What's the big deal?
It's our deal, that's what, and if it doesn't close pretty soon, I'm going to have to pull the rest of my hair out.Email | Print Type Size
(Fortune Magazine) -- The hardest part of any deal isn't getting started. It's not even hammering out the big stuff. It's later, when you're down to the place where the hairs are short and the tortoises come out to play.
I'm thinking these thoughts as I sit at my desk, wondering if it's ever going to be soup yet on the Roover thing. It's late. There's a big bottle of Glenfiddich in my credenza. Night has fallen, and it's raining, turning the black asphalt of the avenue outside my window sleek and shiny. But I'm still behind my desk, breathing recirculated air, waiting for the phone to ring. And when it does? I shouldn't have a tumbler of Scotland's finest working inside me. I might say too much, or too little. Things are so delicate at this juncture.
It all began so well. "Chuck," I said to the fellow I deal with at Roover, "our contract with you is just about over, and I guess we should talk about re-upping."
"Absolutely," said Chuck. "We love you guys."
"And I you, bro," I said. If phones could reach out and hug, that's what we had going on. So I cracked the oyster wide open.
"You want to work out some of the bullet points right now?" I said.
"You got it," quoth he. So we did. Three-year term instead of two. A modest increase in payments to us. A few wrinkles that didn't work out last time go bye-bye. A couple of new bells and whistles. No problemo.
"I'll get back to you as soon as we paper this," said Chuck.
"Drinks at '21' when we tie a bow on it," I replied.
I hung up. Ten days went by. I dropped Chuck an e-mail. Nothing pushy. "Yo?" was its entire content. An hour later my phone rang.
"We're lookin' good," said Chuck. "I just wanted to clarify a couple of teeny things my lawyers are bothering me about." We talked. I saw where he was coming from. He saw where I was coming from. A two-year term again, not three - okay, that's all right. A little more vigorish for us, then, on the upside? Sure. All good.
"I'll be back with the doc momentarily," said Chuck.
"Drinks at '21' when we put that puppy to sleep," I replied.
I hung up. I felt a little squelchy, though. Why did it take so long for the boy to call me back? Was something wrong? I mean, I was acting all surfer-dude and nonchalantish about this transaction, but truly, if it went south, the implications would be deleterious. Our relationship with Roover represents about 60% of our upside. We could live without it, but we'd be eating ravioli straight from the can, corporately speaking.
Two more weeks went by. I was now officially spitting bricks. Should I call the Chuckmeister? Should I let him alone? I paced my office. With increasing frequency, I awoke at the hour of dread, 3 a.m., and my first thought would be "Roover." Then darkness.
Finally, I could bear it no longer. I sent another digital message to my friend. "Whassup?" it said.
"Gotta call ya," came the almost instant reply. That was ... let me see ... two hours, 47 minutes, 16 seconds ago. No ... 17 ... 18 ...
This is driving me crazy. Who makes things happen this way? Lawyers? Accountants? Assistants who depart at 5 p.m. on the dot? What is this fearful void staring me in the face? No! I can take it no longer! Villains! Dissemble no more! I'll accept any terms! Tear up the deal! Here, here! It is the beating of my hideous heart!
What is that? Poe? I'm losing it!
Wait a minute. I have mail. Ha! It's from the Mighty Chuck! It says, "Sorry, Bingster! Our attorney took an extra week at Aspen and then got sick, and I had to ride him like a rodeo clown to get it done! Attaching deal. If you approve, sign, and we're closed, babe!"
You know what? I'm not even reading it. Whatever it says is better than the drip-drip-drip that preceded it. Gimme that paper! We're done!
Ah, the relief. What was I so worried about? Things take time in business. You have to be mature. Let that be a lesson to you.
Now, if you'll excuse me, so long, caballeros. I'm off to "21"!