Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nefarious - Part 10: Denouement

a bit part in a TV gangsta pilot

meet the family -
I mean "THE" family

[continued from posts of May 3 & 26, June 7 & 21, July 4 & 22, August 22, September 6, and October 24, 2009]
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  • Pronunciation: \ni-ˈfer-ē-əs\
  • Function: adjective
  • Etymology: Latin nefarius, from nefas = crime, from ne = not + fas = right
  • There were a lot of things that were not right in the unfolding of these vignettes. Like many things, though, you sometimes don't spot them except with hindsight. Then it is usually too late.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    I worked from the company's HQ for the next week or so. One woman and one man in the Agency Settlements Department were assigned to work closely with me. Their goal was to contact every Agent with whom we held a contract. Once the initial phone contact and brief interview was completed, the agent was advised a call would be coming from the Vice President of Agency Development: me.

    The net result of all these calls was for me to schedule face-to-face meetings with the agents which seemed to hold out the most promise for fast short-term gains. The next month was lived out of my car. I traveled f
    rom city to city meeting with these agents. One big 2-week loop started in Detroit, proceeded through northern OH into western PA, thence to eastern PA then down the east-coast through VA and NC and SC, then to GA and AL and TN and KY and IN. Another subsequent loop took me through southern MI and northern IN, then north-eastern IL and south-eastern WI, to MO and back through central IL.

    We were gaining a lot of new business revenue from already existing agents. Everyone was happy.

    - - - - -

    Just before I left on my 2-week trip through the east, the Vice President of Sales for the Western Region took me out to lunch. My new position as the Vice President of Agency Development was removing me from his area of responsibility. He said he wanted to thank me for all the help I had been to him. He also wanted to let me know that he was going to be leaving the company soon - and that it was a secret he expected me to keep. He was sharing with me because he 'really liked me' and thought me to be an honest and upright person - he didn't want to see me get hurt.

    At that point I had no idea of what he might be inferring.

    He gave me one very specific piece of advice. He said that before I left town on this business trip, I was to go into the accounting department and tell them that my personal Credit Cards were maxed-out and that I needed 'cash' to make this trip. "DO NOT use your personal credit cards," he said. "Make them give you the money up front - do you understand what I'm telling you?"

    The reality was that my naivety did not allow me to clearly read into the words the seriousness of his message. While I intended to do as he told me, I had never had any problems in almost 20 years. I was busy ge
    tting everything lined-up for the trip. I failed to follow through with his advise.

    - - - - -

    Upon my return I started hearing rumors of some driver payroll checks 'bouncing'. I was hearing of vendors denying us services due to unpaid bills. I noticed that my Travel Expense Reports were not being processed in a timely manner. On, payday, people were running to the bank on their lunch hour to be sure their checks would clear. Some did and some did not. It seemed that there was some money available, and when that ran out, the bank stopped ac
    cepting the checks. People who lived out of the immediate Detroit area and received their checks by mail were having the checks accepted by their home-town bank, only to get them back in a day or two marked NSF.

    Things were getting ugly. The official word was that things were tight but everything was being worked out. "Don't panic", they said. Some believed that, some didn't.

    My 20 year anniversary with the company was
    coming up in about a month. At 20 years you were entitled to 3-weeks paid vacation. For years 2-5 of employment we were given 1-week of paid vacation - there was no paid vacation during the 1st year. For years 6 through 20 we received 2 weeks of paid vacation. With number 20 on the very near horizon, I turned in a 'Vacation Request' for 2 weeks combined time off starting on the Monday one day after my 20th anniversary on a Sunday. I was relieved when I received notice that it had been approved. It left me with one additional week I could take later.

    - - - - -

    All of these things were taking place in a very face-paced and frantic environment. In the weeks before my first big trips to get new agent business, the company had changed banks for some of the company's accounts. They also had engaged a 'Payroll Processing' company to handle the issuance of all checks for accounts that dealt with driver payroll and Agency business. No one, including me thought much about it.

    - - - - -

    About a week to 10-days before my vacation
    was to begin, I was part of a very heated and hostile meeting with our company CEO - you know the one I'm referring to. There were a lot of department heads and other manager types in the meeting.

    The main issue was getting revenue flows moving faster from our customers - get our Accounts Receivables down to a very tight time frame ... really go after anyone who was overdue on any monies due us.

    Various people were given their orders and dismissed from the meeting to get the ball rolling. Various other peoples in Operations, Sales, and Accounting were told to stay put for another discussion. Because of my experience in various areas of the company over the years, I became the target of the next round of discussion.

    It seems that the Holding Company that owned our company also owned a number of other trucking companies around the country. We were advised that there were several of those companies that were being targeted by the 'owners' to be closed and bankrupted in the foreseeable future. They wanted us to come up with ways to immediately divert freight and revenues away fr
    om those companies and into ours.

    What they were proposing was going to be a challenge. When I explained what we'd have to do to accomplish this, I was met with a very threatening response that that approach was not good enough. We needed to do it some way that would allow the money to flow in much sooner that what I was describing.

    Without getting into all the details, just let me say that what they were wanting done, I kept telling them couldn't be done that way - at least not legally. Our CEO, after much heated discussion with all of us, left the room in a serious 'huff'.

    That was the last time I ever saw him.

    - - - - -

    he next day I left for my home base in Indiana. My 2-week vacation was scheduled to start in another week. I made face-to-face appointments to see Agents in and around my home area. I wanted to be able to get things in order for taking my first ever 2-week vacation.

    My travel expense reimbursement checks were now 4 weeks behind. I was now wondering what it was my former Vice President of Sales for the Western Region was trying to warn me. I was counting on that money, along with current pay, to fund our vacation. We had planned to go to the San Antonio TX area. We had reservations to visit a large Texas Longhorn cattle ranch; attend an old-fashioned Barn Dance; visit the Alamo; hang-out on the River-walk; and just enjoy the weather. January there was going to be a lot different than in Indiana and Michigan.

    - - - - -

    t was Thursday. My vacation was going to start on Saturday - bags were mostly packed and tickets were in hand. I was at one of our company's freight terminal offices when I received the phone call.

    "Lock the doors, send the people home. The company is closed!"

    - - - - -

    All properties and material items in or on the attached premises are
    here-by declared to be the property of the United States of America.

    All claims to remove any such property are to be made at the local IRS office.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    It seems that since 8 months ago when the new owners took over, no money for any Federal taxes owed were ever sent in. All those with-holdings from all of our payroll checks never found their way into U S Government coffers. The IRS was mad.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    [to be continued as time allows]


    Anonymous said...

    IS VERY GOOD..............................

    Unknown said...


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    Michael Bates said...

    Thought of you today and came by to get caught up on your fascinating story. I'm looking forward to future installments as you have opportunity.

    Unknown said...

    Very nice. I learned a lot, learned a lot. Have a nice day
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