I read Jane Janes’ wonderful story in last month’s First Monday about Mary Jamieson and wanted to add my two cents worth. In 1959, when I was 15 years old, my dad helped me start a business called Brian’s TV Rentals. The mission was to rent televisions to patients in the two hospitals: St Joe’s and the General. Since I was going to St. Pat’s which was then located on the corner of Essex and Russell, (about halfway point between both hospitals), it was an easy gig; do one at lunchtime and the other after school. The public relations policy was explained to me by my father as, “Keep the sisters happy at St. Joe’s and keep Mary Jamieson happy at the General.”
And that’s when I met Mary Jamieson, the Director of nursing at the General. Mary is one of those people whose good opinion is worth having and anything she asked me or my dad to do, we were only too happy to oblige. She treated everybody with great respect and got it back in spades. She had no hidden agendas. She was all upfront. Still is too.
My dad would leave a message at the hospital to call him when I got there. When I did, he would tell me, “Mary Jamieson called me today and said that there was a patient in room 217 who was very sick and unable to pay for a TV. She asked me if I’d look after that for her. You know what to do… right?”
“I’m on it.”
It was always my pleasure to knock on her door and tell her that the TV was installed and that there would be no bill.
Her smile was all I needed as she said, “Oh good. Thank you very much Brian.”
That always felt good. It still does.
I love this guy
A guy is being interviewed for a sales position in a consumer electronics store. As he is answering the interviewer’s question, the interviewer is taking copious notes on his laptop. After the last question was asked and answered, the interviewer closed the lid on this laptop, picked it up and handed it to the applicant. Then he said to him, “Okay… now I want you to sell me this laptop.”
The applicant picked up the laptop and walked out of the office, saying, “Excuse me sir, I’ll be right back.”
Two hours later the interviewer called the applicant on his cell phone and said, “Bring me back my laptop!”
The applicant replied, “Okay sir. Give me $600 and it’s yours.”
When you really think about it
Many people will tell you that they really love the first day of Spring. I agree, it is always a great day but to be truthful, I like the day before that a lot better. I like it better because when I wake up I can say to myself, “Yippee! Today is the last day of winter!”
The Sailing Instructor
I recently went to the funeral of an old friend’s father. My friend was a young lady when I knew her and she’s a great lady today. Her daughter and her son were there with their wives, husbands and grandchildren. Since I was alone and had not seen my old friend very much since the sixties, I was a complete stranger to her children. I did know her husband and I think he’s a great guy and they have a wonderful marriage and a great relationship… a rarity I know but I think that theirs really is one of the good ones.
After the funeral, all of the old gang who were there to support our friend, were invited to a luncheon for the immediate family and friends at The River Crab. It was there that my old friend introduced me to her daughter, a beautiful young lady who looked at me and then at her mother with a, “Who the heck is he?” type of look.
Her mother told her that I was her old sailing instructor. The daughter’s face immediately scrunched up into a glare of astonishment. Looking right at me, she said, “Mother. You are a lousy sailor.”
I smiled at her daughter and replied, “So am I.”
I couldn’t resist the line. I mean when you see a shot, you take it. Right?
Oatmeal Can Update
As I’ve told you in the past, “Two thing ‘bout my life, I really do regret… I quit takin’ piano lessons and started smokin’ cigarettes.”
This month I celebrate my 17th smoke-free year. This after 40 years spent trying to quit smoking. That’s 124,200 cigarettes not smoked and $54,326 after-tax dollars not spent on cigarettes.
I thought I was pretty smart back on June 6th 2000 when I finally learned how to quit smoking. As part of my quit smoking plan, I bought a can of John McCann’s Irish Oatmeal. The main reason I bought that particular brand is that it advertised itself as 100% whole grain Irish Oats and since I was quitting smoking, one of my goals was to get healthy which is something most smokers don’t worry about since they figure, “What’s the point? The cigarettes are probably going to kill me any way.”
By the way, one out of two people who think that way, are right.
The other reason I bought it was because I thought it was a cool looking can and would remind me of the fact that I was getting healthier every day… and that made me feel good… better than I ever felt after smoking a cigarette.
I also decided – as part of my quit smoking plan – that I would put the money I was spending on cigarettes aside and save it to use for selfish purposes figuring that I was really spending the tobacco industry and the government’s money and that it would really bother them to see the pile of money grow bigger. I saw them staring at it with their beady little devious, envious eyes… very upset that they weren’t getting my money to help them live their dreams and that I was actually using it to live my dreams.
Every time I plunked another four toonies into that can and heard them clink on top of the pile that was already in there, I smiled as I thought of those bastards in their agony over losing me as a customer. It actually made me feel even better than the getting healthier thing. That’s two feel-goods that I get every time I look at that old oatmeal can: the money and the health thing. Sometimes I have a small argument with myself as to which one actually feels better. Some days the money wins. Some days the health thing wins. Either way… I win and the cockroaches who benefit in any way from my addiction to the drug nicotine, lose. And that’s a good thing… I hate cockroaches.
A street-smart guy
For many years, Earl Wineberg and his family ran retail businesses in downtown Sarnia: one called Saks of Sarnia and another one called PaceSetters. Earl was one of the best merchandisers I ever met and a pretty savvy guy when it came to business matters in general: skills he learned from his parents.
One of the hardest things for a business owner to do is figure out what their business is actually worth. In other words – if you put it up for sale – how much could you sell it for? Sure, you could liquidate it by selling everything down to the bare walls and that’s one way of finding out but what you are always asking yourself is, “Is my business worth more than that? And if so, how much?”
I was at a Chamber of Commerce affair way back in the seventies and a bunch of the retail guys were sitting around having a few drinks and that very question came up. During the course of that conversation, I asked Earl, “What do you think your business is worth?”
Earl looked at me with a pensive expression and replied, “I don’t know. Am I buying or selling?”
Who do you trust?
Have you ever noticed the financial news media telling us that the prime mover in the economy is consumer spending? The implication being that if we don’t get off our duffs, get out there and spend more money – especially money that we don’t have and therefore must borrow from our oligarchical yet – according to them anyway – friendly banking system – the economy will go down the tubes and somehow it will all be our fault.
Then the next day they run headlines telling us how much in debt we are and what a danger that is to the economy in the event that interest rates go up or the economy goes into the dumper.
There is so much bullshit coming down on us these days, I went out and bought a hat!
That’s just my opinion… I could be wrong, but if you think I am, I’ve got a great deal on some Betamax VCRs.