Today I have been sober for 25 Days.
Last night, I attended the evening AA meeting in Pattaya, and then went out for a sea food meal in Jomtien with Bob and a couple of female companions.
It was a good evening, and as none of us drank anything stronger than water, the bill was extremely reasonable.
Later, Bob went to a hotel with his lady, and me, being the chaste person that I am, dropped my companion back home, and drove back to my house to sleep alone, once more.
Today, I went to the morning meeting, and met Bob and his lady after the meeting, and we dropped her home before returning to my house.
My wife is still not back, but has sent a message that she will be returning tomorrow. I will be surprised if she does come back tomorrow, as I am sure the temptation of staying in Bangkok with her friends over the weekend will prove to be very strong.
In any event, tomorrow, Bob and I will be driving to Bangkok after my morning AA meeting to see how Dave is getting on, and then we will be jumping on a plane to spend a couple of nights in Phnom Penh with my mate who lives there, returning on Sunday night. The trip is partly pleasure (Bob has never been there before), and also partly business, as we are looking at the possibilities of doing some business over there.
I will now write a little bit more about my past life.
MOBI’S STORY – (PART 9)
THE INSURANCE YEARS (CONTINUED)
When I reported for work at my new position on 1st March 1986, I knew very little about insurance. The accounts department of an insurance broker is a million miles from the complexities that are inherent in insurance company accounting. In essence, a broker is a trader, he sells insurance and earns commission. O.K. he does receive the insurance premiums, which have to be accounted for and then paid over to the underwriter, net of commission. But the specially tailored accounting systems that are put into place to account for these transactions pale into insignificance when comparing it with the systems that are required to account for insurance premiums, claims, insurance reserves, and investments, that are part and parcel of an insurer’s daily business.
I had read up a little on these matters prior to my starting my new job, but nothing could have prepared me for the levels of financial complexity and the unfamiliar lexicon of arcane and specialist technical insurance language and terminology that I was bombarded with from the very first moments of my new job.
That first morning, I sat in my new office with the Assistant General Manager (Finance), a qualified chartered accountant who had been working in the insurance industry all his working life, and he took me through a voluminous list of financial, technical and other problems that required urgent attention.
For some reason that I never did fully understand, he and his colleagues seemed to think that because I had worked for an insurance broker I knew all about insurance accounting, which of course I did not.
So he went through his pile of priority tasks for me to resolve, using all manner of technical language of which I knew nothing, and I sat there, nodded sagely, and pretended that I understand everything perfectly and that I would soon have everything up to date and all the problems sorted.
It was one of the biggest challenges I had ever faced in my life. I had quit my previous position, which had paid me well, and was mine as long as I had wanted it, and walked into this nightmare. To make matters worse, I had a wife, mother and step daughter at home to support, and if I failed, I would be out of a job and our savings would soon disappear.
So it was a very worried Mobi that knocked off from work that night. Of course fate has a habit of kicking you when you are down. I had picked up my shiny new company car that had been delivered to the office that afternoon, and I had driven about half way home when the engine conked out, and I had to call the dealer who took about 3 hours to come and collect it, leaving to me to continue to my home via train and bus.
So by the time arrived home, I was tired, very worried and full of despair at the direction my life seemed to be going.
A few beers were in order and I have no recollection of passing out on the couch, where I subsequently spent the entire night.
But such were my powers of recovery that the next morning I felt refreshed and bright and determined to make a go of this new job if it were at all possible.
After all, I reasoned to myself, everything in business and accounting is just common sense and logic. Once a person understood the basics of how accounts are put together, these same principals can be applied to any business, be it making widgets, selling cars, farming, restaurants, or indeed… insurance. In accounting, as long as you remember that for every debit there must be a credit, you couldn’t go too far wrong. Or, at least that is what I convinced myself in my cocky, post drinking state of mind.
So my second day at work was approached with a mixture of trepidation, and confidence that all I had to do was apply my ‘wonderful brain’, and all would be overcome.
Well I won’t account in detail how I managed to survive those first few months, while I frantically raced up the ‘learning curve’ of insurance accounting, and hold onto my job, by convincing all and sundry (including my staff), that I knew a lot more than I actually did. But as I have mentioned before, I cut my teeth in the cut and thrust of one of the most difficult places on earth for foreigners to do business– namely Thailand, and that experience, coupled with “man management:” skills that I had developed in places such as the Grace Hotel and Bangkok’s massage parlours would surely hold me in good stead.
Well strange to relate, it did.
I learned, survived, and started to prosper. I started to understand this weird and intricate world of insurance, and I started to sort out all the messes that I had inherited by the previous incumbent (who you may recall had suffered from a nervous breakdown!). As time went on, I became more and more knowledgeable in insurance matters, and less of a “bull shitter”.
As I consolidated my position, I became increasingly frustrated by the layers of management I had to report to – namely my direct report was the Company Secretary, who in turn reported to The AGM (Finance). They were both nice enough guys, but for such a small operation, it was patently ridiculous to have these levels of management, particularly when I was the one doing all the work, and they just sat around all day awaiting the results of my labour, so that they could put in their ‘two penneth’, and approve my work (or not), pretty much as the mood took them.
And in addition to these two, there was yet another senior manager who was responsible for computer systems, and although I did not report to him, he was on the same level as me, and made the running of the company extremely unweildy and inefficient.
I wasn’t sure how long I could put up with this unsatisfactory state of affairs, but for the time being I kept my head down, concentrated on my work, and reaped the dividends in the form of regular salary increases, which were quickly making my own financial position ever more secure. In fact, about one year in to my new job, I felt sufficiently confident in my career to move my family out of the East End of London, and I put a substantial deposit on a house in South Essex, which was about a 45 minute train ride from the city, and the following June (1987) my family and I moved out into the “country”.
In case you were wondering, my drinking career during this period did not take a backward step.
After the first few weeks in my new position, I fell into the old habit of long, very boozy lunches, and then picked up the drinking rains again at the end of a long day’s work. It was back to the pub with work colleagues for a few hours before staggering home to the wife, my stomach full of beer and gas, and my slightly pickled brain, thoroughly exhausted.