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01/01 Direct Link

Why am I telling you this?

Because he’d want me to, he was kind of a narcissist. A lot of people say he was an altruist, or something, but I don’t think so. I knew him.

Maybe he did a lot of good for some people, but don’t bee fooled for a second into thinking he did it for them. No, he got off on being the best at things. So if he couldn’t be the best at fucking people over, he was going to be the best at helping them out.

Besides, I’ve seen what’s in it for me. 

01/02 Direct Link

Normally I’d start a story from the beginning, but I wasn’t around for that part. So I’ll start it where I first came in, when I first realized something was going on beyond what we were getting paid to do.

Brian was never crazy about telling people what he actually wanted, much less directly asking for it, especially if it wasn’t something that fell in line with his actual job. Maybe it seemed to risky for him, or maybe he just new better.

No, he’d convince someone else to ask instead.

And that’s when I first caught on to everything. 

01/03 Direct Link

I remember Aaron politely looking into my office, nodding his head and shutting the door.

It was a pointless exercise because that door was never soundproof and Brian knew it. But that didn’t stop him from letting a lot of people like Aaron think it was. In fact, I’m quite sure he did it on purpose, so I’d hear everything. He was too careful to allow it otherwise.

Anyway, shortly after Aaron closed the door I could hear him spouting a lot of really bad ideas. It was stuff that didn’t make any sense, especially coming from him.

But why?

01/04 Direct Link

So I should probably back up a bit, and explain who Aaron was, in relation to the company anyway.

He wasn’t much of anything special, just the manager of another department. He was in charge the Quality Control department, which was less ambiguous than what we were doing at the time. Something more concrete, and with an actual set of expectations.

Although their relationship was amicable, I knew that Brian didn’t like how Aaron treated the people who worked for him. He was kind of a bus driver, if you know what I mean.

And Brian didn’t really like that. 

01/05 Direct Link

So when Aaron politely smiled at me before closing the door that day, I didn’t think too much of it. Fuck that guy anyway; he’d thrown me under the bus a lot of times.

But then there it was, a brief moment of me thinking, he didn’t just say that, did he?

“Well.” Brian replied, fishing for more. 

“I mean you get it, I’m not off on this right?” Asked Aaron, looking for some reassurance.

 “No. No, it makes sense.” Brian started. “I just hadn’t really put much thought into it.”

 “Alright, good. I just don’t want to go overboard.”

01/06 Direct Link

At the time, I couldn’t imagine why Brian would encourage Aaron to go to the owner with that. It just seemed so obviously dumb.

But, over the next few weeks, the started to sink in as Aaron’s department came under increasing scrutiny. And then, all at once, it hit.

“So, Ernesto, I wanted to be the first to tell you.” Started Brian, as he walked into my office.

“We’re going to be merging with the QC department next week.”

His smile was almost imperceptible, but I knew it then. He had totally set Aaron up, and then took his department. 

01/07 Direct Link

So, before I go much further, I should probably tell you what it was that Brian wanted Aaron to ask for, and maybe how he had him ask.

What Brian really wanted, what he was having Aaron ask for, was to have Aaron fired.

But, why would someone ask to get fired?

Well, they wouldn’t, not directly anyway and Brian knew that. So he had him ask for something he would never get. And when he didn’t get it, Brian turned Aaron into an intolerable menace to senior management. By that time, they had no choice.

Aaron needed to go. 

01/08 Direct Link

“Listen guys, I don’t really like doing this, hell I hate doing this type of stuff.” Brian said, as he had them sitting in his office.

“But, there really isn’t a way around it. I unfortunately have to let both of you go.”

 “But can’t there be like a two week notice or something?” Asked roger dejectedly. 

“I don’t think so,” replied Aaron, “not I’ve been told anyway.” 

And with that the three of them walked out of the office and headed to Human Resources. 

Having Aaron out of the way, Brian was able to let Roger and Jordan go. 

01/09 Direct Link

Roger and Jordan weren’t the only people on Brian’s agenda either. Following the restructure of the departments Brian made a whole bunch of changes, and some of them didn’t seem to make any sense to me, at the time at least.

People always questioned Brian’s actions, but he maintained that it was just math.   

One thing was clear though; the company didn’t go as far as firing Aaron for his misstep. No, they moved him over into some unimportant lateral position. He didn’t show it, but Brian was definitely a little bit irritated at still having to deal with Aaron.

01/10 Direct Link

Shortly afterwards, I remember there being an incident at a remote site. And like always, people wanted to talk to Brian about it, not that he was involved, but just because he was him.

One of those people was Craig, Brian’s boss. Someone Brian didn’t consider a liability, at the time anyway. Pretty sure Brain was the one who convinced me to start looking at people as liabilities anyway.

Either way, Craig was in there looking for advice, because Craig was also in charge of safety and needed to do something.

Brian had an idea, but not one I expected. 

01/11 Direct Link

“The other day,” I started, obviously unsure of my self.

“Yea?” Brian asked, prodding me to continue.

“When you were talking to Craig about moving Robert over into the Safety Department.”

Pausing for a second, and I could tell he was carefully looking for a response. He knew that I overheard a lot of conversations, but we’ve never acknowledged it. I think he liked the deniability.

“Oh that, must’ve forgot to pull the door closed.” He replied cautiously.

“Yea, probably. Anyway, why’d you suggest Robert, one of your best guys?

“Maybe, but they don’t need another white guy in management.”

01/12 Direct Link

Even after he told me why he volunteered for give up his best guy to another department I didn’t get it.

Obviously it was a pretty simple response, but was not having another white guy in management that important? I didn’t know that was a thing until then, especially not one Brian paid attention to.

But, he was definitely right. For such a diverse company, management was pretty pale.

It was a little less pale now though.

Although I don’t think Brian ever officially told Craig that he wanted Robert in that position, he definitely let him onto that direction. 

01/13 Direct Link

“Hey, have you heard the rumors about me moving into the Safety Department?” Robert asked.

“No, not yet.” Replied Brian, “where’d that come up?” he asked surprised.

“A few days after that shit happened off site,” he started, “I was pretty sure some stuff was going to change, and then someone threw it out there. Just like that, and even said it was your idea.”

Brian leaned back in his chair, like he always did before trying to avoid the truth.

“Weird, first I’m hearing of it. Is that something you’d want to do?”

“Honestly. Yea it is.” Replied Robert. 

01/14 Direct Link

Although the idea was planted in Craig’s mind quickly, the actual movement of Robert was a little bit slower.

Brian always had this thing where he wanted stuff to appear organic, like the earth moving. He never wanted his unofficial plans to be obvious, or worse, to be credited to him. This worked, because with all of his official plans he worked lightning quick.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone would ever credit him with slow moving plans. So Robert’s slow transition was perfect, and completely deniable.

And in due time, Robert moved over and Brian Trained up his replacement, Sandra.

01/15 Direct Link

“Ernesto!” he yelled, as I quickly swung around the corner and into his office.

“Yea?” I asked, blankly.

“Hey, is it alright if I disappear into my office for a while?” Brian asked, looking at me with the same guilty face I’ve seen every time he ignores all other responsibilities in order to finish a project.

“Umm, isn’t that for you to decide?”

“Well, but really though? Am I missing something, are we going to get yelled at if I focus on something else for a bit?” He asked.

“Not at all, we’re good.” I replied, knowing what was needed
01/16 Direct Link

I had worked with Brian for a few years at the time, and knew well what to expect from him disappearing into his office.

When it came to ideas, he was an obsessive and would work at something day and night. If it was in his head, he didn’t stop until it was done. But I also knew that his obsessions generally resulted in some drastic, yet overwhelmingly good, change.

This one was no different, and with him now running a new department I had figured it was going to happen 

So I played my part and covered for him. 

01/17 Direct Link

It wasn’t long after he disappeared into his office that I started seeing signs of what he was working on. Again, he didn’t invent a whole new process for Quality Control, but he did change it quite a bit. 

Honestly, it was more like branding it and turning the whole thing into something people wanted to do. Which, if I’ve learned anything from him, is the key to making something stick.

Hell, it even sounded cool when he presented it to the company as a new program.

And even though the numbers didn’t add up at first, people were engaged. 

01/18 Direct Link

I remember John, the owner, walking into Brian’s office at some point after the introduction of the new system.

“How’s it going John?” Brian asked as he got up from his desk and closed the door between the offices.

And once the platitudes fell away the two started talking about the program.

“It makes sense, but I don’t think we’re ready to do that yet.” John said, objecting to Brian’s proposal to consult QC services to other companies.

“Fair enough. Like I said, it was an idea.” Brian replied.

“Just be patient, take care of our company first.” Finished John.

 

01/19 Direct Link

With the proposition of consulting through the company off the table, Brian was kind of free to actually pursue the idea, ironically. Of course it was all work done unofficially, and most of it was simply research, at least in the beginning anyway. 

I don’t know how many places he visited, but I do know that he was pretending to be either a student or intern, because I just happened to see mail addressed to a potential student candidate, Mr. Younger.

It’s amazing what companies will tell someone they don’t feel threatened by.

And that’s how he did his research. 

01/20 Direct Link

In researching, Brian kind of let his guard down in regards to his actual job description. In as much as he ever let his guard down anyway. And it was around then that Aaron crawled back into the picture, doing an audit of his old department. One of the concessions made during the restructuring.

“What are you doing about the PCR’s Brian?” Asked, Craig obviously irritated.

“Sandra’s working on that, but honestly I’ve really focused more on getting the process going before making sure people do it one-hundred percent.” Replied Brian.

“I don’t know, maybe refocus a bit.” Said Craig. 

01/21 Direct Link

The shit with Aaron didn’t last, and hardly distracted Brian from his project.

 After finding the information he was looking for, he set about a very effective two-part plan. First he established a working group of other QC managers, if he couldn’t consult to them we could certainly collaborate with them. And then he got himself in front of the Standards Association, essentially enacting mandates to do it his way.

 But by then, every other company knew he was the guy and that his system worked.

 Of course they’d just want to go to him directly for help.

 Why not?

01/22 Direct Link

“It’s really more of a quality table.” Brian said as he turned out of the parking lot. 

“Ha, yea you’re right.” I replied, agreeing with his joke.

“But really though, the meetings are kinda pointless.” He said, while driving down the road.

I turned to him, and noticed that he was waiting for a reply, so I countered with, “ Well, it sounded good and you got all of those people talking.”

He nodded his head and said “True, but it’s still all pointless unless we do something about it,” and then smiled as he looked into the sun squinting. 

01/23 Direct Link

Doing something, even if it’s outside of his job description, is what he did.

 That’s what he always did.

Honestly, I agreed too. He got them all riled up at the meeting, and it showed. Over the next few months we started getting a lot of calls asking for advice, for help setting up better Quality Control Programs.

And that’s really how it all started, people asking for help.

Sure he could’ve said it was for the company, but I knew there was more to it than that.

He was too pragmatic to keep that up just for the company.

 

01/24 Direct Link

“Man, it’s been a pretty busy month Ernesto,” Brian said as he basically fell down into the chair across the room from my desk.

“That’s true,” I replied.

“Do you think we’re winning?” He asked.

“Well, what do you mean,” I said. “Um, no yea. We are definitely winning.” I finished, upon thinking about it more.

“Yea, me too. And I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of work out there for this type of stuff.” He said, clicking his pen rapidly.

He always did that when he was about to say, or do, something that he couldn’t take back. 

01/25 Direct Link

And sure enough, John was in Brian’s office a week later.

“But that’s just my point John,” Brian continued. “You’re supporting an entire QC department right now, and that’s good. But, I’m pretty sure that I’d be able get you the same benefit at less cost if you decide to do it that way.”

“Obviously there’s no guarantee here, I mean it makes sense in a way, but we’ll have to see how it works out.” John finished, hiding behind deniability.

 “Fair enough,” Brian replied.

“Are you sure about this?”

“Absolutely. It’s been good to work here, I mean that.”

01/26 Direct Link

It wasn’t long after that meeting that Brian started Aim, a small QC firm that used the methods he developed at San Andreas.

Of course he didn’t go off on his own though, he did bring along some of us from the department to help him get things going in the right direction. Maybe you’d say it was a slow beginning, but whatever he said during those regional meetings seemed to stick with some people.

Within several months we were beginning to take on contracting work through many of the contacts made over the previous year, and even from John. 

01/27 Direct Link

“Ernesto!” Brian yelled as he walked into his new office, which was adjacent to my office and almost identical to the last setup.

“Yea,” I replied.

Throwing his backpack on the floor behind his desk, he walked over into my office.

“Are we winning today?” He asked, dropping into the chair I kept across the office.

“I sure as hell hope so,” I started. “You’ve got that meeting setup with everyone this afternoon and it’s been about six months.”

“True, I’m sure we’ll be alright. Besides, you heard that the state is going to adopt the program we want, right?”

01/28 Direct Link

The conference room at Aim wasn’t very big, and aside from smart-board on the wall, it was plain.

 By noon everyone had gathered in the conference room. There was a nervous feel to the crowd, and I don’t think most of them knew what to expect. I did, but that’s because I wrote the script for the whole thing.

 I didn’t bother anyone with the details though, because they’d find out soon enough anyway.

 The state had decided to adopt our QC program for all of their fleet vehicles, and we were the only company around that could meet it. 

01/29 Direct Link

It wasn’t long before we were busier than we could reasonably manage with our original crew. And that’s something that anyone could’ve predicted, given that we were holding the key to any new QC programs at state facilities or state contractors.

Within the first year of operating as an independent business the Aim Corporation was so backlogged with contracts and requests for programs that it would be impossible to keep up. At first we attempted to hire more people, but found that we couldn’t train them fast enough. Then Brian came up with a second idea to resolve the problem. 

01/30 Direct Link

“What do you mean we’re going to certify other companies to set up QC programs?” I asked, confusedly.

“I mean exactly that.” Replied Brian.

“But wouldn’t that mean more competition.” I said before pausing.

“Maybe, but think about fish for a minute Ernesto. If you sell someone a fish he’ll pay you for one fish, but if you teach someone else how to fish for profit you can charge them double for the opportunity without even needing to catch a fish. I know it seems counter intuitive, but it’ll work.“

And with that he sat down and explained the plan.  

01/31 Direct Link

Brian was right, training for certification was much more profitable than setting up new programs. And if his goal was to actually improve QC programs throughout the region, it was much more effective too.

But he had another agenda, which landed on my desk a few months later.

“What do you mean you quit?” I asked, outraged.

“I mean, I quit.” Brian replied.

“But why?”

“Well, I’m just another white guy in charge of a company that doesn’t need another white guy in charge,” he said pausing. “Besides, you’d be better at this than me anyway.”

And then he left.