"Keep them coming, Maria." I ordered. "Tonight me and the gang are celebrating."
I paid Maria for the round (including a generous tip - one must always remember such formalities) and she headed back to the bar to collect the next round for myself and my good friends John, Kevin and Damian.
It was indeed going to be a long night to celebrate the great news which I had received earlier in the day.
I was informed around noon by my boss and company VP, Mr. Andrews, that I had been selected to be the new Area Manager for our overseas office located in London, England!
This was fantastic news and on top of that to make things even better, the former Area Manager Derek Smith, had died quite suddenly, thus making this position available.
Now before you get the wrong idea and think I am the most horrible person in the world to say such a thing, perhaps I best explain myself.
I had never met Derek Smith until we had our annual meeting and corporate workshops earlier this year in Toronto. I had heard rumours that he was an extremely talented manager with an equally extremely nasty disposition, but I definitely wanted to form my own opinion.
He had apparently been transferred two years ago to London, from his home country of Australia as a result of some 'sexual improprieties' involving some staff member reporting to him. It was rumoured that in exchange for a payoff and the removal of Smith, the victim would drop the matter entirely and no law suit would be brought against either the company or Smith.
It was also rumoured that Derek Smith was the biggest racist, sexist and all around 'DICK' that walked the planet. So after hearing all of this innuendo about one man, I figured that no one could be that bad at life yet so good at business to not be worth meeting. So that is what I did.
What a huge mistake on my part. His reputation was correct.
At the Toronto conference, my department was presented with the "Award of Excellence" for 2006, which I was both pleased and honoured to accept on behalf of the hard working folks in my group. As I was the only one there from Calgary representing our division, they displayed a photograph of my entire team on the overhead projector for all the others to see.
After the awards presentation (We received a plaque and a case of expensive champagne - one bottle for each person in my department), a number of the managers were coming up to me offering their congratulations.
As the line progressed, Derek Smith approached me and spat "I don't know who you paid off to win that award, mate. But there is no way in Hell that you won it fairly."
At first I thought he was joking but soon realized by his cold venomous stare that he was serious, dead serious. (he appeared somewhat impaired at the time and I found out later he was a raging alcoholic, amongst other unpleasant things)
Not really knowing what to say to these totally unprovoked comments, I cautiously responded "Whatever do you mean by that statement, Mr. Smith?"
"You know !@!@&^*@ well what I mean." he retorted harshly, staring at me without blinking. "No group made up of a bunch of coloreds, stupid women and !@!@&^*@ Canadians are going to win anything unless they bribe someone. That I know to be a !@!@&^*@ fact."
I immediately realized that this guy needed a real "attitude adjustment" whether he was drunk or not. Forgetting where I was, I instinctively took a step forward in order to meet his challenge and was about to introduce my foot to his crazy bigoted head.
Before anything further could happen, a couple of people stepped between us and ushered Mr. Derek Smith away. I was extremely agitated at not being able to kick the SOB in the head for not only challenging me, but degrading the excellent group of folks that I work with.
Later on in the evening when I had totally forgotten about Smith and was still celebrating back in my hotel room with a number of other managers, I decided to call it a night and went to crash in my bedroom, leaving the others to party on. I was both exhausted from a busy day and was flying back to Calgary early the next morning.
Well I heard the later on that Smith had shown up at my room and just stole the case of champagne that was awarded to my group, claiming aloud that I had asked him to ship it to me as I had too much luggage and he knew someone who would ship it for free.
I had no time to confirm this the next morning as I had to madly rush and catch my flight. Although by all indications it was true since I heard the same ugly story from two other individuals & our champagne was no where to be found.
So those were my dealings with this DICK. He insulted me, my staff, my country and stole a case of very expensive champagne. (which I had to replace with my own money) That was the last I heard from him until today.
As I sat in Mr. Andrews office trying not to laugh hysterically at the news, he explained that Derek Smith had been drinking at home alone and fell into his swimming pool and drowned one week ago on Tuesday.
The coroners report stated his alcohol level was .14, nearly twice the legal limit here in Canada. (by the sounds of it the guy must have just sunk like a stone!! HAHA!!!!)
The only part I was rather sad about was that I had really been looking forward to kicking the !@!@&^*@ in the face next year when we had our annual meeting. I really wanted to beat him like 'a rented mule.' (Not in public of course, I am far to civilized for that, plus I value my job.)
So now they are offering me his job on a probationary three month basis. If I can do well, I keep it and if I totally screw up - crash & burn, I get my current job back. On top of that they want to pay for me to relocate from boring Calgary, Canada to London, England. This is fantastic!!!
Of course I will need to think more about this when I sober up properly - tomorrow for sure as this is a huge decision. This is all going to happen quick so I'll keep you posted.
The funniest part about the whole thing is that the despicable & very dead Derek Smith is now really 'down under' - although I guarantee that it is not back in Australia, but rather a much, much warmer place!