In 2000, my colleagues and I sold a remarkable Internet service provider company (OlyWa.net) to it what turned out to be an evil (CLEC) telephone company (ATG) with big promises and lousy execution by entitled old bastards in Northern California… There’s a longer story there but… for now: the next year it was clear they wanted rid of us “Internet hippies” and targeted me as the “weak link” and I made it easy for them by well, roasting out at a company sponsored golf tournament… I mean it was wasn’t really a cultural fit.
Anyway, they called me in to a vice president’s office (who clearly had serious Vietnam-induced PTSD issues) with an bumbling HR guy who had come up from California to hand me a form to take a drug test. I had showed up late for the appointment, dressed in overalls, listened to their nonsense, took the form, and considered options.
My friend/manager was with me, he immediately put me on “administrative leave,” I then contacted/met a lawyer I knew through my hemp activism – he told me he would take care of it pro bono and best thing for me to do is lay low.
So, that night back at the hockey lounge, I fired up the then-new Priceline and basically spun the dial on somewhere to go and ended up on Belize for $420 leaving forthwith.
I arrived in Belize city, immediately switched to a small plane to a little island Caye Caulker, met a nice girl from Ohio on the plane who directed me to some cabins in the dark. I paid eight dollars for the first night, woke up the next day and went and told the boss man Ruben that I would pay in advance for 10 days but please let me know the day before so I would remember to go to the airport.
I dwelt amongst the people of the island, watching the tourists come and go, making some friends, dealing with some fakeass Rasta jerks trying to take advantage, managed a terrible in-grown toenail, learned about coconut rum, ate lobster burritos and got in the water some to swim with smalls sharks (I was still dealing with a broken wrist from a hockey injury).
Most importantly I read a mighty hardback edition of Leo Tolstoy’s classic “War and Peace” from cover to cover. My friend/manager had stopped off at a find used bookstore in Tacoma en route to dropping me off at the airport (surreptitiously) and this mighty tome became my guide as I learned that “patience and time are our greatest allies” and sometimes you have to let things burn in order to win the long game.
I came back from the sojourn expecting to be fired but the lawyer had done a fine job (in brief: realizing that everywhere in the company’s policy where “drugs” were mentioned, “alcohol” was also mentioned and as such, at the golf tournament, the company was providing Dixie cup sized shots of cheap whiskey by a golf cart all over the place putting everyone in the same violation territory as me).
The vice president guy and HR guy were furious, scolded me, offered me counselling, i smiled and nodded, and then asked me not to tell anyone in the company about this which, of course I immediately did.
A few months later we settled with the company for some sorta/ not really, graceful exit. Elsewhere in this archive are a few related newspaper articles and interviews about this incident in general.
PS This incident also sparked an extended research essay/treatise about workplace drug testing and an exploration into going to law school which fortunately, never materialized.