"Beginning in November 2007, six months of anxiety-induced sleeplessness, doubt and dwindling health led to an increase in drinking and a hatred for his employer. Finally, Sherwin got drunk and sent a nasty e-mail that got him fired.
He didn’t just blow the whistle. He blew up, and he knows it was a bad decision.
“Because I more or less had a mental snap, I didn’t think things through."
A “raging bull” who was once more “even-keeled,” is how Brett Vining, 49, a former neighbor and close friend, describes Sherwin.
“It wasn’t until this all happened with Office Depot that it really started to get under his skin and just cause him to flip upside down,” said Vining, who has known Sherwin for five years.
He (Sherwin) said his once-casual drinking habit went into overdrive.
“It’s basic escapism. You’re not sure what to do. You’re miserable. You get drunk at night, and when you’re drunk it doesn’t really matter,” Sherwin said. “And of course my health deteriorated and everything, because I got very high blood pressure and I shouldn’t be drinking like that and was set off.”
What would become his resignation letter, the caustic e-mail, stared at him from the computer screen on his kitchen counter, near a half-drunk bottle of Smirnoff. The vodka helped him escape the obvious: don’t send it.
“I would kick your *** so hard that you would fly across Florida like Tinkerbelle,” read a part of the message, a “Reply All” with company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Odland as the intended recipient.
“I’m like, ‘David, like I cannot believe you did this.’ I said, ‘What in the God’s green earth would ever possess you to do this?” Vining said. “So, I understand why the CEO, he had no choice in letting David go.”
But for Vining, the more important concern was his friend’s health. Since the competitor investigation concluded, Vining said he had watched Sherwin gain weight, noticed signs of aging on his face and knew anxiety was causing his friend to lose sleep. On the phone, he could hear Sherwin’s shortness of breath. The drinking had taken its toll.
“I mean, David has his casual drinks, but nothing like this. Nothing where it got out of control like this,” Vining said. “This was just way over the top for him.”
Sherwin ended up in a hospital for two weeks, receiving treatment for stress and anxiety until April 23, 2008.
Having worked in industry and retail for over 40 years, I sympathize. In fact, now more than ever as working conditions almost everywhere have spiraled downward into a black hole. I put in 9 years at Office Depot and I consider it almost all for nothing--cheap pay, continuous insults from management, worsening working conditions, etc. Things for me really worsened for me and others after Odland took over. However, things improved a lot after I got fired and left.