Long ago I was a project manager. I had built a very large building, housing a stacker for a very large corporation at their new plant. Another identical building was yet to be built and I wanted it. After the successful completion of the first building, a senior officer of this very large corporation called me into his office. “Do you want to build our next Structure?” he asked. ” Of course I do. Why would you use another contractor? The project was flawless. It was ahead of schedule. When you have a team that works well – why would you change things?” I said.
He took, from his desk drawer, a brochure. It was for a Mercedes Benz. I must have looked as puzzled as I was. I looked at it and at him. “Is this your car?” I asked. “Not until you buy it for me” he responded. “You buy me that car and you will build our next structure.” I felt my face flush. I controlled myself and listened. Finally he was finished and I responded.
“I will not build your building”, I said, but I will take this to my boss and let him know your desires, but then our relationship will end. I will not manage it or have anything to do with the project. I turned and left his office and I honestly felt sick.
I walked into the president of our companies’ office and I slid the brochure across his desk. I told the story and explained that I understood if he wished to spend eighteen thousand to make almost a million, but I would not help, except to forward my documents to his chosen Project manager. He looked at me and said “what would you do?” I said “Sir, I would tell him to shove it up his a#*.”
My boss looked straight at me, slid the brochure back and said “Take this thing back to that son of a b., and tell him to shove it up his a%*.”Are you sure?,” I asked. “Do it” – Yes sir!
It was a twenty minute ride back to the plant and another ten minutes to get in and up to his office. I did just that. I turned with a smile and I walked away from that man and our company walked away from a million dollar payday. I was so proud that I was ecstatic. I almost skipped to my car and I drove off to celebrate, with a beer, the fact that I worked for the greatest company anywhere.
At that moment I promised myself that I would find, bid, and do enough work to make up the shortfall that the loss of that project had cost us.
Time passed and I wondered if the project would come out for bid. In a couple of weeks, Jan, my awesome secretary, dropped a package on my desk. I opened it. It was a contract for the second structure – same price as the last one. No explanation, nor even a letter was enclosed, just a contract completed and ready for our execution. The corrupt executive’s name was gone from the documents.
I built the second building and it was a great thing for the company that I worked for and for my honorable boss. Years later, looking back on those events, I often wondered if it may have been a test. Were they testing me or our company to see what we were made of, or had his corrupt ways brought the corrupt executive down, as they should.
I guess I shall never know. One thing is certain. I was a lucky guy to work for such a man a long time ago.