I finally caught up with my architect pal last night.
Maybe 'pal' is too strong an attatchment for this guy. We do a fair amount of work together, he designs stunning little bistro style restuarants and we come in and build all or part of them for him. He's got a flair, a New York sort of fashion and creative sense.
I was trying to catch up with him because he owed us a lot of money. And he was past due. So when he suggested that we meet at our latest mutual restuarant project downtown, I was all for it. Even if it meant that I had to change out of my sweatshirt and fumble with buttons and run a comb through my hair.
And he did something that no customer has ever done. He actually overpaid his bill. "For your trouble", he said. "Thanks for waiting for me and working so damn hard." He was a little shy about it, as though he was trying not to lose some of that sophistication that he wore with no small amount of professional pride.
He went on to explain that his father had been in and out of the hospital lately and was not doing so well. It was taking a toll on his time and on his well being. I could relate. Had an incident like that myself recently. We talked for a while about our next venture, shook hands and parted friends.
I had to pull myself up short as I walked back to the truck, because acts of random kindness are rare indeed, in this business. Rare in this entire culture of ours. I'm glad that he had the good grace to perform one, and it changed my attitude toward him a little.
It could be that he has a life beyond the glitz of successful design studios.
Maybe, like me, he faces his own mortality with that sigh of inevitability. Seeing the future, and having no signal lantern to stop the frieght train, he just waves it through.
But he makes it a friendlier wave than usual.
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