Monday, April 6, 2009

Interview with Vincent- Part 3


This is the third part of the interview with Vincent Shaw who is relating his experiences with a Turkish company. Vince agreed to the interview on condition I did not use his real name.

Interview Part 1

Interview Part 2

I’d like to go back a bit. Now you had had problems with obtaining working permission, is that correct?

When I first started at this company, I kept asking the owners and the company lawyer whether they were sure it could be arranged. I told them that from my understanding, it is not exactly easy for a foreigner to get working permission unless under special circumstances.

The lawyer was a real clown. A round man with fat face that was always sweaty. When he did the Turkish kiss thing, it was like somebody pressing a cold slab of meat on your face. Let’s call him, Blimpo. He kept assuring me that this was a minor problem. I wasn’t a lawyer so what could I say, but I remember having my doubts. I even asked him, how sure he was.. out of a hundred percent.

And he said?


In the end?

It never happened. Blimpo came back and said it couldn’t be done. There were new labor laws- a lie- and this made everything harder.

So that was when I made a counter offer. I asked the lawyer if I were a partner, say 2% share, would that make any difference. To my surprise, the owners thought this was a good idea too. So this is the way it went.

And when was this?

This was much earlier. I think it was in that first summer. I was only there for a year. Started in January of 2007. The time I am speaking about is around July of 2007.

Got it. So you became a partner in the company?

No. Not exactly. I guess Cat woman, Penguin’s wife, objected to it. Penguin came to me the next morning and suggested that we could start a new company. The strangest thing. I never had to put any money into at all. Penguin arranged the start up money.

So you were now a partner in a company.

Well, only 10 percent. He had told me that the company was a real one.. meaning, a profit making enterprise. But whenever I suggested ways of trying to make profit, he would change the subject or agree and nothing would happen.

So, like, what was the point? Besides giving you the right to work.

I think he used the company as a kind of tax dodge. Something slightly shady, I guess. Or maybe he was billing the client to his main company for services we were supposed to be giving his main company. I do know the one time I was able to see the books, I found a lot of things he would have trouble explaining to the tax man. Curtains and home furnishings. Of course, he kept the books under lock and key most of the time. I kept asking for a copy of my contract and an itemized list of expenditures and profits. But he would always make up some excuse. You have to remember he and his wife, Cat Woman, were never there. Or she would be there and he would be gone or the other way around.

But then, how did the company function?

It didn't. The employees were generally allowed to do whatever they wanted. I did my best but it was like playing chess with about 7 people at the same time. It was crazy. The worst employees were always given special treatment.

For example?

Example, this was a small to middle-sized company and yet he had company cars for four of the employees. He had bought them and they were allowed to drive them as personal cars. Taking them home every night and he even paid for gas. I asked him if it wouldn't be better to lease a car or maybe two and have them share the car when needed. He said, no. This is normal for a company. It makes the employees happy. He was always interested in making people happy. It was like our company mission.

One time he even made a bar on the roof of the building. It was really surreal.

Indeed. But how did he afford it?

Credit. Everything was put on credit. He had this stack of maybe 50 credit cards that he would flip through every time he bought anything. It made you dizzy to watch.

So let me get the time line straight. You started giving classes. Then you became the Human Resources Officer but as a partner in a completely different company. How did that work?

I was called a consultant. So the main company hired me as a Human Resource Consultant. But even that didn't make much sense. He had printed out business cards with the main companies name. I was also Business Development Officer too. I liked that a lot. But then he would lie to every potential client and badly.

What was his problem, do you think?

Well, he couldn't tell the truth. He would lie to his wife, he would lie to employees, to his girlfriend, to his client. Many times, it wasn't even necessary. He just liked to lie. It was some kind of ego thing, I guess.

Why? Weren't you ever suspicious?

I was. Of course, I was. But then he told me his lies and so, for some stupid reason, I thought he was not lying to me. Also, he and his wife took so little interest in the company, I supposed that I had some kind of importance at the company.

By the end of that year, what with the stupidity of management position, the sliminess of his business practices and his hostile wife, I was definitely ready to give my notice. I was fed up and stressed out. Not sleeping at night and waking up angry every morning. I just wanted to walk out.


But then the tax man came.

The next installment- Part 4- of this interview continues next week.

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