virtual monopoly on selling the products that could best be described as the glue that connected various technologies together to form an integrated system. This was a huge, multimillion-dollar company. Their importance, power and influence in our industry cannot be overstated.

I don’t want to sound mean, but there is just no way that a person could describe Kelly as attractive in any way and maintain any sort of credibility. In both weight and appearance she looked more like something you’d see at a zoo than at a bar.

Nonetheless, when Ryan and Kevin went up to get more drinks, I must have made a move on her because we started getting pretty hot and heavy. We were making out, tongues deeply imbedded in each other’s throats, heavy groping of parts, etc. She was doing the typical “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing this” and then proceeding to do it some more thing. This went on for awhile. We didn’t seal the deal or anything; in my condition I’m not even sure that would have been possible.

At the trade show the next day, my friends made sure to spend an extra long time at the Tronex booth, while I gracefully hid behind a pole. They even went so far as to yell out, “Hey, Gooch, wasn’t there something you wanted to take a look at here?” That was the last I heard of Kelly until Tuesday.

As Ryan retold this story at lunch, a very shocked Sean (who used to work for Tronex at the same time as Kelly), turned to me and said, “THAT WAS YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!”

According to Sean, at the time, Kelly was in line for a huge promotion. When some of her superiors got word that she had embarrassed both herself and the company by her display in the hotel bar, her promotion was unceremoniously pulled from under her. Apparently, the problem wasn’t only with what she did, but that she refused to take responsibility for it, insisting that she didn’t drink at all the night in question, nor did she do anything inappropriate with an employee of the company they were exhibiting to. Maybe she was embarrassed. I guess she could have been beer-goggling me, too. This ultimately led to her quitting her position and joining the company that is now competition to Sean’s.

Following this controversy, Tronex instituted a strict company-wide policy, barring any company employee from consuming alcohol at any industry event where they were representing the company in any form.

I thought it would take running my own company to make a difference in this industry. Who knew I already had?
<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by

< ? California Blogs # >
Powered by Blogger