Likewise, when I was re-hired, and joined the staff in Chicago, having gone through several suitcases, I realized that I needed something lighter but sturdier. My heart was set on an elegant looking but heavy duty Lark garment bag at the luggage store in the Water Tower Place. But it cost $350.00. Lot of money for a suitcase, even today. And this was in 1979. And yet, I was tempted to buy it and then a thought occurred to me, shouldn’t the company be paying for it? After all, a suitcase was one of the most important tools required for my job.

‘I don’t know about that Mr. Shah!’ Lee responded. So I had some convincing to do. I’m not sure if I succeeded, but he capitulated. ‘Look, I don’t think we can get away with it. But I will sign off on it, bur if they question it, then you’ll have to pay for it yourself.’ As much as I was inamorato with the damn suitcase, I agreed. And guess what? “They” never asked. Years later, my friend Nasim (Y. Khan) in Germany inherited it from me and its still out there somewhere.

Fast forward to 1992. The top Playboy managers from across the country are invited by Christie (Hefner)  to a management golf outing at the exclusive (read highbrow – pretentious) Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, to spend an informal day with other executives, “bonding”. We are teamed up with appropriately matched novices and serious golfers. I had done a couple of those before and had presumed that I could go on the greens with my shorts and the t-shirt. Sandals and all. Wrong! While shorts were okay, the club  rules required that we had to wear a shirt with collar – i.e. polo shirt at the minimum and must wear  proper golf shoes. I didn’t have either and we are about to t-off. No problem. Like all of them, they have a gift shop stocked with everything that a golfer would need. As snooty as the club is, things are obviously top of the line, even though the price tags made you cringe. What choice did I have? I pick up a nice polo shirt made of fine cotton,  the club logo discreetly embroidered on it. It was like fifty bucks. And while I am trying out the shoes, that run more like a hundred and fifty, I grumble to no one in particular. Sitting next to me in the locker room, tying on his own shoes is Herb Laney, Playboy’s Divisional Vice President for the mail order operations.

‘What are you bitching about? It’s a business expense!’

‘You mean?’

‘Of course. See this shirt?’ He turns his hand and pinches the very fine fabric of his polo shirt with his fingers. ‘You’re damn right I am going to expense it.’

‘But I also need the golf shoes!’

‘Well, since you’re not a golfer and are buying them only for today, I would expense them too!’ I look back at Herb, dumbfounded. He gives me an amazed look as if I had just gotten off the boat!

Suddenly, I can’t help but think of how I could have gotten away with charging that Tuxedo I was suckered into buying for the Czechoslovakian launch.

© Haresh Shah 2013

Illustration: Celia Rose Marks

You May Also Like

HERR DOKTOR SHAH

SMUGGLING SMUT

THE COMPANY POLICY

THE STORY OF MY TUXEDO

Next Friday, August 16th, 2013

JE NE SAIS PAS

I really don’t know for sure. I have three irons in the fire, so I guess it will be whichever begins to glow first. So let the next week’s entry be a surprise:)

Pages: 1 2 3 4