Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'd like to thank

A very good friend of mine is the Director of a local Chamber of Commerce.  (I'd like to name the city, but I can't - she would kill me).  She does a great job.  She has done an incredible job of helping the local community become all they can be.  And a variety of business owners/employees become all they can be. She has done a fabulous job.

We've known each other for about 10 years.  I had just bought my gift company.  She and her husband were starting a computer consulting company.

We met through the same Chamber of Commerce.  We were in a "leads" group together.  A "Leads" group is where one person from an industry meets with about 20 other people from different industries.  Industries are not allowed to overlap (for example, if you are in the mortgage industry no one else can come to the group from the mortgage industry).  The point is to develop business relationships so you have trust to refer other people you know to those people in your group.

We met every Tuesday - this group of us - at 11:30 - 1:00pm.  I was a member of this group for 5 years. Then one day, I just couldn't go any more.  I had checked out.  But a funny thing happened.

When you have lunch with the same group of people, every Tuesday for 5 years, well, you get to know these people.  Yes, some people would come and go.  But a handful, I'm still friends with today.  One of them is Heidi.

Heidi and her husband divorced.  She quit talking to me.  You see, I was good friends with her husband too. That's okay though.  We all go through rough patches in life.  And she will tell you the story.  I wouldn't quit calling.  I didn't call her every day or even every week.  I just reached out to her here and there.  We had a couple of awkward lunches.  But she will tell you the story, I never quit being her friend.  Even though she wasn't being a friend to me.  Isn't that when we need our friends the most?

I was still good friends with her ex-husband.  It was like I had to choose.  But I didn't have to choose.  I'm very good at compartmentalizing my life.  When I'm with him, I'm his friend.  When I'm with her, I'm her friend.  She just needed her space.

She came back around.  I knew she would.  All real friends do.  There was never a "talk" about "not talking" for a year.  She just called one day and asked if I wanted to do something.  To tell you the truth, I don't even remember what it was.  I just knew, that we were back to our friendship.

Heidi and her husband also had a triathlon company.  They would take triathletes to compete in an Ironman distance race called Challenge Family triathlons in Germany.  She kept the company after they divorced.
I had been asking her for years "I want to go with you".  She finally asked.  I went to help.  She got there first.  I took a plane by myself to Frankfurt, then a train to Nuremberg, then she picked me up there in a great big red conversion van and drove us to Roth.

I worked harder in those 4 days than I probably ever will again.  We had athletes from all over the world as a part of our group - "A" type personalities all about competing.  We have some great stories from that trip.

Race day - we are up at 4 am to get ready to get the athletes to the swim.  We all just had to walk, but we needed to get them there.  (The day before we had all driven the course).

Long great day.  Our athletes did great.  What a great group of people.  Oh yeah, two nights before we had been to a festival in this small town and met many locals.

While on the way back from taking one group of athletes to the hotel (after the race), we got stuck in this traffic jam - a one lane road with cars parked on each side.  No one was alternating.  Heidi was freaking out that we weren't going to get the athletes in time.  I just tell her to stop and let me out of the van.  She unlocks the doors.

In the middle of Germany.  Where I don't speak a word of German, I got out and directed traffic. Apparently, when you hold your hand up in the stop position and push it away from you - well, is universal for BACK UP.

Needless to say, I got the traffic flowing.  She pulled up.  We went on to get our athletes.

Friendships sometimes need some space.  Or maybe just a continent change.

Which brings us to tonight.  I was at a Chamber silent auction.  She's doing her "part".  Telling about the chamber, the sponsors and THEN.  She goes to thank her "committee".  Only, she says "I'd like to thank my kitties".  "Oh, I meant my committee"

We all smiled.  She did explain she has "two and a half kitties"  (the half is the neighbors kitty whom comes in through the kitty door) - although, no one else there knows this story.  I just smile.  She looks over and shakes her head at me.

All I could think was, "It's okay.  It makes a really good story. If you were a kitty, I would thank you too"  ;-)

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