All Business

The ride was for Wong at the Norfolk Sheraton at Waterside. When I pulled through the circle at the front entrance, I spotted him right away.

He and his friend, both Asian, were in sharp suits with no ties. They were pulling luggage. Obviously heading to the airport. Both were on the phone. Wong gave me an index finger and the reverse nod that says, “Yo, dude. I’m your man over here.”

I popped the trunk. They loaded up and got in the back. One held an iPhone to his ear. The other carried his and spoke through white in-ear headphones. The conversations were clearly important and absorbing. I turned down the smooth jazz playing on the radio.

Both guys were young–late twenties or early thirties. Both had voices too deep for their slender frames. Great hair. Sunglasses.

Their only audible word to me that trip was, United, when I asked them what airline they were flying. Their separate conversations, interrupted by long listening pauses, wove in and out, interrupting each other, surprisingly, only occasionally:

“Right. Look, I am willing to stomach the changes to the contract but only if…”

“Of course. That’s what I told the board. They said it’s a go…”

“I see that. And I understand you’re just the messenger here. The whole thing’s a sh–storm, but that’s not your fault. I am willing to stomach the changes–which, in my opinion, are not in the best interest of the company, if…”

“Right. Right. But we have to replace him and that’s going to take six months. Two months to find him. Two to train him and get him up to speed. At least. Two months just to get his feet wet…”

“Look. I can stomach all that, but only if I am given full discretion–100% discretion in investing the twenty-million. No. Twenty million…”

“Right. So projections aren’t where they need to be. If we don’t hit our quarterly numbers we’re f–ed.”

“…capital investment opportunity…”

“…in line with our mission…”

“…have our lawyers look at it…”

“…that’s why she stepped down from the board…”

It was laughably, stereotypically corporate, but urgent and intense. If these guys weren’t moving and shaking, they sure put on a convincing performance.

It was just too generic. I couldn’t tell if they were bankers, lawyers, or salesmen. Is this military contracting? Hedge fund management? Mergers and acquisitions? I was so curious.

But they dragged their bags into the terminal mid-sentence with nothing but a mouthed “Thanks.”

And no tip.



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