Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Steve's wedding: The duringmath

Friday, October 19, 2007, 11:45am
Steve's office

"Steve, the implementation budget for Adams Corp. is gone," Ted says.

"Project isn't done yet, Ted."

"But the budget is gone."

No matter how long we stay on the phone, nothing productive will come from this conversation. Ted's call is a symptom of deeper problems.

Our salesmen use their considerable powers of persuasion to coerce clients to pay us huge sums of money. They are so driven to bring in business, in fact, that they sometimes do stupid things like lower the price. I have no respect for a salesperson like that.

Go ahead. Walk into a Lexus dealerhip and tell the salesperson that you really like the car, but you don't want to pay $70,000. Instead, you'd like to pay $40,000. I can tell you for sure you'd be leaving there on foot. You wouldn't get a deal like that, and you wouldn't expect to, either.

"Why do you care, Steve?" you are asking.

Easy. Because the price that the customer agrees to includes a budget for my team to implement the software. And the lower that number is, the faster we have to get the project done, and the less time we have to manage the details. Oh, and if there is any delay whatsoever, we are fucked. Just like we are now.

I was smart to get out of my last job. The hours were ridiculous, the work load neverending, and the politics overwhelming. But my new job isn't paradise either.

My team is going to end up finishing this project in a quick and sloppy way, and none of the time we work on it from now on will be billable. Unless, of course, the salesperson is able to get more money out of the customer, which never happens.

This kind of thing happens constantly around here. Because of that, sometime next January, Bert will call me into his office and ask me why my team isn't billing more. He ought to know the answer without asking. Or maybe he does know, but he's looking for an excuse to keep from giving me a bigger raise.

The funny thing is, though, I don't even care. It will bother me someday, but right now, work is nothing more than background noise. I keep repeating to myself, "This time tomorrow, I will be married."

Married. Married. Married. I think about the word so much that it seems foreign, unfamiliar. Marriage is for old, stuffy people, isn't it? Could it be that I am really going to do this?

Yes, it could, and the truth is I am so proud to be marrying Tim. I know, she had her partying phase, and she screwed around a hell of a lot more than I did--in fact, that is how I met her. But I sense a seriousness about her, a devotion to me and our relationship that I have never felt with anyone else. That devotion makes me want to do the same for her, makes me think of her constantly, fills me with the urge to grab hold of her and never let go.

Yeah, I definitely can't wait until tomorrow.


"Guys, I'm out of here. I'll see you in two weeks," I say, as I dash out the door to a wave of goodbyes and good lucks.

The Brown Stone House
Rehearsal dinner

Chris stands up and taps his glass. "The lone holdout is finally caving in," he begins, to a gale of cheers.

"Thanks for coming out, everyone. It's going to be a great day tomorrow, when my little brother finally gets married. I think you made a great choice. I think you both did," he says, smiling at Tim and me.

The guys are staying at a hotel tonight, and the girls are at my house. As I walk to my car, and Tim walks to hers, I quiver like a 17-year-old on his first date.

I look at Tim, at her beige blouse and blue skirt, at her long blonde hair and round blue eyes, and feel that rush of pride again. Tomorrow, she will be my wife. And yeah, the little boy inside my head wonders what she sees in me.

She hugs me and I close my eyes, inhaling her perfume, touching her silky hair. "You're nervous!" she laughs.

"Not as nervous as you!"

"I'll see you at the wedding," she whispers, and I watch her drive away.