I had been managing the oil company for nearly a year and I imagine this is where any number of people working any number of jobs might say that it had its fair share of ups and downs but that simply wasn’t true. Aside from a nice paycheck and weekends off, the position was mostly a downward spiral with a dead end destination.
During a moment of weakness after a particularly brutal few months, I let down my guard of professional fascade and confessed my frustrations to one of our frequent business associates. I told him how tired I was of all the bullshit. I had made that company a lot of money during my tenure. I had made the employees a lot of money. And I had tried and lied to help them whenever I could however I could. But none of that mattered because I was just the guy in the office doing a woman’s work, something that real men would never do. Or at least that was the perception created by years of ignorant inbreeding and the ever popular redneck mentality that clung to that place like the crack heads clung to their pipes.
After spilling my guts to our business partner, the CEO of his own oil company out of Atlanta, he surpised me with a job offer but it wasn’t just any job. He promised a hefty pay increase, full benefits package complete with all the bells and whistles, a company vehicle and the respect that I so richly deserved. But everything comes with a price and my golden ticket as it turned out would require me to betray my boss. Remember when I said that the oil business was a pit full of vipers? Well this particular snake in the grass wanted me to turn over all of the customer names, the volume of oil they produced, service dates and most importantly, the revenue they generated as he planned on expanding his business to South Carolina and handing me the keys to the kingdom.
Now I could pretend that I was above such tactics but after sinking low and going nowhere fast, I had to at least consider his offer. I even copied all of the necessary files to a flash drive and took them home with me while I pondered the possibilities. All I had to do to get the white collar career that I wanted was burn my current boss to the ground.
I took the weekend to think about it and when Monday morning rolled around, I declined the offer. I would like to believe that some kind of morality was in play, a sense of doing the right thing, making the good choice but the fact that all I had was the word of a man so ruthless that he would ruin the life of another person didn’t sit well in my gut. Everything that he promised could have easily just been what I wanted to hear and there were no guarantees that he would keep me employed after the new business was established. The whole pipe dream could go up in smoke as soon as he got his grubby hands on the information he wanted and it was a risk that I was not willing to take.
My boss came in later that same week and sat down at my desk. He had heard that I was considering going to work for another oil company and wanted the details. How did he know? It didn’t matter because there was nothing to share. I was staying with his company and that was all he needed to know. Had I mentioned the proposed arrangement, I am certain that his anger would have trumped his better judgment potentially severing one of our business contacts and costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. I had been trusted with extremely valuable information and pushed to help build those profit margins. Both were under my protection and I wasn’t ready to see either of them fall.
There was however a powerful bargaining chip in play and my value had been made clear by another company’s interest in me. My boss saw it and reewarded me with a pair of Oakley sunglasses, a massage chair for the office and an immediate $200.00 per week raise with another $300.00 promised on top of that after I helped establish his new quick oil change business. It really didn’t improve the taste of the shit sandwich I had been chewing on but it did make it more palatable.