"Sorry we're late," said Allison, sitting down. "The sitter was late, and Andy couldn't find his phone."
"Yeah, I left the goshdarn thing in my car," said Andy. He and Allison chuckled at his absent-mindedness.
"No problem," mumbled Claire, well into her third glass of wine.
"Don't you think you've had enough," said Bender, reaching for Claire's glass. She jerked away.
"I'm fine!" She took another sip. "I just had a pretty stressful day at work."
"How's work going, Claire?" asked Allison.
"S'fine," said Claire. "We're putting together a defense for our client the chem manufacturer against some whiny farmers who say our fertilizer is poisoning their drinking water, or some crap."
"I thought they were going to settle that," said Bender.
"Since when do you care about my work?!"
"You told me the client was going to settle for a couple mil just to make the problem go away. Now they want to fight?"
"Yeah, they got some new hotshot CEO who decided to take a stand against nuisance lawsuits. He's more worried about his bonus, because his $7 million salary isn't enough. Stupid schmuck'll be tossed by the board before next Christmas."
Andy glanced nervously at Bender, "How's work going for you, buddy?"
Bender ran his hands carefully through his slicked-back hair. "Well, thanks to Obama and that damn Dodd-Frank law, we got government regulators crawling all over the place. I was on a conference call with Barclays Bank in London all morning, trying to work out this big project—"
"I don't think everyone wants to hear about the life of an investment banker. Dear." said Claire.
"Didn't realize the life of a corporate attorney was more compelling."
"Andy got a promotion last week," said Allison, breaking the tension.
"Oh yeah? What are you now, senior VP?" asked Bender.
Andy chuckled. "Oh no, nothing so grand. I'm the district sales manager for my seed company. I cover the whole state, plus part of Iowa."
A waitress stopped at their table. "Can I get anyone another drink?"
"Yeah, honey, I'll take another Johnny Walker Black. This time, make it a double. And she'll have another." Bender pointed at his wife who gulped the last of her wine.
"Diet Coke for me, please," said Allison.
"For me too, please," said Andy.
"Where's Brian?" asked Allison.
"Right here," said a voice behind them. "Sorry, guys. We had a big problem at work. We're launching an upgrade for our privacy app, and two of my developers were arguing over some user interface issues. I had to soothe a couple of fragile egos and had to promise them week-long cruises if they got everything fixed in time for the launch party in L.A. next week."
"Really? You just hand out cruises to your staff like that?" asked Bender.
"Oh sure. Product launches are always a hairy time because everyone's working 16, 18 hour days. In fact, when we're done here, I'm heading back to make sure they haven't killed each other."
"Oh my," said Allison. "Is it serious? In my Sunday School class, they'd get a time out."
"No, it's fine. Some of these code monkeys can be a little territorial. By the time we finished, they were turning on the juice again."
"Well, that's good. It's always nice when everyone gets along."
"Hey, you'll never guess who I saw today," said Brian. "I stopped at the Starbucks near my office and Vernon was sitting at his usual table with Carl, grousing on about 'kids these days.' He saw me get out of my car and said, 'I guess there really is money in being the brain.'"
"Which car were you driving?" asked Claire.
"The Ferrari. I had a meeting downtown, and I don't like taking the Hummer into the city."
"Gee, I wish I had that problem," said Andy. He and Allison laughed. "We could take the family to church in style, instead of Allison's minivan."
"Andy, I keep telling you, I'd love to have you come work for me," said Brian. "We're doing some great, exciting stuff, and I think you'd be perfect as the sales manager for our educational sales line. We'll have an open slot at the end of Q4."
"Oh, I don't know," said Andy. "I enjoy what I'm doing. Seed sales is really exciting. I get to be outdoors, visit customers around the state—"
"And Iowa," added Allison.
"Plus it's not so stressful. Your business really sounds stressful."
"It's not that bad," said Brian. "We've got the break room with air hockey, an Xbox and Playstation 3, and two refrigerators filled with Red Bull. We bring in a chair masseuse every week. Plus, if things get too bad, we'll send you and Allison on a cruise."
"Oh, at least think about it, Andy," said Allison.
"Alright, let's have lunch next week, and we'll discuss it," said Andy. Claire scrambled out of her chair and lurched toward the bathroom.
"Chicks cannot hold their wine," said Bender, holding his hand up for a high-five. "Am I right, Brian?"
The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and my other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.
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