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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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
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
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.
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.
“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.”
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
“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.
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.
“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
“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.
I had worked with Brian for a few
years at the time, and knew well what to expect from him disappearing into his
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
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.
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.
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,
It’s amazing what companies will
tell someone they don’t feel threatened by.
And that’s how he did his research.
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.”
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.
“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
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.
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
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.
“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.
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
“Fair enough,” Brian
“Are you sure about this?”
“Absolutely. It’s been good to work here, I mean that.”
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.
“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?”
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.
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.
“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
“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
And with that he sat down and explained the plan.
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
“What do you mean you quit?” I asked, outraged.
“I mean, I quit.” Brian replied.
“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.