On the edge
“Come on in, Jenny. Do you have the summary?”
“It doesn’t look too bad,” she said, smiling already from the door. She was a friendly thirty-year old, always in a good mood. Her dark, carefully groomed hair down the shoulders made her look even younger, as did her constant smile.
When Ray hired Jenny some time ago, she was a bit apprehensive. He’d measured her with a wary gaze, and she knew right away that he wasn’t someone to play games with. The stern, intent look, numbed her, but at the same time she found a sort of warm comfort in those eyes. When she got over her initial sense of panic, Jenny realized that his eyes were smiling and were actually full of goodness.
Worn out and tired in the face, Ray was perhaps sixty or more, she’d guessed. He got up from the desk – limping on one leg when he stepped towards her – and firmly shook her hand. He didn’t indulge in chit-chat. He simply asked if she could work in database software, then about some other formal details, but all the while, Jenny felt as though he was watching her like a hawk. She almost left – he was a wall beyond which she couldn’t see. Yet, the warmth about him prevented her from refusing the job. Just then, Ray uttered the simple sentence:
“You’re hired, Jenny. If you’d like, you can start right now.”
They made a great team, and Jenny never regretted not turning away then. For several months now, she’s enjoyed working for Ray.
It was a beautiful, sun-filled day in May 2002, when Ray turned his attention to a sheet of paper Jenny presented to him.
“Look at that, Jenny. That’s your doing.” She blushed and felt proud.
“Oh no, Ray,” she knew this was her boss’ way of motivating, she knew him well enough. Those who didn’t know him may think him a rude old man. Yet he had the kind of compassionate kindness in him that only a few people possess.
“Ok, ‘our’ doing, if you like,” said Ray, raising his hand in anticipation of a ‘high-five’ as a sign of success. “April had turned out great. Look, here at St. Bernard’s Hospital they ordered four valves from us – in March they only bought one – and General Hospital Sir Dowell wants seven of them. Jenny, that’s excellent.”
“That’s not all,” added Jenny, “take a look at the cardiostimulators. Primary Center wants twelve units. They’re purchasing them all from us!”
“Fantastic work, Jenny.” Their joy was multiplied by the gorgeous day outside. “We took a leap forward, don’t you think! I would like to go to the Conference in Vancouver and set up a small booth there. Eight by eight feet is enough. Find out how much rent would be; we probably have time. But let’s wait on that a bit, I would rather have a small but well situated spot than a stadium-size lot that’s out of view in the middle of nowhere. That’d be great. And when you have it, one more thing. Order a pizza for the two of us, and you decide what toppings you’d like.”
“I’m so happy, Ray.”
“That’s exactly why we offered them those valves and cardiostimulators.” They were excited; it was an undeniable success. Jenny closed the door, on a mission to complete her tasks, and Ray took in the view of blossoming trees behind the window. He will go even further. But for that, he may need an expert. A consultant, perhaps, just for a short period. Hard to say. Or maybe Ray should take some courses himself.
In a few minutes, Jenny knocked on the door again and entered.
“It’s not too steep, Ray,” said Jenny with notes in her hand, “and we have lots of time; exhibitors are holding off for now.”
Ray took the notes as Jenny explained her findings.
“Let’s think about it, Jenny, it seems to me the best spot would be close to an exit from one of the auditoriums, maybe in the proximity of refreshments, wouldn’t you agree? Definitely not right by the entrance. When people are on their way to a presentation, they’re rushing and won’t wish to be distracted. But when they’re ready for a break – strolling for a bite to eat – they’ll peruse our stand and ask us questions just to fill time.”
“What do you mean ‘us’ – you want to take me with you?”
“Why not? I wouldn’t buy anything from myself. A withered old man is not the same as Jenny. In fact, you should go by yourself. We can’t really afford two hotel-rooms yet, anyhow. You’ll see Vancouver, and, most importantly, you can make connections and meet representatives from hospitals.”
“But I’m not as much of an expert in the field as you are,” said Jenny, suddenly nervous about her new responsibility.
“It’s quite alright, we can fix that. You’ll need business cards,” reminded himself Ray, “now I will finally have them made for you.” Jenny resumed her note-taking.
“Wouldn’t it be better if you went instead?”
“It’s a done deal, Jenny,” said Ray, laughing, “I’d also like to break into the market with oxygenators for extra corporal circulation. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s only a matter of connecting with customers, and letting them sleep on it. Don’t be pushy, just let them believe it’s their decision. We’ll have time to discuss this a bit more. For now, make a note of this and we’ll return to it later. Write this down.” Jenny began jotting down notes that were still incomprehensible to her, as Ray dictated. “Plane, Neighbour, Last, Add, Exception, ,So nothing!’ factor.” Jenny wrote as Ray dictated, puzzled.
“…and then take a pill for the head,” she joked.
“…yes, sell that too,” retorted Ray, “now some kind of a clever slogan. Some catchy line. We’ll think about that. Now, however, it’s time for the pizza – let’s not forget about that.”