Byline: Jonathan Weinberg
October 2008: the credit crunch was just starting and I had the misfortune to be working for a property investment company, a subsidiary of HBOS. One afternoon a management consultant from Deloitte swaggered into our Mayfair office and told everyone to go home. We wouldn't be paid for our last two months' work. The majority of the office started crying. I picked up my laptop, BlackBerry and an electric stapler, and drove straight to the pub.
I hadn't been working there long. On leaving Bristol University, I embarked on two attempts at entrepreneurship. The first had taken me to Sydney for three years, where I worked as the Australian rep for a Dutch company selling oxygenated mineral water. Unfortunately, it turns out that it's not possible to oxygenate mineral water and I was shut down by Trading Standards. I returned to the UK and set up a website selling a product called Sun Easy, a fillable sponge on a stick for self-applying suncream to hard-to-reach places. They sold well, until I discovered that the glue used to hold the sponge in place was rendered unsticky by suncream. I had to recall all 50,000 and refund every customer. I called the factory in China to complain. 'No factory. Factory closed. F*** off,' was the response. I decided that perhaps a regular salary would be a good idea and found my first office job. But that was to prove short-lived as well.
After that first day of unemployment, I stayed in the pub for a month or so while job application after job application was politely rejected. Then one afternoon, having consumed a few pints, I received a call from a man called Jaideep, a jolly fellow who thanked me for my loyalty to Vodafone. He reminded me that I was due for an upgrade and asked if I would like him to send me a new BlackBerry. It sounded lovely. I accepted his kind offer and ended the call with: 'Well, thanks mate, I owe you a beer!' He chuckled a reply, 'Thank you, sir, next time you are in India do please look me up,' and hung up.
Two days later my new phone arrived.
I had forgotten my conversation with Jaideep but, as the memory returned, I recalled that I had offered the man a beer. I reasoned it would be ungentlemanly not to follow through. As I had absolutely nothing else to do, no one to entertain me (my friends were all clinging to their jobs) and no prospects for the immediate future, I decided to find Jaideep and buy him a beer. …