You know, I donít get out much. I donít have friends who ask me to go to dinner with them, and if they did Iíd probably say no and they wouldnít be my friends any more. This is not a problem, and if it were a problem, it would be my problem and I wouldnít be here complaining about it. Iím not complaining now, in fact. Iím just saying.
However, there are circumstances under which ďnoĒ is the wrong response. When the Bossís son asks if I want to have dinner with him tonight, and I have no good reason why I canít, Iím pretty much in the position of having to say yes, especially since heís the one who is driving a hundred miles to get to my town to give me a Christmas present (that the company paid for, but thatís neither here nor there).
So anyway, thatís how I found myself at the local steak house tonight, sitting across the table from Tim. He was in a good mood, teasing the waitress and talking about his childhood. We both grew up in and around this town (about fifteen years apart), so we knew some of the same hangouts and traditions. That part was fun.
He told me about his neighbors and his girlfriend and his relationship with his little nieces and nephews, and for once I could see him as a real person. Thatís a lot easier face to face than when you only talk to someone over the phone.
What wasnít so much fun was when he started talking about business, and I knew this was coming (and I knew this was the real reason he wanted to have dinner with me). He and the Boss have some disagreements about how certain business practices are (a) conducted and (2) accounted for, and he has some ideas about how heíd like things to change.
The Boss has been resisting these ideas, and Tim was lobbying me to spread a little of my personal sunshine on them so that the Boss would be more receptive. Sometimes, in other words, the Boss will listen to me before heíll listen to Tim. Even when I donít know what Iím talking about.
I didnít make any commitments or promises, other than to think about what he was telling me. I did make the suggestion that he and the Boss sit down with the accountant and see if these ideas are (a) legal and (2) worth the trouble. If theyíll save us more money than theyíll cost us, Iím all for it. Iím just not convinced that they will.
Still, it was a pleasant evening out, the kind I donít get to enjoy very often. And I didnít have to take my wallet out of my pocket, because everything was on him. Which means the company was paying. Which means Iíll end up writing the check when the bill comes in. But thatís okay. It was a great meal, and the sautťed mushrooms were magnificent.