I love the McKankle family.
They own the company I've worked for over the last 8 years. The company was founded by Jim Sr and I laugh to refer to his kids that run it now as "The McKankle Children" - they're all in their 60's. Jim Sr. is now semi-retired at 91. Hell, he's done - he has lymphoma in six organs and his time is short - but he still makes it in to the head office in Montreal to keep them on their toes. He is a tough and scrupulously fair old bastard and I love him for it. I always make sure to ask after him when I talk to the turkeys out east.
Here in the west, we have problems. Our manager over the last 7 years was utterly, hopelessly incompetent and I suspect he was mentally disturbed on some level or other as well. We did well anyways because the economy was going gang busters and Cam and I effectively ran the branch rather than the idiot they paid to do it. We clashed with him constantly, as did the customers and eventually the writing was on the wall. Jim Sr. and the McKankle Children came out often on surprise inspections and soon they knew the score, who was doing what and who needed a trip to the woodshed. Hell, Jim Sr. knew it too - but eventually he was forced to admit our manager couldn't do the job and somebody else had to. I utterly refused - I'm a business man and not a manager. Managers have to push and more often pull to get their teams to succeed. I regard resistance as something to be pushed through, or gone over, around, or under. I work alone, I'm not wired that way and everyone knows it. Cam, on the other hand, was... but he didn't want the hassles either.
Over the years Cam and I developed a working relationship that allowed us to make the McKankle Machine move to the whims of our business and customers in spite of our managerial problems. He largely stayed home in the office, and I did what I love - going out to harass the customers, help them out with their self inflicted problems, eat donuts by the bushel and slurp coffee by the jerry can! Often I came back from calls and trips to find Cam on the edge of the roof, calmly thinking about jumping off into oblivion - he wanted to quit and even put in his resignation. Jim Sr. refused it and The McKankle Children came out to try and buck him up and cheer him up too. He was a hard working man but the challenges we faced out here were incredible, given the incompetence of our management. How do you tell somebody you love that they couldn't organize their way out of a wet paper bag? I swear to God - the worst thing about my job is that it is like working for WKRP in Cincinatti. But the BEST thing about my job is that it is like working for WKRP in Cincinatti. Does that make sense? Some days ya just wanted to pour out five gallons of gas in the office, walk out the door and flip a lit match over your shoulder. Cam and I would spend hours after work in the office sorting out shit that our idiot of a manager had done, trying to keep the place running as if responsible adults worked there...and trying to keep each other from quitting and running away. Oh, I've felt it too. There were days where I got so damned mad I just went to the rod n' gun club instead and blew the day off. Fire me, I dared our idiot manager a dozen times. He seriously tried on others. Such are the vagaries of working with loons.
Two months ago Cam quit. When he gave me the news I just slumped. I was in my truck between calls... and I just wanted to quit too. Where was he going? Nowhere, he said, he just quit because of stress. Well take a leave of absence then! No - he needed to move on and do something different. They offered him all kinds of incentives to stay. No dice. And no... he was leaving, and that was that for that. I sent him a few emails after he quit to check in but he never responded. Others did too and he ignored them as well. We became concerned because everyone liked Cam and worried about him a bit. He was a friend. Three days later Bitchy Bill quit. Then our chicken headed equipment coordinator pulled the plug. I took that day off and went to the rod n' gun club and poured a scotch after lunch. What in hell was going on? I almost quit too. But you shake it off, man up and go back at it - or so I told myself.
Yesterday Big Al - the new manager I'm training (provided he doesn't kill me first) - dragged me over to his desk. On the computer screen was an RFQ from a competitor company we had never heard of - on parts for our pumps - from Bitchy Bill. The form it came on was one of ours - except they pulled our company logo and put in their own. Bill is an alcoholic and too damn stupid to run his own company - and I'm almost 100% he is working for Cam. All this time, Cam had been silently setting up his own company and preparing to cut our throats.
And he said not one word.
When his last son was born brain dead (the little one is not expected to live very long) Cam missed a lot of time and I covered for him. One morning I found a bag of dope he'd left on his desk so I grabbed it, cornered him and told him to shove it up his ass and fly right - I hate drugs and if you do them that's on you - but you darn well keep it out of my face and my work space. When he slipped I was there and I helped him out.
When that RFQ came in on our form with his letterhead - that was a 'fuck you' at all of us. In the case of our former manager that was fine and well earned. But the rest of us?
It's a free world. We're all adults, we all have the right to make a buck and strike out on our own. Bill worked for us for 4 or 5 years, Cam for 9 or so... and gawd knows there were times that place simply wasn't worth the bullshit. But we hung in there, we took the odd break and then went back at it later. This wasn't something Cam would pull out of his ass, he must have thought about it for years. And he said nothing.
I told Big Al that unless we hear otherwise, he was not to sell to them, quote prices, or even talk shop with them. Then I passed this info on up to my fwench buffoon of a national sales manager I refer to as KY. (Don't ask). I will let him break the news to the McKankles.
Cam doesn't owe us a thing, and maybe it is wrong of me to feel a little ripped - but there are better ways to handle things.