This book was inspired by personal experiences while working with Caroline
The scam in the funny crime caper, RIPOFF didn't really happen because it is definitely fiction, but for four years Caroline and I worked for a marketing company that handled the sales and marketing for the real entity that manufactures furniture in federal prisons. We’ve been inside prison factories and know how the whole system works. Our plot, created from our active imaginations, was based upon what we knew. Anyone who has worked for the government or military contracting will probably chuckle at some of the situations, knowing that even if they aren’t real, they could have been. Check out Andrew DiDonato’s blurb in the beginning.
The company we worked for was an independent contractor, not part of the government as in RIPOFF, but in real life we coordinated with government staff, inmates, the contracted space design company and handled jobs all over our territories. I’ll be writing more about the real experience of doing this as time goes on . We were on this crazy treadmill for four years. I eventually quit because I was so stressed out my blood pressure shot into the stratosphere. Not from dealing with the inmates, but from dealing with our boss. Again, more about that as time goes on. I never went back into the business of working with office interiors projects, but became a full-time author instead. The real slap in the face was when Caroline was fired by email a few months later after four years of dedicated service. The explanation: “We’ve decided to go another way.” What way did this marketing company go? Bankrupt!
Our employer was based in Virginia and had no idea of what doing business on the West Coast or Pacific Northwest was like. They were used to everything being in close proximity. In our territories it was a whole different ballgame. For example, if one hits the freeway out of L.A. at 5:00 in the afternoon, it looks like a parking lot. Picture it. You might have to drive 80 miles to an appointment without possibility of another client along the way.
One time I was so fed up with being chastised because I didn’t want to drive long distances to present a small proposal in person (one the client would rather receive by email) and my VP of Sales was coming into town to travel with me for a few days. I’d had it. The week before a proposal totaling over $1 Million sat on my desk while I was forced to take a full day to drive of over 100 miles each way to Edwards AFB to present a $500 proposal. Right then and there I’d decided to get even and I had the perfect opportunity.
The sales manager, who was a piece of work in himself, was in L.A. for an office furniture show. I suggested he come with me to Edwards to make a PR call. I made sure we didn’t leave the Convention Center until 5:00 so traffic would be at it’s peak. Almost three hours later we made it to Lancaster, where we checked into the closest decent hotel near the base. I told him we had to leave at 7:30 the next morning to make a 9:00 appointment. He couldn’t figure out why, but I knew what would happen.
We drove several miles to the entrance to the base and checked in at security. As always it took at least half an hour to check in. He said, “See, we’ve still got time to spare, so we left too early.”
My reply, “Oh, you think so. We’ve got at least another fifteen to twenty minutes of driving to get to our appointment. This is a big base. We’re only at the entrance. There are miles and miles left to drive.”
There were a few ways to get to the building where our appointment was to be held, and I’ll admit I did take the longest way. Sure enough twenty minutes later we arrived at the building and weren’t greeted cordially. I also knew that would happen. We had messed up delivery and installation of a $2,000,000 job on that base a few months before. To make matters worse, it was a new building for the worst department possible for that kind of mess–Finance and Contracting. The people who contracted for furniture sales and controlled the money. After that happened, despite the fact they didn’t want to do business with us in the first place but had to because it was mandated, I’d gone from being welcome to becoming a pariah. My friends on base had explained that it didn’t have anything to do with me personally. They knew I did everything possible to give them great service and they liked me, but I’d been put on notice that they would now avoid doing future business with every ploy they could use. So, I waltzed this arrogant VP of Sales into that hostile atmosphere and sat there giggling to myself while he got a rude cold shoulder.
Hey, Mike R., if you or anyone who knows you reads this, yes…I did set you up and loved every minute of it. It worked. I didn’t get pressured to drive there again to present small proposals for the rest of the time I was with the company.