Monday, May 18, 2015

Old Friends

Chiang got his start in the industry when Johnson hired him. They shared an office for five years, sitting directly across from one another, each hardly able to avoid the other's gaze.

The two were perfect opposites in nearly every way. Chiang stood a skinny five foot five, his ankles and wrists famously small. One could easily lose sight of him in a crowded room. Johnson's bulky six foot four frame towered over him as did his overbearing, often condescending presence. They worked together seamlessly. Johnson the face and voice of the enterprise, always on the phone and animated in their shared office, his temperament jumping from jovial to bellicose at a moment's notice. Chiang the quiet guy behind the scenes researching their next moves, analyzing data, uncovering new leads and passing them on to Johnson. Johnson at the bar having a few too many with their suppliers and customers. Chiang at home awake into the wee hours taking notes. Everything was peaches until Chiang got a little too comfortable for Johnson's liking. It didn't have a chance of lasting long thereafter, and when Chiang told Johnson he'd be moving to Hong Kong and taking over his uncle's trading company, Johnson felt relief that he wouldn't have to fire his daytime roommate.

Ten years removed from Chiang's decision to leave Johnson, as Johnson's business relationships teetered on the edge of dissolution, the two encountered each other at a tradeshow in Shanghai. Johnson didn't recognize Chiang at first – he'd gained significant weight. They spoke briefly and went their separate ways. Chiang displayed a confidence Johnson had never observed in him before, but Johnson sensed a falseness about his old friend, a deep insecurity beneath the surface. Johnson smiled when he thought of Chiang's rotund figure, his bulging belly hanging over a hidden belt. He laughed before suddenly feeling angry, equating Chiang's obesity with success he must've experienced since their split.

The industry had room for the both of them: their cunning, their rationalizations, their whispered conversations with others like them around the globe. But whether the world would have room for the industry, that was another question entirely, one it would answer in time.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The People's Office

Mid-morning sunlight poured into Joseph's living room. After a long winter, Joseph and Garret, sitting around sipping hot coffee, welcomed the mild spring weather – a cloudless, breezy Philadelphia day. They sat back and stared out the windows at blue sky.

"I figured out my next career move," said Garret.

"Just now?"

"Yeah. Just now. Sitting here drinking coffee on this fine morning."

"I suppose I'm supposed to ask what you're going to do."

"Up to you."

Joseph sighed, feeling obliged to humor his friend. "Okay, what is it?"

"I'm going to open an office."

Joseph waited for details. Minutes passed before he asked "What kind of office?"

"A small one – basic. Reception area and a separate room for me. Modestly sized desk—"

"Gotcha, yeah, but I meant what kind of services will you provide? You're not a doctor or a lawyer or a professional of any kind, last I checked."

Garret shot Joseph a disapproving look. "Who says only doctors and lawyers and professionals can have their own offices? I wanna help people, Joe. I'll be there for our community. I think I'll be happier than I would've been if Fishtown Mews had come together as it should've."

"Okay man, that's noble and all, but how are you qualified to help people? What will you do for them?"

"It's simple. People will find me when they have no place else to go. They'll come to me with their situations, whatever those situations may be, and I'll advise them, do field work, help them solve their problems."

"Field work?"

"Yeah. You know, research. Like in those p.i. books when people bring their cases to the dick and he goes out there and sees what's up. It starts with one person, the client, and then once I get out there to do the seeing of what's up, I put myself in the right place at the right time and other people start coming out of the woodwork to reveal whatever pertinent information they can offer. I connect some dots, drink whiskey, and everyone wins."

"So you'll be a p.i., that's what you're saying."

"No. I won't actually be a p.i. – that was just an analogy to help you understand. I'll be more of a floater looking for the right set of circumstances. I'm sure it'll be slow going in the beginning but once I help those first few clients, word will get out."

Joseph shrugged, tiring of the conversation.

"You see, Joe," Garret continued, "it's not about a product or service – that's small minded thinking. It's not about a fancy title. It's about people helping people, and hopefully more people doing good things for the world than bad…."

Garret rambled on, but Joseph tuned him out, closed his eyes. He thought of how he might spend the rest of his day off from work, perhaps a walk to Palmer Park to sit around there for a while in the beautiful weather, rather than just sitting around his apartment.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Take the Blue Line

You must take the blue line
From Berks and Front Street to City Hall Station

You will need to transfer
To the orange line at City Hall Station

Hurry, get on, beers are flowin'
Phillies may stink, we're still goin'

All aboard, get on the blue line
Soon you will be at the ballpark for a game