Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chapter 4 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free Spirit Professional

The partnership was growing fast and some of us were forced to take on additional people to support. I was assigned to George Walker, a new partner who was brought in to build our SmartCard business – whatever that meant. While Scott was like a dreary winter day in England, George was a bright, fun day at the beach. He wasn't Ivy League like the rest of the partners which made him less pretentious and more productive.

George was there to work and after years of listening to Scott whine about all the work he had to do – but never did – I was happy to put more energy into the new addition to my desk. Scott of course, didn’t like that and things between us became rather tense.

Something was shifting in me and the desire to keep the peace with people was overshadowed by the respect and interesting work George was providing. While I still managed to keep Gina laughing long enough not to stab me in the back, I needed a new shtick.

With the firm rapidly expanding, Gina’s boss, Tim, was traveling a lot to visit our newly opened offices in Europe with Scott in tow – of course. I loved when they were gone. We all did. The mornings were filled with phone calls and video conferences, but because of the time difference, we basically had the afternoons to ourselves.

Our corner, normally strained, jumped to life with activity and laughter as we’d sit around and bullshit with the other assistants. Gina was always nicest when Tim was away and it felt good to relax around her and be myself.

Three days before he was supposed to come home, Tim called Gina at home and told her wanted to leave London that day. I’d seen him do it so many times before – create havoc for the sheer purpose of satisfying a whim. I thought it was more ego than whim, but my opinion didn’t really matter.

If Tim was coming home early, so was Scott. However, I didn’t get a 6am phone call at home. While traveling, Tim and Scott were a package deal and Gina bore the brunt of scrambling to find them flights home in First Class, seated together – no small feat when you’re working with a time difference that put you behind five hours.

But Gina was good and stupid enough to answer her phone at six in the morning. I knew better. Plus, I had call waiting.

Unfortunately, I had to deal with her resentment when I got to the office. That was one of the many tricky things about Gina. She wanted to be a part of everything, but she resented the hell out of those of us who weren’t and didn’t want to be.

Tim and Scott were successfully en route back to the states and I had endured a morning full of her martyrdom and snappy “I’m handling it,” retorts.

I couldn’t take it anymore and I knew a Scott imitation wasn’t going to cut it.

“Do you think it would be bad if I did a cartwheel in front of Tim’s office?” I asked, the mischief dripping from my voice.

“I dare you,” Gina said, spinning around in her chair and cracking a smile for the first time all day.

And there it was – a new shtick had been born. When things got really bad, all I had to do was a couple of cartwheels down the hall and all would be right in the world at The Madsen Group.

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