Well, when it comes to the super-fancy tequila bottle left me by a broker that I mentioned at the end of Tuesday's post, I finally got a definitive answer yesterday afternoon, which I basically expected: Justine, who is Scott's boss, came by my desk and said, "It's a no-go on the tequila." I said, "So, do I just give it back?" She said yes.
She was very cool about it, though, and told me how much they appreciated me being honest about it, and "it was the right thing to do." She then noted that "If you hadn't said anything and it somehow got out, that would have been very bad." Which, of course, was why I said something to Scott to begin with. Justine then told me something Scott had basically already said himself: she had talked to Darrel (who is her boss, the VP of Merchandising) and suggested "Maybe we could all open it and have shots out on the deck or something, but that would have to involve planning, and it was just too much."
I totally get it, much as I really wanted that tequila. Scott, who is experimenting with earlier commuting in preparation for the "Period of Maximum Constraint" starting next week while neither the Alaska Way Viaduct or the new tunnel is open, had already left by the time Justine came to my desk. Earlier in the day he had asked me if I'd heard back about it yet, and at that time I said no. "Don't open it!" he said. Yeah, I didn't plan to.
So, this is the email I sent to the broker, this being an unusually delicate workplace scenario I was dealing with:
Subject: bad news ☹
Message: Well, that gift was super generous, but I couldn’t exactly keep it a secret, and it’s . . . well, too generous. I can’t accept it and will have to give it back.
As you can imagine, I really wanted to keep it, but . . . ever since last summer, we’ve had an official gift policy where we can’t accept anything that exceeds $100 in value.
Within literally three minutes, she wrote back with:
Your safe then!!
It didn't cost that because my uncle in law brought it up from Mexico on his last visit to Eastern WA. Official imported it might be that, but we used the family transport system 😁
Now, this broker has a clearly Mexican last name, which makes it easy to believe she has family who literally live in Mexico. I don't think she was fabricating anything here, and I empathized with what she was trying to do, immediately kind of pushing back on my refusal to accept. I briefly considered either emailing or walking over to Justine to ask, but felt it was probably best not to. As I said, Scott was gone by this point, but Noah was still here. So I stood up at my desk so he could see me better (his desk faces mine), and said, "I want your take on something." He basically confirmed what I was feeling anyway, and my reply to the broker largely quoted what Noah said:
I wish! Two things there: 1) The boss (and the boss’s boss) already said no, and it’s not really in my best interest to push back on that; and 2) it’s calculated off the value of the product, not necessarily what you paid (or did not pay) for it.
I have a feeling it would have been the best tequila I have ever tasted, but my hands really are kind of tied here; I can’t accept it.
So she wrote back, "Understood," and said she was scheduled to be back in the office on Friday and can pick it up. I guess I'll give it a tearful goodbye then. I wrote back to her that "If nothing else I've spent a week at work with a bottle of tequila in my desk drawer." "With your bosses knowing!!!" she replied.
Now. This is still not the end of it! Because, god damn it, now that I've had a chance at getting it that was ripped away, I still want me some Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo Tequila, aged four years in oak barrels! After both some text exchanges with Shobhit about this before going home (and I must say, Shobhit has been all about my not accepting this as a gift from moment one), and discussing it further with him after I got home, to my genuine surprise, he suggested I . . . just buy my own bottle. I chuckled at this, and told him, without this very specific scenario happening, never in a million years would he suggest I buy such an expensive bottle of liquor. As he noted, though, and I very much agree, I would want to drink this only on special occasions, make it last a very long time, and I added, never mix it -- this is probably such high quality that I would want to drink it straight. Shobhit's even thinking I might love it so much I won't ever want to buy a cheaper tequila again, but I rather doubt that.
I have found this product online several places, and whether it's in the fancy box that the broker brought it to me in or not, it generally retails for $330 before taxes -- I have found only a variation of about two dollars between different online sellers. And last night, I found it available at Total Wine & More for that price, with the option to pick it up at their Northgate store. The web page said it could be ready in two hours, which must mean they already have it in stock, so Shobhit is going to pick me up at 4:30 today and we'll just drive there to buy it.
Now, I did already "add to cart" to find out what Washington State taxes will get added: $67.65. Yeesh. This item is actually going to cost me nearly $400. For tequila. But just this once!
I would happily accept the gift from the broker if, say, either she or I got a different job and we no longer had this particular professional connection. While I trust her, I also don't know her that well, and even aside from breaking this recently establish gift policy, it's something she could find some way to hold over my head, either now or many years from now. I don't think she would, but you never know, right? Shobhit briefly suggested I ask at work if I could just pay the retail amount directly to her so I could save on the taxes -- an amount that does not exceed the $100 limit -- but, I argued against that, for two reasons. First, it would turn the tables and put her in a weird position, if I am giving her over three hundred bucks for something she actually received as a gift herself. Second, even if they are sky high for alcohol, I do believe in paying local taxes, and I'll be doing local business as well as government programs more good by actually paying for this product.
So, hopefully by the end of the day today, I may be out about four hundred bucks, but I'll still have gotten this tequila that I can't otherwise accept at work. Everybody wins! Well, perhaps except for the broker, who just really wanted to give me a gift to show appreciation. (That said, it's appreciation for me doing what's just my basic job anyway. I have a feeling I am more reliable than most of her work contacts who do the things I do, but I'm still just doing my job, for which I already get compensated plenty.)
Plus, I think my speaking up at work has afforded me a hell of a lot of good will, which is far more valuable than the feelings of an admittedly very generous broker. (And I told her several times how much I appreciated the generosity.)
By the way, the new TV on top of the entertainment center has me thinking lately about the history of our furniture, and specifically that entertainment center. But, all the living room furniture we have -- the sofa and love seat; the dining table with its four matching chairs; the entertainment center; the two cupboard end tables; the book shelf -- we have had since the first year we met, 2004. Granted, it was all in mid- to late-summer, but by that part of 2019, that will indeed make fifteen years.
The entertainment center was the one thing we bought new, from Big Lots. I have a picture of Shobhit holding Peng, crammed inside the space our previous two TVs went in, literally after we brought it home and assembled it. That was on September 5, 2004.
This shot from Fourth of July 2006 shows what the TV Shobhit had at the time looked like, barely fitting into that square. This shot from September 2007 shows the same thing, after my TiVo was set up for the first time. And this tweet, with a link to this photo from May 20, 2010 shows the then-new flat screen TV I bought for more than four hundred bucks to replace it, which itself barely fit into that space (albeit with wider actual screen surface). This shot from Morgan's birthday dinner last July actually demonstrates it better, as it has far better lighting. And this shot shows how it looks now, with the new TV we got for $54 at the closing Sears in Puyallup, set atop the entertainment center. If you zoom in you can barely see the black dot in the screen to the left. (It's on the back of the guy's shoulder.) I texted Danielle another photo where the dot is much more visible and asked if she thought it was worth getting the TV for $54. She didn't think it was. Shobhit's totally fine with it. So far at least, I'm finding it pretty tolerable as well.
It only occurred to me just now: that old, super heavy TV with the huge back that Shobhit had when we got together, we had between 2004 and 2010 -- six years. I actually replaced that one because it stopped working properly. The one I got in 2010, which I had for nine years, still works fine. It even has more inputs for connecting cables than the new TV, which is weird. Unless I figure something else out, I have to replace wires now every time I want to use the Blu-Ray player rather than Apple TV. That's kind of annoying. I also still need to research possible fixes for that dot.
I just got back from lunch with Karen at Six-Seven at the Edgwater Hotel, our first since December 13 -- she was out of town December 27 and we postponed to the next week (last week), January 3, which she had to cancel due to an unexpected work meeting. She even almost had to postpone today as she arrived with a broken foot rest on her wheelchair flying into Seattle last night, but I guess Dave was able to fix it this morning. Whew! The one time I did not bring an extra lunch as insurance.
I told her all about this "tequila saga," and she listened with attention, also agreeing that I did that right thing and all the same basic points. She told me about having just returned from four days in Hawaii, an unexpected spontaneous family vacation thanks to the government shutdown canceling a conference previously scheduled for D.C., last night. And I told her about my many travel plans for the year: visiting Sara W in Denver, timing still to be determined; the trip to the wedding in Syracuse with Danielle in late May and early June; overnight in Portland with Shobhit for our anniversary in mid-June (as well as my niece, Britni's wedding in Chehalis the next day); and the trip to Las Vegas, also with Danielle, now narrowed down to either September or October.
Anyway I'm back now and I should get back to work.
[posted 1:18 pm]