I'm sitting in the office a little frazzled, reviewing a request for proposal. For over 20 years we have had a client, a city in Minnesota, for whom we have designed over a dozen projects. They are now getting ready to do another project and should we get short-listed, I don’t know who will go with Desi Brother for the interview.
Dad has been in the hospital for almost two weeks. He went from the ER, to ICU, to the Heart Hospital, to the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. Thank God for insurance and life in a blue state. Dad has therapy twice a day and from what I can tell, when he is not in therapy, he lays in the hospital bed all day. He doesn’t watch TV, nor does he read for leisure. He's not a phone person, either. Knowing myself, if I was immobile, I would go stark raving mad. I don’t know what motivates him to wake up every day. Perhaps the thought of walking back, literally, into his life.
I am supposed to leave for New York later this week, so I decide to call the client and get a feel for what our chances are. The one issue that my brother and I have, and always had, is that Dad is the face of this company. I mean sure, you can call it a family business; we all enjoy feast or suffer famine together. But Dad really calls the shots and makes all the decisions. One many levels I can understand this. Dad came from nothing, finished his education, made a life for us and built a company. We’re not rich, but we do okay. And we got his far because Dad is determined and this company is his life, which is why my brother and I have always felt sidelined. It’s not that we think we’re entitled, we just wish we were more empowered. But this is not easily explained to a self-made man.
“Hello Gary,” I say when he picks up the phone. “Hello Desi Girl,” the client replies. “We’re finishing the proposal and I just wanted to share that Dad fell sick,” I say and explain the ailment as I best understand it. “I'm sorry to hear that,” Gary replies. “Thank you. But I called really to let you know that my brother and I are very dedicated to the City and Dad’s illness won’t affect our ability to perform the work - should we be selected,” I say as confidently as I can. We need this project, with the economic slow-down, landing a repeat client is a must win for us.
As the pause continues I become more and more worried, wondering what Gary is thinking. “If your Dad is in the hospital who will be on-site during construction?” Gary asks. “Well, Dad can still review the shop drawings and oversee the document production, I’ll do the change orders and Desi Brother can run the project meetings,” I state. “As a Client, Desi Brother is great to work with. But I need your Dad on-site to keep the Contractors honest,” Gary says. Oh boy. Gary wants a pit bull running his project, not a golden retriever. “But, Desi Girl, I’ll be honest with you – your firm does good work – and if you were involved I’d be more comfortable with this. Your communications skills are excellent and the Contractors don’t challenge you. Will you be coming for the interview next week?”
I am now. Just as soon as I change my flight, again, I think. Man, this ticket is going to cost me than my ticket to India two months ago.