Story Time: The Alcoholic Colleague

A party guy does ... *good*?

Story Time: The Alcoholic Colleague
Photo by Anshu A / Unsplash

I officially became a “Product Marketing Manager” in early 1998. I was hired to “manage” the commercialization of a special configuration of a CD-SEM2 to measure and characterize features on “photomasks”.

This was a small yet important segment of the measurement market, and augmented our instruments that we sold for measuring silicon wafers.

I had three peers, each handling other segments. This story is about one of these people.

He was one of the PM’s for semiconductor applications, and as part of his job, he (as well as myself) had to do a lot of travel. To meet customers. To help move sales decisions along. To attend and present at technical conferences.

But he was a heavy drinker. I mean really heavy. My first brush with this was when we would go golfing. I have always been a duffer on the course, and being able to play was important in this era. Particularly when Japanese guests came, we had to golf.

To get better, there is only one way. Practice. And I don’t mean at a driving range. You need to get on the course, and lay a bunch of rounds.

One weekday, we escaped the office (with the boss’ blessing) to hit the links.

Myself, I knew my weakness was my short game. But what astounded me was that at 10:30ish in the morning, when we met to hit a few balls before our 11:00AM tee time, I found him at the range, with two empty beer cans, working on a third.

I didn’t think much, as in the way back time, I worked at a country club, and I knew that alcohol and golf are intertwined.

But once we got on the course, he had many more beers, as well as he was taking nips from a bottle of vodka that he had in his cart.

This was a big warning sign.

Later, I would see several negative externalities.

The Business Trip

As a representative to an industry group, this PMM traveled to the Austin Texas area pretty frequently.

He was a natural, because a lot of the relationship building was oiled with alcohol and schmoozing. And he spent a lot of time doing these junkets.

Once though, a police officer found him in a totaled rental car, reeking of booze, passed out.

The company quietly paid for the rental car (we were self insured), hired attorneys, and got him out of trouble. I never heard if there were any long term repercussions from this event. But there were whispering among the marketing team.

The Multi-Martini lunch

Think MadMen. Don Draper and Sterling swilling martinis, and strolling back into the office totally shitfaced.

One day, this dude stumbled back into the office about 2:30 (he left about 11 to have an early lunch with an “industry analyst”.)

About an hour after he returned, we heard the sounds of retching in his office. It was a fucking mess. Projectile vomit, sprayed over his computer, his desk, and himself.

We all pitched in to clean him up, call him a cab, and to deal with the aftermath. My recollection was that the black watery vomit of an alcoholic totally destroyed his laptop, and it never worked again.

The next day, he was back in the office, and barely could say “Thank You” for our assistance.

I could go on and on, but you might be wondering why I am recounting this story…

Read on

Fast-forward 24 years…

I had totally forgotten about this colleague, putting the memories and bad vibes aside. Then last year, another former colleague asked me to pen a recommendation on LinkedIn, so I logged in3. In this moment of opening LinkedIn, my timeline showed this individual promoting some article. That didn’t interest me, but it turns out that his current title/role was a Managing Director at .

This alcoholic, degenerate douchenozzle had been elevated to the inner circle, practically the C-Suite of a multi-billion dollar company.

How the fuck does that happen? I have no idea, but clearly I fucked up leaving that job in early 2001. But perhaps it is because I am not a heavy “drinker” that I have remained an individual contributor.

Regardless, I know I sleep better at night given my career arc.

  1. Once when it originally published either on Wordpress or Ghost, and now on Substack

  2. Critical Dimension Scanning Electron Microscope. Instead of using photons (light) to “see” and measure features, it uses electrons, and since electrons are charged particles, electric fields on samples distort the image. Our secret sauce was a schema to neutralize the charge buildup on the photomask, and the resultant distortion free images delivered superior performance.

  3. I truly loathe LinkedIn for many reasons, but mainly because they fucking ignore your preferences and share your information, and spam you with notifications to increase engagement. LinkedIn has also destroyed the ecosystem of good recruiters One day I will again tear into them in a post.