Addiction and Columbia….

So nineteen years the lad was born, and he was born a Texan. I am not entirely sure how I feel about that. I grew up watching cowboy movies and as a result I always had this somewhat romantic notion of cowboys, and Texas. The reality of Texas (well Houston anyway) is that I found it somewhat irritating to live in. It’s just a big city with shite weather. Anyway I ended up in Texas for a few years after a three year stint in the Middle East, some kind of warped reward for my efforts. Now while in Texas I was working mainly on the Colombian market (for the record selling into Oil & Gas companies, not in the ‘export’ business). This experience was many things, at once fun, frightening and eye-opening (as an aside I wonder if the bellhop in the Bogota Royal still packs an UZI?). I had cut my teeth on doing deals in places like Saudi Arabia and the UAE – in Columbia they have their own way of doing things. Of all the lessons that I learnt in Columbia, the use of a dead-man’s switch is the most entertaining, and getting shot at while being choppered out of a refinery was the worst. Columbia is a beautiful and troubled place, and I miss it.

But all of that is an aside, back to Texas. Now while in Texas, I still retained responsibility for selling our stuff into the Saudi Arabian market, which in our industry meant Saudi Aramco and SABIC. Now anyone who thinks about this logically will realize that it’s pure madness. The Colombian market operates the same basic hours as Houston – so no problem there. But come midnight Friday Houston time the Saudi market opens, their weekend is Thursday & Friday and they are 8 hours ahead of Houston time. So what do you do? You work, and you work every day of every week and every hour of every day. And I LOVED it, I mean I really loved it. Doing deals 24×7, doing billion dollar deals is a drug, and its a drug I loved and was totally addicted to. Some of the deals that we did during this time of my life are simply legendary, the stuff we got up to, the numbers we turned and the games we played to pull it off still give me a high.

Like all addictions there is a price to pay, and like all addictions you only know the price when you stop.

There are lots of stories that I could (and probably will) tell about this time in my life, but at the time of my young lads birthday, I will tell you about the day of his birth. I was in Houston for a week or so and was due to close a pretty big contract in Saudi, part of their Master Gas program. So my normal route from Houston to Saudi involved Houston – Gatwick, Gatwick – Heathrow, Heathrow – Bahrain, and Bahrain – Dhahran. Anyway the morning of the trip, the then Mrs McCarthy decides to start having a baby (to be fair there had been some indications that a baby was on the way for quite a while). Anyway, I am booted, suited and ready to head for the airport. It’s a decision point, but the only decision in my mind is do I drop her to the hospital or do I ask her to get a taxi? Cop on Shaun, you have to drop her to the hospital. Being a female, being pregnant, and being in the process of starting child birth she was somewhat slow. I am somewhat impatient. Anyway we finally get into the car and I am racing towards the hospital, checking my watch (yes I used to wear them) and decide that there is no actual time to do anything other than drop her at the steps of the hospital, bag in hand. Which is what I do. I blast my way to the airport, triple park, abandon the car and make it with seconds to spare onto the plane, pumping sweat and cursing women in general. I mean, if I missed the flight, what might have happened to the deal???

Several days later we closed the deal, I was a hero, I loved every second of every moment of it – it was a high, a week later I was in Columbia doing the same. I was addicted, not to money, not to drugs but to deals. For that feeling I missed the birth of my son – and 19 years on, like all addicts I wish I could have that day – she could have taken the taxi 🙂

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