Effective Salary Negotiations
"Do you have a gun?"
The Vice Chancellor of Bond University visibly stiffened up. Ken Moores was sitting in the front passenger seat as we were driving northwards on the Pacific Highway. His spouse Christan had picked us up at the Coolangatta airport, me and the VC returning from Sydney coincidentally on the same evening flight. My wife had fallen sick, so I gratefully had accepted Ken's offer to drive me home.
He turned around, but before he could say something I added
"We have to drive through Stephens, you know."
Stephens was one of the many blue-collar suburbias of the Gold Coast, albeit a very, very poor one. That translated into desolate houses, people roaming on the streets at night and zero illumination. Giving the number of robberies and stabbings that year on the Gold Coast my question was within the ballpark.
"It is also the shortest way."
Christan had been chatty but now had fallen silent. She carefully followed my directions off the highway, then left, right, left. The surroundings became murky, lost their structure. She had to slow down to stay on what could be believed was the road.
After about the 10th turn I sensed that Ken and Christan were now completely desorientated. They certainly did not often frequent outskirts like these, not with an annual salary of around half a million AUD. I, on the other hand knew the area well, having lived nearby for years now. At least I knew that it was safe.
After a couple of minutes driving the well-heeled residential structure returned, more lightposts made it less threatening. Christan started to breath again, Ken relaxed back into his seat.
We arrived at my house. I thanked for the favour and provided Ken with directions to find the way back into civilization:
"You shouldn't go back the same way, but continue northbound. Best is "left, right, left, right, left, right, left and you are back on Bundall Road."
He looked concerned, but since I described the natural flow of the road even a Vice Chancellor should be safe. And: I saw him later that week.
Now many years later I wonder whether I actually had a subconscious agenda there. Incidentally Bond University was in negotiations with the union regarding the yearly salary increase for academic staff. These negotiations had dragged on for a while, but shortly after the above incident they came to a successful completion.
Always happy to help. Or entertain. Or both.