Copyright© 2010 by ExtrusionUK
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 8B - A long, rambling tale describing the adventures of a idealistic young man and his encounters with the corporate world - or how his bank balance improved and his social life got a lot more complex. (Chapters vary in length and sexual content)
Back to Dave
Debbie phoned as I was coming into the office, took the news with equanimity. Actually, she sounded completely laid back and I felt relieved ... maybe she'd got into the rural way of doing things a little quicker than I might have expected. Then again, I'd been there myself only a few days before and I knew that the natives were friendly, the landscape lovely, the ethos relaxed. I also knew that Debbie was a sociable young woman, at heart ... and, given what she'd been through, in need of space. So I was pleased to hear her happy, even if the news I was giving was not good.
In fact, I'd been acting on Debbie's own advice and quite assertively trying to get hold of Carla, on the basis that she was probably the only person likely to have any impact on PCW, now that they appeared to be getting seriously difficult to work with. Unfortunately, at least for my own peace of mind, I'd succeeded. After a fashion.
By which, I mean that I didn't actually get to talk to my business partner directly at all. What I did get was a series of increasingly strained interactions with various of her minions, none of whom were giving anything much away beyond the fact that Ms Bronstein was unavailable ... and would be for some time. Which annoyed me, to be honest, given that I was in the process of spending quite a large amount of her – hell, of their – money and thought that that ought to entitle me to at least an explanation if not actual access to the boss. It also left me with a feeling of tooth grinding exasperation in the face of further evidence of Carla's apparent inability to delegate ... at least at home. Hell, she seemed to be only too happy to give me space to do stuff. Or was it actually just that she'd given me enough rope?
Well, perhaps. The upshot of all my various efforts, however, was that I finally got a call from Hal ... C's fiancé and the father of her expected child ... a guy I'd never seen or talked to before. Which didn't make the conversation any easier, not least because I was sufficiently miffed by that point to take a slightly sarcastic tone when he explained who was calling ... and regretted it rapidly as he went on to brusquely explain the situation: Something had gone seriously wrong with Carla's pregnancy ... she was in hospital ... pretty much in intensive care ... the prognosis uncertain for both mother and baby. So I wouldn't be hearing from Carla any time soon, he concluded, heavily implying that any problems I might have wished to discuss were very much my own ... and rang off.
Which turn of events did not exactly enhance my self esteem ... I felt like something you'd normally scrape off the bottom of a shoe, given the way I'd responded to his call ... and didn't actually help at all in the current situation, either. And, of course, there was the minor fact that Carla was someone I very much liked – exasperating, sure, but also brilliant, lovely and (when last I'd talked to her) oh so happy to be pregnant. So add in some actual emotional turmoil to combine with the guilt and the work difficulties, mix up with feelings of responsibility for the people I worked with ... and our acute vulnerability, in the new circumstances, to whatever PCW might choose to throw at us ... and I was left a less than happy bunny.
Which state of mind, even a few months back, would have sent me straight into a pub for a consoling beer or eight, probably followed by a decision to just chuck the whole thing in. Looking back, I'd walked away from a lot of stuff in my life, in fact had set up my life more or less precisely to allow me to do just that ... avoiding long term relationships – with people, employers, banks, whatever – always keeping my expectations low and my escape routes clear. Again, in retrospect, possibly not the most adult approach to life that I could possibly have taken ... but, hey, it had worked for me ... after a fashion.
Problem was, now I had responsibilities ... opportunities ... stuff I didn't want to walk away from. Not the money – even if I did derive a slight amusement from the fact that even after so short amount of time in this job I already had enough money in the bank to sustain my normal lifestyle for a couple of years without even thinking about working. No, it was the fact that I liked working with Naz and Seff, that I wanted to get the whole Lakes thing underway – eco-survey and all – that I didn't want to fuck off Gareth (who was still working his notice from a job I'd lured him away from) and ... that I really did want to continue being around Debbie.
So I went and thought. In a pub, as it happens, but not in my normal self destruct mode. And I came up with, if not a plan, at least some positive moves to make. Of which, the first was to phone Debbie, keep her in the loop. She wasn't in when I phoned her hotel, of course, but ... action one completed. I went home, slept well and woke ... determined.
After I had talked to Debbie, I was even slightly reassured, particularly after she'd recounted the conversation she'd had with Colin-the-architect about contracts and pointed out that we'd already signed a lot of deals and if, for instance, PCW did decide to block the property purchase they'd probably be liable to be sued by the vendors ... and Colin and co. Which would, of course, be no more than small change to them ... but was at least a small point in our favour. As was, I thought, the simple fact that we weren't them: We had, IMHO, a degree of integrity and cohesion that I doubted they would either understand or value ... and somehow I thought this could be turned to our advantage. Even if I didn't quite know how.
So, when Seff and Naz got in – together – a little later on, I tried to play to our strengths by giving them an in-depth update on the new state of play, not hiding the fact that the safety net had gone and that a lot of things which we'd been treating as annoyances could now more accurately be described as threats. Nor did I pull any punches with regard to the consequences if things did go belly up. Without the corporate legitimacy that our association with (and our financial backing from) PCW gave us none of the big organisations we were currently negotiating with would look at us twice ... and it was those potential contracts that allowed us to do things like buy large buildings ... and pay five people's salaries.
What I got in response was a dose of positive thinking and a welcome – if hardly unexpected – display of solidarity. I guess it helped that both of them had left jobs they really hated to get involved with all this – and that both had also accumulated funds of their own in the process – but I also think that they'd quite enjoyed being treated with respect for a while and consequently had "buy-in" on a level rarely attained by the most proactively engaging of corporate HR departments. They cared, basically, about the stuff we had planned, about the roles they'd been given ... and about me, when you came down to it.
Which realisation I found quite surprising, at first, but not as surprising as the realisation that I actually didn't feel the need to disparage the idea. OK, they cared about me, I cared about them. Simple enough to say, perhaps, but a rare state of mind for me. File that one away for future reference, I thought.
Actually, the discussion didn't really come up with all that much. Seff gave a typically brisk review of all the things we'd done 'wrong' viz a viz our paymasters – quite a long list, seen from her experience of working within that very organisation – and we talked for a while about how we could avoid exacerbating the situation in the future. Unfortunately, perhaps, we agreed that so much of this was to do with personalities – with cultures, to be honest – and that to a large extent the damage had been done. They didn't trust us – or like us, actually – and we weren't feeling terribly well disposed towards them. More to the point, as Seff concluded, none of us actually wanted to work any differently ... maybe weren't capable of working differently ... not least because the whole idea was to enable people to develop, indeed to develop structures that enabled people to develop the structures they needed to develop.
We had to explain that one to Naz.
He, however, did raise the interesting point that although the CastList code was in the public domain – on a GPL – none of the improvements we – he - had made (and in particular the use of psychometric data in the matrices) had been released at all, giving us the option of spinning it / them off as a commercial product. Which was, indeed, interesting ... except that he promptly went on to say that, having written most of the code in question, we'd need to make any such change in license over his dead body. So we put that to one side as a practical proposition but, as Seff pointed out, again, just because we weren't prepared to do anything of the sort didn't mean we couldn't imply that we might. It was another bargaining chip, in other words.
And with that, we ... went for a coffee. It just seemed a good idea: Our discussion had, on a practical basis, achieved very little but it had established ground rules for any future conflict: We were in this together and we'd do this our way. And that included spending a lot of time in cafés.
By the time we got back to the office, nothing disastrous had happened. Actually, nothing had happened at all, by the looks of it ... not even a solitary e-mail. Put it down to a quiet Wednesday morning, perhaps: In any event it allowed us all to get on with the tasks in hand undistracted ... for about half an hour.
At which point, the building reception people buzzed up to announce a visitor. Which was strange ... aside from May and a couple of other regulars – who were just ushered up the stairs – we basically never got visitors without appointments. So Seff duly ventured down to meet the intruder, returning a few minutes later with an impressively tall bloke, wearing a ragged donkey jacket and black jeans, long fair hair and beard obscuring most of his face. Not a bailiff, then, I thought, and unlikely to be a representative of any of our potential customers. In fact, Seff announced, he was here to see me, if that was OK. Intrigued, I agreed that it was and he introduced himself as Karol Jaworski, giving the strong impression that I should recognise the name. I confessed that I didn't.
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said, a pronounced Cumbrian accent giving some clue as to where this was going, "I'd hoped that Rosie – Rosie Braithwaite, I think you met her a week or so back – would have mentioned me to you ... she said it would probably be all right just to drop in on spec ... while I was in London and that..."
"Not a problem," I said, "From brief acquaintance Rosie is a fine human being but not, it would seem, terribly organised ... or, at least, she hasn't yet got round to telling me you might call round. Which part of the building renovation work does she think you'd be ideal for, though, if you don't mind me asking?"
He looked a bit taken aback at this – even Seffi pouted slightly – but then recovered himself and laughed briefly. "Well, none, exactly, though I can do most things on a building site. What I actually wanted to talk about, though, was wind turbines. Specifically, the wind turbines I and some friends have been developing over the past three years ... and now need to find some sites to test commercially."
A light began to dawn. "Aha," I said, "I think you may be the people the Regional Development Agency mentioned when I saw them ... low impact gear, right, low profile, fits anywhere ... what did they say ... superb performance at both high and low wind speeds ... all sounded very interesting ... if its the same operation?"
"Seems like it – obviously that fiver to the RDA was a good investment – although that's kind of what we hope to achieve. At the moment we're doing well with everything except the high wind stuff ... but Rosie did say that she'd talked to your architect on site and he felt it was worth a further look. So – given that I was in London, anyway – I thought I'd ... well, drop in and say hello at least."
I smiled to myself at a further display of Rosie's – ah - networking skills, suggested to Karol that he take a seat, went to make him a coffee.
When I got back, I found Karol sitting by my desk, while Naz sat on it, fiddling with a keydrive and – it turned out – finding an AVI codec so we could watch the video our visitor had brought along. While this was being done I asked Karol how he came to have such a Polish sounding name. "Oh," he said, "My grandfather came here to fight Nazis, never went back. Never stopped fighting Nazis, either ... its sort of a family tradition."
I grinned at this – I'd noticed the Anti Fascist Action badge on his jacket when he came in – as Naz muttered something about proprietary software formats being a real pain in the nuts and then said rather more clearly that things were set up, hitting the play button as Seff, too, came over to join us. It was good stuff – not exactly slick, but some impressive wind tunnel footage, some interesting looking output and efficiency graphs and enough information about the product itself to show that this might be a way of installing decent wind power capacity on our chosen site without the National Park crawling all over us about visual intrusion and such like. I said as much, Seff nodding her approval too while Naz rewound and paused the vid in a couple of places. He turned to Karol.
"I notice you've included test bed results – which is good – but I don't see any theoretical stuff here. What's the problem you're having with the high wind speed end of things? Or is that a commercial secret?"
"No ... well, not really. Actually, I don't think that our sales guy wants me to mention that its a problem in the first place, but for what its worth we know that we're getting a lot of vortices, starting at wind speeds of about 8m/s – call it Force 5 or thereabouts – and presumably as a result the efficiency starts to drop off really quickly. Clearly we need to redesign the aerofoil section but we can't afford wind tunnel time to test alternatives ... and this whole thing has been based rather more on experiment than theory."