I spoke with a friend the weekend before last. The first question she asked was whether or not we had recovered Bruno. She had read the post about our daughter being hit by a drunk driver on Xmas and the dog running away but I never followed up the story. Mea culpa.
Bruno was returned to us the very next day. He had been found by a woman who has seen us go by on our morning walks and kept him overnight before calling Dorval security who in turn called us. A story which ended well.
She and I were talking because her husband (who is also a friend) has stage four pancreatic cancer. I only just found out about it and wanted to talk to him as soon as I had heard. I’m not going to write about his cancer or prognosis the first sentence of this paragraph says it all. That is their story not mine.
My story is about when I first started GeekStreet in nineteen ninety-nine. The first real customer I had was a print jobber company. They were having network issues and it took a couple of visits to sort it all out as whomever had been there before me was a less than stellar tech.
One of the things which struck me was the way that everyone talked to each other. From years working at Frame-In-Place in the Snowdon district of Montreal my ear was attenuated to Yiddish expressions and kibitzing but not quite at the intensity that happened between the secretary and the boss: that was something on a whole new level.
The dynamic in the office was a new experience for me. Every visit was like a new episode of The Bickersons and frequently just as funny. It took a few visits to suss out that the secretary and the boss were married and the whirling dervish of a man who hired me in the first place was their son. The relentless sound of them talking was something outside of my experience. It was like there was no detail to small to go over and discuss or argue about but in the end a decision was made and things were done. There was no small amount of love in those exchanges they only sounded angry the first time I heard them and had I never listened deeper perhaps they would have always sounded that way.
The only measure of a person that counts for anything is how they make others feel. In that respect this family and the patriarch who now has pancreatic cancer are giants.
During the entire time GeekStreet was a going concern with a myriad of one time customers and small businesses in the print industry hiring me for short contracts one company stayed with me the whole way. I tried to grow the business but there were always things getting in the way but one moment which stands out for me was after a service call at their old place when he took me to one side and told me ‘Listen, you’re doing something wrong. The guy we used to have was in here every week because something was going wrong. You come in fix the problem and then we don’t see you for eight months. That’s not the way to do business.’ Of course he was joking but it was his way of letting me know that I was doing good by him and he recognized that fact.
When I finally closed GeekStreet and took a job at the school board I kept one client and I still have them. The only reason I still have them is because you don’t stop working for people who have become like family. They’ve seen the kids grow up. They were there when Lynn was diagnosed and when she died. You can’t teach goodness, not really. We recognize it in people who have the real thing and are suspicious of those who put it on from time to time. I’m happy to say I have friends who posses the real thing.