Smacking a Sommelier’s Ass!
Friends that stick by you in hard times are worth their weight in gold; and, if those friends can make you laugh, well they’re worth their weight in platinum. My former company is having their National Sales Meeting in my town this week. It’s bettersweet. I always enjoyed catching up with colleagues, many of whom had become great friends, at the annual event, which is now the bitter part. The sweet part: I won’t miss mind numbing ‘role playing,’ or countless wasted hours having to listen to self-important managers or executives, who loved to hear themselves talk, and yet, still managed to say nothing. There was usually enough ego packed into these hotel ballrooms, that could collectively have eclipsed the sun. And,that’s tough to do in Phoenix.
I would often say things under my breath to keep myself amused or anyone who happened to be close enough to hear. At one such meeting, the VP of Sales, seated at a table behind me, quickly went over the day’s itinerary which included role play. Role play in this context is when reps are given a scenario and a product and have to act out the scenario to a manager or Executive in front of 250 of their peers. No pressure.
Examples: A rep is selling the latest generation of medical device to a surgeon (played by a manager or Executive) who has never used the previous generation. Or a rep has to get a surgeon (played by a dick) to do the first procedure on the moon, solely for the purpose of humiliating a rep in front of their peers while a desperately insecure manager tries to to look competent.
Anyone who has ever been tortured by role play will tell you that it’s easier to sell in front of a surgeon than it is a room full of your peers. I actually never really minded the role play, it was always an opportunity to highlight how incompetent management was, and I never missed an opportunity to highlight the obvious. I also never really found any significant value in role play, either.
What I thought was under my breath, I said, “Yeah, I don’t mind role play, but it usually involves costumes, and not done in a room full of jackasses. “ (sorry mom & dad) The VP, with his apparent sonic hearing, stopped what he was saying and said, “I heard that Melayna.” Whoops. Everyone around us look puzzled because they had no idea what I had said or what he was talking about. I’m still not convinced, since we worked for a cutting edge medical device company, that he wasn’t trailing some sort of mind reading device.
Since I left the company, well more accurately, was publically decapitated*, this, understandably had a polarizing effect on people who remained with the Company. They either remained my friend or dropped me like a hot potato. People tended to leave this company with a blaze of glory. Some with two middle fingers in the air, and some borrowed a friend’s hands and put four middle fingers in the air. I left without my head, but I left far from quietly.
*Remember the sweet rich irony here, that I trained surgeons on disembodied cadaver heads.
I was at dinner last night with one of friends, Geoff, who has remained throughout the storm. Words cannot begin to express how grateful I am for his friendship, and more importantly his ability to make anyone in any situation laugh. We had mutual friends in the company and I remember how Geoff was first described to me by one of those friends.
Our mutual friend, Ryan, was recounting one of their regional meetings, where he was the manager and Geoff was introducing himself to the rest of the region. Geoff said that his father was brilliant, Harvard and Johns Hopkins educated and his mother was a model and continued that sadly for him, he got his father’s looks and his mother’s brains. I knew I liked him even before I met him.
There was a small group of us that began bonding through email. I had met or had been friends with the other three but had not met Geoff live yet. I felt like these guys were brothers I’d known my entire life. Geoff had nicked named me the pit bull in lipstick (which was not meant as a Sara Palin reference), it was more like when it came to sales, I was ruthless. As it was described to me, I’d rip someone’s spine out, shove it down their throat, and not smudge my lipstick in the process. Pretty? No. Accurate? Yes.
Prior to one of our National Sales Meetings, I invited the guys on our annual girl’s trip to Vegas. It is always a delicate balance to mix groups, and when you have a lot of alpha males in the mix, it can be a recipe for disaster. Chris, who was my hiring manager and at one time Ryan’s manager, and had since moved on to a better position outside the company, and was understandably skeptical of the ‘new guy.’
We were all headed to Ni9e at the Palms, from our hotel at Caesar’s, when Geoff, who was just arriving, told us all to go ahead and he’d meet us at the there. At Ni9e, Chris, who loves wine, decided, from what I was told, to order a $600 bottle of wine. I’m allergic to wine, so there’s that.
The Sommelier, was presenting the bottle to Chris; and, out of nowhere, Geoff enters the picture with a wind up that would have made major league pitchers envious, and his hand connected with the Sommelier’s ass with a loud crack and jolt. Bottle saved and best friends made.