What was foretold came to pass. Ideally the doors to Mugwump, my former employer, would’ve closed in January 2012. Yet during the summer of 2011 I saw it barely surviving into October. The place staggered and face-planted one week before November.
Awash in cocaine and/or drowning in vodka or THC fogging the remnants of their minds, Loca and Fea lost Mugwump, their patrimony.
Wait. “Lost” isn’t the right word. “Frittered.” Nope. Still doesn’t convey the squander.
“Squatted down and pissed away.” Much better.
Coked out when not blind drunk, the Mugwump sisters squatted down and pissed away their company. In doing so they destroyed in five years what their father Blowhard established after 27. Before carelessly tossing the reins to his flibbertigibbet daughters, Blowhard built Mugwump into a company renown for dependability, reliability and accuracy.
Don’t take my word for it. That’s what its former clients and customers said they mourned after I asked why they’d forsaken Mugwump. Each responded Esme, the company’s last capable management whip Blowhard fatally scorned, took the above qualities with her.
At end, Mugwump wasn’t even a ghost of itself. More a rumor. A badly repeated one.
Possessing so much institutional knowledge, Blowhard himself once verged on becoming an indispensable resource. Many in his former industry made pilgrimages to his office and sat at the master’s knee in order to receive his wisdom.
Unfortunately, the poor man never dropped those pearls upon his children. Though truth be told, it’s doubtful they ever would’ve absorbed and applied his lessons.
Early and late, “His Nibs” had opportunities to leave an intact legacy.
Six years ago, Esme, dumpy, abrasive, driven and smart Esme, demanded her due. She wanted a chunk of the company. Not a slice. Nor a piece. Two big armfuls and a doggie bag. At least.
Blowhard’s undeserved overconfidence and indifference had chased off previous factotums. These associates had made Mugwump function. While Blowhard had the ability to render abstractions concrete, he lacked managerial skills. Left to himself, his company might’ve lasted 32 weeks, not 32 years. But the man had a knack for attracting competent subordinates. Or true-believers.
Had there ever been any Kool-Aid involved, one or two surely might’ve lipped offered cups.
Blowhard’s blind spot was thinking their retention unnecessary. That ultimately someone else with equal or superior abilities would saunter through the front door and submit him- or herself to Mugwump family business fallacies. And damned if for awhile this didn’t happen!
I arrived eight years into his enterprise. From its inception into 2008 Mugwump minted money. Because no job was too weird, no estimate was too high. Of course then cash filled the air. From current vantage yesterday seems dreamlike. Who practiced economy when we were all so busy exercising profligacy?
With his mind-set Blowhard likely saw capable replacements on a conveyor. Which also determined his company’s subsequent downfall. Despite siring five children, two boys, three girls, he piqued none of them in regards to what ought have been their birthright. I mean the actual learning, operating business part. Not the recline and rake it in part.
His boys Skip and Speedball went out and did their own thing. They muddled into middle ages slap-happy in menial existences. Each had grown up among Gold Coast Connecticut abundance. Neither had ever been tasked throughout his eat, shit, screw, sleep life.
Instead of making them men, Blowhard misshaped both through unearned rewards. Meaning his boys received cars and carelessly crashed them. Why not? There were never consequences. Merely replacement vehicles. For Speedball meandering into dangerous situations knowing his rescue eventual erased what we call caution.
And lack of caution killed him. Just as excess killed his sister Borracha. And ought have taken their sister Fea had Esme not intervened. Way things are devolving, Fea’s borrowed time is nearly up anyhow.
Skip, Blowhard’s oldest boy and namesake, either showed one flash of admirable foresight or just lucked out. I choose the second.
He stuck by Glynis, who knew in her teens she was barren as a brick. Think she worried about being inadequate? Skip became Glynis’ knight. A tarnished knight, but as always it’s the man wearing the armor that matters. Years into their marriage she inherited millions.
In an earlier age, Blowhard and his late wife Ruta might’ve sought and vetted suitable husbands for their daughters. Despite the queasiness arranged marriages inflict against our Western sensibilities, Loca, Fea and Borracha could’ve benefited from having been placed under wedlock and key. Thus assigned they could’ve been the burdens of men who would’ve loved, cherished — Oh. Sorry. I pulled a Reagan. I rode off on the PCH when I needed to get on I-5.
These are the Mugwump sisters I’m writing about. Cool Brass women they aren’t! Since Loca and Fea can’t comprehend subjects beyond gossip columns and horoscopes, characters like Marianne Messing and Paz Duarte would confound them. Strong and secure women are true fiction to the Mugwump sisters.
Anyway, had Blowhard and Ruta recruited dupes to contend with their female issue, doubtlessly that trio would’ve sunk into shopping and even shallower pursuits. They also would’ve produced grandchildren.
Bargain hunting, chasing rugrats, while becoming the most insufferable suburban matrons possible could’ve immeasurably improved their lives. Being helpmates and motherhood would’ve diverted them from the empty wanting they inflicted on collateral such as myself.
It also would’ve kept the first two from being in any position to assume control over Mugwump, thereby forcing Blowhard into compromise with Esme. The sort which ought have provided stability and continuity.
During the winter of 2009-10, Blowhard missed his second chance to walk away head high, cash in pocket, new owners to endure current economic doldrums and perhaps save our jobs. I believe he was ready to sell. To finally retire, enjoy the fruits of others’ labors. To fish, travel, and consult at $150 an hour.
But in a dismaying prelude to right now, Loca and Fea dissuaded him. Wonderful.
Ignorant, delusional, drugged as they no doubt were, have always been, and will remain, the pair who’d avoided Wharton, UCONN, the local community college, having barely graduated high school (and let me emphasize the “high” in high school) determined through kaleidoscopic empirical study that if A offered x, and B offered y, they could get z from C. Except there never was any C.
So the value of z in their equation was zero. A big fat one. Which is precisely what they wound up getting nearly 16 month later.
Who among us didn’t know 2011 would be a downer? No Christmas party culminated ’10. No bonuses either. Who minded the first? Those parties were always desultory. Emptier than Festivus. Blowhard forced good cheer and his daughters greedily sought their father’s mood-making affirmation through the staff. We just wanted to snatch those year-end checks and skedaddle.
In the end, the girls accused the economy of betraying Mugwump. True, economic circumstances are straitened. Yet others in our former field took required steps and avoided sharing Mugwump’s fate.
When needed they retrenched. Or sliced margins in order to firm up potential clients who wavered over costs. Most importantly, they went out and hustled. As I wrote in an earlier post, where Loca and Fea hunkered in their offices and waited for rain, others beat the bricks and made it rain.
Of course for Loca and Fea, and to a certain extent Blowhard himself, to have seen clearly all would needed to have been clear-eyed. Coasting as he was, Blowhard was shot years ago. A tired old man, he ought have retired moons ago.
Regarding the girls, well, glassy-eyed does not mean clarity of vision. Neither sister took her job seriously. Late arriving, early departing, delinquent students of their livelihood who neglected customers, it isn’t exaggeration stating Loca nor Fea never conducted herself soberly or straight while inside Mugwump’s premises. Hung over or high always, the simplest tasks became crises.
Which details why the rent was in arrears. Why the power and telephone providers sent workmen to deny their services. And of course explains how some payroll checks bounced, as well as how our health and life insurance policies lapsed.
The last two incidents, along with a curious occurrence, were the ones that forced Mugwump employees to abandon it. Although maybe I have that wrong. We’d fulfilled our accountability to them. They failed regarding their responsibilities to us. They abandoned us.
The curious incidence involved money. Real live folding green.
Blowhard was a packrat from way back. In the 32 years of Mugwump’s existence he’d accumulated a lot of crap. Turned out a good parcel of it was more than just junk. He had an acre of unused, unappreciated value in plain sight. Or so said the fellow who inquired about purchasing it.
The prospective buyer offered $24,000 for the whole swath. He would send movers to retrieve it, freeing Mugwump of that burden. Best of all he offered to pay in cash. He had the money and proved it by pulling a horse-choke roll from his pocket. A thick fist of hundred dollar bills.
By anyone’s reckoning the $24,000 offered was $24,000 more than sitting in any company bank account. Perdu, potential successor to Esme had the girls not actively sabotaged her, negotiated. The deal was done. Only the exchange remained.
During these proceedings Loca hung back. Either she was content to let Perdu operate or astounded by the transaction’s smoothness. She couldn’t let it happen. Just couldn’t let it pass. Some self-destructive bent overtook her. Probably her usual one. She interceded.
Loca called off the deal, stunning the buyer and Perdu.
After the confused man left, Loca gave Perdu the reason behind her impulsiveness. Again it was an A=x, B=y, C=z scenario. And as in the previous instance there was no “C” available. Nor a “B.” Only an “A” and she just told him to take a hike.
Loca claimed if the buyer she spurned offered x, then surely there were others who’d pay more. Hearing that, digesting it, seeing Loca’s pupils dilated into pinpricks, and hearing 100 miles an hour words jackhammer from her flushed face, is the moment Mugwump employees collectively decided to leave.
Only after jumping ship did we discover how lapsed insurance premiums fully undercut us. Aware of Mugwump’s puny finances, no one expected severance. We did, however, see cashing out our life insurance policies as cushions.
So cowardly, Loca couldn’t confess she’d stopped paying those premiums three months earlier. We only discovered her parsimony after contacting our ex-insurer.
Several former colleagues beat paths back there and vented holy hell. Perdu and I understood the futility behind even that gesture. We cast the Mugwumps loose.
In our first month of being adrift, Perdu visited family in Ontario. Being a Canadian national she benefited from our northern neighbor’s universal health care coverage. A system which let her fill prescriptions without entering penury. Think something like that could work here? Afterwards, she then jetted down to Miami Beach and caught a week of well-earned rays.
I just contented myself with five too short days of decompression and head-clearing in Arizona. If either of us considered thrift, it didn’t matter. We’d each prepaid our respective getaways. Planes, cars, rooms and releases waited. So why not go?
The Mugwumps left losers aplenty in their crooked wake. Themselves being the biggest losers. I doubt they will ever truly realize what they forfeited. Or better they’ll blame it on … grapes.
Anything other than the truth.
This is how the Mugwumps end: Despite large salaries, Loca and Fea burned through every dollar given. Their personal accounts reflect the company’s. They owe.
Haywire as Loca and Fea are, both know they’re unemployable elsewhere. Each girl is finding refuge under the family roof. I wonder how their widower father sees that revolting development.
On one hand, he’ll have steady company since his wife’s death. On the other, it’ll be his daughters. And their deadbeat, layabout boyfriends, Bray and Hoppy. Isn’t that subtraction through addition?
The Mugwump home. From zoo to asylum. It’ll be all the rage.
Without staff to buffer them were the Mugwumps’ final days hell? One hopes! All that canceling and phony commiseration to be endured before the utilities blanked out and the sheriff slapped “SEIZED!” stickers across the doors.
Shouldn’t the Mugwump story have ended with an uncomprehending Blowhard blinking in his darkened office while Loca and Fea caromed off blackened hallway walls, shrieking “Where to!?” and “Now what!?” and “Why me!?” and “Why not YOU, BITCH!?” The perfect pity party for imperfect people.
Here’s their epitaph: “They fucked up free lunch.”