Business Connection Pt. 04

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My name is James, and I manage a manufacturing plant in California. I’ve written of my experiences over the past year or so in previous postings. Since my last posting, I’ve divorced and relocated to California.

The Beach Boys were right when they sang about the girls here, but I’m approaching 50, and I’m more interested in women. My only experiences with a man, Steve, have been documented in my previous postings. I look back on the feelings I experienced, and emotions I shared, with Steve as release and acknowledgement of long suppressed aspects of my sexuality. I still love Steve as a friend, but deeply crave the emotional fulfillment of a relationship with a woman.

The experience I’m about to share is about the evolution of friendship with another man, and the need to be open to opportunities for emotional, spiritual, and sexual growth in my life.

I saw the video conference invitation from Phillippe in my email as soon as I logged in, and immediately thought, “this is not how I want to start my day!” As I clicked on the link, I recalled the last time a plant manager video-called me, it was Steve calling to tell me he was leaving the company.

This video opened to Phillippe in his office, the blandest looking plant manager office I’ve ever seen; no personal items in site, all grey and depressing!

Phillippe was a tall, slender guy, maybe six feet, with dark hair kept very short – just like a two or three day growth on his head. He struck me as a former athlete based on how he carried himself, with perfect posture. He leaned forward in his chair, his shirt sleeves rolled just before his elbows. “Good morning, James, how are you?” He asked.

“Fine, Phillippe, what do you need?” I had no desire to engage this guy for small talk.

Phillippe was my least favorite among the eight other plant managers. When I was first interviewed, he had participated in one of the panel interviews which I endured during a long two week process. He had been professional and welcoming during that interaction and continued to make me feel comfortable as a new member of the team when I was hired. He was asked to be my mentor during my first six months with the company and he was helpful, informative, and supportive in that role. We never talked about anything personal – lives, family, interests – but I thought that was just his focus on work.

However, his true colors seemed to show around my first anniversary in position. My high performing lead maintenance technician, the person who kept all the machinery running at my location, suddenly seemed distracted and distant to me.

After a week of this change of behavior, I casually arranged to bump into him on the plant floor and engage him in a conversation. I found out that he was recruited by Phillippe for a similar position in his plant, complete with a lucrative pay raise and relocation package from Massachusetts to Illinois. And he was told to keep it secret, specifically from me!

I had seethed about this underhanded behavior after talking to the tech. It was wrong on so many levels – Phillippe had used information regarding the man’s performance evaluation, which I had shared as part of our mentoring; my mentor had made the offer secretly to a member of my team, without the courtesy of notifying me; the tech had been told not to tell me about it.

When I had confronted Phillippe, he nonchalantly brushed it off, telling me it was my responsibility to develop my people for future opportunities. He said I had dropped the ball on that aspect of my job!

I later discussed it with our mutual manager, but that conversation was dismissed. Phillippe’s plant had issues with old equipment, and they needed the new tech. It was too late to do anything, I was told.

I stopped accepting the mentor invites after that incident. There was no further communication between us. I was even more angry after a couple of months when I found out that the tech got burned out in Phillippe’s plant from his treatment and workload that he quit, finding a higher paying job at another company.

At our annual September manager’s meetings, I avoided Phillippe as much as possible. He had seemed different somehow, though. Another of my peers had even said that he had overheard Phillippe in some sort of domestic quarrel on his office phone recently. I didn’t care – I went through a divorce just months earlier, but kept my focus on work. Besides, I wondered, what woman would trust someone with his lack of ethics.

And it was surprising to me that he wasn’t present at the recent March manager’s meetings. There was no explanation given, only a vague reference to him being ‘away.’

“Man, it’s Monday, I’ve got payroll reports to complete, production meetings to prepare for. What can I do for you?”

Phillippe took a breath and started, “James, I owe you an apology. I am taking full responsibility…”

“Damn right, you’re responsible for…” I started to interrupt, but he put his hands up, suddenly looking shaken.

“James, please, just let me explain. I don’t bahis firmaları know if you noticed, but I have been away from work.”

I nodded, listening. He had my attention.

“Only Bill knows what’s going on with me.” Bill is the manufacturing VP. “And now I’m telling you, no one else. I have been out of work because I was in alcohol rehab.”

I suddenly felt empathy for him, and a little guilty for being abrupt during our conversation.

“And during my time away, I have been reflecting on my actions. Chief among them was the way I violated your trust and acted behind your back.”

“I appreciate that you recognize now how wrongly you acted.” I said, still a bit guarded, as I wondered if this was a ruse.

“Yes, and I am owning my actions and making changes in my life,” he continued. “I have asked Bill to let me run your old plant, in Massachusetts.”

Suddenly connecting the dots, I leaned back in my chair and paused, staring at my old mentor, before I spoke. “And since you know I’m participating in the selection process with Bill, you need me to support you for the position, especially if Bill has any concerns about your return!”

“James, I’m going to share some things, put my trust in you, to keep this confidential. I’m begging you.” Phillippe’s piercing blue eyes seemed to reach through the screen to me.

“You can trust me, I think you know that,” I said, leaning forward again.

“I was in an abusive relationship. Emotionally, physically, psychologically. The man I was living with, my partner, had begun having mental issues, and he was beating me up frequently, doing terrible things. And I chose to drink, to hide in the bottle. Then one night, my sister and her husband showed up at our home. My partner had beaten me up, and Sis could tell. I was drunk, nearly passed out. They took me out of there, and right to rehab.”

“And your partner?” I asked. I had been unaware Phillippe was not straight.

“He and I are over. During my time in rehab, I have reconnected with my Faith. I have turned the page on him, and he has left the country.”

I knew Phillippe was Canadian. I wondered if his partner was, too. If he had left the country, maybe Phillippe’s biggest problem was removed.

I didn’t see many options for me regarding his request. I knew he could easily run the Massachusetts plant, if his alcohol problem did not return. And I knew something that Phillippe did not know – I had been asked to be the one who conducts the plant review after ninety days in position. I would be evaluating his performance.

“Sure, Phillippe, I’ll back you for the role, when Bill calls me.”

As I said those words, a look of relief passed over Phillippe. I noticed he looked much better than he had, last September. He was a handsome guy, but his good looks had been overshadowed the last time I saw him.

“Thank you, James, I truly appreciate this. And I would like to ask, can we talk again, maybe every couple of weeks? I want to let you know how deeply sorry I am, for the things I did to you, and I want you to be able to judge if I slip at all.”

“Sure, Phillippe, just not on Mondays!” I joked. “Talk to you soon.”

I left the video call, took a deep breath, thinking, Phillippe had to go along way to win my trust. Nevertheless, I made the call to Bill on his behalf.

Phillippe’s transfer was fast tracked and he was in Massachusetts the following Monday. He and I arranged a video conference for the employees to allow me to introduce him as their new manager.

Phillippe and I started conferring weekly through May and I began to feel that he had changed. We talked about performance metrics for the plant, safety incidents, and employee relations issues, and I found him to be not just focused, but almost serene in his discussions.

And the feedback I received from a few of my most trusted contacts in the plant was very positive. I sharpened my figurative pencil and prepared for the June inspection that was coming up.

I had planned for the inspection to take about 4 days, Monday through Thursday, but it went so well that the review was completed in three days. I was thrilled about that because I was taking off Thursday afternoon for Cape Cod where I had a beach view hotel room booked through Monday.

Phillippe and I talked business quite a bit throughout the review. He smiled easily and was fun to be around. At one point, I asked what his management philosophy was. He responded that in the teaching of Tao, in dealing with others, be kind, in choosing words, be sincere, in leading, be just, in working, be competent, in acting, choose the correct timing. Follow these words and there will be no error. I was amazed at how succinctly that approach fit what I saw, and worked. I felt a friendship developing that was not there previously.

Prior to conducting my feedback session with Phillippe on Thursday morning, I called our boss and gave him the good news.

“Bill, the review came in at 97 out of 100! And the three points lost were my fault for a compliance kaçak iddaa issue that we could never get fixed last year. Phillippe already found a solution, so he’s setting himself up for a 100 next year.”

Bill was ebullient in his praise for the work both Phillippe and I had done. I decided to make a pitch for a reward for Phillippe.

“Bill, he’s really on his game again, maybe even better than before. He’s put in the work, made the sacrifices to get back. How about giving him a couple of days off? You know, I’m heading to the beach for a long weekend, maybe he’ll tag along. I’ll show him some local sights!”

After presenting his audit review results, I offered my congratulations on a job well done to Phillippe. He was gracious in redirecting credit to others and thanked me for turning over a tight ship to him. When I told him of the boss’s offer of the early getaway for the weekend, he originally declined politely.

“Phillippe, I’d really love it if you’d go with me,” I persisted. “I had arranged the rental last year, before the wife and I split up. I’m not going to expect you to walk the beach and watch the sunset with me, but I think it would be nice to hang out… maybe visit P-town. It’s just give minutes from Truro, where I rented. Have you heard about Provincetown?”

Phillippe paused, then answered, “I’ve read about it. Have you been before?”

I knew first hand that just reading about P-town does not begin to paint a picture of the experience. “Yeah I’ve been through a few times. It can be a fun atmosphere!”

“Ok..sure! On one condition, can we go on my bike? It’s a Harley Electra Glide. Mind riding pillion?”

I laughed, “You mean riding bitch? Sure, just be gentle with me!” The weather forecast was fine for the weekend so it was a great idea.

We stopped at Phillippe’s place to leave my car and throw what we needed for the weekend into a backpack. He was living in a studio apartment adorned with several Far Eastern decorations and posters. I also noticed a bookshelf filled with works on Taoism along with a couple of worn paperbacks dealing with overcoming alcoholism and the twelve step program.

We changed into denim pants for the ride. Phillippe tossed a canvas jacket to me and threw on his leather jacket. “Safety first, my friend. These will mostly protect against road rash in case we go down unexpectedly.”

Phillippe and I hit the road by mid morning, cruised down 495, the loop of highway around Boston, and headed for the Bourne Bridge. It was my first trip to the coast by motorcycle, so I was thoroughly enjoying the ocean air. Once across the bridge, we stopped for lunch with Phillippe opting for a healthy cranberry nut salad while I ate some fried seafood that would probably kill me in ten years. Then it was onto the Mid Cape Highway towards Truro.

We pulled into the motel lot just before 3, checked in, and headed for the room. As with the previous years, when I visited with my then wife, it was a studio style with a galley kitchen and king size bed as you enter, and a sitting area with fold-out couch leading to a small patio with an unobstructed panoramic view of Cape Cod Bay. Across the bay, to the northwest, you could barely see Provincetown, the tip of Cape Cod. I could tell that Phillippe was impressed.

“Want to get into vacation mode, change into shorts and walk the beach?” I asked.

“That sounds great!” He answered as he grabbed the backpack, turned it upside down, and started emptying it on the couch. Our stuff began tumbling out, causing us to comment on each other’s dubious choices: my “dad” shorts, t-shirts and bathing suit, his “oh so skimpy” shorts and bathing suits and fashion designer tank tops, my “Grandpa James” boxer briefs, and his “oo-la-la Phillippe’s banana hammock” Andrew Christian bikini briefs.

He fished out the sandals we had packed and my toiletries travel bag, and, as he pulled his toiletries out, the zipper split apart, spilling his tooth brush, paste, cologne, and a resealable plastic bag with condoms and an 8 oz. bottle of Pjur Back Door lubricant.

I looked at Phillippe with a grin as I picked up the bag. “You’re either planning on getting lucky in P-town or you would need to use this whole bottle on my virgin ass!”

Despite his naturally tan skin tone, Phillippe blushed, gently took the bag, and said, “James, I forgot that was in my shaving bag. When we packed our stuff…”

“Phillippe,” I interrupted, putting my hand on his arm, “Hey, please, I did NOT mean to embarrass you. C’mon, let’s change and go dip our toes in the ocean!”

We walked the beach for about an hour then took the Harley to a nearby grocery store for supplies to last us til Monday. We grabbed sandwiches for dinner in the room, where we wound up talking on the balcony.

Four hours later, both exhausted from the early day at the plant, the long bike ride, and the fresh ocean air, we decided to go to bed. I offered to share the king sized bed with Phillippe but he opted for the pull out couch with the ocean view, agreeing to swap on the kaçak bahis following night. With the balcony door left open and the AC turned off, we slipped under the covers wearing just our briefs.

I slept deeply and awoke shortly after sunrise. Turning toward the balcony door, my eyes focused on Phillippe sitting legs crossed on a blanket, back totally straight, facing the ocean. He seemed to be holding his hands in front of him, moving them slowly as he took deep breaths.

I rolled out of bed, peed, and quietly walked out onto the balcony. As I approached Phillippe, I realized he was naked, his hands were cupped, one at his chest and one just at his groin. I also realized for the first time how many tattoos he had; there were various works of body art everywhere on his back, shoulders, and chest.

His eyes opened slowly and, realizing I was nearby, he snatched the bikini briefs he had shed and held them over his crotch. “Oh, hey, James!”

“Good morning, Phillippe. Hey, don’t feel you have to cover yourself for me.” I said, looking out at the beach.

“My Tao meditation time is very important to me, and it’s something I need to do the way it has been done for centuries, fully exposed to the universe, unhindered by clothes” he explained. “And I’m not exactly hung like a mule…”

I thought about it, realizing his devotion is what has saved him, rejuvenated his soul. I wanted to learn more about it, and to put him at ease, so I went inside, grabbed another blanket, took it outside, dropped it next to him, and, dropping my briefs, sat naked next to him. I brought my legs as close to crossed as I could, and looked at him for his reaction.

I’m sure I saw him glance down at my considerably shrunken cock, then smile at me.

“I’d like to learn about Taoist meditation,” I told him. “And I’m not hung like a mule, either!”

He weighed his words, trying to summarize something that weaves together the whole of Taoism. “I enjoy talking about it. I’ve been helped so much by the guiding principles I’ve embraced.”

As he began to educate me, I noticed that he had lifted his tiny undies off his lap, setting them at his side. With patience, I finally found an opportunity to check out his stuff with a quick glance and saw that his soft cock was no bigger than mine, maybe 3″ soft.

He guided me into a comfortable meditation posture, talked about proper breathing techniques, and showed me a few positions to place my hands in order to guide the energy inside me. Our arms and legs brushed together casually as he demonstrated, sending an unexpected tingle through my balls and cock. For the first time since discovering that Phillippe was gay, I had a fleeting thought of us becoming intimate.

We meditated together for about twenty minutes until he ended the session. “Ok, James, we’ll get you into it gradually, if you’d like. You can’t try to do too much the first time, or it will be ineffective.”

“Thank you for sharing, my friend.” I began to rise, but he beat me to his feet, and gave me his hand to help me up.

“I’m hungry,” he said. “I’m going to buy our meals this weekend, and you are going to eat healthy. Let’s get dressed and go eat!”

We rode up into P-town and found a Bohemian restaurant that served healthy food. After filling up on fruits and grains, I introduced Phillippe to the Provincetown experience.

We weaved our way through the early summer crowd, past the drag queens hollering about that night’s upcoming stage performance, avoided the stereotypical souvenir shops, and wound up in front of a store that offers everything from hemp product to Pee Town T-shirts to a wide variety of sex toys. I dragged Phillippe inside for the titillation factor alone.

We giggled like schoolboys over the sizes, colors, and names of the various dildos for sale, joked about which porn DVDs we would show our plant employees at the next meeting, and suggested T-shirts for each other. I wanted to get Phillippe the one that had an arrow pointing to the left with the caption, “he’s gay, I’m just unhappily married!”

After having our fill of stores, Phillippe bought us healthy smoothies and we walked McMillan Pier, browsing the art galleries and enjoying each other’s company. We noticed the skies darkening, fortelling a rainstorm, so we decided to head back to the motel to relax and make plans for a beach day on Saturday.

Just as we left P-town on the bike, the skies opened up and we got drenched! Back at the motel, we sloshed to the room and peeled off our sopping wet clothes. I grabbed towels for us, and Phillippe took our clothes into the bathroom to drape over the shower door. After drying off, still naked, I reclined on the bed to look at a tourist magazine as Phillippe laid down on his stomach next to me.

My eyes were drawn to his sweet butt. ‘God given ass’ was David Bowie’s term for what I saw. A perfect tan-line in the shape of his bikini bottoms, a crack that started off hairless at his tailbone and ended with several straight black strands reaching skyward, and a tattoo that was a whimsical version of the NHL Calgary Flames logo that fans have always claimed looked like a penis spewing flames. On Phillippe’s version, the penis was exaggerated and looked like it was ejaculating cum!

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