German Chocolate, Please

Article December 28, 2000
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Earlier this year on this page, I discussed the retirement of someone in the salt industry (see A Sensible Salt Man, June). He would be missed in the industry, I wrote, sentimentally recalling the friendliness he had exhibited toward me when we met at my first American Public Works Association (APWA) snow conference in Minneapolis in 1991.

I received several positive comments about my remarks from readers as well as co-workers. Later on I was to learn that one reader who had telephoned actually was more interested in obtaining the job that was being vacated by the retiree than praising him for his good service to the industry.

The retiree himself was kind enough to call and say thanks for the sentiment. We planned lunch.

I felt good about myself and was glad the remarks were so well received.

At lunch, we talked about the salt business. He was continuing to do some work for the institute he had previously represented on a full-time basis.

He also brought along his resume for me to review over a smoked chicken salad sandwich and a beverage. We talked about other possible "consulting" opportunities for someone with his knowledge of the industry. Perhaps he would even do some occasional writing for ROADS & BRIDGES.

The lunch ended cheerfully as it always had, with my counterpart, mischievously asking the waitress for a slice of German chocolate cake, which he knows the establishment doesn't serve. But it's always good for a laugh when the server realizes you know the restaurant can't deliver, but just wanted to ask anyway.

I thanked him for the lunch and for picking up the check.

The chocolate cake was on my face soon after, however, when one bright and shiny morning I was presented with a copy of another magazine in our industry--Better Roads.

Now, in the construction trade magazine business, editors routinely look over their colleague's publications. However, I normally don't pay great attention to the sales staff listed in the magazines. When asked if I'd seen the particular issue being placed in front of me I said, "Yes, I've seen it."

Then I was asked, "What's this?"

I looked and read the name. It was Darryl Hearn, listed as a new sales representative. The one whose retirement chili dinner I had attended. The one whom I had written the heart-felt editorial piece about that had been so well received. The one who called to say thanks and asked me to look over his resume.

The look on my face must have been much funnier than that of any server who had just been asked for a slice of cake they don't serve.

Well, I telephoned Darryl to congratulate him on obtaining a new position, and to tell him that I was going to retract the nice things I said about him in my previous piece. I wonder if this means he won't pick up the next check.

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