Looking back at my childhood I am amazed at what we were able to accomplish. Some of the things we did were pure genius and have helped people all over the world. Remember holding a dandelion under your chin and if your skin looked yellow it meant that you liked butter? I believe that simple grade school dandelion/butter test is now being used by heart specialists to detect high cholesterol levels and has saved countless lives (the only real drawbacks are that the procedure only works in late spring and early summer when there are plenty of dandelions and then only until the high school kid across the street comes over to mow the lawn).
Another thing that we had, and this was well before PCs or Macs, was a paper device called a cootie catcher or fortune teller. Girls would stand there all recess with their fingers stuck in this folded paper origami contraption (we still really don’t know how it works) that could somehow answer questions, tell fortunes or tell you who liked who.
“Do I like pickles?”
“Pick a number, pick a letter, pick a color”
“No”, and it was right, I didn’t like pickles.
“Will Mary Kay marry Billy?”
“Pick a number, pick a letter, pick a color.”
“Yes”, amazing, and then the girls would run over to Billy and torment the poor kid the rest of the day.
No bits or bytes, no 3G or 4G connections, no Google, just almost magical answers from the minds of fourth and fifth graders to the pressing questions of the morning and afternoon recesses.
The years pass but you always remember those things. I can say that my childhood experiences helped make me the man I am and produce the success that I’ve had in my career which was why I was so surprised when I heard a door slam at the office and then when I looked over the wall of my cubicle saw my boss, Mr. Higgins, coming right toward me.
“You! I need you in my office, NOW!” Ordinarily, I’d have been terrified to have my boss call me in when his voice told me that he was upset and that I was not being invited to talk about a raise or a promotion but I was confident that my job performance was outstanding.
As I sat in the low profile chair that was positioned so he could look down at me across his mahogany desk I felt concerned but not really worried or scared.
“Just what have you been doing?”
“Well, I…” and then he jumped right down my throat.
“Don’t ‘well’ me. Do you know that you’ve single handedly lost this firm’s third largest account? Do you have any idea of the impact of your actions?” And then he started to scream about sales and volumes and margins and stockholders and how I had insulted the president of Sunny Days Corporation enough to have him throw us out.
“Who authorized you to cancel their credit line?”
I explained that my analysis of the account showed that Sunny Days is in trouble and that… and he cut me off.
“Analysis? Let me see the data, let me see the reports” and I was ready.
“Sir, it’s not so much the reports themselves. You see, I’ve gone farther and asked the question, “is Sunny Days in good shape and should we continue to do business with the company?” and then I pulled a cootie catcher out of my pocket.
“Here, sir, see for yourself, pick a number” and with that he slumped over his desk and his face turned a kind of reddish blue or maybe it was a bluish red.
My boss is a very lucky man. When the “911” operator asked me for information on Mr. Higgins’ condition as he laid sprawled across his desk I was prepared and able, because it was late May, to tell her that it looked like he was having a heart attack caused by high cholesterol. Thank you, fourth grade.
When he gets out of the hospital I have no doubt that a grateful boss will be calling me in to talk about a new position and a little more money, but hey, let’s take a look.
“Will I be getting a nice promotion and a raise?”
This is so exciting.