#062 In which our hero is given an offer he can refuse.
I recently had lunch with my boss. Not really my boss, but rather the president of the company. I wouldn't have lunch with my direct boss, of course, because he's a sniveling asshat that I wouldn't trust further than I could defenestrate* him.
Anyway, this came about because of an off-hand comment the president made several weeks ago. We were in a meeting and he was surprised by something I said, and I said that if he was surprised, then he didn't know me very well.
And this is true. But not just for the president, of course, I don't really socialize with anyone I work with. Anyway, a little background to help you understand my motivation:
- I've been passed over for a raise twice in the 14 months I've worked here. And not because of job performance, but because of the cash-flow situation in the agency, which is poor. I've written about that before, but it hasn't improved any. Needless to say, when I'm told "I'd like to give you a raise but because of the poor business decisions that we've made, I can't" it pisses me off. The thing is, I could get a raise if the powers that be really wanted to make it happen. The money would have to come from some other source, but that's not my concern.
- I have no job security. It true that I'm the only writer on staff and you might think that guarantees my position, but it doesn't. I could be axed tomorrow and replaced with a freelancer. Or fired and asked to freelance, so they didn't have to pay me benefits. But, since my job performance is solid, me getting fired would be a business decision. And ultimately, that decision would come from the president. And it's harder to fire people you like.
- Also, the president is an interesting guy. Not interesting as in inspiring or motivational (and he is those things, too, to a very small degree) but interesting as in "how the hell has this guy run a successful business for 20 years?" He's a cartoon, a dead-on racial stereotype... if he was a character in a movie, I'd dismiss the writer as being too lazy to create a more realistic portrayal.
- And finally, free lunch.
We head out to some Italian joint. Now, here's the thing: the guy has been wheeling and dealing for decades in Cleveland, and he knows everyone. He's a bit of a big shot in the advertising community, I guess. So of course he knows everyone that's waiting in line to be seated, and he introduces me around, blah, blah, blah. This is the perfect moment to "network," but I'm really shitty at it. I just have a hard time acting interested in someone in the hopes that it'll pay off at a later date.
Finally we sit, order, and eat. We're making small talk ("Where'd you go to school?" "Tell me something interesting about yourself," etc., etc.). He mentions that he wanted to eat early, because he has a dentist appointment later in the afternoon. This prompts me to say that I also need to get to the dentist, because I suspect that I need a root canal and I've been putting it off. He asks me who my dentist is, and that's when it all gets a little strange.
See, I'm under The Scientist's healthy insurance. She signed up for a dental plan, but we haven't received our cards yet. Since this damn tooth has been getting progressively worse, I've been bugging her to call her HR department and find out what dentist we can go to. Turns out that under this particular HMO, you can't choose your own dentist, one has to be assigned to you. I'm not crazy about this idea, and assume that our assigned dentist is going to be some cut-rate chop shop.
I explain all of this to the president, and he wrinkles his nose. "Eh, you should go to my guy, he's the best. His father is also a dentist. Him I wouldn't sent you to, but his son is the best. I'll set up an appointment for you since I'm seeing him this afternoon."
Now, I don't know if this is friendly "we're-having-lunch-and-we're-buddies-now" BS or if he really intends to do something, but I let it go and say something like "sure, that would be great" and don't give it a second thought.
Then, later in the afternoon when I'm back at work, he calls me from the road. "Craig, you have an exam next Wednesday at 4:30." I'm truly confused by this, thinking that he wants me to take some sort of test. Then I remember our conversation at lunch. "And if you need a root canal you have an appointment for that the following Tuesday."
This is all strange territory for me. The president is obviously one of those people that knows people and can "make things happen," but I've never ran in circles like that. Matter of fact, I had already called our assigned dentist and set up the earliest appointment I could get, which was a month out. And here he's booked an appointment for me in less than a week. And he tells me that he'll talk to the dentist, and get him to accept my insurance. Which seems unlikely, since this dentist is out of network, and my wife's HR manager is telling her that the insurance won't pay for him, not a cent.
But, I end up going to see this guy anyway. The first visit is just a consultation to see if I need a root canal or not. I called to confirm that insurance will pay for this visit, and was told yes - so why not?
The dentist is a quiet little guy who is fighting a fierce battle against baldness - and losing quite badly. To make matters worse, he's gelled the little remaining hair he has on top, making it look not unlike he's glued a well-used brillo pad to his head. But he has nice teeth, and that's really the point, isn't it?
He X-rays my tooth, pokes around in my mouth and confirms that a root canal is the best course of action. It's $750 for the procedure (this is before I knew that insurance wouldn't pay). He assures me that it's not as horrible as people think it is, but he also explains how they drill down into the top of the tooth and scrap out the pulp with little files - so I'll be the judge of how terrible it is.
And this guy bends over backwards to help me. He can't do it right then and there, since it's the end of the day, but he gives me his card and his home number, in case I need it. I can only assume this level of service comes from him knowing my boss.
And what, exactly, would I call this guy at home for? What could he possibly do for me?
ME: Hi, this is Craig, I saw you earlier today?But he does offer to prescribe me narcotics to deal with the pain, which seems waaay over the top to me. Narcotics? My tooth is a little painful, but it's not like I'm rolling around on the floor in agony. But don't think it didn't cross my mind that having a bottle full of narcotics in the medicine cabinet would be a good thing. Y'know, just in case.
HIM: It's 3AM.
ME: Yeah, well, this tooth is really killing me. Can you help me?
HIM: Holy shit! I'll be right over!
Anyway, the following day I see the president and tell him about my visit and how I need a root canal. He asks if I'm going to go ahead and do it next week then, and I say we're still screwing around with insurance (again, this is before I knew that the HMO wouldn't pay). The president assures me that if there's a gap in coverage, he'll get the dentist to cover it. Which sounds to me like he's going to call in a favor or otherwise lean on this guy to eat the cost. I can't imagine he'd get him to eat the entire $750 bucks, and frankly, I don't want to put this poor dentist in that position. Maybe this is SOP for the president, but it makes me wholly uncomfortable.
My current plan is to wait for the HMO-approved dentist visit and get it done then. I can gut it out until next month.
But maybe I'll still call that dentist and take him up on the narcotics.
: a throwing of a person or thing out of a window
What a great word, huh? It's one of the Top 10 Words of 2004, as compiled by Merriam-Webster. Which is strange, though, if you look at the rest of the list. Blog? Sure, I can understand that. Incumbent, electoral, insurgent? Yeah, I've seen all of those words in the news over the past year. But Defenestration? Was there a rash of people being thrown out windows that I somehow missed?