Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Green Grapes of Wrath

Once upon a time I worked as an audio engineer/composer for a company. It was a pleasant enough time for both of us over the course of a few years, but then the earth opened and hell spewed all over my formerly nice clean life. The year began with a separation from my second wife (who worked with me at said company) after having found her conjugalating with a coworker. Then my mother died. Then my brother died. Then my boss quit so as to move to a competitor. Then my father moved to Arizona, 1700 miles off. My boss had expressed his desire to bring me along to his new digs, and I had agreed to go; but immediately upon his move there were problems he needed to deal with, including budgetary promises broken... budgets in which my salary was buried. I really didn't know for months whether I was coming or going, in every facet of my life. But finally I'd heard enough stories about my wife dating various suitors, and whispered insinuations about our dashed relationship. I quit prematurely, hoping the boss's problems would be worked out before I'd eliminated my savings. I only mention these things so as to frame my mood of the moment.

I'd been a reasonable employee, so I thought. If the measure of "good" is a worker who makes a company more cash than he absorbs, I was a legend in my own time. I was though, a friend of my boss Jim who had quit in order to pursue a better offer elsewhere, and Jim was branded a traitor when he resigned. As he was unreachable, I became a convenient conduit for their anger. Well before I'd actually signed a contract with my new employer I received a letter from a local big shot law firm. I'd never gotten a big shot letter before, and was thoroughly amused by the obvious intimidation factor designed into its magnificence, a huge block of very important sounding names and titles complete with phone numbers and even the number of a fax! (Proving that not only did they have lots of human ammunition to throw at me, but office machines as well!)

Certainly I understand that the company just wanted to highlight every member of the firm, living and dead, in country and out, on earth and in the gamma quadrant, so as to honor their own. I am sure they had no intention of creating a visual in which 100 old, cigar chomping, Egyptian cotton collared, stylist coiffed manthings (and one woman) were peering down from on high, scowling at the reader's mere existence, silently threatening slow financial ruin combined with public humiliation should the reader not immediately bend over and wait for the big boot to deposit itself up the reader's bum. I say I'm sure that's not the case... yet that's what I saw.

"Listen here you puny little runt! We have a million, nay, a billion legal geniuses in our office, and you have nothing. NOTHING! DO YOU HEAR ME?!?!?"

So I have to say I was a bit miffed right from the get go. They had already threatened me, and I'd only glanced at the header of their correspondence so far, which I might add took up nearly half of the 8.5 x 11 heavy stock watermarked paper it had been printed on. I nearly tossed the thing, but of course the lure of the obvious stayed my hand. A huge, important, nearly omniscient law firm wanted to talk to little old me. ME! It had to be something really incredible! So I read on...

I might have seen it as a bit of a form letter I suppose, had I been in my slightly more right than wrong mind. Yet it did something that made my teeth grind together as if I were gnawing through a medium rare granite steak. It copied the management team of the company I was hoping to work for. Now, I'm just a tiny fish, just looking to make enough money to pay my mortgage and buy the occasional ham and cheese sandwich. There is no reason whatsoever that any CO of anything should know who I am, much less two presidents, much less know only that I'm being watched by opposing counsel for the slightest slip up and then...WHAM!!! Their company takes a major lawsuit in their collective behind. Then, the letter tells me to have my attorneys contact them if I happen to wonder anything; like wtf happens to people when they get rich, cuz you'd think they'd become extra-human when really they become sub-human instead. Attorneys? The president of the company who was issuing orders to Mr. Big Shot lawyer knew me personally. He knew I didn't have a clean ashtray in my house much less a lawyer... much less a lawyer plural! FREAKS!

So first, in order to show them I was wholly impressed by their letterhead amongst other things, I created a response letterhead of my own that duplicated their design. I had to scramble a bit to find all the names. I would admit to a few made up additions like the cartoon character Johnny Quest, but almost all of the people mentioned had been hired by me, worked with me, played kick the can with me when we were about 7 years old, or were related to me; so it's not like I just printed a big fat lie. They were all my associates! (I must mention that I'm nearly sorry that I'd listed my ex wife as one of my deceased partners as a kind of inside joke, but I can't feel too bad cuz I don't think she ever saw it) Once I'd figured out a secret number and European office, I zipped off a few hundred and started writing.

I sent them back a letter in my lovely style, angrily scolding them for impugning my integrity, implying that I would even consider selling Oldsmobile Audi's Somalian sales numbers for the years 1962 and 63, or some such ridiculous nonsense. Then I made it clear that as an airhead, I wouldn't know a proprietary if it bit me in the ass; that I'd never paid attention, that I was so busy with so many clients over the time I spent in Mr. Revenge's employ that I couldn't even remember the names of the companies I'd worked for so they had little to worry. Then I remarked about the fact that their real target was my boss, and that I thought it a bit over the top to come after little bitty me just to make life uncomfortable for big old him since we weren't actually joined at the hip or tethered to an umbilical or cloned at birth; even though it might have seemed that way.

They... were not amused. They quickly sent me another letter, detailing my impending doom were I to get out of line one more time... as shown with the appropriate highlights and smarty pants notes.

I was properly humbled. I knew if I were to send them yet another note' du non-sense, I would wind up in court with some moron judge wanting to defend his rich alumni brethren by spanking my behind for being such a non law schooled, rules of common courtesy breaking wise ass. So I went after my ex company instead.

A dozen long stemmed roses were expensive, but I really needed the box; and I figured I'd get a little good karma before I loaded up the bad karma and balanced it on my head. On the way home I handed out a red beauty to every woman I met, until they were gone and all I had was the 40 inch long flower box. Then I stopped at the local market and bought myself the freshest four pounds of green grapes I could find.

Back at home I loaded the rose box with washed grapes and covered them in vellum paper. They were lovely, though I had to reinforce the box a bit as it was made for a few ounces, not a few pounds. And then, I wrote my opinion on parchment; a letter meant to explain to my middle management boss from the old company, just what I thought of their mean spirited little guy bashing. If anything, I thought it would at least get a giggle out of that guy, and better to express my displeasure by making people giggle than by making them lob rockets, as has been made obvious by the conflict that shall remain nameless. I wrote thusly, with all due apologies to Mr. EA Poe:

On a lunch hour dark and dreary
There I pondered weak... and weary
Legalese describing my own vassalage, so dour!
Inasmuch as I did little
to deserve your wrath and spittle
I can but assume these petty grapes of wrath are sour!

I had a courier company deliver the box and self made stationary plus poem to my old boss's boss. The driver noted I was giggling as I handed it to him along with his instructions and fee. He must have thought I appeared demoniacal.

"'It's not a bomb is it?" he asked, raising his eyebrows slowly so as not to set it off if his suspicions had proved right.

"Nah" I laughed. "It's lunch! well ok, it's dessert really, but if they have a vegetarian on staff it might suffice as the entire meal."

He shrugged and took the package. Obviously he hadn't heard a word I'd said beyond 'Nah'.

I heard later that there had been a bit of a panic at BI once my package had been set down on the VP's desk. He too was afraid of explosives, as it seemed way too heavy to be a bouquet of carnations. So he called in his creative directors and instructed them to take the thing to the conference room and carefully open the box to see what was inside. His creative directors were a pathetic lot; he could afford to lose a few.

I feel a little badly that anyone would have thought me capable of sending harmful materials to another person. But I suppose that goes with the territory; I'm big, I'm scary and I'm a little lopsided if you know what I mean. Sometimes a hissy fit remains hissy in my world, but sometimes it transforms into a good laugh. I'm a pariah in the business now, bad boy that I was (The company presidents that received the lawyer's cc on my nifty response noted for their files that I was a "loose canon"). But I can't say I didn't have fun while it lasted.

1 comment:

  1. cool story.

    Good job the police weren't involved!