I’m a huge believer in the power of happy hour. It’s my fuel. It’s my lifeblood. I don’t go hard 5, maybe 6 days a week in the office to not have one weeknight where I tear it up with the handful of people at my office I enjoy.
Now, I’m not that dude in the office that buys round upon round of shots so everyone knows he parties — I’m the dude in the office that buys round upon round of shots because he has a borderline alcohol problem. At least I admit it. Now, this story begins, and ends, at one little dive bar about two blocks from my office. And for the record, this is not the same office where I did cocaine with my boss.
My office does happy hour right. When we go, the entire place shuts down at 5, and barring client emergency, no work will be done after that time. We all arrived at the bar at the same time. It’s a satellite office with about twenty employees, so it’s not hard to get everyone on the same page.
When I threw back my first beer, daddy was hungry. Those first few on an empty stomach really have a way of making or breaking the evening. You’re either going to end up drowsy and miserable like a little bitch, or hammered like a boss telling great stories and breaking hearts. I ordered chicken strips after beer number three, but it was damn near 45 minutes before I stuffed my face with them.
In the mean time, my table was filled with a mixture of work friends, and real friends I work with. There’s a difference. I feel comfortable listening, and occasionally chiming in, on random tidbits of office gossip. On this particular day, my office was on fire with the very recent departure of a very senior project manager who left out of fucking nowhere to relocate with a rival company. I had worked under this guy on a few occasions, and I couldn’t stand him. He was arrogant, condescending, and refused to give feedback after rejecting my ideas. He was basically me, but with a better title and salary.
We danced around his departure for a while, because everyone wants to avoid talking about work during the first hour of happy hour. It’s an unwritten rule that someone always ends up blatantly violating, and on this particular night, it was me. Oops. “So, how hard to you think they money-whipped Paul to get him to jump ship?” I blurted out during an awkward lull in the conversation. Everyone nervously laughed, but no one had the spine to take a guess. Cowards. All of them.
“Did he not give a fuck about his non-compete? You can enforce those now.” I was rolling with no regard for human life. At that point, I think I had made the official switch to vodka sodas, and I was circling the drain. We were talking about work, dammit. “I can’t believe he’d do that to the company,” my work friend April idiotically commented. You see, April was completely full of shit. She absolutely could believer that Paul would buttfuck the company. Paul was an asshole, and we all knew it. Nobody had the balls to admit it, though, because Paul was a power player.
To diffuse the awkwardness he was feeling, Jake, my real friend that I work with, decided to take one for the team and turn into shot guy. Best part about was that he didn’t even ask who wanted one. He just showed up at the table with six shots, which is the way it’s supposed to be done. I loved the move. Others didn’t.
“No way I’m taking a tequila shot. Is that Azteca?” April loudly, and obnoxiously, declared. Jake, being the chill dude that he is fired back, “Come on. It’s Cazadores.” I knew that it wasn’t, because Jake is a cheap prick like me. That’s why we get along so well. Everyone but April threw a shot back with no problem. I didn’t realize it at the time, but our little shot taking adventure had attracted the attention of others in the company. Most importantly, we captured the attention of our office director, Dennis.
Once we all recovered from the bottom tier tequila shot, I looked down and noticed April’s shot just sitting there eye-fucking the shit out of me. I reached down, grabbed it, held it up, and loudly declared, “To Paul, that disloyal fuck!” I threw that thing back with more swag than Patrick Reed in matchplay. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Let’s talk about what happened with Paul.”
It was Dennis, and he heard and saw everything. Fuck. He and Paul were boys, although I always got the vibe that Paul thought he could do Dennis’s job better than him. He may have been right, and that’s probably why he left.
He led me to the bar where he gave me the rundown on Paul’s departure, as if I hadn’t gotten the details from his secretary who I’m about 60% sure wants me to make a move on her. Then he asked me the question that would change my young, and somewhat professional career: “What do you think Paul could have done better?”
I had no idea why he cared what I thought, but I was fairly hammered and knew I could land a job in the event I got canned for giving a less than PC response. So, I told him. I told him what I thought about every way in which Paul rubbed me the wrong way, and I let it spill. I told him that the only reason I didn’t speak up was that Paul’s way clearly worked well, and I didn’t want to stand in the way of productivity. I had no idea how he felt about it. He just sat there sipping his scotch and nodding.
And that was that.
After our one sided heart-to-heart, I called it a night. He never offered to buy me another drink, so I figured he thought that I had enough. To be fair, he was right.
The next day was Friday, and because he’s the boss, he was only in the office for an hour before he rolled out to play golf. I made it through that day without receiving a termination notice, although I did receive some concerned Gchats from work friends who thought I for sure was getting reprimanded for talking about the Paul thing.
That weekend, I did my usual stay in “Friday but go hard as hell on Saturday” thing. When Sunday rolled around, I flipped on the noon game and laid there, struggling to cling to life. The Sunday Scaries set in very early. My phone rang. It was Dennis. Dennis never called me on the weekend. I considered not answering considering the state I was in.
I answered. We talked for 20 minutes or so about my performance, and about our conversation at happy hour. He dropped the bomb: “I’d like you to grow into Paul’s old role. If you’re interested, I’d like to make you a senior project manager.” Turns out, my honesty + complete off the cuff bullshit combo was exactly what Dennis was looking for. Maybe he was desperate (I’d been out of school less than five years). Maybe he was scared Paul was going to take our young talent with him. Who knows? All I know is that I nearly maxed out at happy hour and somehow parlayed that into a promotion.
Miracles do happen. .
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