Back before I came into the business, my dad landed a decent sized client. It was a non-profit in the city that helped connect kids with foster parents. Or at least that’s what I think they did. It wasn’t the easiest organization to decipher because it wasn’t all that organized.
Up until five years ago, the benefit package was managed by a simple, greasy haired controller. His goal was to confuse the staff so they’d need him to decipher it all. Brilliant, if you ask me. Clearly he was qualified for upper management. We all worked well together but eventually he retired and relocated to Florida with his mail-order bride.
The next guy was, well, dumb though he was at least smart enough to put us in charge of making his decisions. My understanding was he spent all of his time shopping for a phone system. He signed a five year deal with a second rate company and then got fired for making the bad decision. Or maybe he left. All I know is one day, when I dialed in and hit # (for the voicemail), 3 (for the office division) and 18942 (his extension), he wasn’t there.
The next controller was a short, fat, prick who liked to toss lines like “I’m a straight shooter” and “you aren’t going to like me” into conversations. Plain and simple, he was a bully. For two years, Prick yanked our chain, threatening to take the business elsewhere. It wasn’t because we weren't performing. He bullied us because it was his way of showing who held the cards. He’d make idle threats and name competitors and then he’d disappear for months at a time, ignoring our calls and emails.
Over the summer, Prick told us he expected our firm to foot the bill for both their human resource software program and their payroll service. We were on board with the HR piece but not so much on the payroll piece. As my dad said when this request was first made, that's like asking us to pay for their electricity. Anyway, we at least had to crunch numbers to see if assuming all of the noted expenses would leave us running in the red. They might've been a non-profit but we weren’t.
Last week, Prick finally responded to three months worth of emails and voicemails from our office requesting a meeting. He rang me in the morning and said he'd be stopping by the following evening to, as he put it, discuss everything. With the meeting on the horizon, my dad and I spent the day before and the day of running proposals, compiling data and constructing presentation materials.
“You aren’t gonna like me,” Prick said with a smirk as he dropped his jacket on the back of the seat and plopped into the chair. I straightened my posture and looked to my dad the same way you look to your neighbor on a rollercoaster just before the car peaks at the top of an incline. “As of December first, another broker's handling the business. They said they’d do it all.”
“Yes, and if you’d returned my calls and emails, you’d know that we were willing to do it all too,” my dad calmly responded. I could tell he was trying to work his psychology voodoo on Prick so I settled back and let him go.
“I’m not here to fight. The decision’s been made. I’m only here so I can be polite and tell you in person,” Prick stated.
“I gotta say I’m a little taken aback by how you chose to handle all this. You have no respect for other people, do you? I mean, why’d you tell us you wanted to review everything if you knew you were only coming over here to fire us?” my dad asked.
“This is everything,” Prick replied with a shrug.
“You know what? You’re a shit. You are a total shit.”
“I don’t need to take abuse,” Prick said before jumping up from his chair and stomping out in search of the exit. He came back a few seconds later to retrieve the jacket he'd left behind, making his first exit that much more amusing. When I heard the back door click closed, I turned to my dad in awe of what had just happened.
“I can’t believe you said that. You called him a shit to his face. I mean, I've wanted to say it all along but I never would have,” I admitted.
“Fuck him. Plus, I'd rather be the guy who told him to his face he's an ass. Don't worry about it, PJ. No money in the world is worth tolerating someone like that. There are more important things in life. Like dinner. Wanna grab a bite up the street?”
"You bet. But seeing you just lost a client, I'm treating."