Friday, August 31, 2007

It Couldn't Have Happened to a Nicer Guy

When the Nerd Clan moved to the Twin Cities way back in October of 1998, things weren't looking so good for the home team.

Due to the Red River Valley flood of '97, I was going to be losing my great job as Computer Department Manager of the UND Bookstore. The university needed to find ways to save money to pay for the damages the flood wrought and a way to attract students back to the ravaged campus. They ended up leasing the bookstore business to Barnes & Noble... and B&N was not in the business of selling computers.

Avindair was working a crappy job for an insane boss (you should hear the stories), having to drive 150 miles round trip every day from Grand Forks to Fargo, traveling to other cities for a week at a time at the drop of a hat, and having paychecks that bounced.

With no career prospects in Grand Forks, we had to look elsewhere. Elsewhere had to be the nearest metro area... Minneapolis/St.Paul.

Marathon to the Twin Cities #1

I found a job all right. In one day I drove 5 hours to the cities, spent two hours interviewing, and drove 5 hours back. They offered me the job of regional inside sales rep at a company that made multiport serial cards. It was set up as a pay + commission structure. Not a dream job, I'll admit, but it was enough to help support our family in a new city. They knew I'd have to relocate and were all smiley-supporty.

Marathon to the Twin cities #2

In between job offer and moving, Avindair and I took an overnight trip to the cities to find an apartment. We took the first place we could find as close as possible to my work, since Tony didn't have a job yet, that wasn't a scary (is that a heroine dealer?) rat trap that we could also afford. Paid the *yowch* first month's rent, stayed one night with local relatives (the first of three times we'd see them in the 9 years we've lived here), and once again headed back to Grand Forks.

Marathon to the Twin Cities #3

Did you know that it's possible to break down an entire apartment for 4 people, pack it on a truck, drive to another city, unpack it, set up the new apartment, and drive back to the original city in 48 hours? With the help of two of our best friends, DaveGuy and Bella, we did... bless their hearts.

Halloween 1998

The night before we left for our new home. For good. Our son, who was only 6 at the time, was enjoying Halloween at Grandma's house. Due to our neverending search for good jobs, he was being uprooted once again. It broke our hearts. We were having to move just a few months into first grade. Avindair and I dreaded it for him. In his six short years we'd already moved five times - six if you count the two places in Denver. He would once again have a new home, a new school, a new daycare, new teachers, new friends, new places to play... with our little family and the contents of our apartment the only things that were a constant in his life.

Our daughter had it a little easier. She would be turning 2 in just two weeks and didn't have the level of adapting to go through that our son did.

"Hi, I'm the new rep."

The first week in November I started my new job. And to tell you the truth, it suck-diddly-ucked, Flanders.

First, my sales manager and I were the only females on the sales team. Good Old Boys Club in the extreme. It didn't matter if I'd been a sales manager in my own right, I was treated like "just a girl".

Second, nearly all of the sales reps had been FRIENDS SINCE GRADE SCHOOL. Yup. Even in a city this size, they had grown up together, gone to college together, and were now working at the same company -- and they acted like it. Not only was I not in the boys club, I also was a charter member of the "You're Not From Around Here" club.

Third, after several weeks, after uprooting my family, incurring the expense of moving, having rent and utilities and car payments and daycare to pay, and in the midst of holiday season with kids, I eagerly awaited my first paycheck. Payday came and went. And I had no paycheck. I confronted my boss. "Didn't we tell you? We pay a month behind, after you've completed your first month. So you don't get your first paycheck until January. But if you want, we can give you an advance."


So, to stay out of bad debt with our monthly bills, I had to go into debt with my new employer. A debt that I then had to make payments on with every future paycheck for nearly a year.

Fourth. Every month we'd gather for an all employee meeting. The owner would usually fly up from Florida, where he lived part of the time, and address the troops. I'd already heard from other employees that he kept the Florida address to avoid Minnesota taxes and that he was a bit... eccentric. What I heard at my first employee meeting made my jaw drop. After everything my family and I had been through to be there, at that point in time, I was infuriated. Here's what the speech from the company's owner boiled down to:

1. God was to be thanked for everything we had and the all of the successes of our company.
2. The owner had the position he had in life, because God put him there. He was appointed to be sucessful by God.
3. We all, as workers, had the position we had below him in life, because God meant for us to be there... below him.
4. God had made it clear that he (the owner) was better than us.

Oh, yeah. THAT'S the way to motivate your employees.

My family and I had worked hard to be where we were. Life had thrown us a lot of curve balls and we did our damndest to keep our heads (literally) above water and persevere. I was supposed to believe that some white-bearded father-figure on a cloud had handpicked me to be the bitch-slapped worker bee for life and handpicked some narcissistic looney to reign supreme... just because?

Um... no.

Eventually, of course, I got out of there. I got away from the insane, zealot, tax-dodging owner and his nepotism-ridden company.

And My Point Is?

Just the other day, I saw this article in the Star Tribune.

"With founder a fugitive, Comtrol remakes itself"

Apparently, God doesn't want him paying taxes. This CEO-on-the-lam was also a republican, a former delegate the Repulican National Convention, AND the founder of the Minnesota Christian Coalition.

Or read this goodie from the US Department of Justice:

The articles just get more and more fun:

Finding this news just made me feel warm and fuzzy all day. This nepotistic businessman, leading republican supporter, right-wing Christian zealot, law breaking nutzoid was on the run from finally getting what was REALLY due him.

Huh. Maybe there IS a God?


Avindair said...

Great article, hon.

Can't understand why you don't get more comments.

Oh, wait; yes I can.

Zero said...

You worked for Comtrol! Wow, they are one of our suppliers. I actually went out to their facility to give them a stern-talking-to about product quality.

Ahhhhh-Mazing story. I sent a link to our purchaser, she will be thrilled to hear about it.

Sorry you had to go through all that, but just think of all the karmic credit you must have accrued! You really should have a "Get Out Of Jail/Traffic Jam/Long Checkout Line Free" cards. Maybe two...