DY: In Just a Few Words (#78)
What time should I expect my cake?
Today is my birthday. Effective right now - April 12, 2022 - I am officially 38-years-old. Hopefully, I have at least half a life still ahead of me. After all, 38 puts me right in the sweet spot of life. I’m in my prime. None of this old guy stuff for me. That’s for other people.
My daughter, Tracy, was asking me just the other day what I’ve learned in those 38 years? Tracy is now in her very late 50s. I guess that makes her older than her father. So what. I’ll find a way to explain it. My son, Denny, is also older than I am. We have an amazing family.
Back to what I’ve learned. One thing I’ve learned is that you need to be selective in how you apply creative math. It's o.k. for birthdays, but it is probably not a good thing to do when you file your taxes later this week. The IRS is not your friend. The first time I filed taxes as an adult, an accountant who worked for a friend returned my forms to review and sign. He had taken a $15 charitable contribution to the American Heart Association. And, another $10 or so to some hospital I had never heard of. I didn’t make those contributions and I made him re-do the forms. The last thing in the world I wanted was an envelope arriving from the United States Department of the Treasury for an audit. I might just be coming out of jail now at age 38.
When I graduated from college, I wanted to go to law school, but I also needed a job. Fortunately, my good wife had a nice father who owned a successful shoe store in Shaker Heights. He gave me a job. I was probably the only shoe clerk in Ohio with a journalism degree. For two years, I went to law school at night and fitted shoes during the day. I learned two lessons from that experience. Number one, I wasn't cut out to be a lawyer. Number two, I didn’t want to make a career out of dealing with other people’s smelly feet. But, I took a third invaluable lesson out the door of the shoe store and it was this. Take care of customers. Each one, every time. Respect them. Enjoy them. Get to know them. Be thankful for them. Customers always have choices. Never take them for granted. Nobody understood that better than my father-in-law. He was a great retail merchant and a really good guy who produced one great daughter.
And, so I entered the wonderful world of public relations where I became a real newbie to corporate Cleveland. I went to work for a terrific guy named Fred Walker, who had just recently started his own firm after being a partner in the then largest firm in town, Edward Howard & Co. He had a blue ribbon list of clients, and one of my jobs - rain or shine, ice or snow - was to hand-deliver news releases to the various media outlets in town. I would start at 1325 Superior Ave., where The Wall Street Journal had several reporters. Then I would hike over to see Jack Cleary, business editor of The Plain Dealer. There was no security presence back then. You just strolled up to Jack’s desk, and he would look up from his 60-pound manual typewriter to say hello. After that I would head to Bill Tanner, business editor of the late, great Cleveland Press. One of the lessons I learned from this circuit is that we needed better technology to distribute news releases. It can be real cold out there when one is just hoofing it. It’s been said that people with a job where they sit make more money than those who stand all day. I learned that people who own a firm make way more money than the rookie who is out walking in the cold.
The last thing I have learned is this. A lot of people who have come to use that newfangled email thing - which nobody had even dreamed about back in the day - don’t proofread before they hit SEND. Why would somebody put their good name on sloppy work? Why indeed? So, I try to proofread everything before you or anybody sees it. I’ll do that right now.
Oooooops! I see I said 38 where I should have said 83. My bad. But, no big deal. Just a simple rounding error, right? Another thing I’ve learned is that when you make an arithmetic error (to make a very bad pun) you need to stand up and be counted. And, so I will count slowly from one to 83, and then back down to one again as my penance.
Have a great birthday everyone..... when it’s your birthday. That’s what I plan to do today.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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