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Business is good

The sort of business I am in often seems to have nothing to do with publishing. In fact, most of a typical work day is spent doing things other than editing articles and working with freelancers. I seem to spend a lot of time managing relationships, both business and personal, to grease the wheels of the magazine’s operations.

This isn’t what I expected to be doing when I started this business, but it is critical. A publisher is in one sense a social butterfly, a political gadabout, and the willing recipient of gossip and gladhanding in the cause of getting the story. Being a small businessman, I’m also on the hunt for bargains, constantly seeking people with new ideas, and trying to listen to the winds of change.

This isn’t the sort of work one can do effectively sitting at a desk. Once in a while you have to get out and talk to the customer, and meet with the politicians. So I have begun making the rounds of social and political events that are the core of every major rally.

But if this all sounds lofty and prestigious, rest assured I experience the same humble moments as our hundreds of aluminum-clad neighbors. The day began with the unsubtle rumble of the pump-out truck sucking sewage from a row of trailers at 7:30 a.m. By happenstance, they chose to park the truck directly outside this motorhome as the job was done. Not exactly as romantic as being awoken by the chirping birds in a state park somewhere.

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Ah well. Time to get up and get to work. Each day typically starts with a series of emails and phone calls, clearing up leftover issues and setting the stage for the days ahead. Then we head out to meet with potential new advertisers and sniff around for possible photo opps or stories for future magazines.

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Brett and I had lunch with a very interesting group: Fred and Renee (representing the club’s Communications Liaison), Leo Garvey (representing the “Save Wally” organization), and Paul Waddell (the president of our home unit, Washington DC). There are some incredibly bright and capable people in this club and I always get a kick out of hearing what they have to say.

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In Perry’s two-block restored colonial downtown, there is a real barbershop. Real barbershops are getting hard to find, and when I see one I always go in for a haircut. Not only do I usually get a good haircut, but I get a piece of Americana to see and experience first-hand. The best ones are like the one in Perry, where even the furnishings take you back a few years and put you at ease.

The fellow who cut my hair has been in business in Perry for 57 years. That’s experience you can count on. I told him, “Just cut it. I will trust your judgement.” Brave? Foolish? Well, I got a nice (short) haircut for $12 and I don’t regret anything about it. That’s a lot more than I can say after visiting many of the haircut chains.

Whlie at the Vintage happy hour today I got a call from some friends we met in Idaho last summer. We haven’t been in touch since then, but they saved my number and called today to say they were coming up to Vermont this week. I put them in touch with Eleanor and they arranged a big meeting for Thursday at the lake.

This sort of thing absolutely delights both me and Eleanor. Making long-distance friends is a perk of the lifestyle, we think. I even like the fact that they spontaneously got in touch while they were driving through Connecticut. Sure, it might not have worked out, but the chance that it could made it worthwhile. I think they were flattered that we remembered them, and we were flattered that they got in touch after a year.

Speaking of which, a few other close friends have showed up. A couple of days ago I talked to Adam and Susan — they’ll be here later this week. This morning I talked to Wendy and Bill and we’ll see them tomorrow. At the happy hour I was pleasantly surprised to see Vince and Lonnie from New Orleans, plus Herb and Sidra, Colin and Susanne (who we just saw last week in New York), and so many other friends that I can’t name them all. It is so energizing to see all these people and have them all want to give a hug and hear your news … I am lucky indeed to have made a job for myself that includes such wonderful people. At times like this, I say “business is good.”

One Response to “Business is good”

  1. Rich C Says:

    “Social butterfly” you say? Hmmm. I always pictured you as a reclusive hermit who hid away in his Airstream. Oh, I’m sorry, I need to correct myself there…..your new house. Whoops, let that one slip. 🙂

    Happy with the haircut?
    (Rich L replies: “Yes, because it’s not as short as the one you got! )