One Day Designer
I recently read Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos’s, book Delivering Happiness and loved it. Normally I don’t read rich guy business books because they suck ass and are the ultimate in narcissistic expression, but my good friend Holly McNamara works for the guy and she convinced me to come meet him in New York where he launched his book tour. I was impressed and took the time to read the book that Hsieh people refer to as a “movement”.
Short version: Great book. The dude used these concepts to create a multi-billion dollar company. A major premise in this quick read is to build a specific culture for your company and to only hire people that fit that culture, even if others are extremely talented but don’t mesh. In Hsieh’s Zappotic World, this means hiring happy people that see the beauty in the everyday, value everyone’s opinion, treat people with dignity and respect, and want to spread happiness.
Extrapolated to the Ranger Uptiverse, we need to find sarcastic, absurdly confident, opinionated, attention-whore narcissistic alcoholics with virtually no feelings and whatever microscopic remnant of human feeling they have left needs to be buried under an admantium skin so thick that if the Titanic had been made from it, everyone on board would simply have been enjoying salt water slushies and we wouldn’t have had to endure that shitpot of a movie.
So no shit, there we were: Ranger Up had grown to the point where it was time to hire another fulltime designer and we put the feelers out. We culled through over a hundred applications and finally made a job offer to Wrongfit Wrongcompanysteinawichano. Before I go on, I’d like to state, for the record, that Wrongfit is a very talented artist – we did, and still do, love his work. Moving on…Wrongfit’s job offer was made and he accepted – all he had to do was survive his final interview – spend a night partying with us at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 21 where we were going to support our friend and Ranger Up fighter Jorge Rivera.
How hard could this be, right? You’re 23 years old. You’ve just finished school. Rather than getting a lame corporate job where you have to design terrible ads using the company template, you get flown out, are given a great ticket to a UFC show where you’re sitting next to three incredibly hot girls (Tommy edit: smoking hot), you meet and party with Jorge Rivera, you pay for no alcohol the entire evening, and you are told you are going to have vast amounts of creative control in your new job. Dream come true, right?
We should have been tipped off when he asked us if he could bring his parents with him to visit so they could help him “look for an apartment.” We should have been tipped off when he showed up pear-shaped at the age of 23. We should have been tipped off when Jorge, Holly, Matt, Tim, and everyone else we knew asked, “Is that REALLY your new designer?” (Tim Burrill flashback moment: All I remember is a pillow with legs, I’d say legs and arms but I don’t recall any arms. And he seemed soo confident for a man raised on estrogen.)
Instead we gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The Beginning of the End
The last thing I remember about leaving the bar is bartering with two girls about how long they would kiss Wrongfit simultaneously. They were shrewd negotiators and talked me down from 38 minutes to seven seconds. Nonetheless, Wrongfit left Jorge Rivera’s afterparty by hammering back two tequila shots and telling me that it was the best night of his entire life. Life seemed good.As our crew – Jorge Rivera, Matt Phinney, Tim Burrill, Lex McMahon, Eric, Reed, Holly, and assorted others walked back to the hotel, Wrongfit had somehow latched onto the worst girl we had ever met. This She-Devil had a key role inside the MMA World, but was nevertheless stupid, heartless, ignorant, and racist. Rather than actually regale you with tales of her shittiness, we’ll just post quotes from her throughout the evening, which we were all recording because they were so absurd:
Quote 1 (after she had called Wrongfit a wetback and we told her that was kind of fucked up): Stereotypes are based off of statistics.
Quote 2 (to Wrongfit, who is a native Spanish speaker): You’re not speaking Spanish correctly. When I was in Mexico I was taught to use the accent correctly. Do you know what I mean?
Quote 3 (to Nick, who wanted nothing to do with shaking her hand): What was with the weak handshake? You just have to be confident. I mean you really just have to be natural. They taught us how to shake hands in business school. It’s a process.
Quote 4 (there are probably 3-4 businesses in MMA that qualify, but she seemed to think there were 20-30, plus who the fuck says shit like this?): If you don’t make 5 million, and I mean in profit, not revenue in apparel then I can’t talk to you.
Quote 5 (we have no idea what she was talking about): I’m like the only white grandkid. And sometimes he’ll fuck with me. And I’m like I’m not your stupida.
Quote 6 (she kept referring to “we” when she really meant “I” so Nick formulated a theory that she was part of a secret society and asked if she could do a fist pump and a secret handshake (demonstrates). ) She answered: No. Only if you’re black.
Quote 7 (this was just a random racist comment for no reason): My grandparents live in the outskirts and we’re known as gringos. Por favor. Muchas gracias senor. I hate wetbacks. They call white girls gringas.
Everyone hated her. I don’t mean dislike. I mean raw unbridled hatred. She was the worst combination of business school elitist, minion with a smattering of power she could abuse, and heartless bitch. She was like a fun vaccum. Every man and woman in the group wanted her gone or dead…preferably both. Everyone, that is, except Wrongfit. He was somehow smitten. As a result, he invited her back to the afterafterparty in Reed’s room. What is normally a fun drunken time with good friends and new acquaintances was destroyed because of this girl. Lex and I couldn’t handle it anymore and popped smoke. As I was leaving, I asked Wrongfit if he was coming. He said he was going to hang out (with her). I asked if he was sure. He said yes. I reminded him we were TWO DOORS DOWN and gave him the room number. He repeated the room number.
The Next Morning – Tommy’s Perspective
I am completely dead. While Nick got to go to the after party and the afterafter party I was chugging Monster Energy Drinks and driving a 15pax van full of wounded warriors back to Bragg. There is absolutely no way I’d have traded going to said parties for the privilege of driving those troops back and forth, but by the time I got to my boy Jim’s place it was 5am, my phone’s battery was on life support, and I was more than a little cracked out from the deadly combo of caffeine overload and a lack of sleep. I slapped my phone on the charger and tried to catch a couple of Z’s on Jimmy’s couch. At about 7:30am my text chime goes off. It’s Wrongfit.
“Hey man, I’m back in Durham. Nick ditched me last night. I tried to find him in the lobby, couldn’t, so I hopped in a cab and came back here.”
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. As the evening progressed I’d also gotten the spidey twitch that Wrongfit was well… a wrong fit, but as much of an art kid as he could be that wasn’t an excuse for being ditched. Furthermore, when intoxicated both Nick and I can be… we’ll go with “direct”, so as my tired brain tried to wrap itself around this crisis I reasoned that it wasn’t totally out of the realm of possibility that Nick gives him some military-style ribbing about something, the kid gets Mr. Sensitive about it, Nick senses weakness and his natural assholish nature leaves him no choice but to push all in. After the smoke clears, kid makes an honest effort to find him, has no idea where Nick or anyone else is, panics, and goes back to Durham. Yes, that’s exactly what happened! This logic stream firmly planted in my brain, I fired off a text to Nick.
The Next Morning – Nick’s Perspective
I wake up at about 8am. I don’t want to be up, but I am about to drive Jorge Rivera to the Warrior Transition Center at Bragg, so I sit up, pop some Ranger Candy, down a Gatorade and look at my phone. I have multiple texts from Tom. The key one states the following: “Dude. I don’t know what the fuck you did to him last night, but Wrongfit is pissed. He took a cab back last night to his parent’s hotel in Durham. I think he is quitting.”
I, of course, thought Tommy was kidding. It was too absurd of a story to comprehend, and absurd stories are sort of my thing. I mean, I left him two doors down and now he was three hours away in Durham? Good one, Tommy. I’m assuming McMahon had something to do with this as well.
I text Tom back something along the lines of “Sure he did. How was the drive last night?”
Seconds later I got back an angry text from Tom about how the kid really did go back to Durham. I chuckled and shouted to Lex, half-awake in the other bed that the newb got so drunk he thought a cab ride to Durham was a good idea. I texted to Tom “Classic Ranger Up night. Good that on day one we already have something to screw with him about.”
Back to Tom
Nick’s dismissive texts are not helping me out and I’m starting to fear that he really did run the kid off. Wrongfit’s an art kid. Art kids are sensitive. Neither Nick nor I have been particularly sensitive at any point in our lives, let alone when we’re three sheets to the wind. Ok, time for a more direct stance on the situation:
“Nick,” I text, “you need to call him and fucking apologize, you ditched the kid, and he’s not a Ranger man. Durham is extreme, sure, but you need to fix this!”
I get a “Seriously? Well what do you want me to do man!?” back.
“Call him!” I text
“Ok.” I can tell Nick’s not happy but, in my mind I think “Well dude, you did this.”
Two airborne minutes later I get a text back from Nick “I think we’re cool, I told him some day we’d all laugh about this later.”
I call Wrongfit, “Hey man.” I tell him as I pick up, “Nick said he talked to you…”
“Yeah man, he tried to make a joke out of it. A joke out of just up and leaving me like that!”
“I am not very happy right now”, Wrongfit goes on “I was kinda wiggin out dude, and that cab ride was like 300 bucks, man.”
This was getting worse.
Wrongfit continued, “I left my bag in your van man, I’d really like to get it back.”
“As soon as I can get back to Durham and hook you up bro, I will,” I tell him, finally, firmly getting pissed. “I’m sorry about this Wrongfit, I’ll make sure this all gets sorted out.” My mind is racing. So far this kid has told me my president/business partner/friend ditched him, then dismissively made fun of him over it, generally seems to have acted a complete and utter fool, and really doesn’t seem to care.
Ok, phone call time:
“Hey buddy,” Nick says by way of usually phone greeting.
“Dude…” I start, my best “What the hell, Sir” NCO tone kicking. “What the hell?!? What happened?!”
“Nothing dude! He was fine when Lex and I left him, he was with Reed man!”
“Nick,” I started in. I’ve already charted the course in my tired brain and I wasn’t going to take dissipation of responsibility at this point, no sir. “He was YOUR responsibility, I mean come on dude, what were you thinking, you just up and left him?” In hind sight I still wonder why I believed the fucking art kid over my Ranger Buddy, particularly since his modus operendi is more along the “sharpie a phallus on the passed out guy” motif, rather than abandonment. I guess I’ll just take my major minus for droning out right now please.
Back to Nick
I’m driving with Tim O’Donnell and Jorge Rivera on my way to Fort Bragg and I am pissed off at Tom. He seems to think I did something nefarious to this kid. I am almost yelling into the phone, while Jorge chuckles. “I LEFT HIM TWO DOORS DOWN TOM. Not in the bar. Not on the street. TWO FUCKING DOORS Down!!!! We tried to take him back with us, but he wanted to stay with this awful girl. He’s a grown fucking man. How is this my fault?!”
And…Back to Tommy
“Wait what?” I asked Nick. That didn’t marry up at all to what Wrongfit had told me on the phone. Nick is a lot of things, including an asshole that could potentially run a new employee right out of the company in less than 24 hours, but he’s not a liar.
“Yeah man, he was with some annoying, evil, fucking chick, dude, and he was trying to mack on her! What was I going to do, call him after he’d been gone for 45mins and ask ‘hey Wrongfit, you having sex? No? How about now? Yes?! Great, that’s awesome buddy!’”
The gears are starting to turn in my head, and slowly tumblers are starting to click into place.
“Alright dude, alright but how the hell did he end up in cab back to Durham?”
“How the fuck should I know!?!” Nick fired back, not really calming down. “Why the fuck didn’t he just get another room in the same hotel, why didn’t he call me? HE DIDN’T CALL ME! Or why didn’t he call you or Whitney, or Lex or any one of the other fucking numbers he had. Why was his first reaction in this easily solvable situation to call his FUCKING MOM?! When’s the last time you called your mom to solve one of your problems, Tom?”
Hmmm, these are all good points, and they’re all points that are adding up to more minor minuses for me and major holes in Wrongfit’s story. Suddenly, I’m starting to smell Type-B-isms.
“You’re right dude, you’re right,” I tell Nick.
I try calling Wrongfit back and get his voicemail. Issue or not, Wrongfit was going to have to wait because we all had to get over to the Warrior Transition Center for Jorge Rivera to sign some autographs for the troops that couldn’t make it to the fights.
I got there early, and about 20 minutes later Jorge, Nick, Lex, and Tim walk in. Nick barely looks at me as he starts helping Jorge out. I corner Lex.
“Dude what happened last night man?” I ask him.
“Man fuck that kid!” Lex said. “Bro, we did everything for that kid last night and we left him with a girl he was trying to mack on and he knew where to find us, you know, fifty fucking feet away! Fuck that kid.”
I am now officially annoyed. Half an hour later, my phone rings. It’s Wrongfit.
“Hey dude, you back yet, I need my stuff,” he tells me by way of greeting.
“No dude, I told you, I have to stay here a little longer for the signing, but umm dude- did Nick and Lex leave you in a room with some chick last night?” I ask.
“Well… yeah, kinda,” Wrongfit tells me, sounding a touch nervous.
“And did they tell you where the room you all were supposed to stay in was?”
“Umm, yeah they did. I knocked quietly man, but they didn’t get up.”
You’re kidding me.
“Why did you knock softly dude? For that matter dude why didn’t you call Nick or Lex, you had their numbers right?”
“Dude when they didn’t answer the door I figured they were asleep and I didn’t want to wake them up. So I went to the lobby, and no one called me. No one came down to the lobby to check on me. I was in the lobby for like half an hour, 45 minutes. Nothing so, like, an hour later I figured the best thing to do was just go back to Durham so I called my Mom and then hopped in cab.”
Rage. Starting. To. Build.
“Ok dude, well I have to do this signing for the wounded troops. As soon as I get back I will call you and we can get you, your stuff and figure out the hotel room for tonight and stuff like that.” I tell him, pure professional voice.
“Ok dude, ummm, what time do you think that’ll be?” Wrongfit asks me in a whiny voice.
“As soon as I can make it happen, man,” I tell him in reply. Get fucked Jr. is what I was thinking.
“Ok…” Wrongfit tells me, slightly downtrodden. To this day I still wonder what the hell was in that bag, he was a relentless fucker about getting it back.
“Dude…” I started as I went up to Nick, “he never called you did he?”
“NO MAN! That’s what I have been fucking telling you!!!” Nick exploded at me.
“Dude I’m sorry,” I started. “He never told me that he was in a hotel room with a girl he just said you and Lex disappeared and he never mentioned at first that you’d told him the room or anything like that. He made it sound like you guys just up and got pissed off at him or something and were all like ‘fuck the new guy’ and left him on the cold Charlotte streets. I’m sorry dude.” I tell Nick.
“Wait, he never told you about that?” Nick asked me.
The signing concluded shortly after and I was in the car back to Durham. I arrived at the hotel and Wrongfit came out to meet me, without his parents in tow.
“Here’s your stuff dude,” I told him as I handed him his pack.
“Thanks man,” he tells me, refusing to make eye contact.
“Dude, look I was talking to Nick and Lex and like I have to ask this, why did you think that coming back here was a good idea? I mean, bro, it wasn’t like they just up and ditched you like you kinda made it out to be. They left you a couple rooms away with a chick bro.”
“I knocked man!” Wrongfit whined back. “And then I went down into the lobby and waited for awhile and nobody came to get me.”
“Dude you even said you didn’t knock loud enough for them to hear you man! Come on dude. Also, why didn’t you call me? Or call Whitney? You had both our numbers right?”
“Well… yeah, I guess.”
“Ok, so why didn’t you call us, dude we would have handled the problem, for that matter why didn’t you just crash in Reed or Tim’s room?”
“Dude, I didn’t know them, I wasn’t just going to stay with someone I didn’t know!” Wrongfit’s whining was getting worse the more commonsense was shined on the situation.
“Ok, so you’re in the lobby, you haven’t called anyone, you didn’t really knock on the door for the room, what made you think it was a good idea to take a $300 cab ride back here man? You could have gotten a room at the hotel for like half that.”
“It just seemed like the best idea I had at the time!” Wrongfit exploded in a whiny, annoying emo kid voice. “Look man, when I was in that lobby I was interviewing you guys too, you know. No one came and got me, no one called me, no one checked on me to see if I was ok. No one did anything for me, so I did the best thing I could think of called my mom. I had to have my parents cover the cab ride for me man!”
I have a choice, I can either beat the ever living hell out of the kid in the parking lot of the hotel, or I can walk in, pay the night for the room we’d agreed to pay for him, and just leave.
I choose option B.
“How’d it go?” Nick asked me as he picked up the phone.
“If I ever see the little fucking shit again I’m going to rip his whiny bitch throat out. You aren’t going to believe what that fucker had the gall to say to me,” I yelled into the phone. The circle was now complete. I was full on Ranger pissed.
“What’d he say?”
“Oh, just that he was ‘interviewing us’ when he was sitting in the lobby with his thumb up his ass and that it was the ‘best idea he had’ when he hopped in the fucking cab!”
“You’re kidding me?”
“Nope, I wanna kill that little fucker, and dude, I’m so sorry I ever doubted you like that.”
“I don’t need an apology man. All I want to hear is all I am and all I ever will be I owe to Nick Palmisciano.”
“I hate you, Nick.”
The Piece De Resistance – Nick’s Perspective
The phone rings.
“It’s Wrongfit!” I announce to Tom.
I pick up the phone.
“Hey,” comes my curt greeting.
“Uh, hey man. How is it going?”
“Fine. What do you need?”
“I figured we could talk. After the way I was treated and…you know…the fact that my parents had to see all of this…I don’t really think I am ready to come down here to work for you guys yet. I think we have to build that trust up over time. I’d still like to design for you though from home.”
“Wrongfit, did you enjoy the fights last night?”
“Yes, a ton.”
“Did you like being a VIP at the afterparty?”
“Yeah man, it was awesome!”
“Did we introduce you to girls?”
“Yes, you guys were cool about that.”
“Did we pay for you to fly down here and party all weekend?”
“Yes, you did, but…”
“I’m not done. Did you tell me this was the best weekend of your life Saturday night?”
“Okay, so to be clear, right up until the point that we left you two doors down in a hotel room with a girl you made clear you wanted to hook up with, this was the best weekend of your life?”
“Yes, but then…”
“Then what? Then you decided that rather than knock on the door so we could hear you, call any of us, get another room, or hell, even crash in the lobby, your gut instinct was to call Mom?”
“You guys left me…”
“Yes, we did. Two door down. Look man, you’re a nice guy, but you and I have arrived at the same conclusion – you are not right for this company. We are a small company and every person has to be responsible. I’m not mad that you got so drunk you couldn’t make a rational decision. Hell man, I’ve torn a hamstring breakdancing and rubbed Gorbachev’s birthmark. I’m not mad that we had to pay $300 for your cab fare. I’m furious that you are not taking responsibility for your actions. I didn’t make you drink. I didn’t tell you to stay in that room. I sure as shit didn’t tell you not to wake us up to get in the room – quite the contrary. And as for the calling Mom thing…Wrongfit, I can’t promise much, but I can tell you that if you hang out with us long enough, you’ll do dumber things than this. We can’t have you calling mom every weekend. You did all of those things. You made all of those decisions. It is YOUR fault you’re embarrassed right now. 100% YOUR fault. “
“I don’t see it that way.”
“And you never will, which is expressly why you cannot work here. I want all of our artwork turned in by the end of the week. If you need a reference about the quality of your work, I am more than happy to give it.”
“I don’t want it to end like this man. I like you guys. You just didn’t look out for me.”
“Wrongfit, we looked out for you more than you will ever understand. Good luck.”
I hung up the phone, opened up facebook, and updated my status:
“We ran out our new designer in less than 24 hours.”
I lean back and stare blankly as the comments fill up underneath it…
I look up at Tom:
“Fuck, man. That sucked…but, at least we’ll get a good story out of this one…”