Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I know who this is

Cryptic story in today's Tom Taylor NOW column. I didn't submit it--I never heard this story about the receptionist--but I knew immediately who it was about...

A NOW reader says “Please don’t use either the market or my name, but Monday’s ‘You Can’t Make This Up’ story about the so-called ‘Combustible Boss’ reminds me of a now-dead major-market GM. He was known to be a real bad guy. No one really wanted to work for him, but it came with the job territory. He was so ill-tempered that when you walked in the hallway near his corner office, you lowered your tone of voice so he wouldn't know you were there. One day I was in with him for a review, and with his door open to where his receptionist sat, he referred to her as a – well, a really disrespectful four-letter word for a woman, preceded by a seven-letter gerund. (That’s a noun made out of a verb, by adding ‘ing’ to the end, if you don’t remember your English grammar.) This GM didn’t care if she heard him, and it was disgusting. Eventually, he retired and moved to Florida. As fate would have it, soon afterward he suffered a heart attack and died. A memorial service was held for him back in the market where we all worked for him, and I was surprised that as many as two dozen people showed up. The joke was, they just wanted to make sure the SOB was really dead.”

I have my own story about him. He took me out to lunch at a fancy restaurant once to thank me for all I'd done for him (I produced a show on his radio station). He was in the midst of telling me what a pussycat he really was--"don't believe the stories you've heard, I can be a very nice and charming man, my door is always open"--when the food arrived. He took one bite, slammed down the fork and screamed at the waiter at the top of his lungs. "You brought me cold food! Take it back!" I thought the timing of the outburst was so funny, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. He did not laugh with me. I used that real life scene in my novel $everance. Reality can be funnier than fiction. I used one more quote from him in the book too. He used to say "I'll never stab you in the back...Because I like to stab people in the front." I wrote a parody song for him at his farewell party and I used that line and he LOVED it.

Maybe it's just time smoothing over the rough edges (like the time he grabbed me by the shirt and dragged me out of the studio during the show), but I actually have some fond memories of the guy. I think he even liked me.