Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chapter 6: Slave Lake and the Final Straw

Wednesday morning. I woke up later than expected and people showed up later than expected to get their equipment. Around 11 everyone was finally ready to go, including Danny's van packed to the brim with all the equipment they'd need for the next three days. Jason and Amanda finally decided they'd go, but they had no money, so Carol ran to an ATM with Richard's credit card to get them some cash. We sat around discussing the plan and trying to be in a slightly better mood about the whole thing for a while, and then everyone left.

Richard already had appointments for the entire day, so he got right to work on those. Meanwhile Trevor and Tony, the two techs who got to the meeting late, were planning on knocking doors in Calgary. If they got any sales they'd install their own, or switch it up. I thought it was brilliant :D The other Richard was unable to go because his girlfriend is in and out of the hospital every few days, so we kept him busy with the two unfinished/scheduled jobs for the day.

It was interesting to experience Slave Lake from a distance. Carol didn't go, so she, Marilyn and I worked on scheduling and taking care of the kids just in Calgary. Richard spent the day at all his appointments and came over to Marilyn's late that night to talk about things. He decided he'd leave Thursday afternoon to get up there and help everyone catch up with all the jobs that were coming in. It's a crazy phenomenon that reps seem to sell better when they're in a new place, even one as ghetto as Slave Lake. They did over 20 that first day, and the rest of the weekend hit 30's and 40's. The techs were super busy and were for the most part pretty happy because they had so much work. It really made up for all the slow weeks in Calgary.

That first night the reps made an effort to hang out with the techs when they got home. They all shared a fire and were talking with each other. Graham, by the way, was camping in a huge trailer. What a great role model of male bonding, eh?

Graham found out that Richard had not yet arrived. He was kind of ticked. He called Richard and basically told him to head home to Utah if he wasn't going to be a part of the team. Richard explained to him that he was taking care of loose ends in Calgary and that he'd be up on Thursday evening. He explained that if he didn't stay behind to fix all the leftovers that Graham's team left, Graham would end up losing more money than he'd be making. Graham didn't buy it, and told Richard he was through. Richard told him he doesn't really have authority over Richard, and Graham told Richard he'd call Mikey to see about that. Um, ok. So he called Mikey and Mikey told Richard not to worry about it. This would be firing #2.

One thing that needs to be said early on: Richard and Caleb worked out some details about this Slave Lake trip. They decided it would be best for everyone if the reps didn't sell any Vistas up there. Vista equipment takes twice as much room as the other systems, and they ALWAYS have problems. Since the reps were only going to be in Slave Lake for a few days, it would be wise to not leave problems behind that require a 5 hour road trip to fix. Caleb agreed. No Vistas. The techs didn't bring any Vista equipment.

Fraser, one of the assistant managers, sold a vista the next day. I guess he didn't get the memo. Or it was a special circumstance or something. Anyway Richard figured if it was just this once it would be okay, and since he hadn't left yet he could bring some Vista equipment with him on his way up that night.

The next day, Thursday, was quite comical. Richard actually planned to leave pretty early in the day. He had a couple appointments to hit up in the morning, needed to stop and get some equipment, and then he'd be off. Calgary's finest had different ideas.

In Canada your registration and insurance isn't stickers on your license plate, it's stickers on your window. And I guess the cops are HUGE sticklers about making sure it's all up-to-date. The other Richard was sitting in the parking lot of Canadian tire waiting for something to do. He leaves his house at 8 am every day to keep from being a bum, but I guess on this day he hadn't had anything to do yet. Anyway the cops saw his van and noticed from his insurance stickers that his insurance had expired the day before. So they towed his van. ? Anyway so Richard's plans changed and he spent several hours helping other Richard with his car situation. It was quite ridiculous.

When he got back from that adventure he found out the corporate inspector was in town! How funny. The company sends around a couple techs who go to each office and inspect two jobs for each tech to ensure quality. Last year in Dallas one of Richard's techs got fired by the corporate inspector for doing such a poor job on an install. They usually come out without telling anyone in the office that they're there, just so the techs don't step it up just for that one week. That way the inspector gets an accurate showing of the kind of work the tech does for the most part. Then, when he's completed his rounds, he calls the lead tech and lets him know he'll be at the meeting the next day to go over what he saw. This is why it's so funny...there would be no meeting the next day. So Andrew, the corporate inspector, came over to our house to shoot the breeze and talk about the inspections for a couple hours, then decided he'd drive up to Edmonton to do some more inspections up there, since he didn't need to stay for our daily meeting in the morning. Richard explained the whole situation to him, and he didn't exactly approve, but he's high enough up in the corporate ladder that he kind of agrees with whatever the reps do to get the job done so the company will keep functioning. Which I understand, but I wish he'd been a little more on our side on the issue.

Anyway by now it's pretty late. Richard got an emergency call from a couple customers who needed immediate help with their systems, and he still hadn't gotten that equipment he needed. He headed out around 5 to take care of those last-minute errands. The girls and I were making rolls and watching kids, waiting to hear from Richard. I wasn't sure what he wanted me to pack for him. It was getting dark, so it must have been around 10 when Richard came in. I heard him park and heard him talking on the phone. He came inside and ran upstairs. He was on the phone with Fraser, one of the assistant managers. As he walked into our room he said to Fraser while looking me in the eye, "Well Fraser, I'm sorry but you're not getting your Vista. Graham just fired me for the third time."