I was working at a big NY firm for a couple of years when I was tapped to work on the acquisition of a dog food company based in some middle-of-nowhere Midwestern town. (Nothing against the Midwest, that’s just where the dog food company happened to be.) Negotiations had stalled, and our private equity client agreed that we should all travel to the company’s headquarters for a full day of meetings. There was no major airport for a gajillion miles, so we (clients, senior partner of my firm, another partner and me) flew there in our client’s private jet.
Upon arrival in Dog Food City, we met with our opposing counsel (also from a big NY firm) and hammered away. As our scheduled departure time of 6 o’clock approached, the client remarked that we should be making our way back to the airstrip. I was already packing up my pencils when my senior partner turned to his counterpart from the other NY firm and asked how his team got to town. The opposing senior partner sheepishly replied that they flew commercial out of New York the previous day and made the two-hour drive down to dogtown in a rental car that morning. My senior partner glared at him with a look of profound disgust and sympathy. Sensing an opportunity for both charity and one-upmanship, he insisted that the opposing senior partner fly back to NY tonight with us. “Us” had just been redefined.
I did a quick mental count of our private jet’s seats and realized the only one left for me would have been the toilet. I quietly brought this to the attention of my senior partner, who pretended not to hear me. I implored him to consider that I hadn’t planned being away overnight, and that I didn’t bring a toothbrush or a change of clothes, and that, in any event, it’s really poor form to just abandon your associate at night in a town that doesn’t appear on a lot of maps and is a couple of hundred miles from a commercial airport. All this was to no avail—the pr*ck continued to pretend I wasn’t there.
Faced with the prospect of having to sleep in a dog food factory, I dragged myself over to where the associates from the other firm were gathered and begged them for a ride back to wherever it was they came from. They were a good bunch of guys, but they declined anyway, citing the need to discuss confidential client matters on the drive back to their hotel. I groveled, and eventually their collective sense of decency prevailed. Let’s just say I took my vengeance at dinner that night with my corporate Amex card.
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