Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Still Thinking About Up in the Air...part 6.75

One thing that I neglected to mention was that during the incredibly painful interview at the tech company, I stressed that I wanted to work for a stable company and one that would not relocate.  The ever wide-eyed CEO, told me that the company was founded in Santa Barbara, by people from Santa Barbara and that was where it was going to stay.  This commitment lasted for about a year and a half, when it was announced that the company was going to begin scouting for new locations somewhere between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Damnit.  I had not been working at this job all that long and here it was going to up and move, again I was to eventually be out of a job.  I had no desire to move at all, not to mention we couldn't.  Not too long prior to the announcement, my girlfriend became my wife, and we had bought a condo in between Goleta and Santa Barbara; we were not going anywhere for a while.  What the hell happened to "We are a Santa Barbara company?"  Thankfully, I knew that I had some time for the company to pick a location, secure the location, announce the move and to make the move down south.  We were told that the move was to put us closer to more of our customers and to operate somewhere less expensive and with a low cost of living so that people had a chance of owning a home; funny, I already owned a home and it was not all that cheaper down south at the time.

It was also right around that time that the tech company had hired a new sales rep who I will call Teddy Tongs.  Teddy Tongs was the oddest, most clueless individual I had ever met, but he became a key earner.  He was Asian, and the other Asian workers at the company constantly joked that Teddy Tongs was the whitest Asian guy they had ever met.  Teddy quickly learned that through the use of "odd"...oh fuck it, let's call it what it was...shady business practices, he could maximize the amount of gross profit in each deal and make a killing on his commission, which increased with the more money he brought in.  The problem with this scenario was that these deals involved orders first coming to the Goleta office and eventually needing to be shipped back out...all by me.  The process also called for a computer tech to put everything together before I could ship anything out, and Teddy Tong's deals were growing in size and scope with each deal he brought in.  I remember one day I was outside hauling around a ton (literally) of computer tech to bring into the filled-to-capacity storeroom where I had opperated the "light" shipping and receiving portion of my job and once I had it all inside and locked away, I walked to my office to perform my main job and there was Teddy Tongs at his desk and playing computer backgammon.  He then became top earner for the month and went on a "President's Club" spa trip.  No one else was recognized for the large and very shady deal.  Not the computer tech who had to open and tinker with every single package, not the accounting department who had to juggle chainsaws to get all of the invoices paid properly and billing sent out, and, most importantly, not Donist, the ultra-sweaty never-been-in-a-frat and going-way-above-his-job-description purchasing guy.

I know, I know.  I sound like a whiny baby bitch, but I could not understand how the guy who made his commission in the tens of thousands of dollars for a single month and who sat on his ass playing video games, while everyone else busted their humps to make sure that he was paid his lofty commission on his exceedingly questionable deal, could not even sport for pizzas for those that made his success possible.  I did not get it.  It was right around this time the CTO, who was actually a very cool person and one that I regret not keeping in contact with, approached me to ask me about the deals that Teddy Tongs was putting together.  I told him what they entailed and although at the time I was not completely certain of why the deals were shady, I quickly figured it all out and learned that the CTO did not approve of the deals either.  He stormed off to talk to CEO.  The shady deals were halted for all of about three months, but I did have a slight moment of victory when the CTO saw me hauling around loads of boxes for Teddy Tong, and the CTO went inside, brought out Teddy Tongs, told him to finish moving and taping up the order, and told me to go ahead and take my break.

The move eventually did come, and a bit more quickly than I had anticipated, but luckily the company leased a smaller satellite office for the people that could not move down south or could not move right away.  This situation was great for me and although the days for the satellite office were numbered, I was able to continue working for the company and with my boss, the marketing guy, the A/R guy, the CEO sometimes...he jumped between both offices..., and of course Teddy Tongs, who had gone full force back into the the very shady deals.

So many shady deals were coming through, that the company rented out a shipping container to temporarily store the product and Teddy Tongs had also discovered that even more money was to be made shipping things overseas.  I finally reached my breaking point after personally moving three and a half tons of equipment by myself and discovering that Teddy Tongs could possibly break the six-figure commission barrier for a single month because of the deal.  I constructed a letter to the CEO.

The CEO had always stated that he had an "open door policy" for the company's employees and after consulting with my boss on the matter of Teddy Tongs' exponentially elaborate and shady deals, she read my letter and agreed that it was fine to submit it to the CEO directly.  The letter was simple.  I did not mention anything about the deals being shady, but instead focused on the large commissions that were being paid to Teddy Tongs and the fact that these deals were incredibly time consuming for myself, the computer tech and the accounting department, with all of us coming in on weekends to make sure everything went smoothly.  I suggested a profit sharing program of 1% that would be put into a general pool on all deals above a certain dollar value and that would be paid out at the end of the month to all non-outside sales reps.  The percentage would have little effect on the rep's commission check and everyone would be happy to be included in the company's success, not just the rep that sat back waiting for the large check to come in.  My request did not go over well.

A day or so later, I came into the office to see that my boss had been crying and the two of us were called into a conference room to discuss my letter.  Apparently the "open door policy" no longer existed and my letter should have first gone to my boss, who would have then brought it to the attention of the CEO.  He had apparently blasted my boss for my overstepping of boundaries and told me that my request would never happen.  I asked why and explained that these deals were so complex and so time consuming and that Teddy Tongs played video games while everyone else slaved away for him.  I pointed out that no one else shared in the success of the company, especially when they had to go far above and beyond their duties in order to make this one particular reps deals actually happen.  With the ever wide-eyed businessman's stare he asked, "Is this a matter of reassessing your job and adjusting your pay upwards?  If that is what this is about, we can do that."  I thanked him for offering me more money, but explained again that I felt that ALL of the employees should be rewarded, even if it was only a little.  I stated that we both knew that I would not be moving down south for the company, but if I would love to work remotely.  Whether or not that was possible, I thought the profit sharing would be a nice touch for those that did stay with the company.  The meeting ended with nothing resolved, and with a definite "no" to my request on profit sharing for all employees.  Mysteriously, Teddy Tongs bought pizza for the first time for the five satellite office employees.

I felt like shit over the verbal beating that my boss had received, and I felt that the company had become even more corporate than ever it was destined to end for me.  That night, I checked the papers found two jobs of interest, updated my resume and sent it off.  A week later, I interviewed for both positions and was accepted by...surprise, surprise...the apparel company that had strung me along for so long before I was hired at the tech company.  I put in my two weeks notice, which unfortunately was right before the CEO's wedding, and he even went so far as to call the apparel company and beg them to give me three weeks before I started. 

Funny how things work out.

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