Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Take Your Kid to Work Day

My son is with me at my office today. It is 'Take Your Kid to Work Day,' and I am trying to give my son a clearer idea about how one of my companies, Helix Courier Limited, functions. So far, he has spent time with our office manager, learning about how we interact with our customers, and with our operations manager, learning how we dispatch calls to drivers. This afternoon he will meet with our inter-city division's operations manager, and then he will spend a couple of hours driving around with one of our delivery contractors. Kids sometimes have a pretty simplistic view of how things work, and I figure I may as well have him learn that even something as simple as delivering an envelope or a parcel is a complex affair.

We just took a break, and had some lunch together. It has long been a custom of mine to buy everyone in the building lunch on the first working day of a new month, and today is that day. The custom arose many years ago, when cash flow was very tight, and our staffers were asked to stay late on the last working day of every month to help get our invoices prepared and mailed to customers. The sooner our invoices were in customers' hands, the sooner we would get paid. Since the staff worked late, I bought everyone dinner on those nights. Cash flow isn't as big an issue these days, so no-one stays late anymore. Dinner on the last working day of the month has been changed to lunch on the first working day of the month.

As we ate, my son regaled me with stories told to him by our operations manager. The man has been with me for well over twenty years, and he has a lot of stories to tell, usually with a very colourful vocabulary. He has told me many times that we should write a book about our adventures in this business. Is truth stranger than fiction? It sure is, at least here in our business. No-one would believe half of the stories we could tell.

Ours is a crazy world, with a lot of crazy people in it. Over the decades, we have had several of these rather interesting people here, in our employ. Sometimes, they were entertaining in an oddball way, but essentially harmless. Occasionally, they were much worse.

I don't remember much of the bad times, of the bad people, of the trauma and the seemingly never-ending tension, unless somebody reminds me. I prefer to dwell on the good, the competent, the kind, the loyal -- not their opposites. I have tried always to do the right thing, to treat people the way I would like to be treated, and I hope my son will get that message not only from me, but from the wonderful people who have him under their wing for the day.

I'm looking forward to hearing all about his day at my office, tonight, over dinner.

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