Thursday, January 18, 2018

Don’t Do What I Did

June 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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This isn’t a story I like to tell in person because it really makes me look foolish. However, I will tell you anonymously how I lost my boat.

I travel a lot for business so I rely on my staff to help me out with personal matters from time to time. Yes, it was outside of their responsibilities, but if you asked nicely and gave big holiday bonuses, people usually helped.

A few years ago, I asked a staff member to help me find a new marina and make arrangements to relocate my boat. The marina I’d used had changed hands and the summer price increased by so much that I was willing to trade down in amenities for a convenient location at a reasonable cost.

I directed my staff member to a listing of marinas, suggested she start calling in late February, and arrange to make the move in April. She’d never failed me in any of her other personal undertakings, so I didn’t give it another thought until the first warm day, when I asked how she was making out. She reassured me she’d narrowed the choices down to two great places — did I want to go look at them?

No, I had to fly overseas, but told her I’d appreciate it if everything was in place when I returned in two weeks. Two weeks in France were followed by an unexpected 10 days in Germany. Anxious to get home, I was surprised when someone in our European operation asked to meet with me before leaving for the U.S. At our meeting she said there’d been a company-wide reorganization, and that I was terminated, effective immediately.

My world was reeling. I had what I thought was a solid, high-corporate position. I had no inkling that changes were in the offing, and I certainly made no effort to wrap up any business or personal matters before leaving for my trip. Now I was told that my personal effects would be sent to my home, and I’d have no further contact with remaining company personnel if I wanted the severance package the company was providing.

I called a lawyer; we worked out a few details with human resources and I headed for the airport. Somewhere over the ocean I realized that while looking for a new job was paramount, finding a cheap berth for my boat was now really critical.

At home, there were no messages about my boat. I found out it had been moved from my old marina but no one there could or would tell me where it went. Remember, I’m not going to get my severance money if I approach staff at my old job, so when I bitched to my lawyer, he said to let my former employee contact me. She’d surely call my cell to say goodbye and let me know where she’d arranged for my boat to spend the summer, right?

I never heard from my helper, so I needed to find my boat on my own. I figured there are less boat transporters than marinas in the area, so I’d start calling the transporters for info first. I finally located one who recognized my boat’s name, but was told they’d turned down the job because no one met them at the marina to pay for the move.

I had no choice but to start calling marinas, but each one said that my boat wasn’t there. Was it stolen? Should I call the police? Could I please get a special waiver to call the member of my staff who’d know where my boat was? (My attorney said I’d be crazy to insist on him calling the human resources department to get an OK to discuss a personal errand I’d had someone run on company time.)

My girlfriend looked up the staff member on Facebook and contacted her to ask about the boat. Turns out, the staffer was waiting for my call — she had no idea that I wasn’t allowed to reach out! She didn’t know what to do about my boat, so she’d asked a relative with a flatbed and two slips in his backyard for help. The relative was happy to make some money, and so when I visited him (and my boat) at the address she provided, would I make sure to bring “lots of cash” so I could settle matters up and finally get her out of this whole boat business?

Fine, whatever. I had no job, but I found my boat!

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