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Best Of 2022 - Making Sure My Boss Didn't Have Cocaine on His Nose During Sales Meetings Was Part of My Job...

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I was a salesman in the garment business for a few years in the late '70s-early '80s, working out of a showroom on the twentieth floor of a building in New York City on 131 W 33rd. The high-end clothing company had recently been sold to an extremely wealthy businessman and philanthropist, and he had very little tolerance for employees who didn't pull their weight. 

Stan was my first boss, and although he'd worked there for ten years, when his sales figures dropped considerably, he was immediately fired. He was a boring fuck anyway; all he ever talked about was his lame tennis elbow.

Mike was hired to replace him as lead salesman and merchandiser in the preteen girls' division where I worked. He handled the big department stores like Macy's, Gimbels, and Lord and Taylor, and I was responsible for all the smaller mom-and-pop stores. But, my real function was being his assistant and making sure he didn't fuck up or get too fucked up…

The first time I met him, I could tell by his eyes he was a crazy bastard times three. Mike was in his late 40s at the time, stood five foot eight, and weighed close to 200 lbs with thinning hair, a wrinkled forehead, and dark bags under his eyes. He drank, smoked, snorted coke, chased skirt, and indulged in a very unhealthy diet that did nothing to put a halt to his rising blood pressure. I called him the vice squad. He was incredibly animated and funny, most times at other people's expense.  His laugh was highly contagious, and he was never at a loss for words. He was a cross between Don Rickles and Andrew Dice Clay

Mike worked for the company years ago when it was a major player in the children's clothing market, and he was a very successful salesman and merchandiser then. His second tour of duty would take place ten years after his first one, which didn't end well, and with a new owner, he would need to stay on his toes and do his job. He told me that because of his experience he was being paid a salary of $110,000. I was only making $31,000…

Mike was horrible at scheduling and then keeping his showroom appointments, so I scheduled everything for him and made sure he was prepared to show the line. Before every market week, the company had big sales meetings, and all the merchandisers presented their division's new line to everyone in sales, all the designers, and the owner. It was a big dog 'n pony show with a catered lunch, and since Mike was in charge of the preteen division, he presented last. 

Mike was laughing and enjoying himself, but when he was on deck, he suddenly got up and made a beeline to the men's room. I figured he was a little nervous about presenting at his first sales meeting since being rehired and had to take a piss, but when he came out of the bathroom, there was enough coke on the end of his nose that I could see it from 20 feet away. I got his attention by pretending to dust off my own nose and then motioning to him to clean his, which he did, and just in the nick of time. He made a decent presentation, and no one suspected he was a cokehead… 

Every time Mike went to the men's room for a snort, he'd come out and have me do a nose check. It literally became a big part of my job description. I feared that one day he'd suffer a major heart attack and I'd have to resuscitate him, and despite not wanting to do mouth-to-mouth on his pie hole, I probably would've if it meant saving his life…

Mike carried himself like a tough guy, occasionally standing on his toes to make him appear taller, and he once tried to intimidate me by saying, "I may be old and fat, but I can still do everything today I did in my twenties…" I looked at him and just figured he must've been a fat, out-of-shape kid, but after he stared at me aggressively, I started to believe him, until he cracked a smile and finished with, "but only for an hour a day!" Then he laughed hysterically. That was Mike in a nutshell, and honestly, every day was a fucking adventure. Every one of his sentences contained a punch line, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with that crazy bastard. I was in my mid-twenties, a stranger to New York City, and I'd never met anyone like him before. 

Mike wore a decent-looking suit every day, and that camouflaged his warped sense of humor, deranged mind, and misogynistic tendencies; he usually made a good first impression. He pickled himself in breath mints and cheap cologne so no one could smell the booze or the darts. He was a typical New York City huckster and one of the best.

There was a girl from New Jersey in her late twenties who worked in the showroom across from ours, and she always flirted with us. She was a little bit on the chunky side, and, if I'm being completely honest, a little fugly, definitely what Rodney Dangerfield would've considered a two-bagger

Giphy Images.

"I knew a girl so ugly that she was known as a two-bagger. That's when you put a bag over your head in case the bag over her head breaks."- Rodney Dangerfield

But, this Jersey Girl had a decent rack, big frosted hair, and always wore short skirts, tight tops, and thick black glasses. Balancing herself on four-inch stiletto heels, she was doable, I guess, but definitely not redoable, if you know what I mean…

One day after work, while we were all waiting in the hallway for the elevator, she mentioned that she needed a ride back to Jersey… Mike was quick to respond, "Bend over, I'll drive you home!", and that was just so typical of him. Back in those days, sexual harassment in the workplace was overlooked, even tolerated, and as a result, nobody had to have any filters…

"The Diceman" definitely stole Mike's act…

Mike told me that years ago, when he had a hot clothing line, and every buyer that came to New York wanted to see it, a long line of women formed outside the showroom door. There were so many women waiting to see the line, he was able to coerce one naive, attractive young buyer into the stockroom and told her, "Remove all your clothes; I'll be right with ya…" According to him, she sat in there bare ass for 45 minutes until he knocked on the door and told her to get dressed. 

Everything Mike did, he did for the giggles and laughs, and although a lot of his shtick was offensive, those of us who worked with him were well aware of his many demons and that his comedy was his coping mechanism and wasn't intended to hurt anyone…

Mike's third market week did not go well; we fell way short of his sales projections. The owner's secretary came into our showroom first thing Monday morning to bring Mike in to see the big boss. We looked at each other with great concern, knowing both our jobs were on the line. Ten minutes later, Mike came back laughing, put on his London Fog, wrapped his wool scarf tightly around his neck, grabbed his beat-up leather briefcase, and then he looked at me and said, "It was nice working with you. Good luck!" And just like that, he was gone…

I got a $3,000 dollar raise and became the new lead salesman and merchandiser of the preteen division; they even hired a female assistant for me… Despite all that, I quit three months later and moved back to Massachusetts to work for UPS. It just wasn't the same without Mike…

In the comments, let me know if you ever worked for a crazy boss like Mike…                                                                                        

This is a phenomenal guitar cover of J.J. Cale/Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" & worth a listen…

If you got bad news,You want to kick them blues, cocaineWhen your day is doneAnd you want to run, cocaineShe don't lie,She don't lie,She don't lie, cocaine…