Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lemons and lemonade

"I think you should call a lawyer. You should fucking sue him!"


"You should call the newspaper! You should call channel five news!"

"Good idea, Tim. Let's broadcast to the world that I fucked a high-school student who was half my age. Oh yeah, and she worked for me, too!"

"You were dating!"

"I'm gonna look like a total pervert, Tim. I won't win that one."

"So you're gonna do nothing? He's blackmailing you! He's wrong! You have to fight him!"

"Tim, right or wrong doesn't matter in this case. As soon as it gets out that I was in a relationship with a girl under 18, I'll be radioactive. "

"But it was legal," she reasons.

"People are still going to think I am a perv. Whatever reputation I have left will be gone at that point."

"What did Lila say?"

"Didn't tell her."


"You heard me."

I'm not telling Lila unless I absolutely have to. If she knew, she'd probably get pissed off and quit, and that would be a mistake. Management really likes her, and the only reason she would get fired would be for revenge--against me.

I'm glad I didn't let myself get more pissed off at Dan--the quieter I am, the more he will wonder what I know that he doesn't. But what am I going to do?

I actually go so far as to search online for an attorney before I stop myself. Do I really want to go this route? Do I really want to stand up in front of a judge and make a claim against Dan Johnson, a millionaire CEO with a spotless reputation, a claim that he is almost certainly going to deny?

Besides, even if Dan admits it, Lila won't suddenly become innocent. She still broke the rules, and she is still subject to termination. Perhaps the lawyers could arrange some kind of compromise, given Dan's ham-fisted attempt at extortion, but that would be a best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that Lila still gets fired, no one believes my side of the story, and my face is plastered on nursery school bulletin boards across the state.

I'm being hasty. Calling an attorney is giving up, and it's too early for that. I've known Dan for years; we've worked through complex problems together. He respects me professionally. Maybe if I prepare a solution and present it to him, he'll accept. I'll write up a business case, like I would for any other issue.

Thursday, August 31, 2006
Corporate headquarters
Dan's office

"What good news have you got for me, Steve?"

"What if you could fill my position with someone equally talented, and without having to hire an attorney to do it?"


"You knew about my relationship with Lila two years ago, and did nothing. Sounds to me like that's a pretty egregious violation of company policy."

He looks at me.

"Of course, you could say you knew nothing about it. But you'd probably have to lie under oath, and Ross would too. There would be all sorts of uncomfortable questions from lawyers and newspeople--"

"I understand, Steve."

"Your story might not pass the smell test. I give my resignation, and then you conveniently find out about my affair from two years ago? Let's face it, CEO's are not exactly the most trustworthy people in the world right now."

"No one wants a battle, Steve. None of us have the time or the energy."

"So let's find a solution."

"Fine. You know, Steve, something you said really bothered me. You said you had lost respect for me, and that you didn't think I cared about that. But I do care very much."

"With due respect, Dan, you're a Fortune 500 CEO. Your job is not to care about people. Your job is to hit revenue targets. "

"True, but that doesn't mean I don't get attached to people along the way. It doesn't mean I don't admire you and the way you make it your business to succeed."

"If you admire me, and respect me, I need you to trust my judgment and let me go, Dan."


"I will never understand your decision as long as I live, but you know my objections, so I won't repeat them."

"Fair enough."

"What is your solution, Steve?"

"Promote Dom."


Dan has a problem with Dom. He had a chance to promote him two years ago, and he chose me instead, even though Dom had more experience. After I gave my notice, Dan had yet another chance to promote Dom, and he did not.

Dom is a natural leader, hard-working and thorough, and is more than capable of doing my job. Dan must have something personal against him; if I had to guess, i'd say it was Dom's ongoing quest to shove his dick into every warm vagina in the time zone.

"He can do the job."

"If I wanted Dom to do the job, I would have hired him."

"Why don't you want him?"

"I think he lacks dedication."

"Ridiculous. He can do the job. I've got no reason to lie. Will you at least interview him?"

"Of course."

"I will get you two more candidates as well, so you'll have three to interview," I say.

"And if I don't like any of the three?"

"I'll stay on as a consultant to help you find a replacement, even after I start my new job."

Doing two jobs might seem tough, but it would be temporary, and the workload will seem like a picnic compared to this.

"I suppose we'll have to pay for your consulting services?"

"I work cheap; I don't work free," I answer.

He sits quietly. "So what do you think?" I ask.

"You've made up your mind; what else is there to say?" he shrugs.

"So, Dan, about our phone call the other day--"

"Forget it, Steve."

I wish I could.