Am I Being Fired?

I grabbed the phone off of the charger on the second ring, hoping that it would not wake up Michael from his nap.  I recognized the 818 area code as somewhere in the San Fernando Valley; that was Rick’s tour manager, Ronnie.  He called from time to time to mention this thing that Rick didn’t have time to tell me, or to kibbitz about this fan or that one that was causing them headaches on the road.  With Zach at the table doing homework and Melinda playing in the family room next to him, I motioned silently that I would take the call upstairs to keep the noise on my end to a minimum.  He nodded his assent and looked back down towards his algebra book.

It had been a long day.   The Help Me Grow women had been here a few weeks prior, and today they had returned with the reports about Michael’s progress.  The things written on the paper were absolutely staggering.  His speech level was listed at age 9 months;  he was twenty five months old!  Every single measure of my son’s progress was below age level.  New jargon like receptive language and expressive language, spatial reasoning and things that I didn’t even know that two year olds could be measured in; every single one was disturbingly to the left of average on the chart.  We spent the morning setting up home visits for my son from speech therapists and occupational therapists.  Meanwhile, Melinda kept trying to involve herself in what looked like fun play; after it all was over I wanted to crawl in a hole and cry my eyes out.

But I couldn’t, because the emails had piled up on the computer while I had been working with the therapists, and the website had updates that needed to be done.  While Rick’s record had done respectably well since its release, I knew it was disappointing to him that it hadn’t made a bigger splash.  The summer tour was well underway already in mid May, and the crowds were thick with new people that had seen him on TV or heard him on the radio with his new music.  We were working on the release of the second single, an Adult Contemporary song called “Beautiful You”.  I’d been working my team for weeks gearing them up for the next round, with the prize of attending a soundcheck before a show as the prize.

“Hey Ronnie,” I answered lightly as I walked up the stairs, trying to shake off my stress and worry from earlier in the day.  “What’s going on out in LaLaLand?”

Ronnie laughed and told me a few funny stories from last weekends round of shows, talking about the fans I’d booked into the soundchecks.  He mentioned that they were so well liked that Rick had decided to also start selling passes to the soundchecks through his merchandising group (long gone were the days when I sold his CDs from my living room; he now had his own warehouse and a guy on staff in LA whose job it was to sell his wares).

“Really?” I asked, a tinge of worry edging into my voice.  Honestly, I was irritated.  It was a great motivational tool to offer the soundchecks as a prize for free work from the fans; if they could just plunk down a few hundred bucks to guarantee a visit with Rick, how many people would go that route instead? “But you’ll still allow them for the worker bees, right?  It really helps getting people to do stuff for us.”

“Oh sure, absolutely.  That actually leads me to the next thing I wanted to talk to you about.  You’re doing such a great job with the street team, and it’s become a really big job with all of what you’re doing, that we’re kind of worried that you’ve got too much on your plate.”

I sat down on the bed.  He was right, of course.  I knew there were things that were slipping by right now because I was maintaining three websites and the street team, plus helping Vivian with whatever she needed for the club and her mailing list.  With all that had been going on with Michael, I had barely touched Rick’s main site, focusing on the site related to the record, and I’d never had time to really merge the two.  But it was one thing for me to know all of this; for Ronnie to have noticed it meant there was a problem.

“Well it is a lot right now, to be sure, but I am happy to do it,” I responded, trying to keep my tone light and confident.  “Do you guys think there is a problem?”

“No, no, no,” Ronnie said.  “But we have found a person to help you with the website.  He’s a great guy out of Philadelphia, and he runs radio station websites, so he really knows how to make things look edgy and appealing to the mass market.”

Uh oh.  I knew what this meant.

“And by help me, you mean…?”

“Well, he’s already sent us a mock up for a new design on rickspringfield.com.  We were all really blown away by it.  We could have him take over that site, and you could continue working with the fans on the street team and the fan club.  He would be more of the technical design side, and you would be more of the fan liaison side.”

“So what you’re saying is that you’ve found someone else to do the website,” I answered slowly.

“Right, the website, but let’s be clear, we’re not unhappy with anything you’ve done. Rick always raves about how much the site has done for his career.  We just think the job is getting bigger than one person, and so this way he can focus on the site while you focus on the fans. I’ll send you the mock up, you’re going to love it.”

He could dress it up any way he wanted to.  Rick never liked to deliver unpleasant news himself; this was why I was now talking to his tour manager rather than Rick himself.  If this was a great development, Rick would have called me himself as he had so many times in the past.

It felt an awful lot like I was being fired.

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One Response

  1. […] hadn’t seen it all before.  This was the way it would end, of course.  First there was the phone call from Rick’s tour manager over a year ago, telling me that the website would be going in a new direction.   Then the new web guy had peeled […]

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