Bob Dawson loved all sports, but saw real marketing potential in golf and sailboat racing. If I joined him, I’d be director of communications. Two hour commute one-way, minor salary increase, but I’d never be a junior business reporter again.
Needing salespeople, Bob gave me a bonus for finding Jason, my neighbor in Yonkers. Within a week, Jason and I took the train together to Westport where Big Bob worked and lived.
It didn’t take long to realize the business was barely hanging on. Bob raged through the office, elated or furious, depending upon whether he could make payroll without spending his own funds.
But if the business was going under, Jason would know it, working in sales. I pestered him about this, because my wife was pregnant, and I needed a job with healthcare. But he laughed at my worries. “Everything’s copasetic, man.”
By now, Jason was wearing the same brand-name clothes Bob did. He used the same barber, saw the same doctor, and bet on the same games. Jason drank Bob’s favorite martini and had adopted the same retro lingo. Perhaps mimicry was de rigueur in sales.
Or, perhaps for Jason, the saddle shoes, clubby suspenders, and soft-colored ties dispelled insecurity. People often believe what they wish and Jason believed whatever Bob told him.
Business remained flat. But that didn’t stop Jason from joining Bob’s church. He bought a new Camry to attend Sunday services, an expenditure that shortened our commute and allowed me more time to act busy.
Meanwhile, Jason and Bob played golf and ran in Westport’s 5Ks in which Jason came close enough for fun without ever beating Bob.
I interviewed elsewhere whenever possible. One corporate position looked definite until I arrived to sign the contract—and learned that hiring me was an ousted executive’s parting gesture.
The day after my son was born, I returned to work. And in that brief interval—Bob decided to sell his home. Jason explained that Bob planned to move to LA where he knew people. “People he’s got real dirt on.”
Friday afternoon Bob drove me to a strip club. I braced for bad news, which it was, just not what I expected. “Fire Jason.”
Mouth full of bile, I knocked on Jason’s cubicle frame, indicating we go to a meeting room. I flicked on the lights and Jason half sat, leaped to his feet, and held up his hands. “No, don’t. Don’t do it.”
“But I can keep my office till I get something else.”
“You gotta leave now, Bob said.”
Jason sank against the closed door, head flopping sideways. “Traitor.”