Tag Archives: Past Life

Last One Pays the Bill

3 Jul

Few years ago (during the heady days before the dot com bubble), the company I worked for had its partners meeting in Hong Kong. This was an annual exercise mainly intended to give our folks in the USA a glimpse of Asia (in other words total time pass). It was usually sponsored in part by the local partner.. how we managed to get them to sponsor will be the subject of another post. These meets usually happened at the most expensive hotel that one could find. Usually these were attended by all our partners from across Asia and invitees from Europe. It was also an opportunity for us to “thank” our customers.

So anyhow a group of us (including the Sr. VP – AN) are sitting down and having dinner. Most of our Silicon Valley friends were the high maintainence types. Lots of food and more importantly red wine… bottles of it.. as times goes on more and more people join the table.. some invited… some uninvited. Suddenly the table grows to about 20 people.

Finally our sales person from Australia Pam joins the table with two of her Aussie counterparts. They had just returned from having dinner outside and were hailed by the group as they walked by. By now dinner is done and people are having after dinner liquer. One by one the people at the table start disappearing. Each one assuming that the other one is going to pay..finally the only people at the table were Pam and her small group and she got handed the bill… much to her surprise… and nearly faints after looking at the bill… about $4000 USD… anyway she signs it hoping that it will be paid with her expenses.

A week later we are having a conference call.. when AN clears her throat and says “Ahem..Ahem guys.. we need to really look at expenses.. Pam.. my dear.. I am looking at this item thats says ‘entertainment’ and its $4000. You really need to control costs. No way we can pay that”.. Pam’s trying to speak but keeps getting cut off… “No no Pam.. we cannot afford such entertainment… you need to really control it”… (most of us on the call know what that expense is…poor Pam)

Finally Pam sputters “But.. but…this was not my expense… this was YOUR dinner in Hong Kong.. I just happened to be the last person at the table”…


Finally AN breaks her silence.. “Hmm.. ahem… well ok.. didn’t realize that”…. More Silence “I’ll approve that right away… but guys we really need to watch our expenses…”