Brad’s Search : Part 54

I wake up Wednesday morning feeling like death. Today is the day of our big client meeting, and, like a true workaholic, I had kept myself up way too late checking to make sure everything would run smoothly for our demo. I force myself out of bed and take a quick shower, and rush to head out of the door. There are a few more things I need to check for the project, and I need to head out early if I’m going to get any coffee.

Eric wants the two of us to wear nice suits for our client meeting. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t care if I were in blue jeans, but it’s business, and I understand him wanting us to look sharp. Luckily, I was able to talk Charles into letting me borrow the same suit I wore to Patrick and Damon’s wedding. I really need to get one of my own, considering I’ve needed a suit twice in just this month alone.

Problem is, I haven’t had the time, nor the patience, to learn how to tie a tie.

I grab my usual Starbucks and get to the office. Eric and I have time for a quick meeting before the other developers arrive. We go over how the meeting with the client is supposed to go.

Our client flew into town the night before and will be getting to our office in the afternoon. That leaves time for the development team to take care of any last minute concerns and to get everything ready for the meeting.

Can’t you tell I’m going a little insane right about now?

We meet quickly with the development team. To my huge relief, they bring very few concerns to the table, and what they do bring, we’re able to quickly handle. As confident as I am that the meeting with our client will go well, I can’t help but feel that something, the littlest thing, will go wrong.

* * * * *

My company built a room. It’s what they call a ‘relaxation room’. They tried soundproofing it as best they could, and have white noise machines and fragrance emitter machines and mini fountains and all sorts of things to help people relax, I guess. Anyway, for about an hour I closed myself in that room and tried relaxing as much as I could, but I swear it stressed me out more the more I tried to relax. So much for that.

My phone’s alarm starts going off. It’s time for me to change into my suit and get ready for the meeting. I step out of the relaxation room and head to my office to change into my suit. I close the door to give myself some privacy, then strip down to my socks and underwear and pull on my dress shirt and slacks.

Oh hell, the tie. At one point, I swear I could make it through life without ever having to wear or even learning how to tie a tie. But here I am, twice in a month, needing to wear one. As much as I hate wearing them, and as uncomfortable as I feel in a suit and feel that they should all be burned to a crisp, I’m finding myself needing to conform and wear the damned thing.

I see the clock ticking closer and closer to our meeting time and I’m getting super frustrated trying to tie this god-forsaken piece of fabric. It finally dawns on me—Why the fuck not look up a damn video to learn how to tie a tie? I do a quick search on my computer, pull up the first video I find, and before I can even start watching, I hear a knock on the door.

The door cracks open. It’s Eric. “Oh, Brad, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were in the middle of dressing.”

“It’s all right, Eric. You can come in. Do you know how to tie a tie?”

Eric scoffs. “Uh, yeah, of course! You don’t?”

I look sheepishly at him, but don’t respond.

He comes closer and motions with his hand. “Turn around.”

He takes the tie and drapes it around my neck. I crane my neck down to try to see what he’s doing, but he places his thumb under my chin and gently tilts my head back up. “It’s easier if you keep your head straight.” He grabs both ends and, almost like magic, goes to work flipping one half on top of the other and twisting them like a very elegant pretzel. As he goes through his intricate process, I can feel his body getting closer and closer until there’s no space between us. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that he’s tying a tie around someone else’s neck, but I try as hard as I can not to focus on the fact that he's practically knocking on my back door. I don’t want to have to fight off a boner this close to the meeting.

He puts his hand on my shoulder and turns me around, then grabs the knot with one hand and pulls and adjusts with the other until everything is just right. He looks me up and down. “There. That’s what I call a project manager ready for his first big client meeting.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t need a mirror to do all that.”

“It’s like tying your shoes. After you do it enough times, you don’t have to watch your hands and fingers do all the work. They just know right where to go.”

I take a few quick breaths.

Eric puts his hand on my upper arm. “You all right?”

“I think so. I’m just jittery because of the meeting.”

“Don’t be; you’ll do just fine. Come on, let’s go to the conference room and get everything ready.”

I lied. I was jittery because of how good his body felt pressed against mine.

Snap out of it, Brad.

We make our way to the conference room. I begin connecting a laptop to the projector while Eric places packets of information about the project in front of each chair around the table. Once I have the laptop hooked up, I open the demo program I’ve been working on during the past few months as well as a presentation. Everything seems ready to go.

“All right, Brad, the client should be getting to the lobby downstairs at any minute. Let’s go down to meet them.”

With that, we take the elevator down to the lobby, and sure enough, three representatives from the casino—two women and one man—greet us. We all introduce ourselves—their names are Diane, Linda, and Phil—and head upstairs to the conference room.

* * * * *

After what seemed like a few hours, the meeting is finally wrapping up. Eric had done most of the talking, but I had spoken up as I was navigating through the demo and when any technical questions had arisen.

Diane, who seems to be the leader of the group, chimes in. “Everything you showed us today was fantastic. We are really excited about getting this on board.”

Eric responds, “We’re so happy to hear that! We are delighted that you’ve chosen us to work on this project for you, and we’ve certainly put all our best talent and effort into it. I'm glad to hear you’re pleased with what we’ve done so far. I’ve taken note of the tweaks and adjustments you’d like, and we will be sure to get those implemented. That said, what would be your ideal timeframe for launching this project for your property?”

“Ideally, we’d love to launch it by this time next month, but realistically?” She turns to the other woman on her right. “Linda, how long do you think it would take to train everyone on this?”

“Oh gosh, Diane, I don’t know all the ins and outs of this system well enough to say how long it would take to train everyone. I’m sure we could do it ourselves, but it would be great if we could have Eric on hand to handle any issues and hard questions that come up.”

“That’s a great idea.” Diane looks at Eric. “Would you be able to come out to Vegas to help train our team, Eric? We can cover the roundtrip airfare”

I glance at Eric. Even though our company has never worked on a project of this size, much less taken a trip to a different state to train a client on it, I could tell he already had an answer prepared. “Yes, we can certainly accommodate that, as long as Brad also gets to come along. He has a strong programming background and knows every single piece of this project very intimately. Just like you’d like me to be there to help with the issues and hard questions, I want Brad to be there when there’s a point where I cannot answer them.”

Diane looks at Phil, the third member of their group. Phil just nods. Diane looks back at us. “That works for us.”

Eric smiles. “Great! I estimate that it should take us the rest of this week and next to work in all the tweaks and adjustments you’ve given us and to get all the final branding in so that everything is ready to go. That would leave about a week or two for training if we were to go with your month timeframe. How do you feel about that being a sufficient amount of time before we launch?”

The room is silent for a few moments. Diane looks at Linda and they whisper back and forth for a few seconds before Diane looks back at Phil. Phil just nods. Phil’s good at nodding. Diane looks back at us. “I think we should be able to get everyone trained in that amount of time. That shouldn’t be a problem.”

Wow. It didn’t seem all that long ago that we started work on this project, and now it’s almost done. This project was so large, I didn’t think we’d ever get finished with it.

Eric chimes in. “Well, I know Brad and I are delighted to hear that you’re pleased with everything so far. We will begin working on the finishing touches and will be getting in contact with you to schedule the training. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, Brad and I are here for you and we’ll take care of everything. If there’s nothing further, we can show you to the lobby; I’m sure you three are ready for a little R & R after our long meeting.”

Diane nods. “Yes, it has been a long meeting, but we’re so happy with everything your team has done.”

With that, the five of us rise up from the conference room table and head down to the lobby in the elevator. We make small chit-chat on the way down—well, all of us except for Phil. He hasn’t uttered a word this whole time.

Once we all reach the lobby, we see the three of them on their way.

Eric turns to me. “Ever been to Vegas, Brad?”

“I’ve been a couple times with my parents when I was growing up, but never as an adult. What about you?”

“I have. That’s actually where Lorna and I got hitched.”

“You’re kidding!”

“Nope. The two of us went down during a college break. We had been talking about getting married for a while. When we got down there, we saw one of those drive-through wedding places, and thought to ourselves, ‘What the hell?’”

I chuckle. “What did your parents think?”

“Well, by that point, Lorna and I were living together and were already practically married, so the piece of paper didn’t matter so much. We did throw a special reception with friends and family after we got back, though.”

“Wow. I don’t know if my mom would forgive me if I ever did that.”

“Then I’ve got one piece of advice: don’t.”

I chuckle again. “Good advice.”

“In any case, the two of us will have a great time while we’re there. It definitely won’t be all work and no play.”

Eric and I both go back upstairs, gather our things, and head to our respective homes. We had been in that meeting so long that rush hour was already over. Hard to believe, I know.

At least this project is nearing the end. The tweaks they’re asking for are very minor, and I know, or at least really hope, that they won’t break anything. I’m excited about it being almost finally behind me, and what a way to send it off by a trip to Vegas on the company’s dime!

The day’s been so long that I don’t waste any time crawling into bed and passing the fuck out.