A few days before Thanksgiving in 2000, my boss called me. He told me to arrange a flight to Falmouth, Massachusetts for the Sunday following the holiday. I was going to spend the next three weeks on Cape Cod doing everything I could to save the company's ass from a date bug that was going to hit when the clock struck 2001. Sort of a delayed Y2K bug. I was going to a different company within the larger corporation.
I walked into a disaster. I had no idea what to expect. I had been to the old facility which kind of warm and welcoming and it was summer time when I went there in 1999. This time it was cold, dark, dreary and instead of training for what would become my new job as a service technician, I was being a service tech of the highest order. I had three weeks to get a couple hundred of our monitoring units up and running before I left on December 17 (four days prior to my birthday and a week before Christmas).
My previous trip was enjoyable, relaxing and it felt good to get away from the place I called home for my 26 years of existence. I was eating seafood, enjoying the local, slower paced, culture of Cape Cod. I got to see downtown Boston and get followed around by a weird hippy lady and several other people who seemed to have lost their gods somewhere along the line and wanted me to find them. I spent plenty of cash in the local record stores picking up several different CDs since I had brought none with me on that first trip. Faith No More, No Doubt, Veruca Salt, and several others. I even managed to find time to work. This time, though, was different.
I was working to keep the company in good standing with the City of Boston. I hated being that important. I liked doing the smaller work of a repair here, part replacement there. Being "the man" was not my thing. It was frustrating for the most part and then the shit hit the fan. I ended up having to go to the place where the systems were coming from because they were having an issue. We went back and forth and I tried to explain that a Centrex phone system was not suitable to test our modems, it had to be a standard line (trust me on this, there are differences. I won't bore you). I got back and I was pissed. I wanted nothing more than to go home, but first, I had to return a phone call...from my boss.
I called him that evening when I got back to the hotel. I had not eaten and only had a bottle of orange soda since lunch. Needless to say, I was not in a cordial mood. He answered the phone with a, "Hello, Jasen, how's it going?" Those were his only words for fifteen full minutes as I went off on a tirade of f-bombs, bitches, and strings of complaints that I'm sure had the family in the room two doors down saying novenas all night long. I was sure that by the time I got done I would be packing up to come home and find another job. No boss I had ever worked would ever put up with what I was saying on that phone. Finally, I finished and I waited what felt like an eternity for his response. Then he responded...
"Feel better?" He laughed. HE LAUGHED! After I had said things that I'm sure would get me thrown into a holding cell for thirty days, all he could do was laugh. Then he continued, "Now you know how I f--king feel, and our salesman, too. This has been one goddamn clusterf---k and we're just trying to fix it. Do your best, that's all I'm asking, and the way you sound, you are. Go get some dinner, get a beer (I didn't drink at the time, but I was tempted) and get a good cup of coffee in the morning." He hung up and I felt a great weight lifted off of me.
That evening I went out for a large meal of seafood and went to the record store on Main Street. Spinnaker Records, a small, hole-in-the-wall type of record store that appears in every city. I walked through the door and approached the used rack, I was looking for something specific. "You're back," said the girl behind the counter. I looked up and recognized the same, cute girl that worked there when I was on the Cape a year and a half earlier. I knew I was in there a lot, but that much? I responded and talked to her for a few minutes before I continued my search. I knew this album would help me cope with the hell that I was facing, but nobody ever sold it back.
My brother had introduced me to Slayer, the kings of metal. I had South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss, but this situation called for drastic measures. This situation called for the greatest speed metal album ever recorded, Reign in Blood. I never owned it before that trip. Had that trip never happened, I may not have owned it until last Tuesday. I didn't want this album, I needed this album. This was my therapy. This was going to be the way that I was going to make it through the last week of this trip. Many people ask which album had the greatest impact on your life? For me, it was this one, it had a reason to be for me. I finally found it in the new rack because, as I said, nobody ever returns it. They hand it down from generation to generation for years to come. I had heard bits and pieces of this album through my brother previously, but now I was going to hear in its entirety. It's like an explosion that never stops for a half hour (that's it, under 29 minutes). I spent my evening listening to this album in the CD player I had bought earlier in the week to entertain myself (I didn't have a laptop to bring with me). I felt much better and ready to face the next day...Friday.
Friday came and things were much better for me. I approached the task at hand with a far greater level of clarity and it helped. Around lunch, I was heading for the door when the nice receptionist-lady asked me if I was going to the Christmas party that night. I told her that I wasn't invited and didn't know where it was anyway. She told me that she was inviting me and would fight anybody who said I wasn't and that it was in the party room of the hotel where I was staying. I guess I was going to a Christmas party.
That evening, I was informed that I had received a phone call from the vice president of the company himself. I was given the number and I went back to my room and left a message for him and headed back down to the party. The party was fun, but I do not want to get anybody into any trouble, so I will leave it there.
The next day, the VP called me. He was made aware of slight disdain for the situation at hand and was prepared to rectify the situation. He thanked me for my hard work during this time. He also told me that another tech was coming to assist me for my last week. He also told me that the upper management might be a little unwelcoming of me (I hadn't experienced this) so he gave me every phone number to reach him, including his home phone number. FInally, he informed me that I would be receiving a more sizable bonus than some of the other techs who didn't come in to help. I thanked him graciously and hung up the phone. The final week went quickly and I handed the work off to the other tech and I boarded my flight to come home.
The moral of the story: get pissed, yell at your boss, and listen to Slayer. Life gets better after that.