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Giving no more of a shit than I did before, and pretty much for the craic, I asked Sean if he could send me over the option agreement. I wanted to have a quick goo at it and pass it on to my solicitor to get her take on the situation. Efficiently as ever, Sean emailed me over the agreement. He said he would email me the next day with instructions as to where to sign and how to return the document (if I could simply scan and email, or did I have to physically go in to the offices of Everyone Shites where there would be a grand signing ceremony, followed by a champagne and strawberry reception). I told him I would standby and await further instructions.
When I downloaded the document, I was expecting a one pager; the fucking thing was about ten pages long. The document itself made about as much sense to me as the rationale for creating the agreement in the first place. In fact, if the agreement had been written in (shorthand) Mandarin, I would have probably understood it as much (if not more). So, I emailed the document to my unintelligible drivel interpreter (lawyer) and made paper airplanes out of the hard copy I had printed. I had as much intention of signing the document as I had inviting BS over to mine for tea and cakes.
The next day I got my email of instructions from Sean, which he had just been sent from his lawyer. But here’s where it gets incredibly juicy!
Sean was obviously busy and rushed that day. He didn’t send me a personalised email (which he would normally do), he simply forwarded the email his solicitor had sent him outlining the instructions for me. But what Sean didn’t realise was that he wasn’t only forwarding me one email; he was forwarding me a trail of emails regarding the option agreement and the rationale for drawing up such a malevolent and meaningless document in the first place.
I received the email early in the morning, it was before I had my shower and my Nespresso, and my eyes were still half asleep. The ‘hit’ I got from one piece of information in the email trail was as strong as knocking back ten fortissio lungos (the strongest nespresso available), in one go. Take a look at the following extract from one of the many emails in the trail that Sean sent to his solicitor:
Did one word from the above sentence stand out for you the way it did for me? In fact, to say this word simply stood out and smacked me in the face would be the understatement of the millennium. The word jumped out and head-butted me smack bang in the centre of the nose, with extreme force and ferocity.
It all made sense to me now; this is exactly why they wanted me to sign the agreement. They had started talks long ago (note that Sean says they were in final talks) with Ashfield College, a significant player in the grind school world, and Ashfield needed to know that I was out of the equation before a deal was done. Having me sign the three month agreement would give them this comfort, and if the deal didn’t pan out, the lads could still sue me (and Learnology). I was REALLY going to sign it now.
In all seriousness however, if Sean & Co. were now in final talks with Ashfield, this meant that talks had probably begun many months prior. It was now early November and they still hadn’t accepted my resignation on the 19th October as ‘it didn’t suit them’. So, for all intents and purposes, I was still a director (and obviously a third owner) of the company. Indeed, even if they had accepted my resignation, they had probably been in talks with Ashfield long before I had tendered it.
I had no knowledge of these dealings with Ashfield, let alone being included in them (which was my right as a director and third owner). It’s quite possible that I would have never found out, if Sean hadn’t sent the ‘oops’ email.
Around the time of the option agreement controversy, Sean mentioned that they were in ‘casual talks with a guy who was also called Paul’ about replacing me. He never mentioned anything about being in talks with one of the largest grind schools in Ireland.
This news brought the expression ‘double edged sword’ to a whole new level. If what I had done with Learnology was a sin, the sin they were committing was most certainly of the mortal variety. I did nothing illegal whatsoever, but what the lads were doing was actually against the law. They were excluding me, a third owner, but far more importantly, a director, from their dealings. Maybe the brownies got a hold of both BS and Sean and gave them both sufficient doses of amnesia potion to forget that it was BS who had resigned, not I.
We all know that the letter they sent me amounted to nothing more than a ‘shot across the bow’. These guys didn’t deserve something as nice as that, they deserved a torpedo up their holes. Not one that would simply enter the anal orifice and then make a quick exit through the skull, one that would enter the anus and explode midway through the body. Around the solar plexus region would be perfect, thanks.
If I had a Saul Goodman type of lawyer, I am sure he could take the lads to the cleaners (if he could manage to locate BS, imagine the GPS he would need for that). No doubt he could argue that there are strong grounds for minority oppression here? And that I would have a strong case against the lads under Section 205 of the Companies Act, or something like that? Saul, if you are reading, gimme a call please. Good man, Goodman.
I must admit however, that when I heard about this deal, I did hear the following sound playing somewhere in a teeny weeny area of the deepest recesses of my dark mind. Click play below to hear what I heard:
Buy Me Out Oh Baby Buy Me Out
Having no intention of signing the option agreement (I didn’t anyway) and now equipped with this new piece of information in my back pocket, I decided I would make the lads sweat a bit, while I concocted a plan for my next move. One thing was for sure, they needed me gone.
The longer I waited, the more desperate they got. I started getting bombarded with emails asking when I was going to return the signed agreement, which I duly ignored. In fact, I went to ground completely.
During this period of radio silence, I hadn’t a bull’s notion what to do. So I decided I needed advice. But not legal advice. Business advice. I needed some sound business advice from a savvy businessman (or woman). But not a businessman I went to college with, I needed advice from someone who had been around the block. An aul fella.
On recommendation from a close friend, I met with a wealthy businessman in south Dublin. This man was old school. He had a very grand, old fashioned office with no computer on his large mahogany desk. He wore a rope stripe (not a pin stripe – there is a difference) suit, with a bright red hanky hanging superfluously from his left breast pocket. His hair was slicked back and greasy.
He exuded an aura of ‘you don’t want to mess with me or I’ll sue your fucking ass before you can blink’ tinged with an air of ‘I am so filthy rich I could buy your house with my loose change’. This man meant business. There was no time for fucking about or messing. He wasn’t the kind of guy who did pleasantries so I didn’t dare mention the fine weather. I felt compelled to listen to this man in a similar way to how Fredo Corleone would have listened to Vito. For the purpose of this blog, I am going to refer to this man as Vito.
Vito didn’t talk much. He simply asked me to tell my story. I explained it as best I could, although there was a slight tremor in my voice while doing so. I wasn’t used to dealing with men like this. When I got to the end of the story, Vito replied with six words, and pretty much nothing else. These words were as follows:
(1) Tell (2) Them (3) To (4) Buy (5) You (6) Out.
Note the word ‘tell’. I don’t think the word ‘ask’ actually featured in this man’s vocabulary.
After a deep gulp, a face that would have suggested ‘is that it?’, followed by a nervous smile, I shuffled backwards towards the mahogany office door, never once turning my back on the man (as if he were the queen). He looked at me with an impassive, blank face until I reached the door, without blinking an eyelid or moving a muscle in his leather chair. He then gave me a brief, but confidence-inspiring nod, to which I replied with the words “thanks a million, I really appreciate this”. I then mustered up the strength to open the door (it felt like it was made of lead) with one hand, made a half-hearted attempt at a nervous wave goodbye with the other, and exited the room.
Equipped with these 6 words of supreme wisdom, I left Vito’s stately office premises and headed back to my car. I was going to TELL my colleagues in OnlineGrinds.ie, not ask them, to buy me out. I didn’t have a spring in my step, I had a fucking trampoline.
Next Chapter – Chapter 17: This Means War, Ignore The War